San Francisco: 3-Day Itinerary & 1 Very Small Budget ($80!)
Are you going to San Francisco? Be sure to wear flowers in your hair!
San Francisco, also known as part of the Bay Area, is home to some of the best tourist sight-seeing in the world. Some say it is only a narrow second-best to New York City. This sunny city has something for everyone and is a year-round travel hot spot.
Best Time of Year to Travel:
San Francisco is one of those magical destinations that really only has one season: Summer. Summer on the West Coast can be a bit cool, windy or rainy but is mostly sunny and warm. Since San Francisco has amazing weather – it is a year-round tourist destination. This one factor might not be enough to convince you to go just yet – but I am just getting started. Just remember, due to the popularity of this city, all of those tourist items on your bucket-list are going to be in high demand. Chances are it’ll be hard to get that perfect shot without any one else in it.
San Francisco is a city where renting a car is advised if you love sitting in traffic. It’s just as easy to get around using public transportation. Between the subway, trains, trolley and bus system, it should get you where you need to go. The only challenge will be on weekends, as not many routes are running. My favorite way to get to all the sight-seeing destinations was on the hop-on, hop-off cable cars (trolley). This is a quite popular option, so you might have to let a couple pass you buy before you find one with space. For those times where you might have to walk to the next stop, be sure to pack a pair of running shoes, as you will be getting a lot of exercise. Look at those hills! There is nothing worse than sore feet part way into a trip. My recommendation would be to take the trolley for 2 days and to spend the third exploring the attractions near your hotel on foot. Trolley Cost: Day Pass = $17 x 2 Days = $34
Top 15 Sight Seeing Recommendations:
Well let’s get to it shall we? You only need 3 days to see the very best that San Francisco has to offer. Here are my recommendations for a fantastic trip:
1. Visit Golden Gate Park:
Heard of Central Park in New York City? This is the San Francisco version which is much larger in size! Admission into the park is free, however, there may be a cost for other attractions inside the park such as the De Young Museum, Cal Academy of Sciences, and the Japanese Tea Gardens. If you’re looking to save some cash just enjoy the wide open spaces and fresh air among the trees, lakes and gardens.
2. Walk The Golden Gate Bridge:
A trip to the Golden Gate Bridge is a must for anyone visiting San Fran. For bragging rights be sure to walk across the entire 1.7 miles of the bridge. Spend as little or as long as you want on the bridge, as the pedestrian section of the bridge is separate from regular traffic. The best photo ops won’t be from the bridge itself but from the many vantage points around the city.
3. Snap A Photo of “Full House:”
Are you a fan of Full House? Maybe even the reboot Fuller House? Getting to this house is off the beaten path, but if you are looking to enjoy a slice of television history, be sure to see it. Be warned in advance that the house has been repainted and doesn’t look much like it does on TV. Perhaps the owners got sick of all the foot traffic. Also, you won’t be able to get too close, as they have a nice security system installed, which is advertised on their lawn.
4. Gaze Out In Wonder At The Twin Peaks:
The twin peaks are just as the name suggests – the two highest hills in San Francisco (other than Mount Davidson) that offer a view of the skyline.
5. View Mission Dolores:
If you want to see the oldest building in San Francisco, it’s Mission Dolores. The mission is still an active church and is open to the public for visitors. For me, just seeing the outside of the building was enough to feel the history wash over me.
6. City Hall:
Visiting a City Hall as a tourist might not be too exciting, but this architecture is extremely unique and worth a visit.
7. Meet The Painted Ladies:
To be considered painted ladies the houses must be Victorian or Edwardian style and painted in 3 or more colors that help enhance their architectural details. The term “Painted Ladies” was first used in San Francisco by a group of writers and has since been coined and used in other geographical locations such as New Orleans, Ohio and New Jersey.
8. Union Square:
For any social butterflies, a visit to Union Square is a must. Squeeze some shopping into your itinerary between some wining and dining. Stay like the rich and famous in one of the many high-end hotel chains located around this square.
9. Lombard Street:
San Francisco is a very hilly city, to put it mildly. The roads can go all the way up and then all the way down only to go up again. The roads and housing were built into the lay of the land. As a result, some of the roads are very unique. Parking is often done perpendicular rather than vertically, as the car has a better chance of staying parked. This is one city where you would need to engage that parking break! Lombard Street is unique in that the houses are pretty as a picture, and the road is very winding. Many cars travel the “S” bends just to say they’ve done it. While I wouldn’t drive it myself, it was great to watch.
10. Ghirardelli Square:
Have you heard of Ghirardelli chocolates? No? Time to try some! If you answered yes, this is a must visit destination. We don’t think you’ll be able to walk away from here without spending a couple dollars on a sample. You might just opt instead to throw a couple coins into the fountains and make a wish.
11. Cable Car Museum:
The admission to the cable car museum is FREE! Learn about the cable car and trolley system that used to power San Francisco. There are plenty of interactive displays and information boards that will keep everyone occupied and interested. All of the trolleys are currently run from this location and you’ll be able to watch the wheels that keep everything running. Cost: $0
12. Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39:
Hungry? Thirsty? You must have a meal at this popular tourist attraction spot. There is always a crowd and you’ll be able to taste some delicious seafood right on the water. Looking for a more budget option? Why not grab a seat and do some people watching or relax as the boats dock while the wind rustles through your hair.
If you break the rules you go to prison, if you break the prison rules you go to Alcatraz.
A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the iconic Alcatraz. Now closed as an actual prison, it remains as a popular sightseeing destination. Alcatraz was once home to some of the most famous and scary criminals in history. The prison is located on an island, so you’ll have to purchase a ferry ticket which includes the admission cost. Self-guided tours with headsets will give you information about the prison and the rich tapestry of guests that were housed within its cell blocks.
14. The Coit Tower:
If you’re looking for an up-close and personal view of San Francisco, look no further than the Coit Tower. Take the elevator to the top and view the entire downtown of San Francisco with a birds-eye view.
15. Telegraph Hill:
Ready for some exercise? After viewing the Coit Tower, take all 400 stairs down to view the city houses and beautiful gardens. For an added challenge, take the stairs UP.
Total 2 day Itinerary Cost = $80. What a bargain. Are you ready to go to San Francisco yet?
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