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One Day in San Francisco – The Perfect Itinerary

What to do if you only have one day in San Francisco? See my best tips and spots for your perfect day.


Top 12 Main Attractions Of San Francisco

To help you know what to expect when you visit San Francisco for the first time, here is a little overview of some of the main sights.

1. Golden Gate Bridge
Suspension bridge at the entrance to San Francisco Bay.

2. Alcatraz
U.S. federal prison on an 8.5-acre rock island.

3. Pier 39
A part of Fisherman’s Wharf with souvenir stores, rides and restaurants.

4. Golden Gate Park
One of the largest inner-city parks in the world.

5. Ferry Building
Hall from 1898 with food vendors and food stalls.

6. Union Square
Central San Francisco shopping, hotel and theater district.

7. Palace of Fine Arts
Originally constructed for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. 

8. Painted Ladies
Victorian multi-colored wooden houses built in the 19th century.

9. Ghirardelli Marketplace
Dessert restaurant.

10. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Art museum opened in 1935.

11. Muir Woods National Monument
Sanctuary in Marin County about 9.3 miles north of San Francisco.

12. Coit Tower
64 meter high observation tower on Telegraph Hill.

One Day Itinerary For San Francisco


Breakfast or Brunch

There is so much choice in SF when it comes to food. For a good breakfast or a quick bite, head to Bean Bag Cafe, 1428 HAIGHT Patio Cafe & Crepery or Cafe Réveille. If you want to enjoy your breakfast in a typical American diner atmosphere, Eddie’s Cafe is the place to go. And if you want to enjoy one of the best brunches in San Francisco, pay a visit to Kitchen Story.

Awaken Your Inner Hippie

Walk down Haight Street and see where the mecca of the flower power movement was in the sixties. Great Victorian architecture and quirky murals.

See the Painted Ladies

The Painted Ladies are Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings that were repainted in three or more colors beginning in the 1960s to embellish or highlight their architectural details. Because of their beauty, the street is also known as Postcard Row.
If you go a little further north, you can also see the house from “Full House”. The dream of every 90s kid.

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In the next steps we will discover different places in San Francisco. Stop at your favorite place to eat.

As always, all recommendations are linked on the map below.

See Union Square

The Union Square district is the central shopping, hotel and theater district of San Francisco, California. In my opinion, it is worth seeing because it has its quite unique atmosphere and interesting architecture. You can also see the famous cable cars here.

China Town

San Francisco’s Chinaton is the oldest city in North America and offers a quaint atmosphere and stores.

Where to eat?

Eat some delicious dim sum at Good Mong Kok Bakery or try to catch Golden Gate Bakery’s opening hours to get their famous Egg Tarts.

Walk the Embarcadero

Walk along the waterfront promenade at the Embarcadero. Enjoy the ocean views and sights along your way. See the Ferry Building and the Coit Tower. Also walk through North Beach, which is also known as Little Italy.

Where to eat?

Get Golden Boy Pizza in Little Italy.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is a waterfront district on the north coast. It is one of the main tourist magnets of the city and rightfully so. You can enjoy the picturesque views of the bay, the Golden Gate and Alcatraz from everywhere. Especially popular is Pier 39, here you can even see sea lions.

Where to eat?

Go to Pier Market Seafood Restaurant for clam chowder to go in a cup or traditionally in a sourdough bread bowl.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street has become famous because it is considered the most winding street in the world.
It is one of the most photographed streets in San Francisco, especially when the chrysanthemums are in full bloom again in the spring and summer.

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Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most famous attraction in San Francisco.

You can walk across it, but you don’t have to. You can also drive to an observation deck, e.g. Golden Gate View Point or Battery Spencer and enjoy the great view from there.

Enjoy A Delicious Dinner (And Drinks)

It’s not easy to choose a restaurant with so much to choose from in San Francisco, but these are my favorites.

If you have a little money left over, have a fantastic dinner with a magical atmosphere and a movie at Foreign Cinema.

For fantastic Thai food, visit Farmhouse Kitchen.

El Techo has one of the best rooftop terraces in the city and great Latin American food.

For delicious Mexican food in a quirky atmosphere, head to Loló.

Sotto Mare for fantastic fresh seafood.

And Mel’s Drive-In for the quintessential ’50s American diner experience.

Alcatraz Night tour for The Brave

If you’re looking for a little thrill at night, you should join an Alcatraz night tour! 

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Side note: I absolutely LOVE San Francisco. But the last time I was there, the homeless situation was pretty devastating to see. I would recommend checking out the current state and being prepared before you go. Try to avoid areas like the Tenderloin.

Additional San Francisco Attractions:

  • Golden Gate Park
  • Palace of Fine Arts
  • Shop the cute boutiques on Victoria Street
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Baker Beach
  • Ghirardelli
  • Exploratorium
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Walt Disney Family Museum
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Labyrinth at Land’s End Trail Hike
  • Muir Woods
  • The Wave Organ

Day Trip Ideas:

  • Santa Cruz
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea
  • Monterey

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