How to Spend 48 Hours in San Francisco

How to Spend 48 Hours in San Francisco

Travel Guide for San Francisco California

Cue the Full House theme 🎶🎶 

I'll just go out on a limb and say it- traveling to San Francisco is always a good idea! Even if you only have a short amount of time to see it.  I just love its wonderful laid back energy and unique people-watching opportunities. Not to mention finding things to do in San Fran is a snap! It's pretty perfect bucket material, as there are so many famous landmarks to check out. The Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, and Fisherman’s Wharf... just to name a few.

San Francisco has a reputation of attracting bohemians and free spirits of all types, but it's also a business hub, since the tech industry is based there. So if you're visiting on a work trip for instance, (or just have a really long layover) you might not have as much time as you want to wander...

This is what happened when my husband and I traveled to San Francisco last fall. It was amazing just to be here, but because of his schedule we only really got to squeeze in about two days for sight-seeing, eating, and drinking. However, you can really pack a lot into those 48 hours if you want it bad enough 😉 

You must be thinking “Yes, I know! I want to see all the SF goodness! But I don't have a lot of time! And there’s no WAY I can do San Francisco in 48 hours.” Well, think again, because I’m about to show you how you can! If you plan the right way, you can absolutely see this city with only a few days to spare.

Make sure to save/ pin this post- because I'm about to give you a sample itinerary for your two days in San Fran! I tried to organize everything by the proximity of neighborhoods to each other, so it's easy to walk from place to place if you want to.. 

GENERAL TIP- San Francisco is not a very walkable city, meaning the neighborhoods are very spread out. It will take a while to get from one place to another. Therefore, plan time for taking public transportation and Ubers. Ubers are honestly the fastest way to get where you're going, and not very expensive either!

Anyway... onto the info!


Breakfast at Pork Store Cafe in Haight-Ashbury

Starting off here is a great idea because you can walk down the Haight right after! This diner is a neighborhood staple that's been around for decades. It's small and no-frills but you'll get a reasonably priced and delicious breakfast in the birthplace of hippie counterculture. Definitely try the chicken and waffles!


Haight-Ashbury San Francisco

The Grateful Dead. Janis Joplin. Jefferson Airplane. This neighborhood kicked off a countercultural revolution in the 1960's that people are STILL obsessing over decades later. The history here is so interesting to me as a musician, and also as someone who is just interested in American culture. I really had to see it for myself! A quick walk around affirmed to me that this neighborhood is still bursting with character.

The main drag didn't take long at all to walk down. But it can be as long or short as you want it to be depending on how many stores and boutiques you want to stop in. I'd recommend Amoeba Music, an independent music chain with over 24,000 square feet. We picked up some vinyl there.

If you like vintage or like to thrift, there's definitely a lot of that in Haight-Ashbury too! 

Amoeba Music San Francisco California
Haight-Ashbury shops San Francisco
thrift stores San Francisco

Painted Ladies/ Alamo Park

If you're a 90's geek like me, you will definitely need to check out this park, since the famous "Full House houses" are located here. From Haight-Ashbury, the Painted Ladies is about a 20 minute walk.

Note! there are technically two locations for the Full House Houses. The Painted Ladies are the ones featured in the shots of the opening credits, when the family is having a picnic. There's a separate house used for the "red door" exterior shots that is a mile away (and is painted over, so it doesn't look the same anyway.)

If you climb up the hill, you'll get a view of the houses with the San Francisco skyline in the background! Either way, this park is a great place to come chill for awhile. Bring some snacks, a blanket and relax.

Painted Ladies San Francisco California

Lunch- Burritos in the Mission

Head to the Mission to get some famous burritos for lunch! If you haven't ever heard of a Mission burrito, well... first of all, I feel bad for you! And second of all, you need to try one ASAP. The Mission burrito is typically oversized and overstuffed with tons of beans, rice, meat, salsa, and anything else you could ever want. They're so big they can even last you for TWO meals if you're lucky.

To get to the Mission, you might need to take an Uber or public transport since it's a 45-minute walk from Alamo Park. If you're in a walking mood though, you can always visit a taqueria closer to the northern part of the neighborhood, like Pancho Villa Taqueria, Taqueria Los Coyotes, or Taqueria La Cumbre.

After lunch, spend some time exploring this historic neighborhood filled with art, street murals, and Latin culture.

