Going to San Francisco? Here is my travel guide, what to do in San Francisco for 3 days. Hope it helps, more information about certain things soon.
Day one, if you arrive in the late afternoon, you will want to get any prebooked tickets that day and try to squeeze in a few more things to do. Here is what we did after checking into the hotel. We were in the SOMA district.
GETTING AROUND SAN FRANCISCO WITH MUNI
Buy a 3 day muni passport. Forget the hop on hop off and I will tell you why later on when comparing the two.
We wanted to buy the 7D experience w/San Francisco Dungeon combo pack. They have various combos which pay off honestly. We also got the online San Francisco GO card (you get up to 50% off on entrance fees for 2+ more attractions) for only three places: SFMOMA, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! and SF Academy of Science. We went and right away on a muni bus and right to the pier. We choice the build yourself because the 3 day or 2 day pass has many things which we didn’t want to see and it just paid off more buying our entrance fees as combos and with the SF GO card combination.
We right away went to the 7D experience on pier 39. It’s a short wait and the game is around 15 minutes, but feels like it’s 5 minutes. You can choose from 4 games and it’s a 7D experience that is very surreal. I got scared and felt like I was moving around. It’s fun not only for the kids, but also for adults. After that we picked up our tickets for the SF dungeon and since we didn’t realise the wait for the 7D experience was that short, we had more time on our hands. We went right away to get lunch on Pier 39.
There are so many options, we wanted to sit down and enjoy lunch so went to the Fog Harbor Fish House. You have many cheaper option on Pier 39. At the restaurant we had the fish and chips with clam chowder. It’s the only place that is a full service restaurant. It has an amazing view of the pier by the way.
After lunch, we walked around the pier a bit and we still had some time; so we went to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! That was a lot of fun.It has quite a few interactive exhibits and very interesting things people around the world made or can do. Totally worth the visit, but get it in some combo to get cheaper tickets.
After that we still had some more time and went to the Musée Mécanique, a hidden gem at San Francisco’s touristed Fisherman’s Wharf. It has been called the weirdest museum which I totally recommend you see. That was recommended by a local SF person and it was fun. The entrance is free, but all the games inside cost from .25 cents up to .50 cents. It’s one of the world’s largest collection of coin-operated mechanical musical, antique arcade in working condition. You will run into machines you used as a child if you grew up before the 90s. Is it for kids? Absolutely.
After all of this we went back to the hotel for a few drinks and to call it a night.
Time for breakfast on a Saturday, but it seems like weekend breakfast in San Francisco is not a thing to be honest. Most places around union square, Tenderloin or Soma neighborhood are closed. Most things only work from Monday to Friday. We were looking for a place to get breakfast, I had some many places in mind but most of them do not work Saturday and Sunday. We decided to eat at the Corner Bakery Cafe. It was OK as it was one of the rare places that worked around Soma neighbourhood.
After that we went to San Francisco MOMA (museum of modern art) that took us about a 2 hours to fly through. It was a good museum that I recommend anyone see. Most interesting things to see, for me, Frida.
After that we went to the San Francisco dungeon. It was ok, maybe if I didn’t go to the London Dungeon it would have been “scarier” but since the stories were quite similar, I did not find it as interesting. This is 60 minutes of fun, might be scariest for kids, preteens and teens.
After that we went back to pier 39, and got on a boat for Alcatraz. We booked our tickets one month in advance and that is what I recommend for everyone else. You have boat tours that go around the island but none of them stop on the island besides the one we took. We got back from Alcatraz in the afternoon and decided to spend the rest of the day walking around.
We went to Chinatown to grab lunch. There are multiple good chinese restaurants, we chose the Hunan Home’s Restaurant, it was ok but to be honest I have had better food. I should have done more research as to what to eat to be honest. I would also recommend checking out the following restaurants recommended by the thrillist.
After that I wanted to get something sweet to eat. Luckily the best bakery in chinatown was around the corner. Golden Gate Bakery has the best egg custard tarts outside of Hong Kong. I have to admit, I never ate egg tarts and when I did I didn’t particularly like them but the line in front was a 45 minute wait. Besides the egg tarts we had the white lotus mooncakes which were amazing. I also loved the raspberry and apple rolls. After that we took a walk around chinatown and loved it.
Before we got home we took a muni and detoured to union square. A lot of people sitting around and enjoying the sun. You have a few shops around if you would like to go shopping.
Before we called it a night, we stopped in Japantown to check out the neighbourhood and to shop at Daiso. I love Daiso it’s basically the $1,50 dollar store of Japan.
Brunch is a thing in San Francisco and you have many amazing places you can eat at Thrillist wrote an amazing and very helpful article about that. The place which I missed but wanted to eat at was Dottie’s True Blue Cafe, we decided to skip breakfast and just eat a pretzel.
We decided to go straight to the golden gate park. We took a muni ride which was around 40 minutes and saw a wide range of beautiful San francisco neighbourhoods, you could also stop and see the painted ladies (full house houses). While were were looking for pretzels we ran into a farmers market. Then off we went.
Japanese Tea Garden, was a beautiful place. It was relaxing and I really enjoyed it. It also has a tea house inside and a gift shop. I would recommend you stop at the tea house and have red bean rice cake and a green tea.
Academy of Science, this place was a surprise. I recommend coming half an hour before because you will wait in a line to get in. If you got the San Francisco GO card then make sure to go to the ticket office first to get a printed our ticket. This place is amazing. There is so much to do inside that you will lose at least 3 hours. The kids will love it but also the adults. There are animals here, aquarium, earthquake simulator, a cafeteria that is amazing. I loved this place. it was the perfect place to end our weekend.
That was that after that we went back to the hotel and it took us, due to traffic, about 45 – 90 minutes to get out of town. We drove over the golden gate bridge and wanted to stop and have a walk and do sightseeing, but it was nearly impossible to do that. If you would like to stop, stop on the side of the bridge before you cross over the bridge and leave town, less traffic on that side.
A FEW TIPS
- San Francisco is food central, make sure to eat out and do not eat at home, period. The food there is creative, amazing and mind blowing.
- Public transportation is a dream, easy to use and well connected
- The temperature changes super fast. One moment it’s warm and the next you are freezing, always take something warm with you. San Francisco didn’t go over 60 F while we were there. There summer reminded me of sweden summers, cold.
- It’s an artist city most neighborhoods reflect that in an amazing way.
- Market street in the evening has a large number of homeless people, during the daytime it’s not as bad. I hope San Francisco helps their homeless, it’s an astonishing high number and quite unpleasant to see, heartbreaking. The majority of homeless people live in the Tenderloin neighbourhood (from Van Ness Ave all the way up to 3rd street and Geary street, along market street) which was right next to our hood, better said right across the street from our hotel.
Another helpful video to learn more about San Francisco.