Weekend in San Francisco Itinerary for Foodies

San Francisco is not only the best food city in California, U.S. News & World Report ranked it the #1 foodie city in the U.S. If this gets you excited, you’re in the right place: This “Weekend in San Francisco Itinerary for Foodies” was written for people like you!

You’ll have everything you need to plan a trip to San Francisco that not only ticks off the necessary SF bucket list items but that also lets you indulge in the culinary and gastronomic delights that the city is best known for.

Discover the best San Francisco restaurants, the food invented in SF, the hidden gems of San Francisco, the best bars, the must-see views, the tastiest San Francisco food tours, and the best places to stay in San Francisco to help you optimize your foodie experiences.

Why should you trust my weekend itinerary for San Francisco? I know food, and I know SF. I’ve made more trips to San Francisco than I can count, and I lived in the Bay Area for 4 years.

I’ve eaten at more noteworthy restaurants in San Francisco than in any other city in the world. And I haven’t loved them all. I’ll even tell you which highly rated SF restaurant (it’s a biggie) isn’t worth it.

Crab Louie, one of the must-eats on a weekend in San Francisco

Crab Louie, one of the must-eats on a weekend visit to San Francisco

San Francisco Getaway for Foodies

There’s so much to eat and so many things to do in San Francisco!

I recommend staying at least 3 days in San Francisco, so a long weekend works well. If you have less time, just pick from the itinerary below the days that sound best for you, or feel free to mix and match elements within them.

However, if you are planning a longer stay, this itinerary will still work. Instead of picking and choosing, you’ll be able to see more San Francisco sights and eat at more restaurants, all at a slower pace.

I’ll also give you a couple of day trips from San Francisco at the end of the article in case you have extra time or want to extend your travel plans.

This “Weekend in San Francisco Itinerary for Foodies” article contains affiliate links where I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.

One of the best views in San Francisco is from the Municipal Pier at the Aquatic Cove.

One of the best views in San Francisco is from the Municipal Pier at the Aquatic Cove.

Where to Stay in San Francisco

One of the most important decisions for your trip to San Fran is where to stay. Besides the obvious things to consider like cleanliness, price, etc., below are 4 things to keep in mind when choosing a San Francisco hotel.

Location: Where are the best areas to stay in San Francisco? My highest priorities for a hotel location are safety and proximity to the sights. So, safe, central neighborhoods like Union Square and Nob Hill are my top picks for the best San Francisco weekend getaway.

Food: While most of your eating will be done outside of your hotel, it certainly is a plus if you can have at least one good hotel meal during your stay, especially breakfast.

Great Bar: When you’re not ready for the night to end, it’s nice to know you can go back to your hotel for a last hurrah rather than taking a chance on scouring the city at night. If you need a good excuse to imbibe, feel free to use the fact that the martini was invented in SF!

A Room With a View: While San Francisco hotels with a view may charge more for said view, sometimes it’s not much more. Other times it is much more, but definitely worth it. And sometimes, in a city as rich in beautiful views as San Francisco, you just can’t bear to look out your window onto a dumpster alley; dumpsters don’t look good in any city.

Luckily, I have 2 excellent SF hotel choices for you that score high on every one of my criteria—the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in Nob Hill, and The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel near Union Square!

InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in Nob Hill

InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in Nob Hill

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel near Union Square

InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel

This famous Nob Hill hotel has it all, plus it’s one of the top historic San Francisco hotels. The lobby museum showcases the property’s role in San Francisco’s history and displays photos of some of the many celebrity guests who have enjoyed its hospitality since it opened its doors in 1926.

You’ll feel like a celebrity staying at this grand hotel, but, surprisingly, the prices are pretty typical for the city.

The best San Francisco hotel with a view—a room at the Mark Hopkins

The location provides easy access to 3 cable car lines, which you will want to take because Nob Hill has the term “Hill” in it for an obvious reason. However, if you want to burn some extra calories so that you can eat all you want on your San Fran trip, walking up the steep streets of this neighborhood should do it!

The advantage to being at the top of the hill is that the Mark Hopkins Hotel is hands down one of the best hotels in San Francisco with a view. In fact, the views are truly spectacular.

