San Francisco is an amazing city with so much to offer. Even though there is plenty to do, you can spend a weekend in San Francisco and accomplish a good amount of sight-seeing. If you have 3 days to spend in San Francisco, here is a sample itinerary to get you started.
3-Day Weekend In San Francisco
»Breakfast @ Tartine Bakery & Cafe: Grab breakfast from Tartine Bakery & Cafe before starting your day in the city. Known for its delicious pastries, bread, and coffee, it’s the perfect place for a quick breakfast. If you’re looking to be more efficient, they also offer online ordering.
»Alcatraz Tour: A weekend in San Francisco would not be complete without a trip to Alcatraz. After you get your breakfast fix, head to the Embarcadero for the ferry pick up. The ferry picks up at Pier 33 and takes you to the island where you tour the former federal prison that once housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals. The audio tour provides a really interesting look at the history of the prison. Bonus – you get some great views of the city from the ferry as well. Note: It’s HIGHLY recommended that you purchase Alcatraz tickets in advance.
»Pier 39: Once your ferry arrives, head over to Pier 39 to see the famous sea lions. It’s a quick 6 minute walk from Pier 33.
»Lunch @ Fog Harbor Fish House: Once you’ve gotten your pictures of the sea lions, walk 1 minute to Fog Harbor Fish House for a delicious lunch. Be sure to get their famous clam chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl – it’s arguably the best in the city. You can also make reservations online.
»Aquarium Of The Bay: If you like marine life, Aquarium of the Bay is a must. It’s home to over 20,000 marine animals that live in the SF bay. Be sure to go through the underwater tunnel where you can walk through a glass tunnel surrounded by sharks, fish, and other marine animals.
»Fisherman’s Wharf: If you feel like exploring more, spend some more time walking around the Fisherman’s Wharf. There are tons of tourist shops, restaurants, and even street performers.
»Ghirardelli Square: Head to Ghirardelli Square (about a 15 minute walk from Fisherman’s Wharf) for delicious chocolates and coffee. The square also sometimes offers live entertainment throughout the year.
»Walk Around North Beach: Before heading to dinner, be sure to save time to walk around the North Beach neighborhood. North Beach is a historic neighborhood, known for its Italian heritage and fun nightlife.
»(Option 1) Dinner @ Sotto Mare: Sotto Mare is a must if you’re looking for more of a sit-down option for dinner. Sotto Mare is known for its Cioppino and offers some of the freshest seafood in San Francisco.
»(Option 2) Dinner @ Golden Boy Pizza: Golden Boy Pizza is the perfect option if you’re looking for a quick bite after a long day. Located in North Beach, Golden Boy arguably offers some of the best pizza in the city.
»Drinks @ The Devil’s Acre: If you’re spending a night out in North Beach, be sure to check out The Devil’s Acre. The drink menu features a variety of handcrafted cocktails inspired by the flavors and ingredients of the 19th century.
»Breakfast @ Mama’s On Washington Square: Mama’s is a staple breakfast spot in San Francisco and has been around for over 50 years. Try to get there on the earlier side, as there is usually a long wait (they do not take reservations). If you don’t feel like getting there early, they offer an order ahead option. The Farmers M’omelette and any of the Benedicts are some of the more popular dishes. And if you’re there for lunch (11a-3p), be sure to try Mama’s Cristo.
»Ride a Cable Car: From Mama’s, take a 12 minute walk to the Powell-Mason cable car pick up. The cable car picks you up at the Powell Street Cable Car turnaround off of Market Street in Union Square. A weekend in San Francisco (& a USA bucket list must) is a cable car ride.
»Painted Ladies: The Painted Ladies is another iconic photo-op. They are a row of Victorian and Edwardian houses located on Steiner Street in the Alamo Square neighborhood. Built in the late 1800s, they are known for their brightly painted exteriors and intricate architectural details. They’ve been featured in many movies and tv shows (ex: Full House) and have a beautiful backdrop of the SF city.
»Lunch @ Ferry Building Marketplace: Next, head over to the Ferry Building Marketplace. The Ferry Building Marketplace is a historic landmark in the city, built in 1898. Today, it’s home to many shops, bakeries, restaurants, and more. If your “day 2” happens to be on a Saturday, don’t miss the Farmers Market from 8a-2p. It’s one of the top farmers markets in the country! Be sure to grab lunch at one of the many spots and don’t miss the gorgeous views of the Bay Bridge.
