48 Hours In San Francisco

From San Fran to SF to Frisco, San Francisco, California has its fair share of nicknames. It has also served as the setting to plenty of iconic TV shows and movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Full House, Zodiac, and The Social Network to name a few. With plenty of well-known tourist attractions, big city vibes, and ocean views, San Francisco is one of those places that truly has something for everybody. Get ready for a lot of uphill walks—but don’t worry, the journey is definitely worth it. How many of these things can you cram into two days in SF?

Accommodations
As a major metropolis, San Francisco has plenty of options for accommodations from lower cost hostels to Airbnbs to a range of hotels and motels. SF is known for its expensive real estate market and the prices for accommodations reflect that reality. Depending on the time of year you visit, a double occupancy hotel room could cost you upwards of $400 a night. If you’re fine with sharing a bed with someone, it’s a lot more economical—but not necessarily more comfortable—to squeeze four people into a room.

Airbnbs range in price but you can definitely find something at a reasonable price if you look outside of the obvious tourist areas like Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s definitely smart to book something as far ahead of time as possible because the longer you wait, the fewer options you’re going to have and the more expensive the good ones are going to be. Another option is to stay across the bay in Oakland. The BART connects the two cities, so it’s not too difficult to travel back and forth.

Food
As far as cuisine goes, you can pretty much find anything your heart desires in SF. Being on the ocean, they are known for their fresh seafood with plenty of quality restaurants lining Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 32. You also shouldn’t leave without trying the sourdough bread from Boudin and an almond croissant from Tartine Bakery in the Mission District.

San Francisco is also home to the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese enclave outside Asia. You can’t go wrong with a Chinese restaurant like Mister Jui’s and stopping by the Li Po Cocktail Lounge, an Anthony Boudain-endorsed dive bar known for its traditional Mai Tai’s is a must.

If you’re looking for a good burger, you can’t go wrong with Super Duper Burger, a Bay area group of local burger joints that puts other international chains like In-n-Out and Carl’s Jr. to shame. They are committed to keeping their food as local as possible so they have no plans to expand to the East Coast. That means, if you find yourself in SF, you definitely have to grab a burger (and their famous garlic fries).

Entertainment
SF has plenty of outdoor sights to see, but it’s also known for its decent nightlife. The famous Castro neighbourhood known for its history as an LGBT mecca (and also where Harvey Milk’s Castro Camera was located) is full of iconic gay bars like the Twin Peaks Tavern and Moby Dick. Check out the Castro Theatre for a movie or a a musical movie sing along in a cinema that’s been around for almost a century. Taking in a drag show is one of those quintessential San Francisco things everyone should experience whether you’re a fan of drag or not. OASIS on Folsom St. has a constantly changing roster of shows including a Buffy the Vampire Slayer parody.

SF in general has plenty of nightlife with venues like DNA Lounge and Monarch topping many lists of the best in the city. On the pub/dive bar side, Zeitgeist, Black Horse London Pub, and The Pig & Whistle are all popular choices.

If drinking isn’t your thing, there are plenty of art galleries, museums, and historical sites to fill up your time. Check out the Cable Car Museum, Musée Mécanique, or the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art just to name a few.

Sightseeing
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks in America and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. For plenty of different views and photo ops, hike south-west along the trails from Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Centre towards Land’s End. You’ll get plenty of nature and a walk through the upscale residential neighbourhood of Sea Cliff where you can walk by the house Robin Williams used to own. Along the way, don’t forget to stop by the Land’s End Labyrinth and the Sutro Baths for beautiful ocean views.

If you’re into the darker parts of history, a tour of Alcatraz is an absolute must. Book the night tour for a cruise around the island, an audio tour of the inside of the prison narrated by former guards and inmates, and a demonstration of how the cell doors open and close. You’ll also hear stories about how inmates spent their time in the prison, and the few brave (or crazy?) souls who attempted to escape from the island.

For more incredible views, head up to Twin Peaks (it’s a pretty steep hike, so calling an Uber wouldn’t be the worst idea), check out the famous Painted Ladies, and spend some time chilling in Mission Dolores Park. If you’re a techie, a trip to Silicon Valley might be in order.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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