Mission Burrito San Francisco California

Optional- Mission Dolores Park

This park isn’t famous or anything, it's just a chill place with a great view of the city. When we stopped here, the easygoing vibe of San Francisco really hit me like a ton of bricks. It's the polar opposite of New York. No one was looking at their phones. No one was distracting themselves with social media and news. EVERYONE was enjoying themselves, interacting with their friends and totally in the moment. It was so refreshing and kinda made me want to spontaneously move to San Francisco.

And I've got to say, the people-watching here is phenomenal. There was even a guy practicing tightrope walking, that he had set up between two trees!

Definitely bring some popcorn because you're sure to enjoy what you see. Haha!

Mission Dolores Park San Francisco

Sunset at Bernal Heights Park

Are you looking for Instagram shots? That was a silly question... of course you are! In that case, you need to make sure you schedule in Bernal Heights Park, especially at sunset. Just FYI- it's a little bit of a walk up a steep hill. It's not strenuous but could make some people winded. Once you get up there though, you can see the entire city. What's more, is that there's a swing... a swing!! If this isn't aspirational IG material, I don't know what is.

I got here just at sunset to take photos with another Caroline of Pictures and Words Blog, and I have to say it was a magical experience!

Bernal Heights Park San Francisco

Dinner at Hillside Supper Club

Close to Bernal Heights Park, this restaurant is resides in a cute Victorian that oozes
San Francisco charm. The menu is influenced by "slow food" culinary traditions and they source local, seasonal ingredients for their recipes. There's a killer wine list, here and the atmosphere is intimate and not too pretentious.

This spot is popular, so I'd suggest making a reservation!

San Francisco

Back to the hotel after a long day!


Breakfast at The Buena Vista

This is a really unique place to start your day, and so close to Fisherman's Wharf! A historic institution in San Fran, it was a boarding house and saloon in the early 1900's. It was also the first place to introduce Irish Coffee to the United States. I don't know about you, but I love me some Irish Coffee, so I totally don't mind knocking one back at breakfast. And evidently, it's pretty common at this restaurant so don't be shy when ordering!  You'll want to order the crab omlette and sourdough toast... yum!

Fisherman's Wharf

Classic San Francisco. Yes, it's very touristy, yes there are crowds and it can be overpriced. But you'll soon see why people flock to this spot! There's so much to do here. You can chill out with the sea lions at Pier 39. Go to San Francisco Aquarium. See Musée Mécanique, which is home to tons of vintage arcade games. Or just stroll around and enjoy the Pacific Ocean air.

You can even go for brunch after breakfast! 😂 We did just that since we couldn't resist getting a bread bowl of clam chowder at Boudin's Bakery and Cafe. Add an order of garlic fries, and you will be in culinary heaven.

Fisherman's Wharf

Take a motorized Scooter to the Ferry Building Marketplace

This was one of the most unexpectedly cool parts of our trip! I was actually scared to take the scooter at first. But after a few minutes of practice, it was super easy and fun! You can find the scooters docked pretty much on every street. I do think that the ride from Fisherman's Wharf to the Ferry Museum is especially thrilling because there's no dealing with that city traffic. It's a straight shot right along the water, which makes for beautiful views as you go.

You'll need to download the Lime app to guide you through the payment and unlocking process. Just make sure you ride in a bike lane, not a sidewalk. And when you're done, find a bike post to lock it to!

Once you're at the Marketplace, you can browse all the unique shops. This marketplace is dedicated to showcasing small regional producers that practice traditional production techniques. You can pick up some olive oils, cheeses, bread, etc. Stop for ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe or a coffee at Blue Bottle. And be on your way again!

San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace

City Lights Bookstore

Maybe you can tell, but I have a soft spot for any kind of counterculture. My favorite parts of any given trip aren't usually the main attractions... It's the odd, unique, and off-the-beaten path stuff that really interests me.

That's why I really loved seeing City Lights Bookstore. We originally saw this shop when my husband and I were on our honeymoon, and it's a super special place. This independent bookstore was founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin and is known for its specializations in world literature, art, and progressive politics.  City Lights is also a publishing house and became widely known after publishing works from Allen Ginsburg.

Definitely worth a stop!

