So, you have 1 day in San Francisco and you want to make sure you spend your time wisely? Well, I know the feeling because we recently spent about 36 hours in the city (it was the end of our coastal road trip) and I was determined to see as much as possible in 1 day of sightseeing. First off, I hope you are reading this a few days BEFORE your arrival in San Francisco, because this does require a little bit of pre-planning…pero ya, here are my tips on how to see San Francisco in One Day!
Tip #1: Go online and schedule a tour for the Alcatraz a few days before you plan to visit San Fran to ensure you get the time that you want. Consider taking a late morning or early afternoon tour so that you can get a good view of the bridge (ideally the fog lets off a bit during those times) on your ride over.
Tip #2: Keep an eye on the Golden Gate Bridge that day. We had originally planned to head to the bridge early in the morning but then noticed it was covered in fog. We switched around our agenda a bit so we could make the visit later in the afternoon and were able to enjoy clearer skies!
Tip #3: Go online to the Muni website (what they call their public transportation and ensure all of the lines are running. During our visit, about half of the drivers “called in sick” (their version of a strike), so all of the trollies were shut down and the K Line wasn’t running in certain places. This will help to make sure you can coordinate your transportation and not end up waisting time at a bus stop (like we did a few times!)
Tip #4: Pick a hotel near Fisherman’s Wharf to maximize the sightseeing time and minimize extra transportation time. Staying in/around the Wharf means that you walk out the door and you are ready to see all that San Fran has to offer! This is a great area to stay in especially if you are with your family and have little/no interest in exploring the nightlife of the city. However, this is really in the center of all of the touristy action so it makes navigating much easier. If you ARE interested in nightlife, then you should definitely stay in the Union Square area. I recommend the Mystic Hotel (which is where we stayed on our last visit).
Tip #5: Grab one of the Double Decker buses! While these buses might seem cliché, they really are a great way to get around the city without having to fight with locals/other tourists over the busses and cable cars. They have stops in every area and if you start on one of the earlier tours, you will have plenty of time to get on/off and get a little taste each area of San Fran.
Tip #6: If you want to ride one of the historic cable cars, be smart about it and make sure it is actually getting you somewhere you need to go! Grab the trolly on Hyde Street, and get off at the stop next to Lombard so you can snap a few pics of the infamous winding street. Then (if you can handle a walk), go down the road and stop at Buena Vista Cafe at the bottom of the hill for a strong Irish Coffee as reward for your few minutes of exercise.
Hopefully these tips helped you a bit in your travel planning! You should definitely also connect with the San Francisco Travel Guide on Facebook, they have tons of information for tourists and were really helpful for us when we planned our trip. Tag your pics with #OnlyinSanFran and you might even get a retweet from them on Twitter! Safe travels, amigos!