The Returning Visitor's 50 Hours in San Francisco
We’re proud that people repeatedly spend time in our city—and since it’s always changing, you’ll never have the same experience twice. Here’s our ambitious itinerary for the returning visitor that will get them to some authentic, off-the-beaten-path San Francisco destinations in just 50 hours. If you've never been here, check out the first-timer's 50 hours in San Francisco.
Travel Tip: This itinerary includes rides on SFMTA’s Muni system, which includes light rail, bus, historic streetcars and cable cars. Be sure you have exact change and hold on to your transfer tickets. Even experienced travelers should click here for the most current Muni info.
Start your adventure in one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods. The “Little Italy” of San Francisco, North Beach has dozens of Old World-style cafes and eateries, famous landmarks like Saint Peter and Paul Church and a few remnants of the city’s rough-and-tumble 1900s. If you're a foodie, you'll want to read the first-timer's guide to the nieghborhood.
Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
Heading west on Bay Street will bring you to the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. Formerly a military port facility, this expansive National Historic Landmark has been converted into a collection of galleries, theaters, cafes and workspaces for some of the city’s cutting-edge arts organizations. The programming is diverse and regularly rotates, so be sure to take it all in.
Exit Fort Mason and head west on Beach Street until you reach Fillmore Street. Start heading away from the water and up the big hill. You can make the climb yourself or hop on the 22 Muni bus. Once you reach the top at Fillmore and Jackson Streets, you’ll be at the start of one of the city’s trendiest stretches of retail. Clothes, shoes and home furnishings by top designers can be found here, as well as some of the city’s hottest bars and restaurants.
Keep heading down Fillmore, whether on foot or on the 22, and you’ll soon be in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Bordered by Fulton Street on the north and Market Street on the south, this rapidly growing neighborhood is full of independent boutiques, fine dining, and multipurpose parks.Hayes Valley is the perfect neighborhood to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Right in the middle of Hayes Valley, you’ll find another famous San Francisco street: Haight Street. Walking west, Haight Street will take you from Hayes Valley to the legendary Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, home of the Summer of Love and an inspiration to an entire generation of artists and activists.
Golden Gate Park
At the end of Haight Street, you’ll find Golden Gate Park. Don’t let the name confuse you; you’re actually quite a ways from the famous bridge. You may have been here before, but Golden Gate Park has so many different experiences to offer: the Botanical Gardens, the California Academy of Sciences, the de Young Museum, the Japanese Tea Garden, and paddleboats on Stow Lake just to name a few.
After all that exploring, you might be getting hungry. Make your way back toward the Bay (either by Muni bus or with rideshare service Lyft) and head to the Presidio. San Francisco’s largest park, the Presidio was once an active military base and is quickly becoming one of the city’s most unique dining destinations. Choose from The Commissary, with its cozy confines and clever cocktails; Arguello, which is part of the historic Presidio Officers’ Club; or the Presidio Social Club, which blends the traditional and the cutting edge in a way that’s distinctly San Franciscan.
Lincoln Park / Legion of Honor
Chances are you probably didn’t get to the west side of the city on your last visit. That’s why we suggest you start your second day at Lincoln Park. We recommend entering the park through the beautifully tiled steps at the end of California Street near 32nd Avenue. Along the winding trails, you’ll find the Eagle Point Labyrinth, the USS San Francisco Memorial, and San Francisco’s Holocaust memorial. At the center of the park is the Legion of Honor, one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and home to one of the largest collections of work by the great sculptor, Rodin.
Exit Lincoln Park and wander west through the Richmond neighborhood along Balboa, Cabrillo or Fulton Streets. They’ll lead you to Ocean Beach and the Pacific Ocean. San Francisco beach weather usually means that you’ll be wearing a sweatshirt rather than a bathing suit, but that doesn’t diminish the awesome views of the sea as you continue south on your journey.
Sunset / Cole Valley
At the intersection of Great Highway and Judah Street, board the Muni N Line and ride east through the Sunset neighborhood. There are plenty of shops and some of the city’s best Chinese restaurants here, so feel free to hop on and off Muni as you travel. Your ride on Muni ends at Carl and Stanyan Streets in the Cole Valley neighborhood. Head south on Stanyan and then turn left onto 17th Street.
The Castro / The Mission
At the intersection of 17th and Market Streets, a massive rainbow flag will let you know you’ve arrived in the Castro, San Francisco’s legendary LGBT neighborhood. Keep walking east on 17th and you’ll soon be in the Mission. Both these neighborhoods are among the most vibrant in the city, and new establishments are always opening. Whether you’re looking for rare books, a cold beer or fusion cuisine, you can find it all in these neighborhoods.
Potrero Hill / Dogpatch
Continue east from the Mission by using Muni or Lyft and you’ll be in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, which has many attractions, including the Anchor Brewing Company’s brewery (tour by appointment). Just when you think you’ve gone as far east as you can, you’ll be in the Dogpatch neighborhood. It’s one of the oldest in the city and a designated historic site—and these days, it’s getting renewed attention from locals and visitors alike.
AT&T Park / Mission Bay / South Beach
Follow Third Street north out of Dogpatch and you’ll see AT&T Park, home of the world champion San Francisco Giants, looming into view. If you happen to visit while the Giants are playing, be sure to take in a game. AT&T Park is known to be one of the most picturesque ballparks in the nation—and those garlic fries also make it one of the tastiest. Even without baseball, the Mission Bay and South Beach neighborhoods that surround the stadium are worth exploring. Views of the East Bay, top-line design showrooms, and casual dining keep the neighborhood hopping in the off-season.