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Claire
Austin (Texas)

San Francisco

What to do with 1 day in San Francisco?

We end our road trip (2 couples) in San Francisco on a Monday and have that entire day / night to explore the city, we depart Tuesday at 11 so not much to do except maybe hit up a good breakfast. What do you recommend we do with our limited time? We are all extremely laid back and up for anything! None of us have been to San Francisco before...I already know we will need to make a separate trip back! 


8 Answers

top answer by
Kristal from San Francisco

Hi Claire, 

I'm going to assume you will be back and do all the touristy things at some point, so I would recommend the following for a one day, whirlwind romance with SF: (the stuff is typical SF, but you won't get bogged down by too many lines or crowds)

- Walk around Golden Gate Park (you won't have a chance to see even a quarter of it, but give yourself an hour to just explore)

- If it's a nice day, grab some sandwiches at Ike's Place and go sit down at Dolores Park. It's where the locals go to soak in the sun.

- Friday night you can head to Fort Mason Center to eat, there are a ton of food trucks that gather and music.

- For dessert head to B. Patisserie or Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. The kouign amann at b. patisserie is amazing (as well as their brioche) and the croissants and cruffins at Mr. Holmes shouldn't be missed. You need to get there early for Mr. Holmes (between 9 and 9:30 if not they will run out), you can do this on Saturday before you leave. 

- For the best honey cake (or any cake really) that I've ever had, head to 20th Century Cafe

-For a great dinner go to Kokkari Estiatorio. Reservations are needed.

- Head to Twin Peaks or Grand View Park for great views of the city

San Francisco Chinatown can get hectic, but it's fun to walk around and explore, for cheap dim sum you can get out Good Mong Kok Bakery. If you like egg tarts, Golden Gate Bakery is a good place to go. 

Lands End will also give you great views, the Sutro Baths are close by and fun to check out. 

The map on the right will help you with what you should do in what order. If you're really determined, a lot can get done in one day. Keep in mind that parking is a hassle (it's about the only thing I dislike in SF) so it's easier to park and walk to places that are close by rather than drive. If you are 2 blocks from your destination and you see a spot, I would take it and just walk. 

I hope you have a great time and I hope it entices you to book your next trip back. For more detailed reviews on restaurants (what to order, when to go, etc.) you can visit my blog, Eat & Escape!

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Best,

Kristal


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  2. Ike's Place (restaurant)
  3. Dolores Park (attraction)
  4. Fort Mason Center (attraction)
  5. B. Patisserie (restaurant)
  6. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (restaurant)
  7. 20th Century Cafe (restaurant)
  8. Kokkari Estiatorio (restaurant)
  9. Twin Peaks (attraction)
  10. Grand View Park (attraction)
  11. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
  12. Good Mong Kok Bakery (restaurant)
  13. Golden Gate Bakery (restaurant)
  14. Lands End (attraction)
  15. Sutro Baths (attraction)
7 thanks


answered by
Blair from Palo Alto

Watch the sunset on the other side (Marin County side) of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you have a car, you can drive across the bridge then up to the top of the tallest hill looking back at the city. It's an incredible view. After, drive your car down this tiny one-lane road that drops off the back of the hill and ultimately takes you back around to the main highway but does so through the old military base which is now a park and is really beautiful. Have fun!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Marin County (region)
  2. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
4 thanks


answered by
Gil from Corona

Take the cable car from market street to Fisherman's Wharf. But then unless you want to eat at McDonald's with a naked weirdo drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. You could go to Sausalito for a while, visit Mount Tamalpais and you can make sand castles at Point Reyes National Seashore.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
  2. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  3. Marin County (region)
  4. Sausalito (city)
  5. Mount Tamalpais (attraction)
  6. Point Reyes National Seashore (attraction)
2 thanks


answered by
Theresa from Hollywood

Hit Musée Mécanique, a fun arcade game museum in Fisherman's Wharf. While you're there you can get In-N-Out Burger, because let's face it, it's a California must.

Since you'll have a car, take advantage of it and drive up Twin Peaks. You'll get a beautiful view of downtown and Market Street!

North Beach is really charming. Check out City Lights Bookstore (Beats history!), 15 Romolo (killer drinks!), and Italian restaurants galore.

Dolores Park is a wonderful place to be. On a Monday it'll be a little less lively, but it's a perfect place to enjoy some sunshine. Enjoy an Ike's Place sandwich in the park, get some gourmet bean-to-bar chocolate at Dandelion Chocolate, shop for fun knick knacks at Therapy, and enjoy the Elbo Room while it's still around (ps they have a great photobooth).

For evening drinks and fun, try Blondies' Bar & No Grill for enormous drinks, Latin American Club for amazing margs, Toronado for an amazing beer selection, Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery for a gastropub experience, Public Works for dancing, or 21st Amendment Brewery for fun food and local beer.

