2 Days in San Francisco

Travel Itinerary

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Itinerary by: Michelle
2 months ago
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Culture-Art Gallery Culture-Bridge Culture-Cathedral Culture-Church Culture-Historical Building Culture-Landmark Culture-Monument Culture-Museum Culture-Theatre Culture-Tower Diverse-Market Diverse-Nature Diverse-Shopping Eat & Drink-Bar Eat & Drink-Cafe Eat & Drink-Cocktail Bar Eat & Drink-Night Club Eat & Drink-Pub Eat & Drink-Restaurant Eat & Drink-Take Away Music-World/Latin Nature-Beach Nature-Gardens Nature-Lake Nature-Park Nature-View point Sports Events-Golf Theatre-Musical Theatre-Review/Cabaret Transport-Boat trip Transport-Tram Wellness-Meditation Wellness-Yoga
Duration: 2 days

Firstly, when planning your trip to San Francisco add on an extra day and be prepared to do lots of walking, as you will be covering a fair amount of ground! The weather is interchangeable so make sure you wear layers to account for sudden bursts of sunshine or an unexpected cold front and rain – all in one day. San Francisco has something for everyone, which can be problematic when trying to plan a trip. The City is steeped in history dating back from the Gold Rush of 1849 and has experienced earthquakes as well as several industry booms. All of which has shaped the City and its inhabitants. Contemporary San Francisco has become extremely expensive to live and thus seen a shift from gritty and colourful to high-end luxury. This is reflected in restaurants and places to stay. Ironically the City is also home to a large homeless population which is indicative of ‘gentrification’ processes whereby locals and low-income families are forced out of the City to make way for upmarket developments. An area often in the news is the Tenderloin District which should really be avoided, especially at night due to high levels of crime. TIPS - Using an interactive map (like Google Maps or MapMe) DEFINITELY makes life easier, especially for walking directions but be prepared to get lost and find all manner of sights and experiences along your way. - There are a lot of online resources for maps and transport information. - Should you wish to do a ferry trip, this is definitely something that needs prior planning to ensure you have enough time. - There are several hop-on-hop-off tourist bus companies who hits the hot spots. - Uber has become the fastest and cost-effective mode of transport. Maybe not the most adventurous way to explore the city, but an option for efficiency and for evenings. Cover photo credits Golden Gate Bridge: https://unsplash.com/@jbcreate_ City skyline: https://unsplash.com/@dbphotos_sf

Day 1

Walking the North-East of San Fran

Luckily, this section of the City is pretty compact and walkable from point-to-point. Take your time and go off track to take in sights along the way. Starting with the Financial District and Union Square, then head to the North Beach and Marina Districts. Before feasting your way through Chinatown, climb Coit Tower for spectacular 360-degree views of the City.
10:00 - 11:30
Union Square - Financial District
333 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
The Financial District such as Jackson Square with the famous Transamerica Pyramid and Union Square boasts sleek and modern architecture such as the Macy’s building, Saks, and Tiffany & Co. This area boasts a wide range of high-end hotels, restaurants and shops and makes a great contrast to the many historic areas and green spaces within San Francisco. The block layout of streets makes the area easily walk-able for a couple of hours. The San Fransisco Museum of Modern Arts is a short walk away on 151 3rd St. Street car / tram / cable car routes are close by at Market & Powell Street (This can take you all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf via Nob Hill, China Town and Russia Hill. Jump off at the junction of Hyde Park and Lomard Street for the famous winding road.) as well as the Embarcadero line (along the waterfront). Transamerica building: https://unsplash.com/@seemoris Cable car: https://unsplash.com/@therealamogh
Article By: Michelle
Culture-Landmark Culture-Museum Transport-Tram

Notes

If you chose to go via the twisty Lombard Street and stop off at Nob Hill, add on an extra 1-hour to this section.

Getting there

Depending on where you are staying there are multiple different transport options, just avoid peak traffic time

12:00 - 15:00
North Beach and Marina Districts
RH5R+F3 North Beach, San Francisco, CA, USA
Head to North Beach area. Start by taking the opportunity to ride the iconic trams (cable cars): E car - Embarcadero line along the waterfront or the F car - Market Street and Wharves line. Head to Pier 33, should you decide to do the Alcatraz Island tour. Be warned ... The iconic Alcatraz island tours are extremely popular and require pre-booking far in advance, to avoid disappointment. Alternatively, Fisherman’s Wharf (Pier 39) has may options for refreshments to prepare you for a day of walking. Boudin Bakery is famous for its pastries and clam chowder, a hearty start to the day ahead. The wharf itself is a lovely start (albeit lots of visitors at times), with the Sea Lion colony nearby. Here you can also catch scenic ferries to Marin, Angel Island, Vallejo, or Oakland. Be sure to check departure times beforehand as this is definitely something that needs prior planning. Head to the Marina District, here you’ll find the Wave Organ which is an outdoor art sculpture designed to make music by capturing the movement of the waves. This takes you to the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, which is at least 1-hr walk, to the vantage point and back. Just 1 kilometre away is the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill which offers tremendous 360-degree views of the City. Alcatraz Island: https://unsplash.com/@nxn Piers by Bay Bridge: https://unsplash.com/@noodlenelson Golden Gate Bridge: https://unsplash.com/@flyden
Article By: Michelle
Culture-Bridge Culture-Historical Building Culture-Landmark Eat & Drink-Cafe Eat & Drink-Pub Eat & Drink-Restaurant Eat & Drink-Take Away Nature-Beach Nature-View point Transport-Boat trip Transport-Tram

