Sometimes it feels like there’s no reason to ever leave L.A. But then you remember that the great state of California goes beyond the 310. So you decide to head straight for the Golden Gate, where candy-colored Victorians and picturesque sailboats on the bay await. Here, we present the ultimate three-day itinerary to help you make the most of the City by the Bay.
DAY 1: DOWNTOWN
10 a.m.: Eat and Drink Your Way Through the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market
The Saturday market is a sight to behold—an abundance of fresh produce (you could make breakfast out of samples alone), bustling market halls and plenty of Blue Bottle coffee to keep you caffeinated. Wait in line for Roli Roti’s porchetta sandwich and roasted potatoes—trust us, it’s worth it.
11 a.m.: Wind Your Way Around the Hidden Streets of Telegraph Hill
Skip touristy North Beach in favor of an off-the-beaten-path adventure through Telegraph Hill. Walk in the general direction of Coit Tower and let yourself get lost among hidden stairways and tiny streets—look for the Filbert Street steps, Alta Street for a unique view of the bay and Richard Neutra’s Kahn House at 66–70 Calhoun Terrace.
2 p.m.: Window-Shop in Jackson Square
Jackson Square feels a little like NYC’s West Village: small, tree-lined streets; quaint brick buildings; and Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic Zoetrope Studios. Browse luxe outdoor gear at Guideboat Co. and European-leaning fashion at Pia boutique. Then grab a snack and afternoon pick-me-up at Reveille Café.
3:30 p.m.: Peruse Modern Art at the New SFMOMA
See just how much modern art you can take in over the course of an afternoon. SFMOMA’s recent expansion means you’ve got 10 floors to explore, including a monumental selection of work from the Donald and Doris Fisher Collection and nearly an entire floor dedicated to photography.
8:30 p.m.: Taste World-Class Dishes at In Situ
You don’t have to travel far for dinner, which is just downstairs on the ground floor of the museum. At In Situ, helmed by three-Michelin-star chef Corey Lee, art and food intersect. A rotating menu of 15 dishes reads like a best-of collection of famous plates from around the world. The French Laundry’s Liberty duck breast, Momofuku Ssäm Bar’s spicy pork sausage rice cakes and Noma’s wood sorrel with sheep’s-milk yogurt are just a few of the all-star appearances.
10 p.m.: Marvel Over the Bay Lights
Take a nighttime stroll along the Embarcadero to see Leo Villareal’s sparkling lights on the cables of the Bay Bridge, which twinkle in a series of infinite patterns from dusk until late into the night. Not a bad first day, huh?
DAY 2: THE BAY
11 a.m.: Share “The Big D” Breakfast at The Dorian
You’ll need the morning to sleep in after yesterday’s marathon day. Then head up to the marina for a midmorning brunch of sunny-side-up eggs, flapjacks, smoked bacon and home fries at The Dorian. Work it off with a walk along Crissy Field, where you’ll admire sailboats bobbing in the bay.
1 p.m.: Explore the Presidio
Make a stop at the stunning Palace of Fine Arts, a Greco-Roman relic of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition. Go deeper into the Presidio until you find Spire , an outdoor sculpture by British artist Andy Goldsworthy that’s made up of the trunks from 37 felled Monterey cypress trees.
2:30 p.m.: Get Your Selfie at the Golden Gate Bridge
Whether you choose to drive over it, walk across it or stop at the crowded vista point, this is one SF landmark that never gets old—no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
3 p.m.: Hike Up into the Marin Headlands at Rodeo Beach
You’ll find some of the most stunning views of San Francisco from the Marin Headlands. Add to your Insta stories before posting up on Rodeo Beach for a picnic. Afterward, pick up the Coastal Trail on the north side of the beach, where you’ll come across an old World War II battery.
7 p.m.: Dine at Copita and Take a Stroll Along the Sausalito Waterfront
By now you’ll be thirsty, and Copita Tequileria y Comida is where you’ll find the best margaritas across the bridge. Soak up the booze with chips and guac, fish tacos and 24-hour carnitas with homemade tortillas. End the day with a nighttime stroll along the scenic waterfront—locals call it the Bay Area’s version of the French Riviera.
DAY 3: THE MISSION AND BEYOND
10 a.m.: Get Coffee and Pastries at Tartine Manufactory
Tartine Bakery’s gorgeous new outpost sees lines that snake around the building, but it’s worth the wait to get your hands on a legendary morning bun. Grab a copy of the paper and post up at one of the booths for a leisurely morning with single-origin pour-over in hand.
12 p.m.: Relax in Dolores Park
You’ve worked hard this trip. Grab a bottle of rosé, cheese and a baguette from Bi-Rite Market and chill in the park for a few hours. From the top of the park, the views of the city are grand, and the people-watching is even better.
3 p.m.: See Envelope-Pushing Art at Minnesota Street Project
SFMOMA may be shiny and new, but the Minnesota Street Project in Dogpatch is where edgy, experimental work gets airtime. On the roster: never-before-seen magazine spreads by the late photographer Larry Sultan, new work by the L.A.-based Mario Ayala and a photographic series by Tabitha Soren (yes, of long-ago MTV fame). Feeling a bit peckish? Get a bite onsite at Daniel Patterson’s newest Alta restaurant (scheduled to open in May).
6 p.m.: Get a Scoop of the “Secret Breakfast” at Humphry Slocombe
Bi-Rite Creamery might get top billing, but the ‘Secret Breakfast’ (vanilla, cornflakes, bourbon) at Humphry Slocombe has us reconsidering our morning ritual.
7 p.m.: Order Any Pasta Dish at Delfina
The Mission is chockablock with new restaurants, but you’ll never go wrong with a dinner reservation at the longstanding Delfina. The James Beard Award-winning restaurant is considered one of the best in the city, and every freshly made pasta dish—from the seasonal mint tagliatelle with black trumpet mushrooms to the simple perfection of spaghetti with plum tomatoes—will make you an instant believer.
10 p.m.: Have the “Brian Barneclo” Nightcap at Trick Dog
Craft cocktails are an art form at Trick Dog, where the menu presentation changes every six months. Up now is the mural project—every drink is named after a local artist whose work can be see throughout the city. May we suggest the ‘Brian Barneclo’ (brandy, sherry, pineapple, allspice)?