A view  from our room during our weekend trip to San Francisco

A view from our room during our weekend trip to San Francisco

From our room, we could see the entire San Francisco skyline, including the Transamerica Building, the bay, and the Salesforce Building. I’ve never seen such an epic SF view from my hotel room before!

And to see a 360-degree San Francisco view from the 19th floor, visit the iconic Top of the Mark for a drink. This is a must-do whether or not you stay at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel. It’s lovely any time of day, but it’s definitely one of the best places to watch the sunset in San Francisco.

View of San Francisco from the Top of the Mark

The Top of the Mark currently serves only light nibbles, like locally produced cheese and charcuterie boards. A more extensive menu can be found at the hotel’s Nob Hill Club for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

At the Nob Hill Club, chef Brian Sepulveda’s passion for indigenous Native American ingredients and food culture shines through in flavorful dishes like Gambas al Ajillo, Beef Cheek Poutine, and Mayan Hanger Steak. The quality of food here is definitely on par with some of the most popular restaurants in San Francisco.

Check prices and availability here.

Gambas al Ajillo and Beef Cheek Poutine at the Nob Hill Club

Gambas al Ajillo and Beef Cheek Poutine at the Nob Hill Club

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel also rates high on my scale, and also boasts a noteworthy history.

The original owner, Frederick C. Clift, opened the doors in 1915 to supply rooms to attendees of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition. Nine years later, the hotel became the largest hotel in California when 3 floors were added (it no longer holds this distinction).

More recently, in 2019, The Clift underwent a massive renovation that was completed in January 2020. While the hotel preserved important aspects of the original architecture and impeccable craftsmanship, the rooms and lobby were almost completely redone.

The perfect way to spend a weekend in San Francisco is in a spacious junior suite at The Clift Hotel.

The perfect way to spend a weekend in San Francisco is in a spacious junior suite at The Clift Hotel.

The results are stunning—a modern, sophisticated lobby and spacious, well-appointed rooms.

Just steps to Union Square, the location of The Clift Royal Sonesta makes it a superb place to spend a weekend in San Francisco. In addition to its proximity to the best shopping in the city, so many of the top San Francisco bucket list items are within walking distance. And for non-walkers, there’s also a nearby cable car stop.

Another plus—this hotel has one of the best breakfast places in San Francisco: Fredericks. My husband, the Eggs Benedict connoisseur, rates the Fredericks version as tied for all-time best! I loved my Avocado Toast and the whole vibe of the café. The black and white floor is a gorgeous original!

Best Eggs Benedict breakfast in San Francisco at Fredericks

Best Eggs Benedict breakfast in San Francisco at Fredericks

Avocado toast at The Clift Hotel, San Francisco

One of the best breakfasts in San Francisco is at Fredericks in the Clift Hotel.

The restaurant currently only serves breakfast, but Chef Daniel is working on that. Until other meals are added, you can get a light snack at the Redwood Room, Thursday through Saturday after 6:00 pm. They do take reservations.

This San Francisco institution hails from the days of speakeasies, and it opened to the public the day after Prohibition was repealed.

The Redwood Room is just as popular with locals as it is with hotel guests, and you should visit even if you’re not staying at The Clift.

Sip a signature cocktail while admiring the art-deco decor, genuine Gustav Klimt artwork, and the original redwood paneling, which was carved from a single 2,000-year-old redwood tree.

The Redwood Room, like the hotel itself, is a mix of glamour and comfort. My husband and I fell in love with the ambiance of The Clift Hotel and think it’s one of the most romantic San Francisco hotels.

Check room availability and prices here.

A hotspot for drinks in San Francisco, The Redwood Room

Getting Around San Francisco

Unless you’re on a road trip, leave your car at home. Because San Francisco is a fairly small city (approximately 7 miles by 7 miles), I prefer to walk as much as I can. However, if you only have 3 days in San Francisco, you may need some intermittent assistance to see as much as possible.

Public transportation is available. While in town, you should take a cable car at least once, as this SF system of iconic conveyance is actually considered a national historic monument—the only one that moves!

Ride share wait times for Uber and Lyft are usually just a few minutes and trips cost less than daily parking fees in the city. Even a taxi ride from San Francisco International Airport is usually about the same price as overnight parking ($55-$65).

Make Restaurant Reservations

My biggest San Francisco travel tip for foodies is to reserve your restaurants as soon as you know your travel dates. Some of the most coveted reservations, like those for State Bird Provisions, book up the day they are released, usually 60 days out.

