3 Days in San Francisco: The Ultimate Itinerary

As soon as I made it into the city, I knew I was in trouble. I had barely been there 30 minutes, and San Francisco already had me. I’m not sure precisely what it was—maybe the steep hills filled with picturesque houses, the happy vibes I got from its inhabitants, or possibly the little boutiques I went strolling by.

I hadn’t expected to like it so much—I’m not a huge lover of cities—but I was hooked. If you’ve never been before, go ahead and book a ticket now. I’ll save you the trouble and loop you in on some iconic top attractions in San Francisco you absolutely must try on your first visit to the city!

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1 | Painted Ladies of Alamo Square

If you’re a Full House lover like myself, you kind of have to check out the Painted Ladies. They’re absolutely adorable. After checking them out, I definitely had serious #housegoals, but not the millions of dollars to support those goals.

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list

2 | Cruise through San Fran Bay

Take an afternoon cruise through San Francisco Bay. For me, there was nothing cooler than boating under the Golden Gate Bridge! This one is a no brainer, and definitely one of the top attractions in San Francisco.

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list

3 | Check out Alcatraz

While you’re on the water, make sure to take a good look at Alcatraz. Even better, if you have the time, stop and take a tour! I have sort of an odd fascination with prisons, so if you’re anything like me, definitely check it out.

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list

4 | Dolores Park

Dolores Park may have been one of my favorite parts of San Francisco. Imagine a giant park, sunshine overhead, and thousands of people just chilling on picnic blankets. Friends bring snacks, drinks, and other goodies, and just enjoy a day outside. It was such a relaxed atmosphere, and everyone was so friendly! I’ll put it to you this way–if I ever become homeless, I would want to live in Dolores Park.

5 | Cable Cars

Cable cars are a pretty iconic part of San Francisco. I sincerely doubt there are any locals on them, but I say go for it! It’s a top touristy thing to do for a reason…plus, they’re really cute!

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list

6 | Fisherman’s Wharf

Like the cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf is another one of those top attractions in San Francisco that you just can’t miss. I learned that it actually refers to the whole neighborhood, not just the wharf portion. Make sure to hit up a local seafood joint, check out the iconic Pier 39, and make friends with the pier’s favorite residents: the seals!

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list

7 | Lombard Street

Not going to lie, for this just being a street, I was pretty excited to visit. I mean, how can you not be thrilled to see what’s touted as the “most crooked street in the world?” Factor in stunning houses and blooming flowers, and you have a photographer’s paradise…except for the hundreds of other tourists also stretching to get a photo. Best of luck there!

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list


If you want to eat the best ice cream sandwiches of your life, go to CREAM. That’s really all I have…if you’re not into ice cream sandwiches, I’m guessing we’re not friends? Just do it, I promise you will not regret your decision!

9 | Explore Sutro Baths

Sutro Baths used to be a huge, private saltwater swimming pool facility, but the complex burned down back in the 1960s. It’s now in ruins, and a really cool area to walk around and explore. It’s nice to escape the bustle of the city and just enjoy the Land’s End area.

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list

10 | Brunch/ Wander the Hills

Ok, so I don’t know if this is true, but I’m pretty sure everyone in the entire city goes out to brunch on the weekends…at least that’s how it felt trying to get a table Saturday morning! In any case, everyone has the right idea, so copy the locals and hit up the hot brunch spots. Afterwards, walk off that brunch through the San Fran hills.

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list

11 | Drive over Golden Gate Bridge

By this time, you’ve been under the Golden Gate Bridge, but driving over it is 100% one of the top attractions in San Francisco. You get beautiful views of the bay, and the bridge (duh!). Honestly, it’s just one of those items you have to tick off the bucket list…it’s a really cool experience!

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list

12 | Napa

After you drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, just keep on driving (to Napa)! I used one of my days in San Francisco to explore wine country, and it may have been the best decision of my trip…currently tied with ice cream sandwiches. In Napa, you will find wine tasting, sunshine, and happiness…need I say more?

