36 Hours In: San Francisco, CA
With its pastel-colored Victorian homes and breathtaking bay, San Francisco is continuing to seek the interest of people from all walks of life. Its abundance of natural beauty, vibrant neighborhoods, and good vibes make it a top tourist destination. So what do you do when you have such little time to explore a city full of steep rolling hills, innovative cuisine, and jaw dropping historical landmarks? Well, you follow this guide of course.
It's no secret that San Francisco has a ton of coffee shops. It may even seem as if, at just about every corner there's someone sipping on a perfectly crafted latte, or taking a photo of their pastry and cappuccino — at Sightglass you can do both. Since opening in 2009, they've grown from a small service-cart to an entire warehouse turned coffee bar and gathering space. It's the perfect place to enjoy an unbelievably fresh cup of coffee, pastry... and of course, a photo from above.
DE YOUNG MUSEUM
A visit to San Francisco's famed Golden Gate Park is a must for anyone planning a visit to the Bay Area. It's the third most visited park in the United States; filled with gardens, museums, art, and wildlife. One of its most popular attractions being the de Young Museum, which reopened in a state-of-the-art facility in October of 2005. It perfectly integrates art, architecture and the surrounding natural landscape — while showcasing the museums priceless collection of American art.
After wandering around Golden Gate Park trying to burn off the pastries from earlier, you'll want to head east to catch the sunset at Sutro Baths. Here you'll find the brainchild of Adolph Sutro, who combined his interest for natural history and marine studies to develop his idea of an ocean pool. Eventually it led to the development of a massive swimming facility, which still stands to this day — long after his death in 1898.
Starting your day off nice and early, head over to Twin Peaks — the second highest peaks in San Francisco. Located almost in the geographical center of San Francisco, there's no better place to view the city. It's best during sunrise, when the warm glow from the sun sprinkles gold across the entire city.
CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH CRUISE
Not only is San Francisco incredible on foot, but it's even better on a cruise. In comes Hornblower Cruises & Events, who combines the stunning beauty of San Francisco's Bay with free-flowing champagne. Sit back and enjoy live music as you gently cruise past iconic sights like Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. All while enjoying a buffet of classic breakfast dishes, lunch entrées and desserts — and of course a mimosa or two.
BIG BUS TOUR
You've most likely encountered a double-decker "big red bus" at least once in your lifetime. They are the quintessential tourist trap in just about every big city. Sure, you have a bus packed head to toe, with selfie-sticks swinging around like lightsabers and the occasional baby crying. But in all honesty, they are a great way to get to know a city. You can see all of San Francisco's top tourist attractions in the comfort of your own seat, while listening to the fascinating history and facts behind them.
Now that you know the incredible history behind some of San Francisco's iconic landmarks, it's time to eat. Head over to the famous Ferry Building. This dramatic clock tower has been an icon on San Francisco's waterfront since first opening in 1898. And after reopening in March of 2003, it's now the Ferry Building Marketplace — a world-class public market. Whether you're craving oysters, a hamburger, or some empanadas, you'll definitely find something incredibly delicious here.
For some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Downtown San Francisco head to the top of Slacker Hill. It's located in Sausalito (just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge) and starts off as a moderately 1.1 mile hike that is good for all skill levels. It offers a great escape from the crowds and lets you really enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge in all of its glory.
"I love bread... I really love bread." The once famous words spoken by Oprah on her most recent Weight Watchers campaign. At first her deep affection for bread may seem a bit outlandish but after having Tartine Bakery, it's completely understandable where she was coming from. This establishment has been serving incredible baked bread and elegant pastries since owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson first opened in 2002. Robertson's masterpiece is the Country Loaf, which was developed and perfected over the course of two decades — oh, and the coffee is good too.
Before departing from San Francisco, we suggest that you have one last hooray right on the water. Head over to San Francisco's famous Pier 39, where you'll catch a pack of barking sea lions. Here is where you'll board the Adventure Cat Sailing Charters, and set out on a 90 minute tour around Alcatraz Island, under the Golden Gate Bridge and around the Pacific Ocean. It's the perfect amount of relaxation as you wind down from a fun-filled 36 hours in San Francisco.
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About The Author
In 2015, Founder of TMDE Paul Martinez left a career in sales for a life of exploring. In just a matter of months he had visited over 10 countries, 30 cities, 10 states, countless national parks, taken thousands of photographs, and did a ton of soul-searching. His search uncovered a deep passion for exploration; which he now believes to be the essence of the human spirit, and led to the birth of The Modern Day Explorer. You can follow him on his personal journey by visiting his Instagram, and hopefully continue to support TMDE by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.