Two-Day San Francisco Itinerary
We left our heart in San Francisco 🎵 but really-what a city! Abi and I visited during our Napa trip and it was the perfect way to start and end our vacation. We packed all we could into two days and wanted to experience EVERYTHING iconic about the Golden City. I’m sharing everything we did, ate, saw and experienced in less than 48 hours!
Jan. 2021 Covid Update:
Due to California Covid-19 dining/lodging restrictions we highly recommend checking all local guidelines before planning a trip here. We hope highlighting some of these hotels/restaurants/businesses will be places you can visit and support safely now or post-pandemic!
We arrived at SFO mid-morning and headed to our hotel to leave our bags before check in. We stayed at the Handlery Union Square Hotel which is a few blocks south of Chinatown. Sadly they are temporarily closed due to Covid but we would definitely recommend once it is back open. Rooms were were super clean and staff was great! After we dropped off our luggage we wanted to surprise the boys with tickets to the Giants game since they are both baseball fans and Oracle Park is known for its stadium! We didn’t stay the whole game but walked the stadium and took in the gorgeous views of the boat-lined harbor. . After the game we headed to Chinatown (we LOVE Chinese food) and walked into Spicy King 麻辣一品 where the food was delicious (and spicy, as you may have guessed 😅). This is our favorite way to travel/eat in a big city with tons of options-spontaneously walk into a restaurant and see what you get!
After our dinner we walked the streets of Chinatown up through the streets of SF’s version of a Little Italy on Columbus in North Beach. We stopped at Caffe Greco for a delicious tiramisu and cappuccino to refuel before heading to Fisherman’s Wharf. As we approached golden hour, we walked by the famous San Francisco-style homes and oohed and ahhed as we passed by. We made it to Fisherman’s Wharf just in time for sunset and it was so worth it. This was the most perfect time to visit, because not only did we beat the crowds, but we caught the sunset from the pier overlooking the Bay and Alcatraz. Absolutely stunning. We snapped some great photos and enjoyed soaking up the moment-everything feels more special on the first day of a trip! As we headed into the evening, we ubered to the Marriott Marquis Hotel to grab a drink at the View Lounge for a stunning view overlooking the twinkling lights of downtown. It was fairly crowded but we snuck in and got as close to the windows as we could. After our night cap, we headed back to the hotel for much needed rest after a full day of walking/sightseeing.
Our second day here was the last day of our Napa trip, so we headed out early and into the city that morning. We drove in from Napa and saw the most gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the highway-it was even better in person than the pictures I had seen! This time around we were staying at the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse near Fisherman’s Wharf. We ubered over to Nopa and had a light breakfast at at The Mill near Alamo square. It was a fun little coffee shop with pastries and avo toasts for a light breakfast. Next stop was a quick stroll into to Alamo Square Park where we walked the little trail and eventually made it to the hill where we saw the famous Painted Ladies. Afterward we headed back to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was MUCH more crowded and touristy during the day compared to our last visit. Lots of vendors and crowds of people, almost like Times Square (a little too touristy for our liking). We dodged the sea of people as best we could and grabbed a quick lunch at a packed seafood deli called Frankie’s Pier 43 to get a bread bowl full of clam chowder. There were a dozen little spots just like it, so if you’re dying for some toursity-probably overpriced-not half bad-clam chowder in a bread bowl, you’ll likely find it in Fisherman’s Wharf😉.
We walked to Ghiradelli Square and back toward toward our Little Italy in North Beach. For dinner we had no plans and no intention of making any in advanced (like we said we love the spontaneity!). We walked past a cute little restaurant with a man in the window who waved to us as he was making pizza dough. It was a small unassuming restaurant with a sign that read “Luisa’s Ristorante”. We walked in and were the only ones in there (bad sign? good sign?) except for an elderly woman who was sitting alone at one of the table. Once we were seated and the waiter took our drink order, the woman walked right up to our table asked if I was Italian because she could “just tell.” 😂 We were so intrigued, the woman not only came up us with such conviction, but sat herself down at our table as if she owned the place! We soon found out she did in fact own the place and she was Luisa, owner of the restaurant since 1959-active as ever at 93 years old. She was full of wit, stories, and brought back so many memories of my own Italian family. She told us her favorite dishes and we ordered, hoping it lived up to her hype. The food was fantastic. If you know me, it is no secret I’m very picky about Italian food, but this tasted like home. We ended with dessert (the tiramisu and cannoli were incredible) and she told us all about her winery and even showed us the bottle with her portrait on it! Seriously, Luisa, can we be you when we grow up?! It was such a perfect way to end our trip and truly the one of the highlights. Sometimes the people you meet on your travels make the for the most memorable moments to reflect back on and this was one of them. As the night ended, we walked through North Beach, passing Lombard Street but didn’t dare the hike up as our carb-coma set in.
SIghts we saw:
- Giants Game at Oracle Park
- North Beach-Little Italy on Columbus
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Ghirardelli Square
- Golden Gate Bridge (didn’t make it to the park-only saw it from the car 😪)
- Alamo Square Park
- Painted Ladies
- Lombard Street
- Where we ate & drank:
- Spicy King-Chinatown
- Caffe Greco-North Beach
- The View Lounge -Downtown
- The Mill-Nopa
- Frankie’s Pier 43-Fisherman’s Wharf
- Luisa’s Risorante-North Beach
There were more places on our list than we could make it to in two days! Sharing them below-let us know if we missed any good ones 😊
On our list for next time:
- Walk Lombard Street
- Golden Gate Bridge Battery Park
- Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown
- Ride a Cable Car
- Palace of Fine Arts
- Marshall’s Beach
- High tea at the Palace Hotel
We hope to visit this city again one day and experience more of what we didn’t see-two days isn’t enough. We wrote this not only in hopes of inspiring future travels but as a way to support SF’s local community, especially since so many restaurants and bars are losing business by the day. If you are local to the area and haven’t tried out some of these restaurants we listed, now is a great time to support local by ordering takeout or to go. A bowl of pasta on the couch goes a long way and might just bring a smile to a spirited little Italian woman in your own neighborhood 🤍