San Francisco is one of the most popular cities in the United States and it has received countless of tourists from around the world. There are lots of attractions to see and activities to be done. But doing all of it is impossible on a short visit. Most of these tourists do not have ample time to fully explore the city but it doesn’t mean they cannot make the best of their visits. If you do not have a long vacation, you must make sure to experience the best activities San Francisco has to offer. Here are the things you shouldn’t miss in San Francisco on your short visit.
The following things are what the locals highly recommend and what the tourists found the most enjoyable. These are the activities and places to see that you shouldn’t skip on your itinerary. I know that it is hard to choose from a wide range of options and we do have different interests, but these things are what make up San Francisco.
This one is actually a no-brainer. You go to San Francisco primarily because of the Golden Gate Bridge and not going here is like not seeing Eiffel Tower when in Paris. This is easily the most recognizable landmark of San Francisco and it’s something that you definitely shouldn’t miss. But, when I say see the Golden Gate Bridge, it doesn’t mean to see it from a far and take gazillions of photos. No. This should be experienced by crossing it. You can walk, take an open-top bus, or bike across it. The latter is what I highly recommend.
Biking the Golden Gate all the way to Sausalito is what should occupy a day on your itinerary. It is certainly worth it. Start your bike from the Fisherman’s Wharf early in the morning, which is the best time to visit this tourist trap, and end it by taking a ferry from Sausalito. The ferry ride from Sausalito is one of the best ferry cruises you’ll ever have to experience. The views of Sausalito, the Alcatraz, the Golden Gate bridge, and downtown San Francisco will forever be imprinted on your mind.
Let me set it straight, during peak hours, holidays, and weekends, queues are horrendous and lining up can be a waste of your precious and limited time. I wouldn’t blame you if you skip it. But if you get past that, you should definitely take it. It is one of the most traditional mode of transportation and taking it is like peeking a glimpse of the past.
There are the streetcars that are also historical symbols of the city, but taking the cable car is part of the adventure. The best way to experience it is by taking the cable car from the turnaround to witness how in this modern age, they still turn each car manually. Take the Powell/Hyde route from Fisherman’s Wharf for the best view.
There are numerous museums, galleries, and parks for those who love arts, history, and some indoor fun. Golden Gate Park is just one of many. On a short visit, skipping Golden Gate Park is acceptable if you have to choose between this and the Alcatraz.
Alcatraz island is a tiny but historically rich island and carries San Francisco’s most unforgettable moments. Alcatraz is arguably the most famous prison in the world and has hosted the most infamous criminals like Al Capone. It used to be a military garrison too, and during the 70’s, it has been occupied by Native Americans as part of Native activism. A tour in Alcatraz is one chilling experience and something you wouldn’t forget. The audio tour gives its guests the most personal experience to actual prison.
Lombard St is known for the most crooked street in America and second in the world. For the crooked street alone, this doesn’t deserve to be on the list. But, there is more to Lombard than just the crooked street. The top of the street presents you with the best view of the passing cable car with the magnificent Alcatraz Island serving as the background. That is what you call the one in a million shot.
On each side of the Lombard St house an impressive array of modern homes. You’ll wonder how it’s like to live along one of the busiest streets in the world. Another reason why this is on the list is the amazing overlooking view of downtown, with the towering Coit Tower in the distance and impressive line of San Francisco’s houses.
The last on the list is a place not really on San Francisco proper but belongs to adjacent county. Sausalito is a direct contrast to the lively San Francisco. It is a quaint and quiet town with amazing view of the bay and the most beautiful neighborhood. Biking the Golden Gate Bridge is the best way to get to Sausalito and to leave town is best experienced on a ferry.
After your rewarding bike across the bridge, reward your self with the best food Sausalito has to offer. The center of the town has numerous restaurants serving different cuisines ready to satisfy your palate. While waiting for your ferry ride, take a quick stroll to see what this beauty I’ve been talking about.
There are still many important things to do when in San Francisco that cannot be covered by a mere 3-day visit. But, if that is the only days you have, you have to make the most of it. You may have different interest and might choose any other activities not on the list and that is totally fine. The most important thing is to enjoy every second of it. San Francisco is beautiful and it needs to be seen and be explored.
Do you agree on our list? Is there any other activities you would suggest? Tell us on the comments section and pin this!