San Francisco- 48 Hours in the City by the Bay (without a car): Things to do in San Francisco Day One

I love the feeling of waking up in a big city!  It makes me feel like there are endless possibilities and adventures ahead.  If you’ve been wondering what to do in San Francisco, look no further!  Saturdays in the city are tons of fun!  Hopefully you had an easy trip in and started the trip off right with some amazing pizza at Tony’s.  If you missed my post on where to stay and how to get around the city, be sure to check it out here.  You are going to want to take advantage of the transportation pass today for sure!

things to do in San Francisco


what to do in san francisco

We’ll start today at the Farmer’s Market at the famous Ferry Building.  Inside the building is a more permanent collection of little shops and restaurants, but on Saturdays from 8am-2pm there is a beautiful Farmer’s Market outside the building and on the pier behind.  You can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to made to order yummy food stalls selling just about anything you can imagine.  Come hungry!

what to do in san francisco

what to do in san francisco

what to do in san francisco

Across the street at Embarcadero park there is usually an art fair too and you can check out some fun art installations.

things to do in san francisco

Once your bellies are full start waking along the waterfront and head towards Pier 39.  Today would be a great day for an Alcatraz tour.  TIP: you must book these tickets well in advance of your trip.  So, if you’re planning to go, get these asap.  Once on the island it is a self guided tour and you can take your time, but the time you board the ferry to head to the island is set in stone.  If you planned a tour departure time of about 12:00 that would give you plenty of time to be at the Farmer’s Market at 8am, eat breakfast, walk around and walk leisurely to the pier to catch your boat.  I would allow at least 3 hours for the tour.

things to do in san francisco


things to do in san francisco

After your tour you will probably be hungry again.  Continue down the waterfront to Fisherman’s Wharf and grab a bowl of clam chowder or a crab sandwich at one of the many food stops at the wharf, or continue to Boudin Bakery where you can watch them craft turtles and other fun shapes out of sourdough bread at the giant bakery windows that line sidewalk.  Here you can order great bread bowls of soup or sandwiches made on their amazing sourdough bread.

things to do in san francisco

Keep your eyes peeled for the famous Bushman too.  He likes to hang out in the area just past Fisherman’s wharf heading down toward Ghirardelli Sq. on the water side and he WILL scare you if you aren’t careful.  He sits on a bucket with a few branches that he holds in front of his face.  You won’t notice him unless you are looking carefully.  While it’s no fun to be scared yourself, it is HILARIOUS to sit back and watch others fall victim to his game.  Ashley and I stood a ways down the street and watched him for nearly 30 minutes last time we were there.  It’s like a live version of Candid Camera.  Be sure to leave him a few dollars for the fun he provides.

If you keep walking you will eventually hit Ghirardelli Square.  There isn’t a whole lot to see there, but it is home to mounds of ice cream sundaes, (and usually long lines) so if you have a sweet tooth, it might be a good place to stop in for ice cream, or grab some chocolate to take home…but dinner is coming up…so don’t spoil your appetite! 😉

things to do in san francisco

From Ghirardelli Square you can catch the cable car that will take you up to the top of Nob Hill.  This is one of the busiest stops and sometimes the wait can be an hour to catch a car.  Once on board, hop off at California Street and wander around the beautiful buildings in this area.  If you aren’t staying at the Fairmont, walk over to the lobby and gaze at the amazing architecture.  You can do the same across the street at Grace Cathedral – one of the most beautiful cathedrals in town.

There’s a cute little restaurant nestled in the Nob Hill neighborhood called the Nob Hill Café.  The food is good, and the atmosphere will make you feel like a local.  I believe they take reservations on Open Table, so if you’re planning on making this a dinner stop, it would be wise to plan ahead and make some reservations.

If you’re still feeling like you want to explore a little more after dinner, head back to the Fairmont.  Downstairs you will find the kitchsy and fabulous Tonga Room.  With live music, tropical drinks and decor circa Hawaii Five-O, it’s good for a night cap and a few laughs.  There’s even a lightning and rain storm every half hour or so reminiscent of the Tiki Room at Disneyland.  It’s been around since 1945 so enjoy the cheesiness and history of the experience.

Head back to your hotel and rest up.  I’m sure your feet are tired and there is more fun to be had tomorrow! 😉

Don’t miss our other post about San Francisco:

48 Hours in San Francisco: Day Two

Where to Stay in San Francisco and How to Get Around

Here is another favorite travel post about my other favorite US city:

New York City at Christmas Time

Happy Travels!


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