Summer time is a great time of year for weekend getaways, and one of the best places in the United States to go for a weekend getaway is San Francisco. Set in the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula in northern California, San Francisco is a cool mix of big-city living, coupled with a laid-back West Coast vibe. LeafCanoer, cmlenny, recently shared her experiences visiting San Francisco in her leaf entitled, “San Francisco – Things to See.” Her leaf is full of great suggestions for places to visit and activities to do in San Francisco.
You can easily spend days or weeks in San Francisco, exploring every unique and quirky neighborhood. But for a weekend getaway, you essentially only have a day. For those planning a short trip to the city, here is how to spend a day in San Francisco.
Have breakfast at Fisherman’s Wharf
Start your day off by heading over to Fisherman’s Wharf, on San Francisco’s Pier 39. This pier is a particularly popular spot for tourists, mainly due to the famous sea lions who have taken up residence on the pier since 1989. These animals are present year round, and love having their picture taken. There are plenty of breakfast options around Fisherman’s Wharf, and in nearby Russian Hill.
Ride bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge
After checking out the sea lions, rent a bike and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. There are four or five bike rental companies that operate out of Fisherman’s Wharf. These companies will equip you with a bike, helmet, locks, and maps for your ride. Once you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, spend an hour or so exploring the town of Sausalito, before heading back to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Ferry.
Picnic at the Palace of Fine Arts
For lunch, pick up some food to go, and head over to the Palace of Fine Arts for a picnic. Originally built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition, the Palace of Fine Arts houses art exhibits and is a popular place for tourists and locals to spend an afternoon. The palace sits on the banks of a lagoon, and is a great area for spotting swans, ducks, geese, and even turtles.
Tour the city on a cable car
One of the most iconic images of San Francisco is that of the cable car. This mode of transportation, built specifically to handle San Francisco’s many hills, was installed in the late 1800’s. These days, locals still use the cable cars to get around town, but most riders are tourists looking to get the San Francisco experience. There are three cable car routes in operation: two that run north and south, and one running east and west. From the Palace of Fine Arts, the nearest cable car route is the Powell-Hyde line, which picks up at the Aquatic Center near Ghiradelli Square.
Grab some dim sum in Chinatown
While riding the cable car, hop off at Chinatown for a bite of some authentic dim sum. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest in the United States, as well as the oldest. The neighborhood covers roughly 24 blocks, centered around Grant Street and Stockton Street. Worth visiting is the Dragon Gate, at the intersection of Bush Street and Grant Street, as well as the many Asian produce and fish markets that run along Stockton Street. Also check out the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, which offers free tours of its facilities.
As many visitors to San Francisco can attest, one day is not nearly enough time to explore and really get to know the character of the city. But if you can only spend a day in San Francisco, these spots are certainly a great starting off point for your exploration.