The views are expansive and the rent is expensive in this hilly, Californian city atop a peninsula wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay, and three days here will offer plenty to do and see. On a clear day, the Bay glistens, framed by a pinkish-orange hazy sky and brick-red hills speckled with green trees. Though its “international orange” color was chosen so it would stand out on the city’s often foggy days, the Golden Gate Bridge gracefully and unassumingly spans the bay as if it were part of the natural landscape. Downtown, densely packed streets bustle and streetcars ring their bells as they scale the city’s steep hills. The Fifth Avenue luxury of Union Square, the character of Chinatown, the hippie counterculture-seeped Haight-Ashbury, and the colorful murals and Latinx culture of the Mission District all share this vast city’s streets. Whether it’s a shin splint-inducing walk up a 45 degree incline, or the sparkling vista once you get to the top, something is sure to take your breath away. If you have 72 hours to spend in San Francisco, this itinerary can help you get the most out of your stay.
Explore one of San Francisco’s quirkiest neighborhoods and take a bike tour for some scenic views.
Morning: Take a bike tour over the Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is a main highlight and tourist attraction. Although you can also walk or drive, we recommend taking a guided bike tour across. Your guide will offer some interesting tidbits as you pedal, and you’ll be treated to some pretty spectacular views. You’ll end in Sausalito, a charming seaside town right on the other side of the bridge.
Lunchtime: Take a food tour in the Mission District
Skip the touristy hotspots and take a food tour of some of San Francisco’s best hidden gems and local favorites. A local foodie will lead the way as you sample your way through the Mission District, one of the best neighborhoods in the city for culinary dishes and off-the-beaten path restaurants.
Afternoon: Take a stroll around Haight-Ashbury
Peaking in 1967 with the Summer of Love, take a stroll through the neighborhood that was once the center of national attention, as young people flocked here to play music and participate in an unfolding social experiment: the hippie movement. Living by counter-cultural principles of peace, love, and sharing, these folks rejected consumer capitalism for what they hoped would be a new world order. On the stretch of Haight Street, between Buena Vista Park and the Golden Gate Park, you’ll find eclectic vintage and thrift shops, independent bookstores, bars, and even a store whose specialty is socks. Rock fans can pay a visit to the former house of The Grateful Dead, located at 710 Ashbury St. Peruse the array of zany stores with their odds and ends, pop tags at thrift stores, and imagine what it was like here 50 years ago when a new way of thinking rocked the world.
Evening: Nosh on some seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf
Whether you want to eat on the fly or sit down for a leisurely meal, Fisherman’s Wharf is where you want to go for some of the city’s best seafood. Dig into a pile of Dungeness crab or a steaming bowl of seafood chowder as you admire the sparkling views of the bay. It’s the perfect ending to your first day here.
Get out of the city and sip some of the country’s best wines.
Morning and afternoon: Take a day trip to Napa and Sonoma Wine Country
You can’t come to San Francisco without a day trip to Wine Country. A guided tour of Napa and Sonoma is the best way to see the wide array of family-owned wineries this area of the country has to offer. Grab a glass of red or white as you gaze across the endless vineyards—we guarantee it will make you want to pack up and open a winery of your own. Plus, a guided tour means you don’t have to worry about driving, so you can sip and sample to your heart’s content. Cheers!
Evening: Taco time in the Mission District
A long day of drinking wine will definitely leave you with the munchies and you’ll be on the search for dinner once you return. We’ll let you in on a little secret—the city’s Mission District has some of the best tacos in the city. If you were abducted by aliens and woke up here, you wouldn’t guess you were in San Francisco. Still, after smelling the aroma and seeing the food, you probably wouldn’t be all that worried about your abduction. Choose your meat and how many you want to devour, and settle in for some of the best tacos you’ve had in a long time.
Check out one of San Francisco’s many museums and get a workout (with a view!) on the Lyon Street Steps.
Morning: Get cultured at the Palace of Fine Arts
The site of a theatre which regularly hosts productions, the main event is really just walking around the place and revealing in its architectural beauty. Built with Roman and Greek influences in mind, pillars and arches wrap around a lake which displays its shimmering reflection. Swans, ducks, turtles, seagulls and fish make this pond home, and birds sing from the surrounding trees. Meander around the lake and through the Palace, taking in its towering aura and tranquil feel. This is a great starting spot if you plan to walk the stunning stretch along the water towards Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge. Or, combine it with the city’s other top sightseeing spots on a guided walking tour.
Lunchtime: Grab breakfast for lunch at Mama’s on Washington Square
Mama’s is a San Francisco mainstay, and brunch here is an absolute must when you’re in town. Fair warning–the line will be long when you show up, but don’t let that deter you. Once you get inside and seated, you’ll be treated to a delectable array of fluffy omelets, fresh-baked breads and pastries, and some of the best homemade jam you’ll ever have.
Afternoon: Walk up and down Lyon Street Steps
With a belly full of brunch-y goodness, you’ll have plenty of energy for exploring the rest of the afternoon–if you’re feeling up for it, head to Lyon Street for some amazing views and photo ops. At the top is Billionaires Row, the mansion-studded stretch of Broadway home to San Francisco’s richest residents. Start up there so you don’t need to climb all the steps. After “window-shopping” for a house, head over to the Lyon Street Steps. So much more than just a staircase, the steps are a manicured garden on an incline with sculptures and an excellent view of the bay and the Palace of Fine Arts, which is just a 15-minute walk down Lyon Street. Meander your way down, and while you’re caught up in the view of boats out on the bay, don’t forget to look back up at the gardens as you descend.
Evening: Go on a pub crawl in North Beach
A night on the town is the perfect way to end your stay in San Francisco. Discover some of the city’s best bars and pubs on a guided pub crawl in North Beach. You’ll get the chance to check out some well-know hotspots, plus some lesser-known gems that are favorites among locals. From sidewalk cafes to energizing jazz performances, it’s a great way to experience the city’s eclectic and varied taste in nightlife. Drink responsibly and enjoy!