If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco and want to make the most of your time, you’ll want to plan your itinerary carefully. With so many iconic landmarks, beautiful parks, and delicious restaurants to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why I’ve put together a two-day itinerary of my favorite places that will help you see the best of San Francisco in just 48 hours. Discover all the top sights and activities which includes riding cable cars, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, and exploring Union Square and Alcatraz Island.
Your Perfect Two Day San Francisco Itinerary:
San Francisco Itinerary Day 1:
9:00am – Start your first day by riding a historic cable car from Powell Street to Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco’s cable cars are an iconic symbol of the city, and a ride on one of these vintage vehicles is a must-do activity for any visitor. The Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines both stop at Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a popular tourist destination located on the northern waterfront of San Francisco. Be sure to grab a seat on the outside of the car to enjoy the view as you make your way down the steep hills and through the city’s charming neighborhoods.
10:00am – Explore Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy some fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants. Fisherman’s Wharf is known for its fishing boats, street performers, souvenir shops, and seafood restaurants. Some popular attractions in the area include the Aquarium of the Bay, the Maritime Museum, and the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf. You can also take a stroll along the Embarcadero and enjoy views of the San Francisco Bay.
12:00pm – Take a ferry to Alcatraz Island and tour the infamous prison. Alcatraz Island is a former federal prison that operated from 1934 to 1963. It housed some of the country’s most dangerous criminals, including Al Capone and Robert Stroud, also known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz.” Today, Alcatraz is a must-see attraction that offers guided tours of the prison and the island’s natural beauty. The ferry ride to Alcatraz offers stunning views of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge.
3:00pm – Head to Golden Gate Park and visit the Japanese Tea Garden and the de Young Museum. Golden Gate Park is a massive urban park that covers over 1,000 acres. It features gardens, lakes, museums, and other attractions. The Japanese Tea Garden is a peaceful oasis within the park. It offers traditional tea ceremonies, koi ponds, and bonsai trees. The de Young Museum, a world-renowned art museum, showcases American art from the 17th century to the present day. It also features exhibitions of art from around the world and has a stunning observation deck that offers panoramic views of the city.
6:00pm – Walk to Haight-Ashbury for dinner at one of the many trendy restaurants. Haight-Ashbury is a neighborhood in San Francisco that became famous in the 1960s as the center of the counterculture movement. Today, it is known for its colorful Victorian houses, vintage clothing stores, and eclectic dining scene. Some popular restaurants in the area include Magnolia Brewery, Cha Cha Cha, and Alembic.
8:00pm – Experience one of San Francisco’s most iconic music venues by catching a show at The Fillmore. This historic venue has hosted some of the biggest names in music, including Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix. The Fillmore is renowned for its intimate setting and excellent acoustics, making it a must-visit destination for music lovers.
San Francisco Itinerary Day 2:
9:00am – Start your day by driving down Lombard Street, one of the city’s most famous streets. Lombard Street is a winding street in San Francisco that is famous for its hairpin turns and steep gradient. It is a popular tourist attraction and offers stunning views of the city and the bay. If you don’t have a car, you can also walk down the street and take in the sights at a leisurely pace.
10:00am – Take a stroll around Union Square, one of San Francisco’s premier shopping destinations. Union Square is a public plaza in the heart of downtown San Francisco. It is surrounded by high-end department stores, boutique shops, and restaurants, and is home to several art galleries and theaters. The square is a great place to people-watch and soak up the city’s energy.
12:00pm – Head to North Beach for lunch and explore the neighborhood’s Italian heritage. North Beach is a neighborhood in San Francisco that is known for its Italian-American community and cultural heritage. It is home to several authentic Italian restaurants, bakeries, and cafes. Some popular attractions in the area include Washington Square Park, the Saints Peter and Paul Church, and the Beat Museum.
3:00pm – Visit Ghirardelli Square and indulge in some delicious chocolate treats. Ghirardelli Square is a historic landmark in San Francisco that was once the site of a chocolate factory. Today, it is a shopping and dining complex that is home to several restaurants, boutique shops, and the Ghirardelli chocolate store. Be sure to try some of their famous hot fudge sundae or chocolate-dipped strawberries.
6:00pm – Take a stroll along the Embarcadero and enjoy views of the Bay Bridge. The Embarcadero is a waterfront boulevard that stretches along the eastern edge of San Francisco’s downtown area. It offers stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, and the city skyline. There are also several restaurants and cafes along the way where you can grab a bite to eat or a drink.
8:00pm – Enjoy dinner in the Mission District, a neighborhood known for its vibrant street art and diverse dining scene. The Mission District is a neighborhood in San Francisco that is known for its Latino heritage, colorful murals, and eclectic restaurants. Some popular dining spots in the area include Tartine Bakery, Foreign Cinema, and La Taqueria.
10:00pm – End your evening with a nightcap at one of San Francisco’s luxury hotels, such as the Fairmont San Francisco. San Francisco has several world-class luxury hotels that offer stunning views, elegant accommodations, and top-notch amenities. Treat yourself to a night of luxury and indulge in a cocktail at one of these iconic establishments.
