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24 Hours in San Francisco

24 Hours in San Francisco

Headed to San Francisco and only have 24 hours to see & do as much as you can? If so, no worries you can cover a ton of ground with only 24 hours in San Francisco. 

We found ourselves with 24 hours in San Francisco on our epicUSroadtrip. We made sure to see/do/eat as much as possible, with only 24 hours in San Francisco. Here are our tips to make the most of your 24 hours in San Francisco.

Stay in North Beach

The biggest tip is to stay in North Beach. Staying in the North Beach section of San Francisco will put you in the center of all the must-see attractions.

We stayed at the San Remo Hotel, which was less than a 10-minute walk to the Fisherman’s Wharf. The San Remo Hotel is a hidden gem located between North Beach & Fisherman’s Wharf.

We loved the historic charm of this 100-year-old hotel. They have done a great job keeping the old character yet with modern amenities. With prices around $129 a night, you can’t go wrong! We know where we will be staying next time we are in San Francisco.

Eat Clam Chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf

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When in San Francisco, it is a must that you eat a big bowl of clam chowder! We opted to have clam chowder as an appetizer while dining at Cioppino’s restaurant in the Fisherman’s Wharf. You can get the clam chowder in a famous sourdough bowl, but this would be a meal in itself!

If you make your way to Cioppino’s, I suggest ordering their signature dish, the Cioppino, which is enough for two. It’s a seafood feast with Dungeness crab, snapper, clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari, and tomatoes in a fennel scented stew and, of course, served with sourdough toast…Now I am hungry!

Ride Cable Car

how to get around San Francisco on a weekend visit - Woman on a cable car

What better way to get around San Francisco than ride an iconic cable car? Cable cars have been around San Francisco for over 150 years. Of the original 23 lines, only three remain.

Today, you can ride the cable cars from downtown near Union Square all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf and along California Street.

Make sure to purchase a City Pass, as it includes unlimited cable car rides as well as entry to many other attractions that should be on your 24 hours in San Francisco list.

Jump On The Hop On-Hop Off Bus

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Jumping on the hop-on-hop-off bus, you can tackle many stops very easily, and you can decide if you want to get off and explore that area any further. All the tours are fully guided, and our last guide was not only full of information but was also HILARIOUS! We went on both of the routes they offer.

The downtown tour hit the following stops: Fisherman’s Wharf (where we started & ended the tour), Ferry building and farmer’s market, Union Square, Chinatown, and North Beach.

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The Golden Gate & Sausalito tour visited: the Golden Gate Bridge crossing over this iconic bridge, The Presidio, Ghirardelli Square hop off for some famous chocolates, Palace of Fine Arts, and Sausalito make sure to hop off for some amazing bay views.

Sail Underneath The Golden Gate Bridge & Around AlcatrazUnited States - California - San Francisco - 24 hours in San Francisco-4

Sure, you can walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, but some of my favorite photos are from cruising to it!

If you invest in the City Pass, a Blue & Gold fleet cruise is included. Not only does this the blue & gold fleet tour underneath the Golden Gate Bridget it also sails around Alcatraz Island. It’s a fully narrated tour, and it is great to hear all the history between both iconic sights.

Watch the sun set behind the Golden Gate BridgeUnited States - California - San Francisco - 24 hours in San Francisco-7

Head down to the Fisherman’s Wharf and watch the sun sink into the horizon with the big red bridge in the foreground. With the mist and low-hanging clouds that hover over the bay area, you are almost guaranteed a great sunrise every evening.

No matter what you do make sure to have an amazing 24 hours in San Francisco!  Feel free to share any tips you have for those with only 24 hours in San Francisco.

If possible, try to extend your time in San Francisco. I personally think 3-5 days would be an ideal amount of time.

Our Wanders

Thursday 26th of November 2015

We've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for a year and we've completely fallen in love with SF!

We would add some of our favorites to the list: Pier 39, Lombard Street, the view from Coit Tower and from the top of Twin Peaks and the vibrant Chinatown. Hiking in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area north of SF is also amazing though you need more than one day for that of course. But Point Bonita Lighthouse is worth a visit for its wonderful views of the bay and the coastline even if you have 1/2 days in the city.


Monday 16th of November 2015

I would love to go to San Francisco but I haven't been able to make it out west in a long time. I'm guessing you weren't able to make it out to the Haight. I would love to see that place.


Thursday 12th of November 2015

Great overview. San Francisco is on my wish list!


Sunday 15th of November 2015

You'll love San Fran!

Penny Sadler

Wednesday 11th of November 2015

I'm going to san francisco in a couple of weeks so happy to have found your article before that!


Sunday 15th of November 2015

Fun! Where are you staying?