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San Francisco City Guide: 48 Hours in San Fran

by Travelbag on 06 March 2015, 15:03PM

San Francisco conjures up so many images – the towering Golden Gate Bridge, dramatic cityscapes, Alcatraz Island, a bustling Chinatown, old Cable Cars, hippies of the 60s, and, now the booming tech industry. The city is a juxtaposition of old and new and a melting pot of so many different people and cultures.  It’s the city’s ability to thrive on diversity which captures the hearts of so many people.

In truth, 48 hours is not enough time to explore all that San Francisco has to offer. However, it is enough time to fall in love with the charming city and the warm, golden rays that shine down on it.


Friday Afternoon
Upon Arrival
Most international flights service San Francisco International Airport (SFO). It’s located just 20 minutes outside the city and easily accessible by public and private transport. Other flights may come in from Oakland and even San Jose. Many of the popular hotels are located along the Pier, like the Fairmount and in the downtown Mission district. Although the city is large and spread out, navigating it is fairly easy and quick.


A Welcoming Dinner
Start your visit off with a sumptuous meal at one of the city’s newest culinary hot spots – La Mar. The Peruvian restaurant, serving the Bay Area’s freshest seafood and its signature cebiche, is a prime example of city’s appeal and its ability to embrace international chefs, entrepreneurs and visitors and incorporate their cultures and ideas with its own. 

Night on the Town
After dinner, check out Bourbon and Branch. The Prohibition-inspired speakeasy reminds patrons of what it was like to have to conceal their alcohol consumption during the 1920s. First make a reservation online and wait for a password that will serve as your entrance into the exclusive bar.

Day 1

Breakfast on the Pier
Start the day early with a light breakfast at the iconic Ferry Building Marketplace along Embarcadero. Sit outside and watch as the sea lions bask in the sun on the doc. On Saturday mornings, the marketplace turns into a farmer’s market, where local businesses are invited to sell fresh produce and artisan products.
Begin to make your way up to the Swan Oyster Depot on Polk St. in the Nob Hill district. This can be done by way of the California St. Cable Car. The tiny, single bar restaurant/kitchen serves some of the best oysters in the city. The doors open at 10:30, so be sure to get there early, as the line can twist around the block and the supply sells out fast.


A Trippy Ride

Continue down Polk St. to Lombard St. It is the city’s most crooked street and one of the steepest. This San Francisco landmark and is a must-see for tourists. Make your way down, for the “experience,” and take your pictures. Then hop on the Hyde Street Cable going north and get off in the Haight-Ashbury district. The Haight was once the epicenter of the hippie movement in the 60s – and its influence still lingers today. The short shopping strip is comprised of specialty boutiques, second-hand stores and cafes. Points of interest include the Amoeba Music store which houses an extensive collection of music and records. Meanwhile, the frighteningly interesting Loved to Death museum showcases taxidermy dioramas and sells fine jewelry and art.


Italy’s Best
For Dinner, head to North Beach/Telegraph Hill. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana’s internationally award-winning pizzas are the perfect way to cap off a busy day of sightseeing.
For late-night fun, make your way towards 17th and Valencia and check out the bars. Blondies and Amnesia are very popular spots, even for locals.

Day 2
Start your morning in the pier again, but this time at Pier 40. The Java House is a waterfront restaurant that has been serving delicious meals since 1912. Then make your way to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can spend time exploring the pier and sampling the famous San Francisco sourdough bread while you wait to board the ferry to Alcatraz.


From there, shopping enthusiasts may enjoy roaming the high-end department stores and boutique fashion houses in downtown. Otherwise, go down to the Golden Gate Bridge to appreciate its magnitude and capture post-card worthy photos. If you’re interested in architecture and real estate, check out Nob Hill. It boasts spectacular city views and the multi-million dollar Victorian mansions. Alternatively, the Golden Gate State Park is home to an incredible conservatory, a Japanese Tea Garden, a museum and plenty of open space to play and take in the city’s views and golden sunsets.


A Great End to the Night
Finish the night by heading to the Fairmont San Francisco hotel. Tucked inside are the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar. The Polynesian-themed restaurant serves some amazing cocktails while treating its guests to indoor rainstorms. 

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