Notes

Plenty of time to have a leisurely lunch, explore the area and walk across the Golden Gate Bridge

Getting there

The E and F cable car lines via the Waterfront or the Powell-Hyde cable car should you want to visit the windy Lombard Street first

Travel time
0 hours 30 minutes
15:00 - 16:30
Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill and Pioneer Park
RH2V+XM North Beach, San Francisco, CA, USA
Just 1 kilometre away from Fisherman's Wharf is the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill in Pioneer Park. No only does the tower offer tremendous 360-degree views of the City, but location is steeped in history and culture with a mural dating back to the Great Depression. A DEFINITE must see and do! Pioneer Park was established in 1876 as a telegraph station with delightful walking trails and, if you are lucky, a population of 'feral' parrots that are believed to once have been privately owned then released, similar to the Parakeets in Surrey, England. At the base of the Tower, the murals were painted in 1934 during the Depression. Some of the images created a great deal of controversy and were painted over. Photo credit - Coit Tower: https://unsplash.com/@ronan18
Article By: Michelle
Culture-Landmark Culture-Monument Culture-Tower Nature-Gardens Nature-Park Nature-View point

Notes

If you didn't do the windy Lombard Street on your way to Fisherman's Wharf, then why not do it on the way from the Marina District to Coit Tower?

Getting there

Bus 91 from Lombard Street and Fillmore Street.

Travel time
0 hours 30 minutes
17:00 - 20:00
Chinatown
QHRV+7Q Financial District, San Francisco, CA, USA
The largest Chinatown outside of Asia has an array of side streets with eateries, tea shops and a haven for Asian produce. Grant Avenue is the most popular tourist section, lined with gift shops. However Stockton Street is absolutely authentic, often with very little English language spoken, and is where locals buy Asian produce from herbs to a mind-boggling variety of vegetables and seafood. The famous Dragon Gate on Bush Street was a gift from Taiwan in 1969, a beautiful structure of koi fish, stone lions and the dragon itself. Welcoming all to Chinatown! At 857 Washington Street is the Great China Herb Company, an absolute must-see. There are also several tea tasting houses to help digest all the delectable and irresistible snacks you will inevitably be enjoying. 743 Washington Street was formerly the Bank of Canton, then became the old Telephone Exchange where women operators knew the name and number of every resident in Chinatown. Portsmouth Square lies between Washington, Kearney and Clay Streets,. This is where the very first houses of San Francisco where built by Captain Montgomery in 1846. Photo credits Dragon Gate: https://unsplash.com/@ffkae Chinatown: https://unsplash.com/@iseeworld
Article By: Michelle
Culture-Historical Building Culture-Monument Diverse-Market Diverse-Shopping

Notes

San Francisco Cable Car Museum is on the corner of Washington and Mason Street

Getting there

Easy 3 blocks / 10 minute walk to Washington Square (the ' bottom end' of Chinatown). Alternatively, if you would like a 10-minute breather catch an Uber to Dragon's Gate and work your way up.

Travel time
0 hours 10 minutes
Day 2

Walking San Francisco's South-West

This day is filled with art, culture and history. Take your time exploring the Mission District, The Castro and Height-Ashbury District. It is advisable to take a good look at the Golden Gate Park website (listed) to ensure you are fully 'in the know' about what is there and where to avoid missing some pretty cool stuff.
09:00 - 12:00
Mission District
QH2Q+P2 Mission District, San Francisco, CA, USA
Whether it is art galleries, dance classes, street food, historic buildings, Mission District is a feast for the eyes and soul! You can easily spend half a day in the Mission District. With Latino roots dating back to the original Mission 'Dolores' built in 1776, this area has managed to escape the gentrification of San Francisco and has remained vibrant, colourful with a dash of hipster. The area is is essentially an outdoor art gallery with many murals, old and new, most famous is the Women's Building on 18th Street. However, start your experience at Balmy Alley dating back to the 1980s and inspired by Human Rights violations in Central America. En-route to the Women's Building (18th Street) you will pass many taquerias to keep your energy levels up for a day of walking. Stop in at the eclectic Paxton Gate (824 Valencia St) where you’ll find curios and oddities of all descriptions, for your quirkiest of tastes and certainly worth a browse. If you need as rest, the Mission-Dolores Park (Dolores St &, 19th St) has famed City views and a favorite of locals. Clarion Alley is a small but worthwhile collection of murals ( between Mission and Valencia Streets and 17th and 18th Streets). Photo credits: Dolores Park: https://unsplash.com/@francistogram Street art: https://unsplash.com/@smnzhu
Article By: Michelle
Culture-Art Gallery Culture-Cathedral Culture-Church Culture-Historical Building Culture-Landmark Music-World/Latin

Notes

Plenty of time is allowed for various galleries and shopping opportunities

Getting there

Getting an Uber to Balmy Alley would be the best start to this day of plenty walking. Save your strength!

