The Perfect San Francisco Long Weekend Itinerary

Lexa Pennington's picture

Are you heading to San Francisco soon? Well, you’re going to love it. San Francisco is one of those cities that’s friendly, compact and really easy to get around if you only have a few days, making it the perfect destination for a long weekend. 

There are plenty of well-priced hotels in San Francisco, meaning you can see the city on foot or via the cable cars without having to travel a long way into the center from the suburbs.

And, the climate is pretty mild all year round. So all you’ll need to do is bring a jacket to keep warm at night, and perhaps an umbrella if you’re visiting between November and March (the rainy season). 
But, do you have any idea about what you’re going to do while you’re there? Check out our recommendations below if you’d like some help planning the perfect long weekend…

The Perfect San Francisco Long Weekend Itinerary

Day 1

Begin your first day in San Francisco with a delicious breakfast at Mama’s on Washington Square. This restaurant is located in North Beach (making it the ideal place to eat before heading out for sightseeing and shopping), but because it’s so popular, there’s usually a wait. Get there early (after all, you want to make the most of your day, right?!) and order up a plate of pancakes, delicious French toast, or Mama’s Eggs to get you going for the day. 

From there, head to the Golden Gate Bridge. You’d be crazy to miss this iconic landmark while you’re in San Francisco, and best of all it’s only a 15-minute cab journey away from Mama’s. Hop out of the cab when you get near the bridge, and walk the length of it for beautiful views of the city. It will take under an hour to walk one way at a laid-back pace, and you can hop on the Golden Gate Transit bus if you don’t fancy walking back, or take a trip on the ferry. 

The Perfect San Francisco Long Weekend Itinerary

Be sure to head down to Baker Beach so you can snap a photograph of the bridge from the shore, too. However, it’s worth knowing that clothing is optional on Baker Beach - it’s one of the city’s main beaches for nudists!

Then, grab a takeaway lunch in Richmond. It’s an area known for delicious food from all over the world, and it’s rumored that you won’t find anywhere better than this part of San Francisco for tacos. After that, down to the Golden Gate Park. This park is 1,000 acres of greenery, lakes and monuments, and is the perfect place to sit with your lunch and enjoy a picnic. It’s also home to the California Academy of Sciences, and with tons of exhibitions and tours on, you’ll have plenty to occupy you until sunset. 

California Academy of Sciences. From The Perfect San Francisco Long Weekend Itinerary

After a full day of exploring (and lots of it on foot), you might really enjoy stopping for dinner at the Hog Island Oyster Bar. There are great views of the Bay here, and the seafood is incredible. 

Day 2

Hopefully you slept well, because day two of your long weekend in San Francisco is going to be just as fun-packed as the first! Grab yourself breakfast from the Station (their croissant sandwiches are award-winning), and then take a short walk to Pier 33 near Fisherman’s Wharf. A company called Alcatraz Cruises offer curious visitors a chance to visit Alcatraz, but bear in mind that you’ll need to book online first, as tickets to the island sell out a month in advance. Locals suggest booking a tour of the island in the morning, as the afternoon and evening tours are the busiest and more expensive. 

The excursion will take approximately two hours 30 minutes, but the full ‘behind the scenes’ tour (where you’ll be taken on a personally guided tour to hear the lesser-known stories of Alcatraz) is well worth the extra money. It runs Thursday to Monday, and lasts for just under five hours, so wear comfortable walking shoes and take a coat too - Alcatraz is generally pretty windy! 

Alcatraz. From The Perfect San Francisco Long Weekend Itinerary

As there’s no food service on the island, by the time you arrive back on the mainland you’re probably going to be quite hungry. Lunch spots that are worth checking out include Barcha on 28 Fremont Street (a Mediterranean bistro that serves dishes with a Tunisian and Turkish twist), Naked Lunch on 504 Broadway (a great little sandwich spot with patio seats) and Greens Restaurant on Marina Boulevard (a vegetarian restaurant with panoramic views of the bay). 

Spend the rest of your day meandering round the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, or if you want a variety of stores to choose from, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Westfield Centre, a 9-storey mall that also homes a movie theater.

If movies are your kind of thing, don’t miss the Foreign Cinema – the perfect place for outdoor dining and movie screenings. It’s popular with the locals, and dinner is served Sunday to Wednesday from 5.30pm to 10pm, Thursday to Saturday 5.30pm to 11pm. The nightlife in San Francisco is brilliant if that’s your kind of scene, so check out Ruby Skye (a theater-turned movie club), or Infusion. In fact, Infusion is a good choice if you want a cheaper end to your second day in San Francisco: if you sign up to the guest list online, you’ll only pay $10 instead of $20 to get in. 

Day 3 

Your final day in San Francisco is going to be just as great as the first two, but with a slower pace as you’re probably going to be travelling home. So, start by riding one of the city’s iconic cable cars to China Town. San Francisco has the largest China Town outside China itself, and is actually the oldest China Town in America. The Good Mong Kok Bakery always has a queue out the door, even the in the morning, but the good news is that the line is fast moving and always worth it. And when dim sum is this good? Well, you can definitely justify eating it for breakfast…

China Town, SF. From The Perfect San Francisco Long Weekend Itinerary

Then, walk off your meal with a wander through Stockton Street to see what’s for sale in the market. It’s a bustling part of San Francisco and feels like the most authentic part of China Town, and you might be surprised at some of things that are for sale… such as live turtles! After an hour or two, take the number 39 bus to Coit Tower on top of Telegraph Hill. From the top you’ll have 360 degree views of the city, and if you look in the right direction, you’ll be able to spot some great places for lunch, such as Don Pistos.

Coit Tower. From The Perfect San Francisco Long Weekend Itinerary

From Coit Tower, Don Pistos is a six-minute walk towards Columbus Avenue, and locals say it serves some of the best Mexican food in the City. It’s hard to find as it’s not signposted, but look for it on your smartphone and you’ll get there without a problem. Customers rave about the pork chops and comment on the lively, energetic atmosphere.

Finally, round off your long weekend in San Francisco with a trip to the AT & T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. Not only will you have the chance to watch a game, but the AT & T Park hosts musical performances too. James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt are in concert in late July 2017, and Lady Gaga is performing here in August 2017. 

AT&T Park. From The Perfect San Francisco Long Weekend Itinerary
Whether you choose to do all these things or wander on your own, you’re bound to have a great time in San Francisco!