Things to do in San Francisco

I spent weeks planning an itinerary for our limited time in San Francisco. We really only had 2 full days in the city and an additional day visiting Napa Valley by rental car. Featured below are some of my personal recommendations:

Powell Hyde line (Green) Cable Car

  • This is the most popular cable car ride with tourists because of its views and goes to Fisherman’s Wharf. We were able to spot the bay and passed Lombard Street. However due to construction, we caught the cable car from Chinatown. While on the Powell Hyde line, otherwise known as the Powell Street and Market Street cable car, we were lucky to hang on the outside of the speeding car the entire time. It was undeniably exhilarating speeding up and down San Francisco’s sloping hills. Despite being in my late 20s, it was so much fun and I felt like a child all over again.

Fisherman’s Wharf

  • Fisherman’s Wharf has shopping, historic ships at the Hyde Street Pier, restaurants, bars, street performers, and tour boats around the Bay Area and Alcatraz. We enjoyed a seafood dinner with a view of the Bay from Alioto’s Restaurant.
  • While here, my partner and I shared an ice cream sundae from the famous Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. We took our ice cream to the park because it had a view of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. I was very excited for Ghirardelli’s ice cream because the only times I’ve ever had it was in Downtown Disney. Whenever you order an ice cream, you receive complimentary squares of chocolate too!
  • Although we didn’t order from Boudin Bakery Cafe, their pastries and breads looked delicious. The shop also offered breads baked in fun shapes like lobsters, bears, peace signs, turtles and crabs. I was very tempted to buy a turtle shaped loaf of bread.

Lombard Street

  • Although we passed Lombard street on our cablecar ride, we trekked back to the topsy-turvy street from Fisherman’s Wharf. I didn’t think about it until during our walk, but the hill up was incredibly steep. Thankfully, we did this before dinner! Once at Lombard Street, you can walk down a series of steps to the side and watch cars slowly drive down the street. Considering all of the traffic, I can’t imagine living in a home on Lombard.

Pier 39

  • We walked to here from Fisherman’s Wharf. While at Pier 39, we watched the sea lions lounge on the piers amongst the hoards of tourists snapping photos.


  • Japantown is a fun area to walk through and experience a taste of Japanese culture. Amongst the prominent Peace Pagoda, there are several interconnecting malls for shopping and dining. While shopping here, I picked up some cute geeky toys from Japan.

Painted Ladies

  • The buildings that make up the Painted Ladies are located in Alamo Square. After growing up in the 90s and watching Full House for years, I felt compelled to see them. It was a necessary bucket list item. We didn’t spend much time here except to take a few photos and rest after walking the city for hours.

Wine Country

  • As previously mentioned, we went to Napa during our stay. You can read more about my time sipping wine through Napa Valley, but we went to Castello, V. Sattui, and Etude. If you’re going independent of a tour, a Priority Wine Pass may offer some cost savings because it can be used between 2 individuals. Since Napa is about an hour away, San Francisco is a convenient location to either rent a car or to take a tour. The next time I go back to California, I’d like to go wine tasting through Sonoma and Livermore.

Half Moon Bay

  • Another fun day trip would be going out to Half Moon Bay. We visited the beach near the Ritz Carlton to picnic. Although the Ritz Carlton is an upscale hotel with a golf course, you can grab a drink and gaze out over the bay.


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