12:00 - 15:00
The Castro and Haight-Ashbury District
429 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA
These neighbouring Districts are synonymous with freedom, love and vintage shopping! Haight-Ashbury was THE place to be in the 1960's during the Hippie and Flower Power movement and still the epicenter for those living a Bohemian lifestyle. The Castro, the first openly gay neighbourhood, is still - regardless of your orientation - the nightlife capital of San Fran. Definitely take note for a the evening, as a place to head to for plenty of lively fun. Coming from the direction of the Mission District, you will hit The Castro first. The iconic theater dates back to the 1920s and is now a venue for film festivals as well as contemporary and classic sing-a-long musicals. The historic buildings in this area are classic San Fran. Shopping ranges from vintage to boutiques straight from fashion week. Have a good look around before spending all your money straight away, there is a lot to choose from! There are plenty of people-watching cafes and bars, to have some respite from a busy few hours before heading to Haight-Ashbury nearby (1.5 miles away roughly). Side note: In The Castro - On Market Street, 19th-century F-line streetcars head to and from Fisherman’s Wharf. Haight-Ashbury was home to the counter-culture movement and now, despite being somewhat gentrified, you can still pay homage to The Grateful Dead, catch a yoga session, hunt for vinyl records ... and of course ... vintage shopping galore. Spectacular Victorian houses are everywhere, as well as off-the wall points of interest such as Charles Manson's garage. You are also a short walk to the Golden Gate Park, which could easily occupy you for several hours. Photo credits The Castro: https://unsplash.com/@mdodd16 The Painted Ladies: https://unsplash.com/@modernwolo
Article By: Michelle
Culture-Art Gallery Culture-Historical Building Culture-Museum Culture-Theatre Eat & Drink-Bar Eat & Drink-Cafe Eat & Drink-Cocktail Bar Eat & Drink-Night Club Eat & Drink-Restaurant Theatre-Musical Theatre-Review/Cabaret Wellness-Meditation Wellness-Yoga

Notes

Lots of time is allowed for stopping at various eateries and cafes for refreshments and soaking up the atmosphere.

Getting there

Neighbouring the Mission District, the walk between the two areas is under a mile, approximately 30 minutes

15:30 - 18:30
Golden Gate Park
QG97+QG Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
The unmissable and extensive Golden Gate Park (1,017 acres from the middle of the city to the Pacific Ocean) has a multitude of unusual and delightful things to see and do, this could keep you busy for half a day; The famous Bison paddock, the strikingly modern de Young Museum, the Japanese Tea Garden (keep in mind the spectacular sights of Cherry trees flowering in March and April), the California Academy of Sciences, and the Conservatory of Flowers, to name but a few. The beachfront has two windmills, there are at least two children's playgrounds (and a carousel!), polo fields and several lakes. This place has it ALL! For literature lovers; Shakespeare’s Garden has over 200 species of plants and flowers, with plaques associating their appearance within Shakespeare’s literary works, complete with a cobblestone walkway for added romance and serenity. Also home to the Golden Gate Angling club, there are 3 serene water areas not far from the Bison Paddock. Members are always happy to offer advice and tips to new anglers, should you wish to learn or practice your casting technique, free of charge! You can do all of this on foot, hire a bike or a segway! You could happily spend a whole day here. Photo credits Japanese Tea Garden: https://unsplash.com/@barisselcen de Young Museum: https://unsplash.com/@claudialorux Bison Paddok: https://unsplash.com/@ajrobbie Carousel https://unsplash.com/@kadh
Article By: Michelle
Culture-Landmark Culture-Museum Diverse-Nature Nature-Gardens Nature-Lake Nature-Park Nature-View point Sports Events-Golf

Notes

There is a multitude of things to see and do here and having a prior look at their website of attractions is highly advisable.

Getting there

The entrance is a short walk of 3 or 4 blocks away from Haights-Ashbury

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About the author

I have been travelling for 25 years (mostly solo), starting out with a backpack at 17 and falling in love with the Greek islands (who wouldn't). In the early days I would spend a season or two working at a particular point of interest (Lindos - Rhodes, Lagos - Portugal, America - Florida, Sydney, Australia) then explore as much as possible. After my year in Australia I did a round-the-world-trip back home via Borneo, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, America and France. As a 'grown up' I have been lucky to do a few short getaways in Eastern Europe and beyond (Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Moldova, Georgia, Turkey. I lived in South Africa for a few years working in the safari industry, and did several long road trips in my 1975 VW Beetle through Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique. Top of my list is Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica ... actually the list is too long.

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