Top Things To Do In San Francisco In A Day

8:13 PM

What once was wilderness and not all desirable 200 years ago mainly inhabited by native Americans and Spanish monks, changed in the year 1849 with the discovery of Gold sparkling the California Gold Rush bringing the population of SFO from merely 500 to 3500 in a little less than a year and those people who came in 1849 to strike rich were called 49ers and that’s how the Football team of SFO is call 49ers.

 At one time it was like the wild west out there with 2 stores, 2 libraries, 500 bars and 1000 gambling institutions with 80% male population. Today it is one of the most expensive cities to live in the entire US.

We, Biking with Blazing Saddles Rental Bikes on Golden Gate

 Call us foolish, because we thought we could do San Francisco in half a day! We arrived SFO late afternoon.We really haven’t had researched as we must have. But thankfully, we had two prominent Social influencers from India that time, Hrish and Nivedith, who took us to a little more journey inside San Francisco than we could.

 Before we go further, let’s talk about strangeness of SFO. SFO is really original and direct with their names. There is SOMA street the name of which came from South of market street, Financial district where finance happens, China town where Chinese live, the beach over the ocean is called Ocean beach and so on..

For newbies, the recommended number of days to cover the main attractions in San Francisco would be one full day or two days. If you wish to cover Yosemite which you must, add one more day.

 So today, we are going to talk about San Francisco through my eyes and eyes of my friends Hrish and Nivedith and why its just so cool!

1) San Francisco Landing is ‘Wow’ - Get Cameras Ready

 I wasn’t prepared for this and no one told us about this epic landing San Francisco has. So guys get your Cameras ready because you’d see the descent with the mountains and the sea.

 It has got one of the most beautiful landings I have ever seen if not any less after of course, Maldives.

2) Where to stay 

a)As Backpackers:  Hi San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf (starts $32 p person)  Owing to the proximity of the hostel from the Fisherman’s Wharf and the bay which was just a walk, we chose this hostel mainly because of the location at Fort Mason. Fort Mason served as army post for nearly 100 years and is a historic military base. You could see Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz from here.  The hostel is very old but well kept. We stayed in a dorm of 10 beds and if you are solo, this one would be the best bet. It’s the cheapest in the region. If you are not solo, the rooms don’t have attached washrooms so they have separate common washrooms for men and women.There are sections inside the washroom which separates one bath from another by curtains and walls. I took bath and I was OK. My hubby was hesitant in the men's washroom because he didn’t like the idea of curtains with the walls.

They do have hostel tours but we didn’t had time to explore that.. We found that compared to Europe, there wasn’t much chit chat in the rooms or people weren’t as friendly or talkative. Everyone was doing their own thing.

Apart from that, as staying in any hostel, the lights need to be switched off in time and also, the rooms had very few charging points. You can always give it at the counter for charging your extra appliances. Carry your own locks or you need to buy at the counter. But the location was optimum. Most hostels in SFO are located in Union Square and if you are staying in the downtown the best hostel in SFO is USA Hostels San Francisco at Post Street, Union Square.

We took us their airport pick up shuttle service from SFO Airport to Hi Fisherman's by Lorrie's Airport Service which costed us $14. Hi Fisherman's Wharf also gives you discount on Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals which we took.

 Tip1: In US, tipping is normal. So tip the local drivers on shared taxis, restaurants, travel agents etc.

b) Convenient: Parc 55 , Union Square : Hrish and Nivedith stayed in Parc 55 and by their pictures it looks like a perfect place to stay in the downtown.


c) Nearest to the Airport : #SFAirportMarriott seems like a great place to stay with spacious room and great views at the airport.

3) Take A Bike Ride From Fisherman’s Wharf to Golden Gate And Sausalito 

 If you have 2-3 hours to spare, instead of doing the Golden Gate the good old way, rent a bike at Blazing Saddles Fisherman’s Wharf (they have many multiple rental stations across SFO, find which one is nearest to you) and ride down all the way to Golden Gate and even further to Sausalito. You’d love it because in parts you would see the bay, in parts you would have to climb up, in parts climb down and with winds of SFO, it makes the journey great. Specially when you are up on the Golden Gate Bridge and the winds are in high speed you would feel exhilaration. It’s actually a long long bridge to bike with the winds. It feels never ending.

Tip2: With bike rentals take bike insurance. The bike insurance would be around 9-10 $. Roads with congested traffic in the city do have biking lanes.

 We just had two hours and we were amateur bikers so we could almost do 3/4 of the bridge and come back. But if you have 3 hours or more, go further to Sausalito (It is actually tempting to go there because you see green hills with the bridge and you’d be like wow the other side looks more exciting) and I have heard its a small artsy village and then come back by ferry ( When you take the rental, they’d be asked if you want the ferry tickets) . You can also take a bus half way while coming back if you are tired so tagging bikes on the front of the bus is very easy! If you are not familiar with how it happens you can ask the driver. Local buses in SFO are inexpensive and you can easily take it.