If you can’t get the reservations you want, don’t fret. Pick a restaurant from another day’s itinerary. You can also see if switching lunch and dinner helps. Otherwise, see the SF travel tips at the end of this post for additional strategies.

San Francisco sights painted on a heart in Union Square

San Francisco Weekend Trip

A long 3-day weekend in San Francisco is perfect!

Note, you can easily switch the order of this 3-day itinerary. I arranged it in my priority order so that if you only had 2 days in San Francisco, you could do Days 1 & 2. But, of course, pick and choose as you like.

Even if you only had one day in San Francisco, you would see a lot and eat well with the 1-day itinerary.

Do not feel like you have to do it all. Look over the itinerary and try to see what interests you most. Skip whatever doesn’t sound like fun, and spend more time doing something you enjoy.

If there’s one thing I learned from being a personal chef, it’s that everyone’s preferences are different, and that’s OK.

Weekend in San Francisco ItineraryDay 1

Cable Car Ride
San Francisco Waterfront
San Francisco Sourdough
Ghirardelli Chocolate
Buena Vista Irish Coffee
North Beach
Chinatown
Sunset at Top of the Mark
Dinner in Western Addition

Day 1 in San Francisco: Morning

I suggest getting an early start your first full day and eating breakfast at your hotel. If you stay at either the Mark Hopkins or The Clift Royal Sonesta, you’ll be in for a real treat, and you’ll get a delicious jump on the day.

Cable Car Ride

Start off with a cable car ride to the Fisherman’s Wharf area. You can hop on the Powell-Hyde line at the corner of Powell Street and Geary Street or at Powell and California and take it to the end. Have your camera ready for some very instagrammable San Francisco shots like Lombard Street (sit on the right side of the cable car)!

San Francisco bucket-list item—riding a cable car

San Francisco Waterfront

Fisherman’s Wharf is definitely one of the most touristy things to do in San Francisco. But, if you’ve never been, you should at least pass through. Same goes for the repurposed chocolate factory of Ghirardelli Square—where you’ll find not only world-famous chocolates but a myriad of other shops—and Pier 39, with its own range of shopping options and the beloved sea lions who haul themselves out on the docks.

If the outdoor vendors come back (currently gone due to COVID) with mini Dungeness crab cocktails, have one! If not, you’ll have to order some Dungeness crab elsewhere as it’s one of the must-eats of San Francisco.

Aquatic Park Cove

What is worth walking an extra couple of blocks for is the Aquatic Cove. Walk out on the Municipal Pier for some of the best views of San Francisco. You can get great photos of Alcatraz, the SF Skyline, Ghirardelli Square, and even the Golden Gate Bridge.

Alcatraz, as seen from the Municipal Pier at the Aquatic Park Cove

San Francisco Sourdough Bread

You’ll find San Francisco’s most famous sourdough producer, Boudin, at the Wharf and at Pier 39. One of SF’s oldest businesses, Boudin has been using the same sourdough starter since 1849. Sourdough wasn’t invented in SF, but local lore says the San Franciso sourdough tastes uniquely delicious because of the particular natural bacteria in the area.

Taste Boudin’s bread and compare it to the offerings at some of the other bakeries you’ll be trying tomorrow. If you’re not hungry, it can still be fun to peek in and see the differently shaped breads. If you need a larger snack, try the Sourdough Bread Bowl filled with clam chowder—it’s a true classic.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee

If you need a pick-me-up, pop into The Buena Vista for an Irish coffee. This café didn’t invent the Irish coffee, but it introduced it to America in 1952 and it’s been the Buena Vista’s claim to fame ever since. (2765 Hyde St.)

Day 1 in San Francisco: Afternoon

From the waterfront, walk up Columbus Avenue to North Beach, San Francisco’s Little Italy.

North Beach

Take a respite and do some people-watching in Washington Square, home to Saints Peter and Paul Church. From there, look down Filbert Street; you’ll see Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill.

While you’re in the neighborhood, check out the old beatnik hangouts, Vesuvio and City Lights Bookstore. (255 & 261 Columbus Ave.)