»San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or SFMOMA, is a famous museum dedicated to contemporary and modern art (hence the name!). Located in the South of Market district, SFMOMA features a large collection of 33,000+ pieces of art including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations. The museum also hosts a rotating selection of special exhibitions. The museum hours are:
- Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday: 10a-5p
- Thursday: 1-8p
- Wednesday: Closed
»Chinatown: Located in the heart of the city, Chinatown is known for its high energy, decor, and of course, delicious food. Walk around the many shops and markets, and admire all the colorful lanterns. Be sure to also take a picture in front of Dragon Gate. If you’re hungry, don’t miss the amazing food – you can’t go wrong with anywhere you choose.
»(Option 1) Dinner @ Foreign Cinema: Foreign Cinema is located in a historic 1915 building and offers Californian and Mediterranean dishes. Aside from its great food, the restaurant is known for its outdoor courtyard where classic movies are projected on a large screen while you’re eating dinner. It’s a great spot for a romantic date night or even a group dinner.
»(Option 2) Dinner @ La Taqueria: If you’re looking for something more casual/quick, head to La Taqueria, a famous Mexican restaurant in the Mission District. It’s known for its delicious tacos and their “Mission-style” burrito.
»Drinks In The Mission District: After dinner, spend a night out in the Mission District. If you’re looking for a good cocktail bar, try Trick Dog. If you’re looking for something a little more casual, check out Zeitgeist.
»Breakfast @ Sweet Maple: Sweet Maple is another popular breakfast spot, located in the Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. The restaurant is known for their famous Millionaire’s Bacon – thick-cut bacon coated in brown sugar and spices. The Bay Bottom omelete is also delicious. They do not take reservations, but if you get there early enough, the wait shouldn’t be too long.
»See the Golden Gate Bridge: Another weekend in San Francisco must-see is the Golden Gate Bridge. You can walk/bike off your breakfast if you feel like it. Otherwise, just admire the views of the bridge, bay and skyline from Crissy Field Beach or the Presidio. If you prefer a sunset shot, save this for the evening and head to Crissy Field Beach for gorgeous sunset views of the bridge.
»Palace of Fine Arts: The Palace of Fine Arts is a beautiful landmark, about a 10 minute walk from Crissy Field Beach. It was built in 1915, designed to be a temporary structure for an event, but was reconstructed after being admired by many. The grounds are also perfect for a scenic walk, with plenty of photo-ops along the way.
»Pick Up Lunch @ Lou’s Cafe: Lou’s is a local favorite in San Francisco. There are 4 locations in the city, but the one on Geary is closest if you’re following this itinerary! Grab a sandwich before heading to Golden Gate Park for a picnic.
»Picnic In Golden Gate Park: After grabbing lunch, head to Golden Gate Park, one of the largest urban parks in the world. There are plenty of areas to picnic, relax, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the city.
»Lombard Street: If you don’t have a car in the city, see if you can get a ride-share driver to take you down Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the world. If you can’t drive it, you can head to the top and take pictures.
»(Option 1) Dinner @ Tacolicious: Tacolicious is another popular San Francisco Mexican restaurant offering delicious food and fresh ingredients. They also have great cocktails if you’re looking to start your night early.
»(Option 2) Dinner @ Super Duper Burgers: If you’re looking for something a little quicker, head to Super Duper Burgers in the Marina district. Their burgers (and the secret Super Sauce) are delicious.
»Drinks In The Marina District: After dinner, spend a night out in the Marina District and check out one of the many bars such as the Tipsy Pig, The Brixton, or The Dorian.
The Quick List:
- Breakfast @ Tartine Bakery & Cafe
- Alcatraz Tour
- Pier 39
- Lunch @ Fog Harbor Fish House
- Aquarium Of The Bay
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Ghirardelli Square
- Walk Around North Beach
- Dinner @ Sotto Mare or Golden Boy Pizza
- Drinks in North Beach
- Breakfast @ Mama’s On Washington Square
- Ride a Cable Car
- Painted Ladies
- Lunch @ Ferry Building Marketplace
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Dinner @ Foreign Cinema or La Taqueria
- Drinks in the Mission District
- Breakfast @ Sweet Maple
- See the Golden Gate Bridge (from Crissy Field Beach or the Presidio)
- Palace Of The Fine Arts
- Pick up lunch from Lou’s Cafe & Picnic in Golden Gate Park
- Lombard Street
- Dinner @ Tacolicious or Super Duper Burgers
- Drinks in the Marina District
Looking for more?
*If you’re looking for more, be sure to check out the San Francisco travel guide post
*If you’ve booked a weekend in San Francisco and don’t want to plan, be sure to check out my San Francisco travel guide which includes where to stay, how to get around, 45+ things to do, and 55+ places to eat/drink
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