Lunch/ walk around Chinatown

After going to City Lights, you'll be close to Chinatown, where there are many, many food options. I like no-frills places, so Chinatown is always a perfect stop. On my honeymoon, we wandered into a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese shop that served the best pho I've ever had. Sadly, I never got the name of it, but I hear that Golden Star Vietnamese is a top restaurant to go for pho. And if you're in the mood for just some straight-up Chinese, you can also check out Dim Sum Bistro, or Chong Qing Xiao Mian.

Once you've refueled, you'll definitely want to take a stroll around Chinatown. (tip- strolling with cup of bubble tea always makes my day 100% happier.) This is a thriving neighborhood, and you'll see so a number of cool shops, restaurants, and faux-Chinese architecture.

San Francisco Chinatown
San Francisco Chinatown

See the City from Coit Tower

There are a lot of great views of the city... but Coit Tower's view was definitely one of the most wow-worthy for me! From Chinatown, expect about a 15 minute walk. And yes... you will have to go up some steep hills! Just make sure to bring some water and stop to catch your breath every once in awhile. The view is worth it here, I promise.

It's $8 to go up into the tower. Once you're there it's a pretty small space crowded with lots of tourists. But you'll be able to see Alkatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, and more.

Coit Tower View San Francisco

Uber to Golden Gate Bridge for a Sunset Walk

If there's one thing worth doing in San Francisco my friends, this is it. Walking this bridge was the crown jewel of our trip.

There is just something about the Pacific Ocean that captivates me. I grew up looking at sunsets across the Atlantic Ocean, so maybe it's just the fact that they're just different than I'm used to. Different colors, different scenery.

The sky was a tiny bit hazy that day, so it made those deep purples, pinks, and oranges even more beautiful. While walking, we watched the sun slowly sink down into the ocean, as the golden light was bouncing brilliantly off the bridge. That sunset was so pretty, I forgot to even stop and take a picture.

Now, enough of that sentimental stuff... onto some practical details!

My main tip for this activity is to take an Uber OVER the bridge, then walk across. Why? When we had walked across to the Sausalito side of the bridge and wanted to come back, no one would come to pick us up! Drivers either didn't respond or kept canceling our ride.

We tried for an hour, then finally gave up and walked back across in the dark. And let me tell you, that walk was LONG. After a day of walking probably several miles already, we were a wee bit tired, and you might be too. So IMO, it's best you guarantee yourself that you won't have to walk both ways by securing a ride there first.

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

Dinner Choices

Wind down your trip to San Francisco with a memorable dinner. For this meal, I decided to put together a list of options for you depending on how hungry you are and how far you're willing to travel.

Murray Circle Restaurant- This is a really convenient option. It's also a fancier one, as it's got a Michelin star and a million-dollar view. It's actually in Sausalito, right near the ramp to get onto the Golden Gate Bridge. So you could have your Uber drop you off there for dinner before a romantic walk over.

Presidio Social Club-  A 10 minute Uber from the Golden Gate, this one's a great option for those who are hungry after a long walk. A quaint restaurant with white-washed walls locally sourced, seasonal menu.

Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar- This one's a bit of a hike from the bridge, but we felt like it was a really unique experience and worth the ride. Located inside the Fairmont Hotel, it's a historic tiki restaurant with a Polynesian-infusion menu and tropical decor. There's a huge "lagoon" in the middle of the room with a platform that moves across it... more on that in a minute.

They make all the drinks from scratch, and I can vouch for them being all you could ask for. The food was awesome too. But the best part about this dining experience was their live cover band, whose set of 70's funk songs was STRAIGHT FIRE. Then after a few songs, the platform they were playing on drifted into the lagoon, to the center of the room 😱

Bonus activity- after dinner, you can lounge in Fairmont Hotel lobby and observe the comings and goings of the hotel guests- who are often powerful political figures.

tonga room San Francisco
Tonga Room San Francisco

So glad to share all this info with you! Are you going to San Francisco soon? 

♥♥♥ Follow me on Instagram!  @chantillysongs


  1. I've wanted to visit San Francisco ever since I was little and watched Full House (also, I totally started singing the theme song when I read the first line of the post!)
    I love this post so much. And your photos are incredible!

    1. Aww thank you Valentina! I hope you get to visit someday, and I'm so glad you like my photos ❤️

  2. Wow what a great and informative article! Makes me want to go to San Francisco now!

    1. Thanks Ashley, I hope you get to go! ❤️


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