Travel Guides

Map2Next’s Ultimate Guide to 3 Days in San Francisco: Day 1

8 months ago by Kimia

So you just arrived in San Francisco, and you’ve got three days to explore the city. Whether on foot or by cable car, we’ve got you covered when it comes to the packed seven-mile stretch of steep and colorful hills encompassing the City by the Bay. It’s time to get your walking shoes on, because you’ve got a ton to do and see over the next few days!

From queuing up outside of the best bakeries and cafes to living your best life at rooftop bars with sweeping views, there’s no end to delicious eats and charming spots to check out while you’re here. Let’s not forget popular local activities like picnicking at Dolores Park, exploring breathtaking landmarks like Sutro Baths, or visiting the Exploratorium, either! You’ll want to keep reading for our ultimate guide to San Francisco.

Day 1, let’s get after it! You’ll be spending the day at Fisherman’s Wharf and in the Financial District.

San Francisco Cable Car

Did you know that the famous San Francisco cable car system is actually the only moving national historic monument in the world? The cable car was invented by Scottish engineer and wire rope manufacturer, Andrew Hallidie, way back when in 1873. Even more impressive than the fact that they’re still in use? Today, San Francisco boasts 38 fully functional cable cars. Charming, much?

If you’re headed to Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll want to hop on either the Powell/Hyde or Powell/Mason route. Powell/Hyde ends up close to Ghirardelli Square, while Powell/Mason will drop you off in North Beach, which is a brisk walk to Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 39.

Fisherman’s Wharf

After a thoroughly enjoyable cable car ride, you’ll want to hop off at Fisherman’s Wharf. The Wharf is a popular tourist attraction for a reason — it’s also one of San Francisco’s most unforgettable waterfront promenades, where you can enjoy views of the iconic Bay Bridge while strolling down the Embarcadero. Here, you can choose from a number of activities.

The Exploratorium

Feeling adventurous? Us, too. Located right on the Embarcadero, the Exploratorium is more than just a museum. It’s essentially a collection of hands-on experiences for people of all ages. Yes, we mean this activity is kid-friendly, so adults-only adventurers should be aware. That said, spending a few hours wandering through the many thought-provoking exhibits of this unique attraction comes highly recommended.  

Ferry Building Marketplace

This artisanal marketplace is located in the historical Ferry Building. Featuring a varied selection of the tastiest eateries and Bay Area food traditions, it’s one of San Francisco’s best — and we know, that’s certainly saying something!

Hog Island Oyster Co.

Hog Island Oyster Co. is the bustling city outpost of the popular waterside Marin restaurant. Located in the Ferry Building, its menu offers fresh seasonal ingredients, delectable clams, oysters, and an excellent cocktail list — just in case you want to get your drinking started early. No judgment here! May we suggest a bowl of the bestselling Manila clam chowder after a refreshing walk down the Embarcadero?

Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Shop

Once you’ve noshed on all the aquatic eats your seafood-loving heart could desire at Hog Island, you’ll want to grab some delicious cheese for later from Cowgirl Creamery. Located in the Ferry Building, in addition to the Sidekick Cafe & Kick Bar, this artisanal, organic cheese shop is a must — as long as you’re not lactose intolerant, that is. As for the rest of us? We’ll take some of that renowned Triple Cream Brie, please!

Pro tip: Be sure to stash your cheese in the hotel mini-fridge in between hopping from place to place around the city. You’ll want to keep it fresh for later.

Ghirardelli Square

Ready for dessert? Be sure to satisfy your sweet tooth at the Instagram-worthy Ghirardelli Square. Undoubtedly, you’ll have to wait in line, but you can rest assured that their world-famous chocolate shakes are worth the wait!

IG // @ghirardellisquare

Lombard Street

It’s time to head off to your next venture! You can burn off those excess calories from the chocolate shake you slurped down at Ghirardelli Square by walking what is known as San Francisco’s “crookedest street.” Okay, so it’s not actually the most crooked street in the city, but in this case, we’ll take second best. Yes, we’re talking Lombard Street, the hilariously squiggly — and totally picturesque — stretch between Hyde and Leavenworth.

Chinatown

Did you know the fortune cookie was actually invented in San Francisco? In Chinatown, where you’re headed next! The oldest and largest Chinatown in the country, many would consider these colorful, bustling 21 blocks the heart of San Francisco — meaning you can’t miss it while visiting the city. Enter through the “Dragon’s Gate” at Grant Avenue and Bush Street, and don’t forget to snap a pic before you start exploring on foot!

The View Lounge at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis

End your busy day on a high note by grabbing drinks with an incredible sunset view at the View Lounge. Located on the 39th floor of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, this posh lounge offers one of the most spectacular views of downtown San Francisco that the city has to offer.  It also boasts a full bar menu, cocktail list and a super-appetizing array of snacks and small plates.

Novela Bar

Alternately, you can head to the swanky little cocktail bar and lounge known as Novela. Known as one of San Francisco’s most fabulous, and with super aesthetically pleasing decor — like bookshelves lining the walls — and drinks named after famous literary characters, Novela Bar is like something out of your favorite novel.