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How to Spend 2 Days in San Francisco

How to Spend 2 Days in San Francisco

Two days in San Francisco are enough to visit its main tourist-circuit sights and the neighborhoods that give the city its undeniable character. There’s also time to heed the call of the bay, with Alcatraz and Sausalito luring urbanites across the water. Here’s how to maximize two days in SF.

 

Day 1: Explore Some Neighborhoods

**Morning:**Start today near Union Square, a central spot with easy access to iconic areas and attractions such as Chinatown, Grace Cathedral, and the St. Francis Hotel. A cable car ride takes you through cosmopolitan and old-school neighborhoods at a leisurely pace, while hop-on hop-off bus tours allow you to see more attractions in less time—some even go across the Golden Gate Bridge.

**Afternoon:**For low-key exploring on your first afternoon, culinary or cultural walking tours let you easily get to know San Francisco neighborhoods with local expertise. North Beach and Chinatown are the main players, but if you’re ready to venture farther out, head to the Mission, where you’ll find multicultural cuisine, eclectic shops, and beautiful alleyway murals.

**Night:**San Francisco has all the nightlife offerings of a world-class city. Edgy crowds congregate in Lower and Upper Haight, while the cool tech kids meet Burning Man types in SOMA. If around on a Thursday, it’s worth prebooking admission to California Academy of Sciences’ adults-only NightLife events, which offer music and cocktails while visitors explore the museum after hours.

Day 2: Cross the Bay

**Morning:**Your second morning is a perfect time to venture out onto the bay. Early-access Alcatraz tours should be booked well in advance, as they let you explore the infamous island-prison before most crowds arrive. If you get started early enough, you’ll have time to celebrate your morning accomplishment with a champagne brunch bay cruise afterward.

**Afternoon:**For lunch, take a ferry to Sausalito, a charming bayside town full of shops and galleries across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Muir Woods is another popular destination north of the city, offering an urban escape with old-growth redwood groves. Some tours visit both Sausalito and Muir Woods in a single afternoon.

**Night:**There is no shortage of memorable ways to spend your last night in San Francisco. Dine and dance to live music on an evening bay cruise, or choose a more casual nighttime bus tour—some travel in Volkswagens decked out in hippie gear, while others stop for illuminated city views from urban gems such as Treasure Island or the Presidio.

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8 Tours and Activities | All San Francisco Tours

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Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour

Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour

star-4
2220
Ride a double-decker sightseeing bus to San Francisco's most famous landmarks with a choice of 2 different passes. Explore the city's 49 square miles, including stops at big-name attractions like Pier 39, the Palace of Fine Arts and Union Square. Go at your own pace, hopping off at any of 16 stops, exploring at your leisure, and then hopping back on when you're done. Choose the Premium pass to include a night tour or a Deluxe pass for an additional 24 hours of hop-on-hop-off and a night tour.
More
  • 1 to 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$40.50
From
$40.50
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise

San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise

star-4
207
Spend an evening on the San Francisco Bay during this dinner cruise, including a 4-course gourmet meal of fresh, local ingredients prepared on board. After dinner, dance to the live band or enjoy the nighttime views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the city skyline from the exterior deck.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$154.20
From
$154.20
Taking safety measures

Big Bus San Francisco Night Tour

Big Bus San Francisco Night Tour

star-4.5
160
Get a unique perspective on San Francisco by taking a 1-hour nighttime bus tour. See neighborhoods such as Fisherman's Wharf, Embarcadero, Chinatown and the Financial District while listening to commentary from a live guide. Multiple tour departure times available to suit your schedule.
More
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$40.50
From
$40.50
Taking safety measures

Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Ferry to Sausalito or Tiburon

Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Ferry to Sausalito or Tiburon

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45
Getting across San Francisco Bay is as easy as taking to the water. The San Francisco Ferry runs one-way and round-trip service to both Sausalito and Tiburon, so rather than worry about traffic, you can sit back and relax while savoring incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and the San Francisco skyline. The bayside towns of Sausalito and Tiburon make great day trips from San Francisco, and each boasts a bevy of boutiques, galleries and restaurants to explore. Linger by the water, enjoy a drink (own expense) or simply stroll along the narrow streets and delight in the surrounding scenery. This ticket allows you to skip the box office line and head straight to the gate.
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  • 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$13.00
From
$13.00
Taking safety measures

Night Tour: Happy Hour History of SF

Night Tour: Happy Hour History of SF

star-4.5
46
Get to know the hippie past and hipster vibe that make up San Francisco today aboard a colorful 1970s-era Volkswagen bus. Enjoy the illuminated city during this night tour that takes you to Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, North Beach, the Castro, the Mission, downtown and more. Check out the homes of The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, while listening to ‘60s classics. So dig your shoes into groovy shag carpet and shake some beaded curtains. Each bus accommodates up to just six people.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$85.00
From
$85.00
Taking safety measures

Muir Woods & Sausalito Tour

Muir Woods & Sausalito Tour

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46
Tired of the urban cityscape and feel like you need a breath of fresh air? Then jump on this San Francisco day trip by bus, and visit some of the world's tallest trees at Muir Woods National Historic Monument, only minutes from downtown. One moment you'll be kicking your way past the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito, and a short while later wandering beneath the majestic canopy of centuries-old California coastal redwoods.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$84.99
From
$84.99
Taking safety measures

Muir Woods and Sausalito Half Day Tour

Muir Woods and Sausalito Half Day Tour

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6
Experience Muir Woods National Monument and the quaint waterfront town of Sausalito on one half-day tour. Travel across the Golden Gate Bridge on a guided day trip that includes pickup in a convenient central location in downtown San Francisco, transportation to Marin, and National Park entrance fees. Enjoy free time among the ancient redwoods, then explore Sausalito at your own pace before returning to San Francisco by ferry.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$79.00
From
$79.00
Taking safety measures

Mission 18th Street San Francisco Food Tour

Mission 18th Street San Francisco Food Tour

star-4
10
Get a taste of San Francisco’s Mission District on this 3-hour food tour. Led by a local guide, you'll treat your taste buds to a diverse range of cuisine, from traditional Latin recipes to modern spins on local dishes. Bring an appetite for authentic tacos and Mexican delicacies, house-cured pastrami sandwiches, horchata-flavored cupcakes and more. This tour is offered along Mission in the evening along 18th Street.
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  • 3 hours
From
$115.00
From
$115.00