San Francisco has been on my bucket list for sometime. Finally, I got the opportunity to go, but my time spent there was like the blink of an eye.
The best piece of advise I have is, when you know your visit to a city will be short, be realistic. Make a list of things you must-see, sort of like your non-negotiables. Make another list of other things to see just in case you have more time, or something unexpectedly closes that day. Pencil in your meals. Is there a restaurant you want to try? Do you want to eat where the locals eat?
Your 24 hours in San Francisco begin:
Where to stay?
Union Square, I found to be a great neighborhood to stay. The Square is close to most things, upscale shopping, the Bart station, Cable cars, walking distance to Chinatown, and the Financial District. The Chancellor Hotel on Union Square is a family owned boutique hotel, fairly priced and I highly recommend it.
How to get around?
From San Francisco International Airport, take the Pitsburg line to Downtown San Francisco. Make sure you pay the correct fare and hold on to the ticket because you will need it to get out. It costs about $8.95 to Downton. Check out BART for more information.
Cable Cars are a definite must when you visit San Francisco. They’re a landmark on their own. There are three main lines, the Powell-Mason, Powell-Hyde, and California line. The Powell lines leave you close to Fisherman’s Wharf, and the California line runs from east-west to the financial district and through Chinatown. The Price of a single ride is $7 and you can get an all day pass for $20. However, this is a popular thing to do, so be prepared for long lines. NO DRINKS allowed, I had to learn this the hard way.
Buses are easy to travel and cost only $2.50 and it gets you a transfer. Download an app or ask your hotel concierge what the fastest route is for attractions.
Take a Lyft! It’s cheap and it gets you where you need to go when your feet are tired from going up those hills. From Aquatic Park Beach to the Golden Gate Bridge it cost only $9.
Fisherman’s Wharf was my first destination. I arrived early in the morning, when the fog from the bay was thick, and the smell of fish fresh. Enjoy a great view of the Bay and Alcatraz, buy souvenirs and enjoy some of the seafood.
Enjoy doing some shopping, the wide variety of dinning, the aquarium of the bay, street performers, and the Sea Lions. Don’t miss out on the Sea Lions and the Sea Lion Center.
There are many boat tours leaving from Pier 39. I always like taking boat cruises and enjoying the scenery from the Bay. I chose Blue and Gold Fleet’s 90-minute Escape from the Rock cruise. The tour takes you under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz Island. Listen to chilling stories about the most feared prison of the time. The cost of the tour is $36 for more information visit Blue and Gold Fleet.
Golden Gate Bridge
If you don’t do anything else this you have to do. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, or ride a bike. It takes about an hour each way, if you walk across it. The views of the Bay are one of a kind. And guess what? Crossing is free!
After you cross, take a few minutes to take in the view. I did it in the early afternoon, the fog had burned off and the view of the Bay was sunny and calm.
Visit the east-west famous street. This popular attraction is a one-block with eight hairpin turns. You will find many tourists willing to take your picture and it won’t take more than a few minutes to see it so you can be on your way.
Because we all watched Full House and if you don’t remember watch the opening credits. The 21 bus takes you right across the street and you can ride it back to the Financial District.
Explore the streets of Chinatown, and you will discover a wide variety of architecture, unique shops, and restaurants. Eat Dim Sum and buy souvenirs, shop fresh produce or mingle with the locals.
San Francisco Eats
Sourdough bread, chowder, seafood, dim sum, oysters, are some foods associated with visiting San Francisco. When it came to the food I went a bit touristy, due to being on a tight schedule. Although, I hear San Francisco has some of the best food.
I walked around after getting to my hotel and found a random restaurant where to eat Dim Sum. The ones I had found prior to the trip had already closed. The dumplings were served with a red vinegar on the side. The lychee martini was good but not the greatest I’ve had.
Every post I read said not to have seafood at Fishermen’s Wharf, they called it, “a tourist trap.” I decided to compromise and found a restaurant near. The Blue Mermaid Chowder House & Bar, at the Argonaut Hotel. They have an award winning crab and corn chowder.
The morning before departing, I had smoked salmon eggs Benedict, which are said to be a Union Square staple and they did not disappoint.
If I had more time:
Alcatraz: Night Tour
Walt Disney Family Museum
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
San Francisco Whale Tours
Golden Gate Park
Without a doubt San Francisco is a charming city and 24 hours are not enough. Even on a tight schedule, I managed to make the best of it. I hope this guide helps you plan any future trips to San Francisco.