On a recent trip to the bay area, Don and I spent 3 full days exploring the city and found lots of interesting things to do in San Francisco. From the Embarcadero to the Sutro Baths with stops in between, this is a 3 day intinerary of fun things to do in this vibrant city.
If you only have a few days to spend and are looking for fun things to do in San Francisco, this article is a great place to start. I outline what my husband and I did on a recent trip to visit our daughter. We spent 3 days exploring in the city, which I'll outline in this article, and if you have extra time in the area, you'll want to check out other fun things to do outside of the city such as an African Safari at Safari West, The Secret to Seeing Yosemite in a Day, and 8 reasons to go on a San Francisco Wine Tasting Tour to California's Wine Country. The Bay area is beautiful and full of fun things to do in and out of San Francisco. I hope you find this helpful in planning your next trip to the area.
On our first day, Don & I didn't waste any time. We started on the east end of the city, known as the Embarcadero, where we went to the iconic Ferry Building. We had a great time exploring this foodie wonderland and even picked up a few goodies from the patisserie to take to Madison (our daughter) and her coworkers later in the day.
From there we strolled along the waterfront, in the gorgeous San Francisco weather, to what is now our favorite spot to eat in San Francisco, Epic Steak! We enjoyed an epic lunch with an incredible view of the Bay Bridge. It is right outside! This was the view from our window! Definitely put Epic Steak on your list of things to do in San Francisco!
The service at Epic Steak is impeccable! Don & I were spoiled from start to finish. When I spotted 3 different finishing salts on the table, I knew this was a restaurant that cared about the details!
We started with the best buttered toast I've ever had in my life! You've probably never seen buttered toast like this before, and I can assure you when I think of buttered toast, I will forever expect it to have perfectly roasted wild mushrooms atop a delicious romesco sauce that creates an unexpected, but exciting flavor combo. We couldn't get enough! I really should have asked for the recipe, but I do plan to try to recreate it at home.
I ordered the Epic Bay View Express lunch special which started with the creamiest Cauliflower soup that was poured into my bowl at the table. This was a nice touch! I savored each and every spoonful of the rich flavor that coated the palate deliciously! I didn't want to share with Don, but I did, because I'm nice like that <smile>.
My main lunch course was Pork Belly Tacos. Pork Belly is one of my favorite things ever, so I was excited to see these on the menu and they didn't disappoint. Don enjoyed his usual, the Bacon Cheddar Wagyu Burger with fries and was very pleased. He even got to enjoy some of my lunch!
As full as we were from our amazing lunch, we couldn't leave without trying dessert! There was a house-made doughnut on the menu y'all! Butterscotch Pot de Creme with a warm doughnut was the perfect ending. We both went away from Epic Steak with smiles on our faces and full bellies. I am looking forward to visiting again for dinner the next time we are in town.
After all that, we probably should have walked over to visit Madison at work, but decided to catch a ride with Lyft. I had the app on my phone and the driver picked us up from where we stood within a minute of requesting the ride. Now that's service!!
Note to parents visiting their children at work. Call first! Madison was in a meeting, so we had a nice chat with the office manager, left the goodies, and requested another Lyft to take us down to Pier 39 for more fun things to do! We found Lyft to be the BEST way for us to get around the city and used it often. The drivers are super friendly, the cars are clean, and the service is fast. What more could you want?! Oh wait, I almost forgot to mention, the price is right too! Lyft really can't be beat!
We couldn't visit Pier 39 without seeing the Sea Lions sunning themselves on the platforms in the harbor. They are adorable, and I could probably stay there all day photographing them. Look at that face!!
As cute as they are, Pier 39 isn't just all about the Sea Lions. There are lots of shops, restaurants, and even attractions like the Aquarium. We walked around and enjoyed the sites and even did some people watching before we headed out on our sunset cruise with AdventureCat Sailing Charters.
I've never been on a sailboat before, so this was a real treat. The crew was very accommodating. They had snacks and drinks on board and even had wind breakers knowing how chilly it can be on the water. They went above and beyond by offering to take everyone's picture with the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop. Click here to see our picture on Instagram.
We sailed around Alcatraz...
Don was invited up to take the wheel! Just kidding, but the captain did invite him to join him at the wheel and they had a nice chat about sailing. Turns out our captain was on the America's Cup team!
We even sailed UNDER the Golden Gate Bridge! Definitely add this to your list of things to do in San Francisco, y'all!
The sunset was breathtaking!
The setting sun cast a warm glow on Pier 39. It was magical! A sunset sailing was the perfect way to end our first day of fun things to do in San Francisco!
Day 2 began with a Local Tastes of the City North Beach Tour. We met up with our tour guide and ate our way around what is also known as 'Little Italy'.
The 3 hour tour was a leisurely stroll in this eclectic part of town where the smells of freshly roasted coffee and fresh baked bread fill the air. We enjoyed everything from cappuccinos and chocolates to authentic Italian deli sandwiches, pizza, and cannoli too as our guide, who lives in the heart of North Beach, shared stories from the past to the present. We visited iconic locations such as Washington Square, Saints Peter and Paul Church, and Coit Tower just to name a few. Another must add to your list of things to do in San Francisco!