What is the Best Time to Visit San Francisco:
San Francisco is a great place to visit year-round. The city has a mild climate that rarely gets too hot or too cold. However, the best time to visit San Francisco is during the fall months. From September to November the weather is typically warm and sunny, and the crowds are smaller than during the summer months. Spring is also a great time to visit. The city’s gardens and parks are in full bloom, and the weather is generally mild.
How to Get to San Francisco:
There are several ways to get to San Francisco, depending on where you are coming from.
If you are flying, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the main airport serving the city. There are also several other airports in the Bay Area, such as Oakland International Airport (OAK) and San Jose International Airport (SJC).
If you are driving, San Francisco is accessible via several major highways, including Interstate 80, Interstate 280, and US Highway 101. Be prepared for traffic and limited parking options, especially in popular areas like Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square.
If you prefer to take public transit, Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses serve San Francisco, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system connects San Francisco with the surrounding areas.
Finally, if you are already in California, you could consider taking a scenic drive up the coast on Highway 1 or Highway 101 to reach San Francisco.
Most commonly asked questions about visiting San Francisco, answered:
Why is Fairmont San Francisco famous?
The Fairmont San Francisco was built before the 1906 earthquake and fire, and it famously survived the disaster. The hotel was designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan and opened in 1907, just one year after the earthquake. It quickly became a symbol of San Francisco’s resilience and recovery from the disaster. The building features a stunning Beaux-Arts façade and grand interior spaces, including a marble staircase and a lavish ballroom.
The Fairmont has hosted many notable guests over the years, including US presidents, foreign dignitaries, and celebrities. In addition to its historical significance, it’s known for its luxurious 606 guestrooms, restaurants and bars like the Tonga Room, and a rooftop garden with stunning views of the city. Fairmont San Francisco is a great spot for anyone interested in history, architecture, and luxury accommodations. It remains a beloved icon of the city more than a century later.
What are the top things for you to do in San Francisco?
You should definitely check out the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, the cable cars, and Golden Gate Park. Other must-see spots include the Painted Ladies, Lombard Street, the Exploratorium, and the de Young Museum. If you want some great photos, then definitely visit the most instagrammable places in San Francisco.
When is the best time for you to visit San Francisco?
The best time for you to visit San Francisco is from September to November, or from March to May. These months offer mild weather and fewer crowds than the peak summer tourist season.
What is the weather like in San Francisco?
San Francisco has a mild climate with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to low-70s Fahrenheit year-round. However, the city is known for its microclimates, so be prepared for cooler temperatures and fog in some neighborhoods.
How do you get around San Francisco?
You can get around San Francisco using several public transportation options, including cable cars, buses, and the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) subway system. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are also widely available.
What are the best neighborhoods for you to stay in when visiting San Francisco?
Popular neighborhoods for visitors include Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Embarcadero. The Mission District and Haight-Ashbury are also great options for those looking to experience San Francisco’s unique culture.
How much does it cost to visit San Francisco?
The cost of your trip to San Francisco depends on several factors, including transportation, accommodations, and activities. On average, visitors can expect to spend between $150 and $300 per day.
What are the best places for you to eat in San Francisco?
San Francisco is known for its diverse and innovative food scene. You should try some of the top restaurants, such as the Michelin-starred State Bird Provisions, Zuni Cafe, and Tartine Bakery.
How long should you stay in San Francisco?
Most visitors spend between three and five days in San Francisco, which allows time to see the top attractions, visit the best neighborhoods, and experience the city’s unique culture. However by following the perfect San Francisco itinerary above, you can see all the best things the city has to offer in just two days when you don’t have much time.
What are the best day trips for you to take from San Francisco?
Popular day trips from San Francisco include Napa Valley, Sonoma, Muir Woods, and Silicon Valley.
What are the must-see attractions in San Francisco for you to visit?
In addition to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and Fisherman’s Wharf, you should check out the Cable Cars, Golden Gate Park, and the Painted Ladies. Other popular attractions include the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Why is the Palace of Fine Arts famous?
The Palace of Fine Arts is famous for its stunning architecture and historical significance. It was originally built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a world’s fair that celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and the city’s rebirth after the devastating 1906 earthquake.
The Palace of Fine Arts, one of the most extraordinary historic buildings, was designed by architect Bernard Maybeck and is considered one of the best examples of Beaux-Arts architecture in the United States. The building features a massive dome, a colonnade of Corinthian columns, and a reflective lagoon that creates a peaceful and picturesque setting.After the fair ended, most of the buildings were dismantled, but the Palace of Fine Arts was so beloved by San Franciscans that it was spared and eventually restored. Today, it serves as a cultural center and event venue, and it is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.Overall, the Palace of Fine Arts is famous for its architectural beauty, historical significance, and peaceful setting, and it is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in art, architecture, or history.
A San Francisco Itinerary for Two Perfect Days
San Francisco is a city that offers something for everyone, from its iconic landmarks to its diverse neighborhoods and world-class dining and shopping. With this two-day itinerary, you can explore some of the city’s most popular attractions, learn about its history and culture, and enjoy the vibrant energy that makes San Francisco such a special place. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, San Francisco is a destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Only have 24 hours in San Francisco? I have a blog post for that, too!
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