Washington Square, home to Saints Peter and Paul Church, in North Beach

Enjoy Lunch in or Near North Beach

Stella Pastry & Cafe: Care for some dessert for lunch or after? Worth a gander even if you don’t have a sweet tooth. All of the classic Italian pastries plus Sacripantina, the traditional Ligurian cake they are known for. (446 Columbus Ave.)

Sotto Mare: Locals come for “The Best Damn Cioppino in San Francisco.” Cioppino has similarities to some Italian fish stews, but it’s an SF original creation made with Dungeness crab and fish from the Pacific. Eating cioppino in San Francisco should be on your food bucket list! Reserve your table ahead. (552 Green St.)

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana: For a real Italian-style pizza, try Tony’s. Tony has been named World Pizza Champion 13 times! (1570 Stockton St.)

Mama’s on Washington Square: With a cozy atmosphere and hearty American fare, Mama’s has had a line out the door since 1951. (1701 Stockton St.)

Cotogna: For housemade pasta and superb Italian cuisine, Cotogna cannot be beat for lunch or dinner. And the outdoor setting is the cutest in Jackson Square. Reserve your table ahead. (490 Pacific Ave)

Cotogna restaurant is a great idea for any San Francisco itinerary.

San Francisco Chinatown

Walk down Grant Avenue through the heart of America’s oldest Chinatown to the Dragon Gates on Bush Street. You’ll pass many eateries with offerings similar to Beijing street food. Sample a few if you’re hungry, but you’ll have your chance to try the majority of what you’ll see on Day 3.

If Golden Gate Bakery is open, stop in for the best egg tarts in San Francisco.

One of the unique things to do in San Francisco is to see custom fortune cookies made by hand at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory (56 Ross Alley). Did you know that fortune cookies were invented in San Francisco in 1890 by a Japanese immigrant?

Chinatown is a must for any San Francisco itinerary!

Option for Dinner in Chinatown:

Mr Jui’s: For a gastronomic treat of Michelin-starred Chinese cuisine, Mr Jui’s is the answer. (Reserve your table ahead; 28 Waverly Pl.)

San Francisco Hidden Gem:

Café de la Presse: Directly across the street from the Chinatown Gates on Bush Street is a little hidden gem San Francisco locals love, Café de la Presse. With a certification from France, it has all of the famous French foods you’d find in a typical Parisian bistro or café. If you find yourself in need of a good meal, and didn’t make reservations elsewhere, this is a good bet any time of day. (352 Grant Ave.)

Day 1 in San Francisco: Evening

Of course, in the #1 foodie city, the best things to do in San Francisco at night usually involve delicious dinners. And I have some awesome choices for you. But first, watch the sunset.

Top of the Mark

One of the highlights of my most recent San Francisco weekend trip was watching the sunset from the Top of the Mark (reserve ahead). You’ll recognize so many San Francisco landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Twin Peaks. If you miss the sunset, you can still enjoy stunning views as the city slips from day into night and lights itself up.

Depending on your meal choices today, you may be able to get by with a couple of the Mark’s bar snacks and drinks for dinner. Or, plan to have dinner a little later. Dining later may also help you to get a reservation at one of the recommended restaurants in the section of town known as Western Addition.

San Francisco sunset from the Top of the Mark

Dinner in Western Addition

One of San Francisco’s most successful restaurant teams, Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski, offer 3 extraordinary culinary experiences. You should at least try one of them, and they are all located in Western Addition. Try to reserve as soon as you have dates for your San Francisco trip.

State Bird Provisions: The flagship restaurant and my favorite of the 3, State Bird Provisions creates imaginative dishes influenced by cuisines from around the world. Employing a format similar to that of Dim Sum, the staff wheels tasty small plates around on carts for you to choose from, and larger plates are ordered off the menu. For sure, order the seasonal mochi and anything pork belly. (1529 Fillmore St.)

The Progress: Inventive meals you won’t find anywhere else dominate the menu at The Progress. These are also served family-style, but without the carts. Tempura artichokes, halibut crudo, and brown butter noodles are just a few of the delectable choices—you’ll want to order them all. (1525 Fillmore St.)

The Anchovy Bar: It’s not just anchovies, but it is mostly seafood and vegetables. Highlights in addition to anchovies include the Caesar Deviled Egg, Smoked Mussels, and Meyer Lemon Clams. (1740 O'Farrell St.)