St. Francis Fountain has a stellar breakfast. They're the spot to hit Tuesday morning!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Musée Mécanique (attraction)
  2. In-N-Out Burger (restaurant)
  3. Twin Peaks (attraction)
  4. North Beach (neighborhood)
  5. City Lights Bookstore (attraction)
  6. 15 Romolo (attraction)
  7. Dolores Park (attraction)
  8. Ike's Place (restaurant)
  9. Dandelion Chocolate (attraction)
  10. Therapy (attraction)
  11. Elbo Room (attraction)
  12. Blondies' Bar & No Grill (attraction)
  13. Latin American Club (attraction)
  14. Toronado (restaurant)
  15. Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery (restaurant)
  16. Public Works (attraction)
  17. 21st Amendment Brewery (restaurant)
  18. St. Francis Fountain (restaurant)
2 thanks


answered by
Andy from San Francisco

You can come play pub trivia with a bunch of locals at Blackthorn in the Inner Sunset. We go there every week and we've won the last 2 weeks in a row!

But before the trivia, I recommend getting breakfast at Arizmendi Bakery , and then biking around Golden Gate Park for the day. 

You can check out the Conservatory of Flowers 

The observation deck at the De Young Museum (Free)

The Japanese Tea Garden

Rent a boat and paddle around Stow Lake

San Francisco Botanical Garden

You'll probably want to have lunch at some point, and I recommend San Tung Chinese Restaurant for their famous chicken wings. 

After your day of fun in the park, you can go to New Eritrea Restaurant & Bar for some great Ethiopian/Eritrean food. I recommend the spicy shrimp. 

After dinner, come to Blackthorn and join our trivia team! We go as the SF Urban Adventure Club  and we are the team that's having the most fun at the bar. =)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Blackthorn (attraction)
  2. Arizmendi Bakery (restaurant)
  3. Conservatory of Flowers (attraction)
  4. De Young Museum (attraction)
  5. Japanese Tea Garden (attraction)
  6. Stow Lake (attraction)
  7. San Francisco Botanical Garden (attraction)
  8. San Tung Chinese Restaurant (restaurant)
  9. New Eritrea Restaurant & Bar (restaurant)


answered by
Rashel from Brooklyn, New York

Walk from Ferry Building Marketplace all the way to Mason St. Stop along the way at Pier 39 and any spots that interest you along the way. If it's nice Fort Mason Center can be a really nice place to hang out on the grass etc. From there you can walk to Marina Green Park by the water and yachts, and see all the beautiful houses. Next you can make it to the Palace of Fine Arts, just off to the left when you reach the end of Marina Green. From there I would finally make the push to Golden Gate Bridge. You can also do this in reverse if you don't feel like walking through all of Fisherman's warf.  


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ferry Building Marketplace (attraction)
  2. Mason St (attraction)
  3. Pier 39 (attraction)
  4. Fort Mason Center (attraction)
  5. Marina Green Park (attraction)
  6. Palace of Fine Arts (attraction)
  7. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)


answered by
Fritzi from San Francisco

If you are baseball fans and the SF Giants are playing, I highly recommend you see a game.  San Francisco Giants AT&T Ball Park is set in the water by China Basin yacht harbor with beautiful sunset views of the east bay while you watch baseball and eat delicious local food like garlic fries, jerk chicken, Ghiradelli hot fudge sundaes and other treats.  Sit in View Reserve seats section 312 - 306 to get the Bay Bridge views.  Or you could also tour the ballpark at 10:30 or 12:30, as long as the Giants are not playing a day game.

If you first take a 3 hour city tour, you will hit all the highlights efficiently and decide what you want to spend more time exploring that afternoon. I'm local but I still love taking the California Line Cable Car to Nob Hill and having a drink at Top of the Mark . While at Nob Hill, you can take in the amazing views, visit the The Fairmont San Francisco and Grace Cathedral. From there it is only a few blocks to Lombard Street, you can walk down, enjoy some local food, or visit San Francisco Chinatown.

I love walking Lands End.  I also enjoy visiting Civic Centerand Hayes Valley. Civic Center has our municipal buildings, and Hayes Valley is a quirky, non-touristy neighborhood.

Have a great visit.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Francisco Giants AT&T Ball Park (attraction)
  2. China Basin (neighborhood)
  3. Top of the Mark (hotel)
  4. The Fairmont San Francisco (hotel)
  5. Grace Cathedral (attraction)
  6. Lombard Street (attraction)
  7. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
  8. Lands End (attraction)
  9. Civic Center (neighborhood)
  10. Hayes Valley (neighborhood)


answered by
Devon

While the city is pretty small mileage wise (only 7 miles by 7 miles), trying to traverse back and forth in a day can waste a lot of time in transit and parking. I would suggest a fun walking tour of the city. You can see a ton of sights by starting at the ferry building and walking north/west along the Embarcadero Center. Stop off at Pier 23 for an amazing lunch with a view of the bay. They have great seafood without the crowds of Fisherman's Wharf. My fave is a cold glass of white wine or beer with the crab and shrimp sandwich. From there you can do a quick loop through Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiradelli Square or up to Coit Tower. Admittedly touristy, but fun to see. There is a great waterfront park in front of ghiradelli square with great bay and Golden Gate Bridge views. From there walk up Columbus ave to get a feel for little Italy. You can veer off into San Francisco Chinatown for a tasty dumpling or two. If you keep walking through Chinatown you will end up near Union Square. The Mission District would be a great spot for dinner. I would recommend checking out the eater 38 for a slew of great dining options.  

 

Have fun!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Embarcadero Center (attraction)
  2. Pier 23 (attraction)
  3. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
  4. Ghiradelli Square (attraction)
  5. Coit Tower (attraction)
  6. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  7. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
  8. Union Square (attraction)
  9. Mission District (neighborhood)




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