With satisfied bellies, we requested a Lyft to head on over to Lombard St. Lombard St. is known as the Crookedest Street in America, however, our amazing Lyft driver explained Vermont St. is actually even more crooked! But Lombard's location makes it much more popular with tourists.
The famous one-block section of Lombard St. has 8 hairpin turns! Our Lyft driver was kind enough to drive us down Lombard St and then back to the top so I could get some pictures. I tried to get him to take us on a wild ride through those hairpin turns, but he kept us safe and we enjoyed the view. Next time I think I'll get out at the bottom to get a picture of the view looking up too!
After Lombard St., we took a cable car ride all the way to Powell and Market St. I highly recommend the San Francisco CityPass to be able to take unlimited rides on the cable cars and Muni (bus), as well as get free admission to some popular things to do in San Francisco.
By this time it was nearly 7pm and we were meeting Madison for dinner at ThirstyBear, the first and only brewery in San Francisco to brew certified organic beer and become a certified Green Business.
The tapas menu had many choices and the food was as good as the beer. (Click on the titles to see the pictures) Along side our craft beer, we enjoyed Grilled Octopus and Merguez Sausage, Beer Braised Crispy Pork Ribs, Warm Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding, Cinnamon Churros with Spanish Hot Chocolate, & Granny Smith Apple Crisp with Caramel Sea Salt Gelato. I know what you're thinking... 3 desserts?! My answer...why not?! It was a great way to end our 2nd day of fun things to do in San Francisco.
Our final day in the city began with another walking tour. We donned our comfy shoes and met our Wok Wiz Daily Tour group at a hotel in the financial district where we started our tour of the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. I highly recommend adding this tour to your list of things to do in San Francisco. It is fun, informative, and a great way to get a taste of Chinatown.
Chinatown is a very busy and interesting part of town. A lot of history on those streets and our tour guide, Frank, was very knowledgeable. He grew up in the area and shared many fun stories with us as we visited a local tea room, farmer's market, and even a fortune cookie company. Next to the fortune cookie company we were entertained by Jun Yu. Jun Yu sits on his stool outside of his barber shop playing music for the passers by. He is 85 years old with a joyous smile. Such a treat. Click here to see his photo on Instagram. Here are just a few photos of what we saw on our tour...
Our next stop on day 3 was the Sutro Baths. This is a historical site all the way on the west side of town, so we got out the phone and requested a Lyft to take us there. The Sutro Baths were a large, privately owned public saltwater swimming pool complex in the Lands End area of San Francisco. The facility burned down in 1967, but the location is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
This is a great place if you love the outdoors. It is a rocky and windswept shoreline offering stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, lots of open space for hiking, exploring history, wildlife viewing, picnicking, and other outdoor activities. Be sure to put this stunning location on your list of things to do in San Francisco!
Our Lyft driver dropped us off at the Visitor's Center where we picked up a map of the trails. We wanted to find the Land's End Labyrinth, but ended up realizing we forgot to eat lunch and turned back to find something to satisfy our bellies.
We found a little diner on the edge of the cliff overlooking the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Louis' is a small place in the best possible of locations. They were very busy, but we only had to wait about 10 minutes to be seated. Because we were planning to meet Madison for dinner in just a few hours, Don and I decided to share a BLT sandwich with french fries. The food was good and hit the spot. The view was spectacular, and I didn't ever want to leave. Here are just a few photos of this breathtaking location...
We couldn't move in and take over Louis', so we requested a Lyft to drive us to the next stop on our itinerary, Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks are 2 hills that sit atop San Francisco offering beautiful vistas of San Francisco and the bay.
We walked around Twin Peaks for a bit and saw someone walking their bike up one of the peaks. We waited to see him ride down, because that would have been a good show. I was ready to capture it on video and call 911 at the same time, because that would have been necessary for sure. Thankfully, he only walked it up one side and down the other and then he walked it up and down the other peak too. We decided that was enough fun for one day and requested a Lyft to take us all the way back over to the east side of town to pickup Madison for dinner because it was time to get our steak on at Historic John's Grill!
The weather was so nice, we decide to walk to dinner. John's Grill was just a mile away, so it gave us a chance to see more of the city. There weren't any of those crazy steep streets along the way either, so I was happy about that! John's Grill is one of San Francisco's oldest restaurants. It is known for being a setting in the classic book The Maltese Falcon. As soon as you walk in, you get a warm feeling of old world charm. I love the cozy, yet elegant atmosphere. The service was great and the steaks cooked to mouth-watering perfection! A must add to your list of things to do in San Francisco.
Those of you who made it to the end of this article, Thank you! and CONGRATULATIONS! You should win an award for sticking to it! I hope you enjoyed our 3 day itinerary of things to do in San Francisco. Even more, I hope it helps you with planning your next trip to the Bay area. If you share photos on social media of anything you discovered here today, please tag me. I look forward to seeing your vacation shots! And if you have stories to share, please leave me a comment or drop me a line via email. Thanks for stopping by today!
Disclosure: I'd like to thank San Francisco Travel and their partners, Epic Steak, Pier 39, AdventureCat Sailing Charters, Local Tastes of the City Tours, ThirstyBear, WokWiz Tours, John's Grill, and Lyft for their hospitality while we were visiting San Francisco. The companies listed extended complimentary meals, tours, or admission to assist me with this article. No further compensation was provided. As always, all opinions are my own.