A streetcar trolley climbs up a hill in San Francisco.

A Weekend in San Francisco

San Francisco is honestly too much for a weekend. There are too many neighborhoods, too much good food, and too many iconic sights to see. But we've certainly tried. Have a look at a San Francisco weekend below.

Friday Night

Depending on how much energy you have when you arrive, you may just want to grab a burger and call it a night. The good news is that there are plenty of places to do that here. Californians will sing the praises of In-N-Out, but if you're an outsider, you may be thwarted by the fact that none of the things people order there are actually on the menu when you walk in. And since In-N-Out is starting to expand, people looking for a truly Californian burger experience may want to check out The Habit, which offers a wider variety of toppings and sides that include sweet potato fries or green bean tempura. And maybe we're heathens for this, but we just think a good burger should have bacon as an option.

Burger Habit

Of course, you may want to check out the nightclub scene, which includes Bimbo's 365 Club, which offers 1950s trappings and retro-tinged musical acts, or Absinthe Brasserie & Bar.

Saturday Morning

The donut scene in San Francisco is so strong that it's the subject of its own articles, but Twisted's unique toppings, like its weekend Baconpeño doughnut, help it stand out, as does the fact that their iced coffee's ice cubes are made out of coffee. Dynamo Donut + Coffee is a winner, too, if you're around Mission.

From there, check out Muir Woods—you can't get a feel for California without taking in the redwoods, and Muir Woods (named for John Muir) is a fantastic place to do that that's still close to town. You'll want to get there early because of parking and traffic crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sun peeking through the woods, Muir Woods, California

Once you've had your fill of nature, go back across town. Honestly, biking the bridge (or walking the footpaths at least to the first tower or so) is a worthwhile experience. Bring a jacket—it's colder in San Francisco than the rest of the Bay, and it's especially cold here (by California standards, at least). Either the skies will be clear and you'll be treated to a fantastic view, or the iconic fog will have settled in and you'll have a quintessentially San Franciscan experience. Either way, you can't lose.

Saturday Lunch

Take lunch at Fisherman's Wharf. It's super touristy, sure, but you are a tourist, after all. The fact that such insanely specialized shops can survive out here is a testament to the sheer volume of foot traffic the area sees, and you have more than a fair share of food options. Ghirardelli Square is a smart destination for chocolate lovers, with its factory/ice cream parlor. Boudin is a local chain offering clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. They trace their start back to 1849. If you're looking for something a little more upscale, Restaurant Gary Danko is well-received by tourists and locals alike. And, of course, there are plenty of points in between to get great seafood.

Ghirardelli Square

Saturday Afternoon

There's a lot to see nearby—Musée Mécanique is a collection of arcade attractions dating back a hundred years or more, right up to the present. Lombard Street is a famously hilly road, so steep that cars have to ride down it on a series of switchbacks. Even if you're not one of the people queuing up to drive, a walk provides both great cardio and fantastic views. And City Lights, the famous beat-generation bookstore that published Ginsberg's "Howl" when nobody else would, is located in walking distance.

 Saturday Night

San Francisco has such a bustling food scene that you could fill a website just with recommendations about where to eat and drink in the city. Like The Buena Vista, where Irish Coffee as we know it today was developed. There’s also ICHI Sushi or State Bird Provisions. And of course, if you're willing to expand out to places like Rok Bistro in Sunnyvale or Ramen Dojo in San Mateo, the pickings just get better. The bottom line here is that there's no reason to eat a utilitarian meal in the Bay. If you're here, make every meal special. Swing by CREAM (Cookies Rule Everything Around Me) for a bespoke ice cream sandwich for dessert.

Sunday Morning

The trouble with trying to do and see everything in San Francisco is that the city is home to a lot of icons, and the people who live there are eager to show them off. Take Sunday morning to catch up on any big, iconic things you didn't have time for on Saturday—maybe you wanted to see Alcatraz or take the cable car. Just be prepared to wait awhile for both. Grab a sushi burrito at Sushirrito for lunch—it isn't open for dinner, so now's your chance to experience a local flavor that's just starting to catch on elsewhere.


Last Updated: May 23, 2023