Weekend Itinerary: 49 Hours of San Francisco
There’s no way to see all that San Francisco has to offer in 49 hours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try.
Morning: Start your day in the North Beach neighborhood, home to the city’s own “Little Italy.” Jumpstart your morning with delicious espresso and pastries at a sidewalk café. If you harbor literary interests, the area is home to landmarks such as the City Lights Bookstore and Caffé Trieste, both of which are steeped in the Beat Generation lore of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and other luminaries. If it’s views you’re after, head to the top of Telegraph Hill for a visit to Coit Tower. Built in 1933, the tower features impressive murals from the period, and if it’s a clear day, a trip to the top of the tower offers incredible panoramic views.
Afternoon: After lunch, take a ride on San Francisco’s famed cable cars, which date back to 1873 and are official National Historic Landmarks. The fare includes plenty of scenery as the Powell-Hyde line ascends Nob Hill, where many of San Francisco’s barons of industry lived during the latter 19th century. Once you’re on Nob Hill, Grace Cathedral or the Cable Car Museum are popular destinations. At the end of the Powell-Hyde, you’ll find the legendary Buena Vista Café, which perfected the first Irish coffee stateside more than 50 years ago and is still reputed to serve the city’s finest.
Evening: After a chance to freshen up at your hotel, head out for dinner and a show at one of San Francisco’s unique theaters. The renowned American Conservatory Theater, which is housed in a dramatic Beaux-Arts building from the early 20th century, offers productions ranging from premieres of new work to re-envisioned classics. The SHN Curran Theatre, a wonderful Jazz Age building, is home to major Broadway productions touring the West Coast. If you’re interested in a taste of local traditions, spend the evening at Club Fugazi for Beach Blanket Babylon, a hilarious take on fairy tale archetypes infused with plenty of contemporary pop culture cameos. After the show, have a late dinner at Farallon, or another nearby restaurant.
Morning: No visit to San Francisco would be complete without a stop at the Golden Gate Bridge. Whether you cross on foot or by bicycle, the iconic structure is best appreciated up close with time to enjoy the views of the bay, including Alcatraz and Treasure Island. Remember to bring a camera to capture the stunning scenery, and don’t forget a jacket because it can be chilly on the bridge even during the summer. After you’ve snapped some pictures, head to the Legion of Honor museum in Lincoln Park. The magnificent building’s symmetrical, column-heavy façade sets an inspiring tone for the predominantly European art collection within. Art aficionados will immediately recognize an original cast of Rodin’s famous sculpture, “The Thinker,” en route to the front door.
Afternoon: Spend some time in Golden Gate Park, which includes several square miles of green space and a number of noteworthy attractions. Depending on your interests, you can explore the Botanical Gardens, which offers a closer look at plants from around the world; the California Academy of Sciences, a wonderful natural science museum and one of the largest LEED Platinum certified buildings in the world; or the de Young, which is home to an impressive collection of art. After an eventful afternoon, you can relax in the nearby Japanese Tea Garden.
Evening: San Francisco has one of the most accessible waterfronts in the world, bar none. Starting at AT&T Park and stretching all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, visitors can enjoy a variety of public art, walk beneath the western anchor of the mammoth Bay Bridge, take in the skyline from Piers 14 and 7, stroll through the Embarcadero Center or tuck into The Piers, which occupies Piers 1 ½ through 5 and features the restored Ferry Building along with several new “must try” restaurants. Afterward, make dinner plans in Chinatown. While the ever-popular dim sum is usually only served during lunch hours, there are plenty of amazing dining experiences to be had. How you spend the extra hour is up to you, but we’d be happy to give you some ideas.
Photo by: Kevin Cole / CC BY