While planning my two week trip to California, I wanted to fill my time with as many activities as possible. I didn’t want a minute to go to waste and my itinerary certainly reflected that! I flew into San Francisco from Toronto and allotted three full days to explore the city before heading north to Napa Valley.
One thing that didn’t make this list is something that we intended to do, but I unfortunately forgot to buy tickets a few months in advance! I had been sufficiently warned, but I simply forgot, and when I did try to get tickets everything was long sold out. It was for the nighttime tour of Alcatraz. I didn’t include it in the list below because I didn’t do it myself, but it is still something I would recommend looking into. The daytime tours can take up almost a whole day, whereas the nighttime tour allows time to explore during the day and a unique darkness (literally and figuratively) that I imagine would add an enticing eeriness to the experience.
I really enjoyed my time in the city. I would say my favourite thing was ride the cable car to as many places as possible as well as explore on foot and work my calf muscles from the endless hills!
In no particular order, here are my top 10 recommendations of things to do when visiting San Francisco for a few days:
1. Fisherman’s Wharf
Take a long stroll along the many boardwalks of Fisherman’s Wharf. Indulge on some beignets, listen to street music, look for Alcatraz out in the ocean, and watch the sea lions on Pier 39. A trip to Fisherman’s Wharf offers endless options to spend the day.
2. Lombard Street
Also known as the World’s “Crookedest” Street! It also happens to be a beautiful scene, with manicured gardens, charming homes, and views of the neighbourhood and ocean.
3. Breakfast at Mama’s on Washington Square
Be sure to get their early! The food at Mama’s on Washington Square is scrumptious. I suggest ordering the French toast trio of cranberry orange, chocolate cinnamon, and brioche raisin. The food and atmosphere does not disappoint.
4. Twin Peaks
The view from Twin Peaks offers the best panoramic views of San Francisco, in my opinion. You can drive and park at the top while you explore the peaks and enjoy the view below.
5. Ride a Cable Car
My favourite way to spend an afternoon in San Fran! I found riding the cable cars incredibly fun to different neighbourhoods in the city. From Fisherman’s Wharf to Mission District there are countless stops in between to explore.
6. The Painted Ladies
A “Full House” icon. These architectural beauties instantly bring upon nostalgia to your Full House viewing days. Refraining from singing the theme song at some point during your visit is next to impossible.
7. Hike Land’s End Trail
What an awesome surprise this trail was! The entrance was a bit tricky to locate, but once we discovered the trail we were rewarded with unique views of the Golden Gate Bridge while hiking along a steep yet beautiful cliff. This can be a bit of a foggy and chilly hike so warm clothes is a must!
8. Coit Tower
Another spot for great panoramic views of the city. The lineups here can get a little lengthy since it is right in the heart of the city. Note that you can also head up to Twin Peaks for just as good views of the city, if not better!
9. Watch the sun set at Cliff House Restaurant
Enjoy a delicious dinner while watching the sun set over Ocean Beach. The restaurant houses large panoramic windows to enjoy beautiful views of the ocean and the setting sun. Make sure to get a window seat!
10. Battery Spencer view of Golden Gate
On your way in or out of the city, be sure to make a photo stop at the Battery Spencer viewpoint of the Golden Gate Bridge. Located in the Marin Headlands it offers postcard perfect views of the architectural beauty, relatively free of other visitors. The reason why so many people get proposed to at this spot is very obvious!
What are some of your favourite things to do while visiting San Francisco? Please share below!