Caesar Deviled Egg at The Anchovy Bar restaurant in San Francisco

Weekend in San Francisco Itinerary—Day 2

Tartine Bread
Mission District
Mission-Style Burrito
Alamo Square—The Painted Ladies
Haight-Ashbury
Golden Gate Park
Quintessential San Francisco Dinner
Drinks at the Redwood Room

Day 2 in San Francisco: Morning

San Francisco isn’t just the place for sourdough, it’s the place for bread writ large, and that’s the first priority of the day.

Tartine Bread

Tartine Manufactory: One of the best San Francisco breakfast restaurants, Tartine Manufactory also serves lunch and dinner. And yes, the food is wonderful, but for me, it’s all about Chad Robertson’s incredible breads. (595 Alabama St.)

Seriously, no weekend trip to San Francisco is complete without bread from Tartine Bakery, and what better way to get your hands on some than to have breakfast at Tartine Manufactory? (Reserve ahead.)

If you prefer a lighter breakfast, you can skip the Manufactory and indulge at the Tartine Bakery. Alternatively, you can sample my runner-up in the Mission District, Craftsman and Wolves.

No weekend in San Francisco is complete without Tartine bread.

Mission District

You may want to take some bread and pastries to Mission Dolores Park and enjoy the sweeping views of the city. Even without a picnic breakfast, this green space is worth a visit. And the Mission Dolores Basilica, built in 1776, is just a block away.

Roam streets like Clarion Alley and Balmy Alley with walls and fences covered in colorful murals—over 700 have been painted in the Mission District since 1992.

This mural in the Mission District reminds me of my friend Myrna.

This mural in the Mission District reminds me of my friend Myrna.

Day 2 in San Francisco: Afternoon

Since the California missions have Hispanic roots, it’s no surprise that the Mission District has them too. And although Mexican food isn’t the only game in this part of town, it’s not just some of the best Mexican food in San Francisco, but in all of California.

Lunch Near the Mission District

La Taqueria: There’s too much disagreement to say who invented the Mission-style Burrito, but I know where to get an excellent version from one of the oldest taquerias in the neighborhood—La Taqueria, aka La Taq! The beauty is in the simplicity: tortilla, beans, perfectly seasoned meat, and pico de gallo (no rice). Order the popular carne asada; enjoy it as is or opt to make it “super” (with avocado and cheese) and/or “dorado” (crispy). (2889 Mission St.)

Taqueria El Farolito: Another delectable option for casual Mexican food in SF. With Farolito’s huge portions of meat, if you’re not all that hungry, consider sharing. You won’t be disappointed with the al pastor, carne asada, or carnitas burrito. (2779 Mission St.)

Foreign Cinema: As the name hints, Foreign Cinema shows movies while you dine. While this is a fun way to eat dinner, I think the space is gorgeous in the light, and I love the smoked salmon and oysters for brunch. (SF brunch Saturday & Sunday only; 2534 Mission St.)

Smoked salmon for SF brunch at Foreign Cinema

Smoked salmon for SF brunch at Foreign Cinema

Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies

Head over to Alamo Square, home of the Painted Ladies. Although you’re coming to see the world-famous brightly-painted Victorian houses, this is another San Francisco green space with awesome skyline views.

San Francisco skyline above the Painted Ladies, as seen from Alamo Square

Haight-Ashbury

Meander over to Haight-Ashbury to take in the lively atmosphere and the eclectic array of shops that still harken back to the hippy era.

Golden Gate Park

You will be at the edge of the 1,000-plus-acre Golden Gate Park. Where else can you find museums, buffalo, a Japanese tea garden, windmills, and San Francisco’s largest beach? With the park’s many offerings, you could spend a whole day here.

Day 2 in San Francisco: Evening

Tonight, dine at a renowned San Francisco restaurant. When I say renowned, I don’t necessarily mean fancy; I mean a real mainstay of San Francisco dining that is notable for serving excellent food.

But if you want fancy dining in San Francisco, I recommend Quince or Atelier Crenn. Another posh restaurant you’ll hear mentioned is Benu, which I think is overrated and not worth the hefty price tag.

Personally, I think the restaurants below give you more of a quintessential San Francisco experience.

