San Francisco was our first and also last stop on our Summer American Road Trip as it was the airport we flew in and out of. It was so great to visit twice with 3 months in between each as the weather was so different!
If you’re wondering what to do in San Francisco for 3 days, here is our itinerary.
We flew in on August 5th and the weather was beautiful…sunny every day, between 25 and 30 degrees and sunset around 8:30pm! On the other hand, we flew out on November 3rd and the weather was still beautiful, but only around 12 – 20 degrees and sunset around 6pm. The Festive Season was really setting in by the time we left and it was SO much fun to see all of the streets decorated with lights and tinsel and a huge Christmas tree and outdoor ice rink! (Plus, Macy’s and all of the Department Stores are decorated EXACTLY as you would imagine and it’s just like the movies!)
Oh, one very important thing…if you are heading to San Francisco, do not walk through Tenderloin. Especially at night and especially by yourself!
Now, to the good bits! Here’s our itinerary that we followed in San Fran:
DAY ONE: We arrived at 9am, so headed straight to our Hostel, USA Hostels San Francisco on Post St, to drop off our bags and do some exploring. We literally just walked! We hadn’t done too much research yet and just wanted to get an idea of our surroundings so we walked down to Union Square which is the hub of shopping in San Fran.
We stopped to get some AT&T sim cards (which I would suggest if you’re in America for longer than a few weeks) and walked through China Town and The Financial District to do a big loop back to Pier 39. The Sea Lions at the Pier are so funny lazing in the sun!
It was a Sunday and they had an Organic Farmers Markets on at the Pier which was awesome and the vibe was amazing!
We headed back to our Hostel to unpack in the afternoon and fought off the jetlag for free drinks at the Hostel lounge area, made some new friends and headed out for a night of bar hopping and dancing!
DAY TWO: Feeling a little worse for wear, we slept in a little and walked from our Hostel to AT&T Park to watch a Baseball game which was so cool! The stadium is right on the water and really is beautiful! Defiantly worth checking out if you’re going past.
DAY THREE: We headed back down to Pier 39 and rented bikes from Blazing Saddles for the day and followed their instructions to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge through to Saucilito which is a beautiful little town on the waterfront. You can get eat in or takeaway lunch from quite a few different little cafes or restaurants as well as takeaway alcohol so we got some food and drinks and sat in the sun in the park overlooking the water. It was a nice rest for our legs after riding 22km that morning!
You can ride back if you want to, but it’s VERY hilly so we decided to jump on the ferry (which also goes past Alcatraz or ‘The Rock’). Take note that as it gets later in the afternoon everyone wants to leave at the one time, so the line gets really long for the ferry and we waited about an hour and a half. Because everyone has their bikes, they can only fit a certain amount of people on at a time.
There is also taxi and Uber drivers offering rides for 4-5 people for $50 so if there’s a group of you that’s also a good idea!
Because we didn’t get back to the Pier until after 6pm Blazing Saddles was closed so we had to make it back to their head office which gave us the opportunity to ride past the ever-famous Painted Ladies and Lombard Street.
On our second visit through San Fran we made the most of the shopping and extra money that we didn’t expect to have left over so it was a mix of Union Square and Westfield on Market Street which is also surrounded by the bid chains like Sephora, H&M, Forever 21 and GAP.
We also really enjoyed walking through China Town again and really taking it all in. We sat in a park in the middle of all of the huge buildings and watched the old Chinese men and women playing games of checkers and cards and it was so nice to see them all joking and laughing amongst themselves.
I’m a huge fan on Christmas so the highlight of those few days was going ice skating at an outdoor rink in Union Square with a giant Christmas tree in the background and also visiting The Cheesecake Shop for the biggest slice of triple chocolate cheesecake I had every seen!
A few other San Francisco tips:
We missed out on visiting Alcatraz because we didn’t realise it books out SO quickly! You can book up to 3 months in advance and in Summer it’s generally booked out for at least 2 and a half of those 3, so get onto the website as early as you can. You can get tickets here. Ferry’s leave from Pier 33.
Check out Free Tours By Foot, they run free walking tours in major American & European cities all you need to do is book in, turn up and you just pay via donation at the end depending on how much you liked the tour / guide. They have a few in San Fran, the San Francisco in one day as well as the Lombard St, Little Italy and Fisherman’s Wharf would be great tours to do.
The Painted Ladies and Lombard Street is defiantly not one to miss!