4) Take a cable car ride at Fisherman’s Wharf 

 Every visitor to SFO wants to take the Cable Car. And why not? With the tring tring of bells, with the driver also known as grip man smoothly operating grip and collecting $7 tickets, which requires turntables to reverse directions at the end of the line, and which takes you to a thrilling ride over hills as a roller coaster.

The best part of the fun is you could either sit inside or in the open seating or stand holding the rods.

The San Francisco cable car system is the world's last manually operated cable car system. While the cable cars are used to a certain extent by commuters, the vast majority of annual passengers are tourists..

On the second or third Thursday each July, a cable car bell-ringing contest is held in Union Square between cable car crews, following a preliminary round held during the second to last or the last week of June.

 We took the cable car ride from Fisherman’s Wharf to Powel Hyde. And we took the ride late at night because that’s the only time we had. But we have heard that the views during the day is amazing.. because you could also see the cable car descent with view of more visible sea and Alcatraz. All in the all, the experience itself whether day or night is worth a while.

5) Indulge in Chocolate at Ghirardelli 

 As you would be walking down from Fort Mason, first would come the public landmark square called 'Ghirardelli Square' which is famous for Chocolates and couple of shops carrying Chocolates. So try Chocolate specialties like Hot Fudge Sundae at Ghirardelli and then walk down to Fisherman’s wharf.

 6) Eat, Shop and Stroll at Fisherman’s Wharf 

 Fisherman’s Wharf is a lively place. Just a walk would refresh you. Try at restaurant Gary Danko for fish and Creme Brûlée trio and tasting menu ( a bit expensive but worth it!) . Grab breakfast at Hollywood cafe. Try Fish Tacos at CodMother Fish and Chips. Take a stroll down the wharf and collect many low cost souvenirs.

7) Watch Sea Lions Play At Pier 39 

At Pier 39

 After Fisherman’s wharf would come Pier 39. Pier 39 also has a lot of food options as Fisherman's Wharf (try Boudin bakery) and coastal food options with fresh catch of the day.

At Boudin Bakery

After you have enjoyed eating watch the Sea Lions loud and clear at the Pier 39…

8) Crooked Street 

Picture Source: Peter Lee on Flickr

Lombard Street is an east–west street in San Francisco, California that is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns. The Powell/Hyde cable car line actually ends up close to Ghirardelli Square where you can shop or eat; check out Ana Mandara, a Vietnamese restaurant that is owned by Don Johnson and Cheech Marin. Along the way you can exit the cable car at Lombard Street, famous for being "The world's crookedest street."

9) Visit Alcatraz 

 In the chilly waters of San Francisco from 1934-63, were housed America’s most notorious Criminals including gangster Al Capone and murderers. The prison was nicknamed ‘The rock’ and no inmate had ever escaped the prison even after dozen attempts. Today it’s a must visit tourist place. One of my friend who recently visited Alcatraz during night tours said ‘The prisons were so small and claustrophobic with just a bed that one could wonder how they survived. Everything that was there,was kept intact, even prisoners excretas’. If you have time, take the ferry down to Alcatraz. You would get the ferry from pier 33.

The link here would be helpful with your decision on which tour to take.

10) Drive, Visit Downtown or Chinatown

With the roads with the hills that goes up and down and down and up its a different experience driving in SFO.  You could also take the first ever GPS guided story telling small car called GoCar which would be a new experience too!

GoCar is the cutest way to go around..

Union Square is a central shopping area of downtown.The Chinatown centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street in San Francisco, California, is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia.

I would suggest keep 2 days at Leisure for San Francisco, but never try to make it half a day like we did! It's a beautiful place to be enjoyed fully. We'll have a quick vlog very soon with what we experienced in SFO!

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  1. Lovely! San Francisco sounds like a fun destination. There's so much to do and see. I particularly love the idea of just strolling, shopping and eating at Fisherman’s Wharf.

    1. Thanks Renuka. Yeah it is. It has got this whole vibe of coolness about it which I absolutely love and you would too!

  2. Awesome photos. I love San Francisco.

  3. Hello Anki,

    Amazing photographs. Enjoyed It. :) Love travel around Mumbai. Thanks!

    1. Thanks UCAB for liking the photographs :)

  4. Wow,Great landing picture.San Francisco is awesome travel detination.

    1. Thanks Roopa. Yeah I never thought that SFO landing would be so awesome, but it was!

  5. Thanks, Ankita! Looks like you guys had a great time in SF, even if you only had half a day to explore!

    1. Parc 55: How I wish we had more time.. But we did had a great time in SF in half a day! :) Thanks for liking my post.

  6. Interesting blog with amazing images, I like the food At Boudin Bakery. Keep Updating with new blogs.

  7. Thanks a lot for this lovely article. I really appreciate it. I helped me to plan my trip.


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