San Francisco doesn’t look or feel like the rest of California. While most of the state enjoys warm weather through most of the year, the city of San Francisco stays within the 60s and 70s. The bay’s wind and fog keep the city cool and have formed San Francisco’s culture. Along with the weather, San Francisco stands apart because of its hills, trolleys, and food. Guests in the city can visit multiple times and still feel like there’s more. Here’s how you should spend your day in the great San Fran.

Early Morning: Take a Boat Ride and Tour Alcatraz

From the 1930s to the 1960s, Alcatraz was known as one of the most notorious prisons in America. Al Capone and Robert “Birdman of Alcatraz” Stroud were just two of the most famous prisoners, murderers, and gangsters to spend time on the Island. Known as “The Rock” by inmates, the prison was inescapable, without a single successful break-out during its entire operation. Even if prisoners made it out of the prison (and a few did) they were inevitably swept away by the rushing bay tides to meet a watery grave.

Ferries leave for The Rock throughout the day, and visitors can schedule tours or enjoy audio guides. During the tour, guests will see the cells where prisoners slept and plotted to escape, the mess areas where riots occurred, and the security systems implemented to keep prisoners from fleeing. It’s worth spending at least half of a day on the island, if not longer.

Alcatraz and a view of downtown San Francisco.

Mid-Morning: Visit the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic images in America and a must-see for guests to the area. Depending on your physical ability, you can either take a tour the bridge by bus or sign up for walking tours where guides will describe the history and importance of this landmark.

During your time in San Francisco, make sure you see this bridge at different times of day. From catching an early morning sunrise to watching the lights shine on it at night, the Golden Gate Bridge is truly a breathtaking landmark to behold. In the afternoon, you can watch the bay fog completely envelop the bridge, turning a bright and sunny day into a dark and cloudy afternoon.

Mid-Day: Walk Around Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is the natural center for residents and visitors of San Francisco. From Fisherman’s Wharf, you can catch a ferry to Alcatraz or take in views of the Golden Gate Bridge. While Fisherman’s Wharf is the gateway for the bay, it also has notable landmarks of its own. Sea lions sleep lazily along the wharf and make their unmistakable barking noises when they fight for space on the rocks. Kids will enjoy watching these animals dive into the waves and pop out near crab traps.

Try Local Seafood for Lunch

For lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf, visit Pier 39 or Pier 35 for some of San Francisco’s top seafood. One of the highest rated restaurants in Fisherman’s Wharf is the Fog Harbor Fish House. This restaurant is one of the pricier options, but many people agree the cost is worth it. Among your seafood options is a whole Dungeness crab, which is a must-eat while you’re in San Francisco — just don’t bring your leftovers too close to the sea lions.

Another iconic dish that you need to try in San Francisco is clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Bistro Boudin regularly boasts the best sourdough in San Francisco. It also offers plenty of salads and non-seafood options for vegetarians or visitors who don’t like (or can’t eat) shellfish.

Pick Up Some Chocolate for Dessert

Once you’re done with lunch, wander through Fisherman’s Wharf to Ghirardelli Square, where you can try the namesake chocolate while shopping in small stores and boutiques in the area.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was incorporated in 1852 and is the oldest running chocolate company in America. Ghirardelli Square is home to the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, where guests can see the equipment that makes these decadent treats and find a whole menu of desserts to sample.

AT&T Park
AT&T Park, Home to the San Francisco Giants since 2000.

Afternoon: Catch a 49ers or Giants Game

Even if you’re not a sports fan, you’re sure to catch the fever in the stands when you attend a football or baseball game in the area. While the 49ers NFL team didn’t have the best year in 2016, they plan to rebound during the 2017 season and fight as if they’re trying for the playoffs. Fans of the 49ers know their team isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t stop them from cheering anyway.

The San Francisco Giants haven’t been much better than the 49ers these past few years. The MLB team plays at AT&T Park and tends to attract loyal fans who are hoping for a rebound. Visitors might want to be careful when they visit this park, though: last year the park was swarmed by hundreds of seagulls trying to eat spilled popcorn and leftover food. It certainly made for a memorable experience for many visitors. When you book your tickets, it might worth looking for seats out of the “seagull zone” of the upper outfield. You just might be the lucky charm the Giants need to win.

Evening: Bar Hop at Local Breweries

What goes better with a bowl of clam chowder than an ice-cold beer? The brewery scene in San Francisco continues to grow, as more locals try their hand to create something tasty from barley and hops. The Almanac Tap Room in The Mission district has a great food menu along with its beer selection. You may have to return a few times because its seasonal menu changes to match its barrel-aged brews.

Another staple in the area is the Barrel Head Brewhouse, which serves a variety of taps out of a World War II-era torpedo. This makes your visit an experience as much as an opportunity for a great meal. This restaurant takes reservations online, so you might want to book ahead to make sure you get a good table.

Finally, Black Hammer Brewing is a great place if you want to try unique beers and different brews on a budget. You can get small pours for only $4 and work your way through their whole beer selection to find the one you like best. Whichever brewery you choose, you’re sure to find local friends along the way.

Where to Stay in San Francisco

There are dozens of hotel, hostel, and home-stay options in San Francisco, and the choice you make will vary depending on your budget, your travel group, and your interests. Families might want to stay closer to Fisherman’s Wharf because it’s closer to the main visitor sights, while younger solo travelers might look to stay in Nob Hill or the Mission.

Parking is a major challenge for many visitors to the area, so make sure you check to see if your hotel has parking, or if there are nearby spaces you can use when you arrive. It might be easier to take an Uber from the airport and use public transportation to navigate the city once you arrive instead of driving around the winding roads looking for a legal parking spot.

Ghirardelli Square
Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

The Omni

The Omni San Francisco is a popular choice for visitors who want to stay close to the Wharf. This luxury hotel is only a few steps from Union Square and offers a boutique feel with high-end perks. The Omni boasts 362 rooms and claims to be the perfect romantic getaway for couples. The 1,500-square-foot fitness center will appeal to guests who want to stay in shape despite the clam chowder, luxury chocolate, and local beer in the area.

The Inn at Union Square

If you’re looking for a unique experience during your time in San Francisco, consider staying at The Inn at Union Square. Guests will enjoy a complimentary wine reception and continental breakfast. This cozy and sophisticated hotel is in the heart of the city and has just 30 hotel rooms. If you want to be treated with the care and personal touch of a small inn, then this option is the best choice possible.

The San Francisco Marriott Marquis

The San Francisco Marriott Marquis is one of the most recognizable hotels in the area. Not only can people easily distinguish it on postcards and skyline photos; guests can enjoy fantastic views of the entire city from its top rooms.

The San Francisco Marriott Marquis boasts high-end amenities and excellent customer service. This location is a popular choice for conferences and corporate events, as it offers 50 event venues and meeting rooms in a variety of sizes. Guests traveling for leisure can relax in the hotel’s full-service spa to wash away the stresses of city life after a long day of sightseeing.

You can spend days in San Francisco enjoying everything the city has to offer. History buffs will want to spend a full day at Alcatraz, while beer fans will spend days hopping from brewery to brewery. However you plan to visit the city, make sure you book your stay at for the best information on San Francisco.