One year ago this week we were in Californa with my uncle. He lives in Stockton, CA and we were talking about what we were going to do while we were in town. I’d been to San Francisco a couple of times while growing up, but never as an adult, and Brannon had never been. So, it was settled, we’d head into San Francisco and take in all the sights in one day!
We had about an hour and a half drive one way, and when you look at our map and all the things we did you can be sure that a the end of the day we were exhausted. However, it’s one of the best days we had on our trip and the three of us still talk about it. We were lucky to have my uncle as our tour guide, and since he’d been there more times than any of us could count he had us hopping from one spot to the next. We did take our own car which was helpful, but we did a lot of walking still. It was easier to leave your car down in fisherman’s wharf and hit a few places instead of moving your car. More on that below!
So, here is a list of all the places we went to in San Francisco in one day. I’m listing them in the order in which we went to them, that way if you’re crazy enough, like us, you can tackle San Francisco in one day. You’ll also find a Google Map at the bottom of the post that you can use to help you navigate the city. So… let’s get started!
Stop 1: Battery Spencer
Stop 2: Golden Gate Bridge View
Because why get only one view of the Golden Gate Bridge when you can get another one across the street?
Stop 3: Palace of Fine Arts
“The Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco, California, is a monumental structure originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art presented there. One of only a few surviving structures from the Exposition, it is still situated on its original site.” – Thanks, Google! It was really a beautiful place, we only stopped here for about 15 minutes to walk around and take pictures, but I could’ve sat there all day long with my journal and a good book.
Stop 4: Lombard Street
No trip to San Francisco is complete unless you go and see the most crooked street in the world!
Stop 5: Coit Tower
This isn’t free, but in my opinion, worth the $10 to get to the top and see the views. Kids can go up for just $2.25, and you can purchase tickets HERE or when you get there. You can see the entire city while you are up there!
Now, we’ve entered Fisherman’s wharf. This is where you’ll want to park your car and walk for a ways, we did stops 6-8 by foot.
Stop 6: Pier 39
Pier 39 is full of tourists, so be warned, but, I’ve gone there every time I go to San Francisco and I still think it’s fun! We were able to get lunch here, at Chowders. We got the Fish & Chips and Clam Chowder to share. So good!
After that, we needed to walk for a bit, so this was the perfect spot to grab lunch. We walked down to the end of Pier 39 to see the Sea Lions, another classic tourist thing to do. You can get a really neat shot of the city while you’re down there though! As well as see Alcatraz a bit closer than you could while up Coit Tower.
Stop 7: The Buena Vista
Well, let me say that while you’re on your way to The Buena Vista, you should stop at Boudin Sourdough to get some delicious bread! Sourdough bread is famous in San Francisco, and this California-born-girl is a life long fan. Their flagship is down at the wharf and you can see them making the sourdough.
So, back to The Buena Vista. This was something that was not on my radar but I’m so glad it was on my uncle’s! The Buena Vista is the home of the world-famous Irish Coffee. I have never had such a good Irish coffee. We sat there at the bar and watched them make it for all the customers. You guys know I am always down for a good whiskey cocktail, and when you pair it with coffee and make it this good… I had to try it myself. So I took notes of how they made it, what whiskey they use (Tullamore Dew, of course), and the rest of the time we were in California with my uncle I think we attempted the recipe at least 3 times. We came pretty close at the end and I can now make a pretty tasty Irish Coffee that reminds us all of The Buena Vista.
Stop 8: The Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop at Ghirardelli Square
Stop 9: The Painted Ladies
If you have watched countless episodes of Fuller House while growing up, then you must make this stop! Some lucky fans have even spotted Uncle Jesse playing tourist and making a stop to see the houses. So you never know, you may get a lucky celebrity sighting!
Stop 10: Civic Center
This isn’t a must do, but it was a pretty neat place to walk around. We stopped here because it was a convenient place for us to park. We walked around a couple of shops, the Williams & Sonoma here is three stories! We also made a pit stop at the Nespresso shop, you guys know I love my Nespresso. We were able to leave the car here and walk over to our next stop, Chinatown.
Stop 11: Chinatown
Stop 12: The Beach
You’ve gotta get on some sand before you leave San Francisco, so we made the drive over towards the Golden Gate Park and walked out to the ocean. It was so cold, as you can tell. Which, I must warn you! When you go to San Francisco always bring a light jacket. Even in the summertime, you’ll need it at night when it cools down and the winds pick up.
Stop 13: Golden Gate Park
We didn’t get out and walk around the park, it was getting dark outside and we were worn out and ready to get dinner before we headed home.
Stop 14: Our final stop was back to the Civic Center to grab dinner
I wish we could say we went somewhere new and exciting but honestly, we were so tired and wanted something reliable… so we opted for The Cheesecake Factory. Sometimes, after the end of a super busy sight-seeing day, you just gotta go with an old faithful.
And there you have it! How to do San Francisco in one day. To make it easier on you guys, as promised, I created a custom Google Map that has all of our stops highlighted so you guys can easily navigate the city. I’d love to know if you’ve been to San Francisco before and if I’ve made you add it onto your list of places you want to travel next!