Our guide to San Francisco tourist attractions
In town for just a day or an entire week? Brought the fam or flying solo? No matter what your trip looks like, we've got ideas for making it a memorable one. Follow our San Francisco itineraries for a day or two (or three or four) to see some of the best this city has to offer.
1-2 Day San Francisco Itinerary
- With limited time in San Francisco, get your morning off to a good start at Blue Bottle Coffee, a locally loved specialty coffee roaster. Not sure what to order? The New Orleans-Style Iced Coffee is a fan favorite.
- Once you're caffeinated, hike to the top of Twin Peaks for panoramic views of San Francisco and the bay beyond. From here, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the entire city skyline.
- For lunch, keep it low-key with a sandwich from Molinari Delicatessen, a local institution that dates back to the late 1800s. Now that you're in North Beach, drop by the storied City Lights bookstore, ride a cable car, or look for the parrots of Telegraph Hill.
- In the evening, go on the Alcatraz Night Tour to experience this famous federal prison with fewer crowds. Then wander through Fisherman's Wharf to experience the hubbub of one of the busiest parts of town. (You can't go wrong with a bowl of clam chowder and a side of people-watching.)
3-4 Day San Francisco Itinerary
- Day three is a good day to wander the city's world-renowned museums. Set in a beautiful neoclassical building, the Legion of Honor is an art museum that explores 4,000 years of history through ancient art, European paintings, and one of the largest repositories of works of art on paper in the country. Other notable museums include the California Academy of Sciences, the Walt Disney Family Museum, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the de Young Museum.
- Want a nontraditional sporting experience ? During baseball season when the Giants are playing, rent a kayak and paddle McCovey Cove — named after the legendary first baseman Willie McCovey — by the right field wall of Oracle Park. You just might get lucky and scoop up a home run that hits the water, aka a splash hit.
- On day four, take stock of what you've seen: the funky boutiques of Haight-Ashbury? The famously colorful Painted Ladies of Alamo Square? The hairpin turns of Lombard Street? The maze of alleys in Chinatown? Hit up what's calling to you — then make a plan to return to catch the rest next time.
Family-Friendly San Francisco Itinerary
- As the name suggests, there's so much to explore at Exploratorium, a science museum that will stoke your children's curiosity with hundreds of hands-on exhibits that cover everything from gravity to memory to tornadoes.
- Letting your imagination run wild works up an appetite, so walk to the nearby Ferry Building next and wander through the colorful stalls in search of sustenance. The classic corn dogs and fries at Gott's Roadside just might hit the spot.
- In the afternoon, relax on a San Francisco Bay Cruise. At 60 minutes, it's just long enough to give you a new perspective on the city without taxing short attention spans.
- For dinner, Tenroku Sushi near the hotel is bound to be memorable, thanks to its conveyor belt of sushi that makes picking out your meal just as fun as eating it.
- For an after-dinner treat, the whole family will love Salt & Straw, with rich and often-inventive ice cream flavors like Chocolate Gooey Brownie, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, and Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper.
Romantic San Francisco Itinerary
- During the day, grab some takeout food in Japantown — perhaps a cheese and avocado crepe from Sophie's Crepes, balls of batter with octopus from Takoyaki Yamo-chen, or the beloved coffee crunch cake from Yasukochi's Sweet Shop — and then head to Alta Plaza Park for a picnic lunch against a backdrop of panoramic views.
- If more green space sounds good to you, make your way to the Garden of Shakespeare's Flowers in Golden Gate Park. You can't help but feel the love while taking in the blooms that illustrate famous lines from the Bard himself.
- Kick off the evening portion of your program with a glass of wine (or a “winetail”) at The Social Study, a lounge that deftly transitions from day to night.
- Later in the evening, catch a show at The Fillmore, a historic venue that was a dance hall and roller rink before becoming known in the 1960s for hosting music acts like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Otis Redding. Today, you'll find a mix of major headliners, up-and-comers, and comedy legends.