It is totally possible to explore San Francisco in three days if you plan it smart. Over the long weekend, my mom and I went to San Francisco to celebrate her birthday. It was her first time there, and I think my fifth. But this was the first time I felt that I really got a chance to experience the city as a tourist. If you’re looking for things to do in San Francisco over a weekend, look no further. Here is your 72 hour San Francisco travel guide.
Tartine: we stopped by Tartine Bakery for breakfast to enjoy some delicious croissants, scones, tarts, and fancy artsy coffee. Tartine was a top stop on my list because it’s been called the best bakery in SF. The croissants were fantastic, on par with the ones we devoured in Paris.
Crissy Field & Golden Gate Bridge: instead of walking across the famous bridge (we were both underprepared in terms of shoes and clothing) we viewed it from Crissy Field. This is definitely one of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge.
Fisherman’s Wharf: this tourist hot spot by the San Francisco Bay is a great place to sightsee and load up on every form of Dungeness crab. Walking through the wharf, we passed by a small fishing boat that offered a tour under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz and decided to take an impromptu trip through the Bay. We hopped on just as the boat was about to take off, crammed with dozens of other tourists. and were rewarded with gorgeous views of the city that we would have missed otherwise. I highly recommend that anyone who travels to San Francisco for the first time to take a boat ride through the Bay – just be sure to dress warmly.
Chinatown: the last time I visited SF, I ate the most amazing dim sum a grab-and-go restaurant called Good Mong Kok Bakery. I’ve been dying to go back ever since. However, Good Mong Kok Bakery has no indoor seating, and it was a particularly cold and rainy day. So we took our chances at another dim sum place that we happened to pass just to get out of the rain. Unfortunately, the food there was very disappointing. The dim sum came out cold and tasted as though it had been sitting for hours. When we got back to our AirBnb, we ate some leftover pastries from Tartine to end the day on a good note.
Four Barrel Coffee: we started our morning at this industrial local coffee joint for some strong caffeine and pastries. We got our coffees to go and stopped at a few cute boutique clothing stores on our way to Burma Love, a Burmese lunch spot that was just two blocks away.
Burma Love: I don’t recall ever having Burmese food before, and was curious to try Burma Love after reading great reviews of it online. My mom ordered the Superstar Shrimp dish, which was plump shrimp tossed in a sweet-and-spicy sauce. The Beef Curry I ordered was melt-in-your-mouth tender and absolutely delicious. If I lived in SF, I’m pretty sure I would eat here every week. This place offers great vegetarian options as well.
Ferry Marketplace: this large, indoor market along the Bay is filled with small boutique shops and fresh produce, not unlike Chelsea Market in New York. We spent a lot of time poking around in every little store. We got more croissants and turnovers from Acme Bread (if you haven’t caught on by now, we love pastries). This was such a fun little spot to explore and gave us time to get away from the rain.
Palace of Fine Arts Theater: the Palace of Fine Arts was originally built in 1915 for the World Fair, and it remains a huge architectural statement in the city. We spent a ridiculously long time here walking through the massive columns and following the journey of two swans swimming in the nearby lake. After leaving we walked around the neighborhood along the marina to feel like locals and soak up the views of the city.
Sutro Baths: clearly we have a thing for old historical landmarks. Sutro Baths used to be six indoor swimming pools by the beach, but the complex has since burned down and all that remains are ruins. We didn’t get too close to the Sutro Baths themselves because it was incredibly cold and windy, but we saw them from the top of the hill and used this time to watch the marvelous ocean. The waves were tumultuous and loud. If it was a warm day, I could have spent all day there looking at the water.
La Taqueria/ Mission Pie: on our way to dinner, the girls we shared our Lyft Line with recommended we stop by Mission Pie after dinner since it was right next to La Taqueria, a well-known Mexican spot with a line that hit the door. After standing in line for a while and devouring two delicious pollo and carnitas tacos each, we made her wish come true. We went to Mission Pie and ordered a banana cream pie and some pastries to enjoy later.
Millbrae Pancake House: on our last day we stopped by a well-known local diner called Millbrae Pancake House, which is a restaurant very close to SFO. If you’re trapped as SFO for a long layover and are looking for things to do, this is a great place to stop to get a bite to eat. The food we ordered was buttery and over-portioned (just the way we like it). I recommend the California Omelette and short stack of buttermilk pancakes, a combo not for those watching their waistline too closely.
Union Square: we had some time to kill after eating breakfast and decided to go back into the central part of the city for some light shopping and sight-seeing. Union Square is an outdoor shopping plaza with every name brand store you can think of. Although it was raining heavily at this point, it was still surprisingly crowded. We stopped in a few stores and I bought a cute pair of Steve Madden flats from Ross. After this, we went back to our AirBnb to pack up and headed for home.
Overall, this trip was a huge success and I miss the city already! Have you been to San Francisco? If you have any recommendations on places to visit in the future (especially where to eat), comment down below so I can visit next time!