Last weekend Daniel and I took a mini weekend trip to San Francisco just for two nights! Living in L.A., it’s the quickest flight and makes for such a fun and easy getaway. We planned it last minute, and had such a blast. While we were there, I got tons of messages from girls saying that they were going to be visiting the city soon and asked for suggestions. So, today I’m sharing our San Francisco Travel Guide: where we stayed, places to go, things to do, and most importantly…where to eat!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the JW Marriott in Union Square which was not only gorgeous, but in such a great location. Union Square is extremely central to whatever you want to see in the city and has great restaurants and shopping. It is a bit touristy, but I don’t mind because it is so convenient!
Cardigan: Nordstrom | Tank: Abercrombie & Fitch | Jeans: Nordstrom | Booties: Nordstrom | Bag: Gucci | Luggage: Carry-on Purse and Suitcase
Places to Go
Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39
Located on the water, Fisherman’s Wharf has some of the best views of Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate bridge! There are also tons of fun souvenir shops and restaurants in the area. You have to get seafood or clam chowder while you are in Fisherman’s Wharf. Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl is my favorite!
Alcatraz is the former military fort and maximum-security prison that is located on it’s own island about a mile off the coast of San Francisco. You can see it from Fisherman’s Wharf area and if you choose to visit, a ferry takes you over (a 10-15 minute ride). You can schedule tours of the former prison here. I wanted to do the night tour so bad, but it was completely booked so make sure you get your tickets in advance!
This is a hands-on science museum that is so fun to bring kids to! There are science experiments that you can play with. It’s right near the Golden Gate Bridge, so they would be perfect to visit the same day.
We took this photo across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito at a place called Battery Spencer. The opposite side of the Golden Gate Bridge is called Marin County, and not only are there awesome photo opportunities like this one, but there are tons of state parks to hike and explore!
These iconic pastel Victorian homes are all in a row and so cute to see! There is a little park across the street, Alamo Square Park, that is perfect to have a little picnic at with the cutest view of the homes.
“Full House” House
Even though the show starts with a view of the painted ladies, the actually “Full House” house is in a totally different part of the city about a mile away: Lower Pacific Heights. It’s located at 1709 Broderick Street. And unfortunately, the door isn’t red anymore! But, it is fun to stop and see and take some photos at!
Located in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, Ghirardelli Square is a fun little area that has different shops and restaurants, and of course a Ghirardelli café! It’s always fun to stop in and share a sundae…or not share 😉.
Things to Do
Rent a GoCar
Our first morning in the city, Daniel and I got ready and walked to the Starbucks down the street from our hotel to grab a quick breakfast and hot chocolate. We passed by this GoCar rental place on our way and knew we had to rent one! They are such a fun way to explore the city and cover a lot of ground way quicker than you could on foot. You can take them pretty much everywhere in the city, with the exception of on the freeways and bridges (yes, sadly including the Golden Gate). I would recommend doing this at the beginning of your trip so that you can get an overview of the different areas and decide what you want to go back and see. We had our care rented for about 2.5 hours.
Walk/Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge
I’m not an avid bike rider (read: I’m horrible…haha!), so we drove across instead. But I have heard it’s so fun and a really cool view! There are several places near the start of the bridge where you can rent bikes and the whole bridge is just over a mile long, so it wouldn’t take too long.
Ride a Cable Car
There are three cable car lines in operation within San Francisco: the California St. line, the Powell-Mason line, and the Powell-Hyde line. It’s one of the most iconic things to do in San Francisco and is so fun to get a photo with. If you’re looking for good options of how to travel on the cable cars to different fun activities in the city, check out this article that has some awesome ideas.
Roller-skate or Bike through Golden Gate Park
Personally I would walk, but the park is huge and so gorgeous. If you want to cover more ground, biking would be the way to go! There are pretty lakes throughout and it’s really beautiful in the morning. One of my favorite things to see in the Park is the Conservatory of Flowers, and the Japanese Tea Garden is also really neat.
Shop in Union Square
Being an avid shopper, I can say that the shopping in Union Square is some of the best! They have just about everything from high end designers to normal mall stores. At the end of the street, there is an actual mall with a four story Nordstrom!
Sweater: Nordstrom | Jeans: Nordstrom | Boots: Nordstrom | Bag: Gucci | Glasses: Waryby Parker (I’m wearing the style ‘Caspar’)
Drive down Lombard Street
We drove down the most crooked street in our GoCar! You can also walk down it, but from the top it’s a really cool view of the city.
Ride the BART
If you are staying outside of the city, don’t rent a car to visit. Ride the BART in because not only is parking a nightmare, but it’s also crazy expensive. The BART is a very clean subway public transportation, and the easiest (and cheapest!) way in and out of San Francisco.
Where to Eat
Below is a huge list of restaurants all over San Francisco, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert options. A huge thanks to most of my Instagram family who offered so many of these suggestions! There are stars by the ones we visited.
Kokkari (make reservations in advance! I wanted to go here so bad because it was so highly recommended, but couldn’t get a reservation)
Boudin* (clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls)
Smitten Ice Cream*
Liholiho Yacht Club
Salt & Straw (ice cream)
Garage Door (in Sausalito)
Smugglers Cove (cocktails)
Are there things you love to do in San Francisco that I left off? Or restaurants you love?! Be sure to share them in the comments! Hope this travel guide is super helpful in planning any upcoming trips to San Fran you may have!