The legendary chicken at Zuni Café in San Francisco

Quintessential San Francisco Dining

Zuni Café: A three-time James Beard Award winner (plus winner of another for The Zuni Café Cookbook), this celebrated Hayes Valley restaurant has been a major player in the SF food scene since 1979. The roasted wood-fire-oven chicken and Caesar salad are legendary. (1658 Market St.)

Tadich Grill: You can’t get more classic than California’s oldest restaurant, Tadich Grill, which dates back to 1849. It serves excellent versions of two of San Francisco’s culinary inventions: Cioppino and Crab Louie. (240 California St.)

Nopa: Nopa opened in 2006 and reviewers called it “the new Zuni Café.” Maybe it’s the wood-fired cuisine. Or maybe it’s the restaurant’s commitment to excellence. Chef Laurence Jossel changes the 100%-from-scratch menu weekly, depending on the farm-fresh ingredients available. (560 Divisadero St.)

Rich Table: SF restaurant power couple Evan and Sarah Rich opened Rich Table in 2012, and the farm-to-table restaurant still fills every night. The rustic ambiance serves as the backdrop for outstanding California cuisine, including such inventive treats as sardine chips and porcini doughnuts. (Closed Sunday and Monday; 199 Gough St.)

Octavia: Award-winning chef Melissa Perello has been at the forefront of the San Francisco culinary scene since 2006, when she opened her first restaurant, Frances (currently under renovation). A short menu of housemade pastas and seasonal cuisine exquisitely presented make Octavia a winner every time. And the desserts are dreamy—they even rival the best desserts in Paris! (1701 Octavia St.)

It’s worth a trip to San Francisco just for this profiterole from Octavia!

Drinks at the Redwood Room

What’s the perfect way to end a San Francisco day? Drinks at the famous Redwood Room at The Clift Hotel.

Sink into the soft cushions of a loveseat and order one of the house recipe cocktails. This lounge oozes history, and if the redwood paneling could talk, I bet we’d hear some interesting stories. Today, the people-watching can be quite entertaining, as is the DJ when he’s doing his thing. (Open Thursday through Saturday)

Weekend in San Francisco ItineraryDay 3

Ferry Building Marketplace
Dim Sum
Palace of Fine Arts
Presidio
Golden Gate Bridge
Dinner With a Bay View

Day 3 in San Francisco: Morning

Today’s breakfast should be light at the Ferry Building because Day 3’s itinerary includes Dim Sum for brunch.

Ferry Building

Take the California Street Cable Car line to the Embarcadero terminus and then walk the short distance to the Ferry Building Marketplace at the foot of Market Street. Additional market stalls bustle outside of the Ferry Building daily, and on Saturdays between 8 am and 2 pm the offerings multiply during the weekly farmers’ market.

Inside, the Ferry Building shops include many kinds of local food and beverage artisans as well as restaurants. Grab something to hold you over at Blue Bottle Coffee, Babette’s Larder, or one of the bakeries.

Take your time strolling through. If you’re like me and prefer foodie treats to the high-end fancy clothes at Union Square, you’ll find a San Francisco souvenir or two to bring home. I discovered truffle salt here years ago and it’s still one of my favorite things!

When you’re done, walk out the back because there’s always a view waiting for you when you’re by the water.

Every foodie should have the Ferry Building on their “Weekend in San Francisco” itinerary.

Dim Sum

Next, walk to either of the Yank Sing locations. Both are nearby, but I like the one in Rincon Center at 101 Spear Street. Like Tartine bread, Dim Sum is always part of my San Francisco trips.

Carts will be pushed by your table, offering an amazing array of dumplings, pot stickers, siu mai, pork buns, and so much more. Yank Sing claims to have over 100 Dim Sum items. I haven’t yet tried them all, but I’m always excited by the prospect of exploring more options each time I return!

The dishes are served family style, and the carts come around continually, so don’t be afraid to say no if you’re not in the mood for any particular offering at any particular time. You’ll get another chance soon. But don’t leave without trying the soup dumplings and the walnut shrimp.

If you’ve done Dim Sum right, you should be stuffed and in need of a long walk afterwards.

Soup dumplings at Dim Sum, always part of my San Fran trips

Day 3 in San Francisco: Afternoon

Make your way over to the Palace of Fine Arts at the edge of the Presidio. Like The Clift Hotel, it was built in 1915 for the Panama–Pacific International Exposition. Today it operates as a theater.

