A LOCAL’S GUIDE TO SAN FRANCISCO

DAY 1:

  • Check into your hotel. If you can swing it, stay in the Fairmont in Nob Hill. This hotel is in the most perfect location and is absolutely gorgeous. If the price isn’t right, check out Airbnb’s within Nob Hill or Russian Hill.
  • Spend this day settling in and exploring what is around you. Go on a nice downhill walk to North Beach, also known as Little Italy. Visit the famous City Lights bookstore and get a drink at Vesuvio’s. Then venture to Coit Tower for a tour or simply panoramic views of the city!
  • For a raunchy and good time, watch San Francisco’s own Beach Blanket Babylon. This show is bound to entertain you from the humor or the incredible costumes and head pieces.
  • North Beach surrounds you with delectable Italian food choices. If you are on a budget and want something cheap, go to Golden Boy Pizza. The line is around the block most times of the day…and especially after a night of dancing and drinking. This is my favorite pizza in all of San Francisco!
  • If you are of age, go out on the town in North Beach. Maggie McGarry’s has live music and dancing on the weekends. It is also just around the corner from Golden Boy Pizza. Kell’s also has drinks and dancing!

DAY 2:

  • You have only experienced one of San Francisco’s many districts! Today, I suggest you go towards the Embarcadero…and wear your walking shoes.
  • Begin your day with a walk through the downtown area to the Embarcadero’s Ferry Building. The Ferry Building has a farmer’s market Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 10, and Saturdays starting at 8. Fill up on free samples and grab some breakfast at one of the many restaurants within the Ferry Building. Make sure you check out the local vendors that pop up tents around the Ferry Building.
    • At the Ferry Building you get incredible Bay Bridge views. Going in the morning will help you dodge some of the tourists!
  • Begin your walk to the Alcatraz ferry. You MUST have tickets in advance. This experience is unlike any other so don’t rush your time on Alcatraz. The views looking back on San Francisco are breathtaking! For brave folk, you can take an Alcatraz tour at night!
  • After your tour, keep walking Embarcadero to Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf. This is one of the craziest tourist spots, but it is something you do have to experience for yourself. Shop around and grab some food!
  • Next stop is the Buena Vista for Irish Coffees. You are going to need an afternoon pick-me-up after this long day of walking! Get your buzz on and walk slightly uphill to Ghirardelli Square. If the coffee didn’t wake you up enough, perhaps an ice cream will!
  • Hop on the Hyde street trolley. This is San Francisco’s most famous trolley line as it gives you the most incredible views. Ride it all the way up to Lombard Street. Hop off to check out the crooked street then hop back on to head back to your hotel in Russian Hill or Nob Hill.
  • If you want to go out on the town tonight, try Russian Hill. There are homey bars like The Cabin or corky bars like Kozy Kar. Kozy Kar is one of my favorites. Imagine the ultimate 70’s bar…shag rugs, water beds, jacuzzi tub seats, have I sold you yet? For some midnight snacks, Bob’s Donuts does not disappoint. Once again, prepare for a long line of drungry (drunk-hungry) folks.

DAY 3:

  • Beep Beep! Today, you will explore San Francisco in a yellow buggy! Before you do so, you will need fuel. Head on over to St. Frank’s Coffee in Russian Hill for some caffeine. Here, you can do espresso tastings. If you want a full and hearty breakfast, head to my all-time favorite brunch spot, Mymy. 
  • If you are confident on a scooter, I would use Scoot or rent a Vespa. Otherwise, renting a yellow buggy is just as fun! The buggy tour directs you through San Francisco, telling you where to stop. It will take you to the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Presidio, and to Fort Mason. If you can park the buggy in a safe zone, walk from Crissy Field to the Golden Gate Bridge. If you are adventurous, walk the bridge. It takes about an hour to get across and an hour to get back so plan accordingly.
  • Since you are now in the Marina district, explore it! The Palace of the Fine Arts is a stones throw away from Crissy Fields. Grab sandwiches or salads at Blue Barn on Chestnut street and enjoy a picnic at the Palace. I guarantee you that you will see at least one quinceañera or wedding photoshoot.
  • While in this part of San Francisco, consider going to the Mrs. Doubtfire house. It is just a quick trip up the hill! On your way to return the buggies, make a stop at the Lyon Street steps for wonderful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of the Fine Arts.
  • On Tuesday nights in San Francisco, Grace Cathedral hosts donation based yoga. This is one of the most peaceful settings I have ever been in. The church alone is gorgeous, but doing yoga in this setting is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It is events like this that make me love San Francisco!
  • Enjoy a very nice dinner at Epic Steakhouse. Sitting right on the water and underneath the Bay Bridge, you are guaranteed a night to remember. The Bay Bridge light show begins at 07:25PM so make sure you can watch this spectacle!

