From the Golden Gate Bridge to the legendary cable cars, San Francisco is a tourist’s paradise. With an endless list of sites to see and wonders to experience, it can be hard to narrow down the ultimate itinerary when you only have a couple of days to spare. Here, we’ve picked the best activities to add to your travel list if you’re looking to explore San Francisco in 2 days.
Day 1: Morning
Visit the notorious Alcatraz Island
If you have two days in San Francisco, kick things off with a visit to arguably the most famous prison in the world. The notorious Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay was once a fort, military prison and maximum security federal penitentiary. Home to equally infamous inmates such as Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly in its day, Alcatraz is open to tourists who want to learn about the complex history of the island.
Stop for snacks on Pier 39
Grab a bite to eat and take in the sites along the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf. Check out the shopping boutiques, sea lions chilling out on the pier, carnival-like games and delicious treats from Trish’s Mini Donuts and The Fudgery. Once your belly is full, move along the shore to your next hot spot.
Day 1: Afternoon
Check out the Golden Gate Bridge & Park
After you’ve taken in the history of Alcatraz and the fun of the wharf, pop on over to the most iconic site of San Francisco: the Golden Gate bridge. Connecting the San Fran Bay and Marin County, the vibrant 2.7km suspension bridge is one of the most photographed tourist destinations in the world. Take a stroll or ride a bike across the bridge for the full experience.
Follow it up with a walk through Golden Gate Park, with the Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden, California Academy of Sciences and San Francisco Botanical Gardens to see along the way.
Take a ride in a cable car
One of the best things about San Fran is its walkability. Use the geography to your advantage and take in as much as you can on foot. But if you can work a few cable car rides into your itinerary it’ll make your trips even shorter, and you’ll get to tick another major San Fran experience off your bucket list.
Day 1: Evening
Head to Chinatown for dinner & drinks
One of the oldest Chinatowns in the United States, the San Fran Chinatown has been around since the 1840s. With a large Asian American population, San Fran is known for its incredible fusion food along with traditional cuisine. Pass through the arches of the Dragon Gate, before heading for a delicious feast at one of the many eateries.
Check out China Live (a multi-level interactive culinary and cultural experience), taste rare tea at the Red Blossom Tea Company or head to a dive bar like Buddha Lounge and Mister Bing’s for a fun evening. If you’re in the mood for a classy night out, visit high-end restaurant Mister Jiu’s or try one of the decadent seasonal cocktails at Moongate Lounge.
Day 2: Morning
Enjoy breakfast at Sears Fine Food
Ready for day two? You’ll need to kick the day off with an indulgent breakfast. In the heart of Union Square, Sears Fine Food is famed for Swedish pancakes and big diner breakfasts. When you’re done licking your plate clean, check out the sites of the Square, which is known as the home of major retailers like Sephora, H&M and Urban Outfitters.
Get arty at the MOMA
Down the road from Union Square is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. With works from Henri Matisse, Frida Kahlo, Wayne Thiebaud and many more, the MOMA is an art-lovers dream.
Check out local street art
If you’d prefer to see some artwork outside the museum, check out the local street art with a tour of the Mission District. Throughout the neighbourhood, you can spot countless works of art, from political pieces to fun designs. Take a walking tour for an insider’s perspective on the murals.
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Day 2: Afternoon
Make a pit stop at Yasukochi’s Sweet Shop
This Japanese bakery serves up mouth-watering treats like Coffee Crunch Cake and Chocolate Strawberry Roll. Pick up some treats to eat at – or on the way to – your next destination.
Take a break at the Painted Ladies
If you’ve only got 48 hours in San Francisco, you can’t beat a pit-stop by the Painted Ladies. Made famous around the world by the opening credits of Full House, the Painted Ladies refers to the row of historical Victorian homes on Steiner Street. Rest your tired feet for a while at the Alamo Square Park opposite the homes for a picturesque and relaxing time.
Check out Twin Peaks
If you’re feeling up for it, taking a walk to Twin Peaks is a must. Hiking trails and jaw-dropping views of the Bay Area are waiting for you in this green haven in the city.
Day 2: Evening
Top off the day with a delicious burrito
You may have guessed earlier from the mention of the Mission District, but San Fran is actually home of the original mission burrito – made popular around the world in the 1960s. You can get your hands on one of these tasty treats at a number of hot spots, including El Castillito, Senor Sisig and La Taqueria.
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