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One Day In S.F.: Spend 24 Hours in the City by the Bay
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One Day In S.F.: Spend 24 Hours in the City by the Bay

There are just so many things to do in S.F. Fog City boasts some of the best art galleries, restaurants, and architecture in the Bay Area.

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5 min read

August 05, 2021

You’ve seen the photos, you’ve read the reviews, you’ve heard the experiences, and you’re just done dreaming. All you want to do is pack your things and head to San Francisco, even if it’s just one day in S.F. And you know what? Go ahead and do it. We get it—planning for a short trip can be a little confusing and overwhelming; there’s just so much to see. But if you are adamant enough, you can totally make the best out of your stay.

There are just so many things to do in S.F. Fog City boasts some of the best art galleries, restaurants, architecture, parks, and neighborhoods in the Bay Area. Follow this San Francisco one-day itinerary and you’ll cover most of the must-see spots.

San Francisco is known for its cool summers, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks including the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

Arriving

To make sure you fully experience San Francisco in one day, it’s best to arrive the night before. If you’re driving from the City of Angels, driving on Interstate 5 is the quickest route. But if you’re heading south from the North Coast, California State Route 128 is the highway you want to take. Upon arriving, get a good night’s rest at Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf for the ultimate bay views. The hotel is not only modern and cozy, but it’s also a walking distance from many of the spots you’ll be visiting the next day. 

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8 a.m.

Rise and shine, explorer! Put on your comfiest clothes and get ready to embark on your one-day journey in S.F.—you have a long day ahead. Your first stop is at Eight Am, one of the best brunch spots in the area. Lucky for you, it’s right across the street from your hotel; their avocado toast and fruit cups will blow your mind. Once you’re done having the most important meal of the day, stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf, or better yet, cycle one of the bike routes in the area. Oh, and did we mention the views here? The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island will keep an eye on you as you bike throughout the neighborhood. 

Lombard Street is a major tourist attraction, receiving around two million visitors per year and up to 17,000 per day on busy summer weekends.

10 a.m.

Next up is checking out an iconic street—the beautifully crooked Lombard Street, one of the top San Francisco attractions. This is where all the Bay Area photo ops are. The famous street has eight hairpin turns, which made it gain the nickname "the crookedest street in the world." Admire the street, then make your way towards the San Francisco Art Institute; it’s only a 10-minute walk from Lombard Street. Before going in, make sure you take in the beautiful architecture of the institute. Once you’re there, the first thing you’ll want to do is check out the Diego Rivera Gallery.

Chinatown has been highly important and influential in the history and culture of ethnic Chinese immigrants in North America.

12 p.m.

You biked in the morning, got your art fix, and it’s noon—time for lunch! Walk towards Little Italy for authentic Italian food straight out of Sicily. Piccolo Forno Pizzeria should be your first choice. This restaurant’s mushroom ravioli and prosciutto Crudo pizzas are as delicious and mouthwatering as it gets; you’re going to want to take your time to savor every bite. 

But don’t stop at Little Italy; Chinatown isn’t too far away. Walk underneath the red lanterns, take more photos, and learn about the hidden history of San Francisco as you admire this unique ethnic neighborhood

During the Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s, S.F. became a center of liberal activism and counterculture.

2 p.m.

From Chinatown, take a short BART ride to Haight-Ashbury for more cool places to visit in San Francisco. This iconic district is essentially the birthplace of the hippie and counterculture of the 60s, meaning there’s so much history to uncover here. Admire the colorful Victorian-style houses and then shop for unique finds at the many thrift stores. Whether you’re looking for accessories, tapestry, wall art, or 60s memorabilia, you’ll find everything in Haight-Ashbury. As you explore the depths of the district, you’ll pass by houses and apartments where some of the best 60s singers and bands lived—we’re talking about The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and many more.

The Japanese Tea Garden has sculptures and structures influenced by Buddhist and Shinto religious beliefs, and many elements of water and rocks.

4 p.m.

It’s never the wrong time for tea, so you better go straight to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. A visit here is a rite of passage—no San Francisco itinerary is complete without checking out the oldest public Japanese garden in the country. Enjoy being surrounded by blooming flowers and snap a pic or two by the gorgeous drum bridge and the historic pagoda. Later, it’s time to explore the rest of the unique things Golden Gate Park has to offer. Check out the botanical garden, Stow Lake (if the urban legends don’t freak you out), and Hippie Hill; these are the things you MUST see in San Francisco

6 a.m.

Golden Gate Park can be very tempting with all its attractions, and you’re going to want to stay longer. But there are more things to do in San Francisco in one day, and we have to cover more ground, so it’s best to head out. Now, it’s time for fine dining. You’ve already had your typical American breakfast, Italian lunch, and Japanese tea. Get even more diverse by choosing French restaurant L’Ardoise Bistro. Order their traditional duck leg confit with a side of calamari salad—you’ll thank us later.

Twin Peaks features hiking trails that lead up to wind-swept peaks and 360-degree views of the Bay Area.

8 p.m.

If you take the BART or a cab right now, you’ll make it to Twin Peaks right around sunset. This is your go-to place to watch the sunset. Find a spot to soak in the 360-degree views of the Bay Area—that is, of course, if San Francisco isn’t too foggy. This view is definitely one of the best things to see in S.F. and the perfect way to conclude the evening.

10 p.m.

It's time to head back to your hotel. You did it. You saw as much of S.F. as you could squeeze into a day. There’s so much more to enjoy in this city. Who would’ve thought there are so many things to do in San Francisco in one day? One visit doesn’t do Fog City justice—you’ll end up leaving your heart here and wanting to come back. Now that would call for a whole different San Francisco itinerary.

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