San Francisco is unlike any other city in the US, and it definitely isn’t like any other city in California. I wanted to share an awesome San Francisco itinerary because this city is important in my travels. I had booked a solo trip to Belize but first wanted to practice by traveling solo to a US city. A cheap flight to San Francisco popped up from New York and I immediately booked it.
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Where to Stay in San Francisco
If you’re visiting San Francisco for just a few days then I highly recommend staying in the heart of the city in Union Square. This was the best decision I could have made. You can catch public transportation or Uber everywhere, so you don’t need a car. However, if you want to check out car rental prices, look here. Honestly, I walked almost everywhere.
- Fairmont San Francisco
- Hotel Vitale, a Joie de Vivre Hotel
- Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
- Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel
- The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel
If you prefer an airbnb, here’s up to $55 off your first stay.
3 Days in San Francisco
With a population of 883,305 residents, San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California. It’s known for it’s hilly landscape, amazing seafood, and beautiful architecture scattered throughout the city. While San Francisco has more than enough landmarks and historical sites to keep you entertained, the food and great vibe are enough to keep you occupied during your visit.
Brenda’s French Soul Food
I’d start any San Francisco itinerary with food, and I highly recommend having breakfast at Brenda’s French Soul Food. This restaurant was recommend to me by a friend and I’m so glad I took the time to go. I saved it for my last day in the city and it was a lovely treat.
Some people say that Brenda’s is overrated or not worth the hype, but I say see for yourself. They don’t take reservations and the line seems to always be out the door. I wish there was a method to snagging a table but all I can say is be prepared to wait.
Palace of Fine Arts
I was walking around the Marina District when I stumbled upon the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts. It’s one of the last surviving structures from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, and a sight to behold. This is a gorgeous location to come get some photos, relax with a book, or take a stroll. I even saw a proposal here and it’s truly the perfect place to pull one off.
When I spotted the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance during my daily walk, I attempted to walk as close to it as possible. That’s how I ended up at Crissy Beach. While it’s a simple beach, it’s perfect for relaxing or simply getting photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. I also saw people biking there so it’s a good starting point for that as well.
Golden Gate Bay Cruise
A Golden Gate Bay Cruise is the perfect way to end your first day in San Francisco. This particular cruise is an hour long and sails you along the waterfront and around Alcatraz Island. Here’s a catamaran cruise that lasts 30 minutes longer but essentially does the same thing.
Visit Alcatraz Island
If cruising around Alcatraz Island isn’t enough then you should look into taking a tour to the island. Most of us know of this prison thanks to the 1979 movie “Escape From Alcatraz,” starring Clint Eastwood.
This small island sits right in the San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz island was built for many things including a lighthouse and military prison. It was a federal prison from 1934 until 1963.
Lunch at the Fisherman’s Wharf
The Fisherman’s Wharf is located right on the waterfront and will be filled with tourists and locals alike. The food is that damn good and no San Francisco itinerary is complete without it (unless you’re allergic to seafood).
There are more seafood options than you’ll be able to enjoy so pick a place and tuck in because it’s guaranteed to be delicious. This is the perfect place to visit a few days in a row because there are so many restaurants and many specialize in different things.
Have a Wine Tasting
A wine tasting isn’t usually on my itinerary when I’m traveling to US cities, but after lunch at the Fisherman’s Wharf I decided to indulge myself. I’m sure plenty restaurants in the area offer wine flights but just google “wine tastings” or “wine bars” in the area and you’ll have a plethora of options. I specifically went to a wine bar and ordered from their tasting menu.
California Academy of Sciences
This is the world’s only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-living museum, and it’s a must see. Grab a skip the line ticket to the California Academy of Sciences and take your kids or yourself. You can view various types of fish and even African penguins before being taken to another galaxy in the planetarium.
Bike the Golden Gate Bridge
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is worth a visit, if even from the distance. Construction of this beauty ended din 1937 and the strait that is spans is one mile wide. This is arguable the most photographed bridge in the world and if you can’t make it to San Francisco, it has a sister in Lisbon that’s just as beautiful. I can’t see one and not think of the other. Rent a bike for a couple hours or for the day to ride the span of it.
Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Park is 1,017 acres of mesmerizing beauty. It’s 20% larger than New York’s Central Park, but there’s no need to compare. Both are stunning spaces. This park occasionally has events, an aquarium, and 10 lakes. Oh, and there’s also the endless supply of lush gardens that you can’t miss.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
While Modern Art isn’t my favorite type of art, I absolutely love visiting Modern Art Museums. The SFMoMA opened in 2016, which makes it a baby in the museum world. It has been expanded by 7 floors which means you can spend hours among the beautiful collections that you may not get the chance to see anywhere else.
Have Cocktails at a Speakeasy
I visited two bars when in San Francisco. One was a speakeasy type bar where I ordered a drink called the “Corpse Reviver #2.” Its ingredients included absinthe so I was all in. The second bar was themed after great literary works, and there I ordered “The Gatsby.”
I know San Francisco is full of these cool establishments and I highly recommend giving them a visit. Google “themed bars” or “speakeasy” in San Francisco and plenty will pop up. Take your pick and add it to your San Francisco itinerary.