The Roman rotunda and park setting make it quite a picturesque place for photos.

San Francisco Presidio

Even larger than Golden Gate Park, the Presidio of San Francisco offers museums, miles of trails, beaches, and awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge from Chrissy Fields Beach and the Golden Gate Vista Point.

Golden Gate Bridge

After you’ve photographed the Golden Gate to your heart’s content, consider walking across it. If you have the time, it’s an extraordinary experience you’ll never forget!

Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you may be able to catch the sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge From the Golden Gate Welcome Center

Day 3 in San Francisco: Evening

What better way to spend your last night in the “City by the Bay” than having dinner by the bay? I prefer restaurants by the lower-numbered, less touristy piers, rather than up by Fisherman’s Wharf or Pier 39.

Dinner With a Bay View

Coqueta: Michael Chiarello's Coqueta serves mouth-watering Spanish tapas with a view. Spanish dates, sausages, olives, seafood, meats, even SF versions of Valencian paella. For dessert, the Manchego Cheesecake Pops with Caramel Popcorn are a must. (Pier 5, The Embarcadero)

Hog Island Oyster Co.: Located in the Ferry Building, Hog Island Oyster Co. has a 160-acre oyster farm in nearby Tomales Bay. Raw, grilled, fried—oysters from the farm dominate the offerings on the menu, but there is also a sampling of other seafoods. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations and is only open until 8:00 pm.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana: You’ll find La Mar at Pier 1 1/2 but you won’t see the view until you step inside. Go through the restaurant to the outside tables in the back for the best vistas and one of the most romantic tables in San Francisco. (Pier 1 1/2, The Embarcadero N.)

I would be happy just eating the free taro chips and avocado-cilantro sauce and drinking a pisco sour or two. But, of course, you need to try one of their many cebiche (ceviche) options. At my most recent dinner there, the Dungeness crab appetizer (remember, you are in Dungeness country) and local halibut entrée were also big hits. And I’m still thinking about the Tres Leches Cake with strawberries!

Dungeness crab appetizer at La Mar restaurant in San Francisco

FAQs & More San Francisco Travel Tips

1. What if I can’t get a dinner reservation?

Ask if the restaurant has a bar; many times the bar will have the same menu as the main part of the restaurant and will welcome you on a first-come, first-served basis.

Try restaurants listed on the itinerary for a different day, or switch lunch for dinner or vice versa.

You can usually get in the same day at the Nob Hill Club at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, The Morris (which is an excellent restaurant, especially for duck), and, as previously mentioned, Café de la Presse.

Or, you can go to a restaurant like Hog Island that doesn’t take reservations, or Tadich Grill, which accepts walk-ins.

2. What are the best San Francisco tours?

Of course, I’m all about the San Francisco food tours.

This North Beach food tour walks you through Little Italy while you taste the local delights and meet the artisans who prepare them.

If you can fit this 3-hour walking Chinatown food tour into your SF itinerary, it’s a great way to sample the specialties as you learn about the history of this unique cultural and culinary treasure from a local guide.

3. What are the best day trips from San Fransisco?

Napa Valley, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Sausalito are all popular day trips from San Francisco. You can plan your own day, or here are some easy recommended options:

Napa Valley: A private wine tasting and private car tour from San Francisco for up to 4 people.

Point Reyes Station: A food and farm tour with lunch included. Cheese and oyster lovers, this one’s for you. The scenery is also breathtaking!

Sausalito: Lunch in Sausalito, 8 great photo spots, and the added bonus of Muir Woods.

4. Is a 3-day weekend in San Francisco enough?

Yes, but for me, I’ll always say more is better.

You can cover a good chunk of San Francisco in a weekend. If you follow this 3-day San Francisco itinerary, you’ll see many of the highlights, and eat and drink at some of the best places in the city!

Bon appétit and cheers!

5. What are some great weekend getaways from San Francisco?

I love visiting the Mendocino Coast! The scenery is amazing and the seafood in Mendocino restaurants is so fresh!

Wine tasting in Napa Valley is a very popular weekend from San Francisco, but you may want to try the lesser known Anderson Valley wineries. The specialize in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and have much less tourism than Napa. For me me it’s much more enjoyable as a more personalized experience.

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