One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.
Although just a 50-minute flight from LA, San Francisco is truly a different universe with so much unique culture, architecture and food to take in. You can maximize a trip over a three-day weekend. Because everything is so accessible, you'll be able to pack so much into your itinerary it'll feel like you've been there a week.
Day 1: An Early Flight Yields Maximum Results
By the time we had gotten off our flight, taken the BART to Union Square and set foot on Powell Street toward the exquisite Fairmont in Nob Hill, the city had only just begun to stir. Streets were quiet; storefronts were just starting to open. Although it was nice weather and the skies cerulean, the air was brisk -- bring a warm jacket to SF, no matter the season.
We swung by Walgreens to grab three-day MUNI passes for cable cars and buses (highly recommended; have you seen those hills?), but then chose to trek to Nob Hill on foot because we packed so light. My out-of-shape self soon regretted this decision. After stopping for some photos in Chinatown and huffing and puffing up some gargantuan hills, we collapsed in a heap onto a plush sofa in the marvelous Fairmont lobby, already exhausted from the day at the late hour of 9 a.m. We were in for quite the long weekend.
The rest of Day 1 was a whirlwind tour of all the requisite tourist spots -- Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39.
For dinner, I was eager to visit local recommendations in Cow Hollow/Marina, an area I'd never visited. The ever-so-trendy Chestnut Street is a bounty of restaurants and shops -- I'm already dying to go back for the scrumptious papardelle and burrata at Delarosa. Later that night, drinks were imbibed on the rowdy Polk Street in Tenderloin -- a prime area to bar-hop, though the bars overflow messily onto the streets on a busy Saturday night.
Day 2: SF’s Eclectic Neighborhoods
Because we'd already checked the tourist attractions off our list, our second day was a bit more laid-back. There's always a great street festival in SF to stumble onto on a lovely summer weekend, and we happened to find ourselves at the Haight-Ashbury Street Festival, which proved entertaining.
After popping into an endless number of vintage stores on Haight -- Wasteland was my favorite -- we took a bus down to the Mission/Castro to continue people-watching in Dolores Park. We stopped at one of many local taquerias for a burrito-and-beer dinner, followed by the locally famous ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery (the decadent brown butter flavor was our favorite). We hopped on a bus to see the Balmy Street Murals, then finally headed home to rest our aching feet.
Day 3: A Quick Jaunt across the Bay
We started our last day sipping coffees in Union Square Park and admiring the lunch-hour hustle and bustle (our morning admittedly began late). Though we'd planned on biking the Golden Gate Bridge over to Sausalito, a dire forecast motivated us to ditch our original plans and take the ferry to Sausalito instead. The weathercast turned out wrong—surprise surprise– but the ferry ride was a leisurely experience showcasing great views of the bridge.
Sausalito was a reasonable two- to three-hour trip: We ducked into a few charming stores, grabbed a pizza to go and indulged outside on a bench overlooking the bay.
After returning to the city, we had time to stop by a few Union Square shops before heading to the airport after a packed weekend.
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