DAY 4:

  • Did you really go to SF if you didn’t brunch!? Sweet Maple can provide that and more. They are famous for their millionaire bacon…excuse me while I wipe the drool from my mouth.
  • Today, you will explore the other side of San Francisco. After you fill up on bacon, head to the Painted Ladies at Alamo Square Park. For those of you who don’t know what the Painted Ladies are, they are the Full House houses!
  • Walk Divisadero street to Haight Ashbury. This area is known for music and art. Shop around at some of the record stores and pick up some fun trinkets. You can also check out The Independent’s concert schedule and add this to your day!
  • Continue walking to Golden Gate park. You may want to hop on public transport or in a Lyft depending upon how ambitious you are. The Japanese Tea Gardens are my favorite site here. This park is massive and even has live buffalo!
  • For a night out on the town, go to the Tonga Room in the Fairmont. This bar/restaurant has a floating boat hosting a live band, real rain from the ceiling, dancing, and rum punch. Need I say more? Should you choose to dine here, reservations made in advance are necessary.

DAY 5:

  • Begin your morning exploring Chinatown. It is just downhill from either Nob Hill or Russian Hill and can’t be missed. There is so much authentic culture here and delicious Chinese food! For my favorite, go to Yank Sing Dim Sum. The wait will be worth it.
  • We haven’t even scathed the surface of the arts in San Francisco yet. If you are an artsy-folk, the San Francisco MOMA is a must. I would suggest beginning your day with this museum as it gets packed. If you would rather be outdoors, I would do a hike at the Sutro Baths to Land’s End! This gives you a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the other side. The path is lined with redwoods and supplies the most gorgeous scenery and crisp air. Depending upon the weather, a trip to Baker Beach could be added to the itinerary!
  • Grab a killer acaí bowl from Basik on Polk Street and enjoy the bowl at either Dolores Park (in the Mission) or Fort Mason Park.
  • On Thursday nights, the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park hosts an adult night. They open up the museum for 21+ year olds. There is a DJ and drinks being served. It is such a fun way to experience the museum. Additionally, the Conservatory of Flowers now does a light show at night. Seeing the white building illuminate with colors is captivating.

DAY 6:

  • Today is your last full day in SF. Head over the Golden Gate Bridge by either bikes or car and stop at the Marin Headlands and take pictures of the bridge and the bay from above. Continue on to Sausalito, an affluent town just across the water from San Francisco. There are cute stores and places to eat.
  • You can head to Bar Bocce to get an afternoon cocktail and play bocce on the beach. Then head back to SF by car, ferry, or hit the bay on a sailboat!
  • End the night with a meal at my favorite restaurant, Nob Hill Cafe. They do not take reservations so get there early and enjoy a bottle of their house red. The wait is worth it…trust me.
  • After your tummy is filled with the best carbinera imaginable, walk three blocks uphill to Ina Coolbrith Park. You will have spectacular nighttime views of San Francisco. If you time it right, you may see the Bay Bridge light show!
  • Your last night in San Francisco should be spent drinking and dancing at the one and only Johnny Foley’s Dueling Piano Bar. Foley’s is a guaranteed good time!

DAY 7:

  • It is time to head home, sniff sniff. On your way back to the airport, stop at Twin Peaks for a Bird’s Eye View of the city you just fully explored. Look back on this trip of a lifetime!

If you missed it, check out my basics for Planning Your Trip to San Francisco. 

 

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