San Francisco is an incredible city that could entertain you for weeks but if you only have a short weekend here, don’t worry. You can see many of the city’s top highlights in a day or two and if you are lucky enough to have a three day weekend, you can cover a huge amount of the city thanks to its compact size and good public transportation. Here is a sample weekend itinerary that will make sure you see the best of the best in San Francisco.
A nice place to start a tour of the city is at the Powell BART station. This is a major public transportation stop and located in the heart of the shopping district of the city. Enjoy both high-end and budget stores or simply stroll through to nearby Union Square. Surrounded by many of the city’s top hotels, Union Square makes a great first photo op stop with the square’s iconic heart sculptures. When they say you leave your heart in San Francisco, they mean it.
After Union Square, keep walking north and spend the rest of the morning enjoying San Francisco’s famous Chinatown. From here you can continue walking or catch a bus to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. This is the tourist mecca of San Francisco and while it can be a bit crowded, it is definitely worth a visit. Stop to watch the resident sea lions on the old docks, grab lunch from one of the sidewalk seafood stands, and stop to enjoy the many street performers. After lunch and strolling around, consider taking a harbor cruise or a boat to Alcatraz. This is a great opportunity to see the city, Golden Gate bridge, and the island of Alcatraz, which is fascinating to see even if you don’t pay the extra price to visit the old prison itself.
Once you are back on dry land, walk along Jefferson St. until you see the park and the famous Ghirardelli Square. Here you can indulge in San Francisco’s famous chocolate or grab an ice cream cone if it is a nice day. Finally, jump on the Powell/Hyde cable car and enjoy the famous ride up Russian Hill. If you have time, stop off at Lombard St to see what is called the crookedest street in the world. Hop back on the cable car to the Cable Car Museum or ride the car all the way back to Powell Station. The only thing left to do is grab dinner which shouldn’t be a problem with all the incredible restaurants in this city – from Michelin starred to burger joints.
Today is the day you experience San Francisco’s most iconic site but first, head to the Marina district for a nice breakfast and coffee on Chestnut Street. This relaxed neighborhood is filled with great place to eat and along the northern edge, there are some of the city’s best Bay-front million dollar homes. Stroll along the Bay, enjoying the views on both sides, down to the Palace of Fine Arts. The gorgeous structure is an art piece itself and a favorite place for engagement and wedding pictures.
Before going any further, consider renting a bike. We are about to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and if you want to make it all the way across and back, you’ll be best off saving your energy and taking a bike. The Bridge can also be cold with a fierce wind so make sure you dress warm.
After getting your fill of the Bridge, return your bikes and grab a bus to the Golden Gate Park. With over 1,000 acres of space, Golden Gate Park is a great escape for city residents. Check out the Botanical Gardens, the Japanese Tea Garden, or the incredible Academy of Sciences Museum.
By now, your San Francisco weekend is almost over and it’s time to find one last great meal. You’re in luck and right next to the Haight-Ashbury District, birthplace to the Summer of Love and still filled with some of the city’s best vintage clothing shops, record stores, and organic food restaurants.