Put on a solid pair of walking shoes and possibly some track pants, because this jam packed 24 hours in SF certainly makes the most of your time in the city, and doesn't shy away from the hills! Luckily, in spite of its famously steep streets, much of the city can be explored on foot, and is often better for it because of the unexpected oddities you’ll uncover along the way. But if you don't feel like walking, you can always just hop on one of the tram cars which still roll through the city, and you’ll feel like a local in no time! So if your time in San Fran is limited, here’s the perfect day which will give you a taste of the incredible flavours which make this city so special.
By Angela Carlton
Morning Walk by the Water
If you walk towards Fort Mason you can see the early day sun gleaming over all the sailboats near the Marina. The brisk morning air and seagulls flying overhead is quintessentially San Francisco. Be sure to don a knitted scarf to fit in with the locals or else to be prepared for the nearly inevitable chilly fog. But if skies are clear, here you can glimpse a view over the bay of the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning, which is an unbeatable feeling.
Brunch at Greens Restaurant
From Fort Mason, wander over to Fisherman’s Wharf, an excellent place to get a big brunch by the water. Greens is literally a landmark of San Francisco with an incredible view of the bay and the Golden Gate. The atmosphere is impactful, with large airy rooms filled with impressive art pieces and sculptures. The food is vegetarian and ethically sourced, in fact some claim that Greens is the reason that organic food became a trend.
Explore Lombard Street
Take an iconic cable car and visit the most crooked street in the world. The views and zaniness of this neighbourhood of San Francisco called Russian Hill is definitely worth exploring. Then hop on a cable car and head up the high hills to catch incredible views of the whole city. Drifting through the city streets this way is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the San Francisco dream. Along the way towards Chinatown you can exit the cable car at any time to pop into a bookshop or vintage clothing shop and uncover precious finds.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the best and biggest in America, although it’s still quite an insular community with around 15,000 Chinese people, the majority of whom do not speak English. This is evident by how most of the street signs are solely in Chinese and the architecture remains Chinese-style. Wander through the area, soak up the vibe and browse the traditional stores, sampling food along the way. In case you’re still hungry after brunch, pop into Golden Gate Bakery, or Eastern Bakery for a delicious snack or platter of the best dumplings you’ve ever had, the choice is yours.
Moving right along down into Eurkea Valley, which you can access by further cable cars or if you have a car by navigating down the hills of the city. The Castro is famous for being the mecca of civil rights movements like gay rights. This was also the birthplace of the hippie movement in the 1960s and 70s and today you can still soak up this history by taking a cultural tour of the area. There are multitudes of interesting bookshops, bars and cafes to unwind in as well if you’d rather kick back and take it easy. I suggest Twin Peaks bar or else Réveille Coffee Co for the best chilled out vibes in the Castro.
Explore Alcatraz by night
The night tour of Alcatraz cannot be missed; it is the epitome of excellent tours worldwide. However, in order to secure a place on the coveted tour you’ll need to book well in advance as this tour fills up fast. The night tour is not only spooky but it is also limited to fewer visitors so there are bonus activities not included on the day tour. The prison looks and feels different at night and you’ll be privileged to incredible sunset views of the bay from the island.
El Farolito for Dinner
For a glorious night out in San Francisco head over to The Mission District, with a pit stop at San Francisco’s most famous Mexican restaurant. There will be a queue here for the legendary burritos but it is well worth the wait. The carne asada burrito in particular will fuel you for an evening an unstoppable fun. El Farolioto is an unassuming but welcoming Taqueria, it’s a one room, brightly lit brick building that places all of its emphasis and passion into making mouth-wateringly good food.
Madrone Art Bar for Drinks
After dinner head to one of the coolest bars in the city, where projectors display art-house films and the cocktails are plentiful. The bright graphics on the walls, accompanied by the oblong disco ball and gritty, raw feeling the bar projects makes the San Francisco locals pour in by the droves. There is usually live music and plenty of dancing to keep you going until the early hours.
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