SAN FRANCISCO: Complete Weekend Plan for an Unforgettable Visit

San Francisco view with flowers in forefront

Sometimes, a few days is all you have to explore a city. If that’s the case when you’re visiting San Francisco, this complete weekend plan is exactly what you need to feel like you’ve experienced this amazing place known as the “City by the Bay.”

San Francisco view with flowers in forefront


Day 1Cable Cars, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39
Day 2Lombard Street, Alcatraz, Chinatown
Day 3 (if time) –GoCart Tour, Muir Woods, or Napa Valley

Cable Cars, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 (Day 1)

First and foremost, ride a cable car. These are iconic to the city and such a neat experience. The best part, they are FREE! You can hop on and off at various places, and there are multiple routes/lines.

Cable Car stopped in city

The views of San Francisco that you get to experience as the cable car cruises through the city are amazing!

View of San Francisco from cable car

Renting a bike is one of the ideal ways to see this city. It’s extremely bike-friendly and rental places are all over.

Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals is highly recommended thanks to its locations and numerous bike options. First destination on your bikes: Golden Gate Bridge. The paths to get there are spectacular.

Bike trail by Golden Gate Bridge

Depending on your plans for the day (and your travel partners), option #1 is to turn around at the halfway point on the bridge and head back towards the city.

Bike path near San Francisco

Option #2 is to bike all the way over the bridge to the city of Sausalito, which is about 8.5 miles (or 2 to 3 hours depending on how often you stop). Have lunch, and then bike back or take a ferry across the bay. There are two ferry companies that run with varied schedules.

Golden Gate Bridge and tourists nearby

Once back in the heart of the city, Ghirardelli Square is a neat 30-minute stop.

Rounded sign at entrance of Ghirardelli Square

Be sure to get samples of the Ghirardelli chocolate!

Machines in Ghirardelli factory

Strolling through Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most popular things to do in San Francisco.

Fishermans Wharf sign near entrance

The busiest part of Fisherman’s Wharf is Pier 39. This two-level, waterfront destination boasts 12 restaurants, 90+ shops, and dozens of attractions. There is something for everyone including an aquarium, musical/piano stairs, street performers, a marina, arcade, and more.

Providing the most entertainment, of course, are the world-famous sea lions who hang out on K-Dock. Check out the live cam of the sea lions here.

Sea lions sunning themselves on docks.

Lombard Street, Alcatraz, Chinatown (Day 2)

Known as the “most crooked street in the world”, Lombard Street, should be your first stop of this second day. You can drive your own car down it, or just stroll down the sidewalk along the outside of the street. It’s really something you won’t forget.

Cars driving down Lombard Street

Another “must visit” while in San Francisco is Alcatraz Island. One of the area’s most famous landmarks, it was once the ultimate maximum security prison due to it being located on a lonely island in San Francisco Bay.

Alcatraz Island from a boat on the water.

Be sure to book a tour online in advance. The ferry over to the island allows you to see cool views of the city from the bay. It’s about a 30-minute trip to get to Alcatraz, also known as “The Rock.”

A 45-minute cellhouse audio tour provides fascinating stories of the history of Alcatraz as you walk around the property.

Rows of jail cells on Alcatraz
Jail cell on Alcatraz.

Nighttime tours are an option as well. An evening departure provides you with sunset views of the San Francisco Bay as night falls.

Main building on Alcatraz Island

In the evening, if you’re adventurous, visit Chinatown. This is the largest one in the U.S. and quite the place to experience. Dining options seem to be limitless in this area.

Options If You Have a Day 3 in San Francisco

  • GoCar Tours – these little, yellow vehicles are a blast to cruise around the city in. In-vehicle GPS and commentary guide you and provide recommended stops. Highly memorable if you are brave enough!
  • Napa Valley – beautiful wine country is less than 2 hours away. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the gorgeous vineyards and dozens of winery options.
  • Muir Woods – just 12 miles north of San Francisco is this amazing area, made famous by its towering redwood trees. Hiking the 30-minute, 60-minute or 90-minute loops is a wise choice.

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San Francisco Weekend Plan Pinterest Pin

More ideas for San Francisco…

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Tags: Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, San Francisco, Travel Guide, Weekend Plan
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