Top Attractions in San Francisco; discover the ultimate San Francisco bucket list


Cheap flights: I’d recommend looking up eDreams.net. They scan tons of different travel discount sites and feature special flight deals.

Where to Stay: Luxurious: Hotel Omni. Mid-Range: Inn San Francisco. Budget: The Willows Inn (as much as San Francisco has budget hotels…just expect to pay a lot when staying in the city.

Car Rentals: You don’t need a car in San Francisco, but I had a rental since San Fran was the last stop on my California road trip. As far as rental cars go, you can’t go wrong with Expedia. They pull from a number of different car companies, and definitely provide good deals. If you’re looking for a luxury rental, try Sixt; Sixt provides some legit deals on premium and luxury rentals!

California Resources:

For further reading on California, make sure to check out the following guides!

  • Venice Beach: For your weekend guide to Venice Beach, look no further!
  • Big Sur: Discover the top 8 foolproof tips for driving Big Sur!
  • Solvang, California: For a unique mash-up for Dutch culture and California, make sure to check out Solvang!
  • Napa Valley: Explore Napa Valley 101 for all you first time visitors!
  • Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip: For the most epic 8 day PCH road trip guide down the California coast, look no further!

And folks, there you have it…how to spend a fun-filled weekend in San Francisco. I’m sure I’ll be back again someday, so let me have it—what are some of your favorite things to do in the city?

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  1. I see some interesting activities! Alcatraz for sure, I’ve never visited a prison, I’d like to see that historic one. Lombard street as well, too iconic to let it go! Sutro Baths is another interesting one, but I’d ideally finish my tour in Napa for sure, with a glass of wine!

  2. Lombard street is what I want to see. Click pictures with a backdrop of the Golden Gate bridge. I should have gone to the West Coast while I used to work in NY. I would also love to visit Alcatraz. SFO is just amazing and I so want to visit this place.

  3. I love this city! I remember I spent 5 days last year in my spring break with my friends! and yes they actually covered all these places in 3 days! such a beautiful city!

  4. We were thinking of a short trip to San Francisco since it isn’t too far from Vancouver. San Francisco looks like it has a lot of great places to see like Lombard Street. We will have to check out priceline and momondo since we didn’t find anywhere yet that was in our budget.

  5. Whenever my husband heads to San Francisco on work , he asks me to accompany. But I brush off the idea thinking what will I do there all alone while he will be off to work. Now I know 🙂 I am going to accompany him on the next trip and work my way through these wonderful sightseeing that you suggested

  6. San Francisco is simply spectacular. There is so much to see here. Of course for me the best attaction is , The Golden Gate Bridge. I was really intrigued by the beauty of Lombard street, it looks so colourful and bright.The Painted ladies of Alamo Square are another attraction that looks simply enthralling.

  7. San Francisco has always been on my favorite list. There is so much to see and do here, For me the most fascinating is Painted Ladies and driving on the Golden Gate. Sutro baths too look cool to explore and Lombard street really blew me away. Its so picturesque.

  8. Lombard Street… Sutro baths… The two things that really caught my fancy. So definitely is an exciting place and I do hope to get the sometime

  9. Great list – we did most of these on our visit – I was quite reluctant to visit Alcatraz but everyone told me we had to go and it was one of the best things we did! Also ride the cable cars! My daughter loved it hanging on up and down those hills!

  10. I really liked San Francisco but I would love to spend more time there next time. I loved wandering around the city, checking out Alcatraz and walking across Golden Gate Bridge – so many highlights in the city! Beautiful photos and thanks for sharing – I want to get out to Napa next time!

  11. I must agree San Francisco is beautiful with those pretty and colorful houses in Alamo Square to the lovely cable cars it looks like an amazing blend of new and old. I didn’t know that the floral crooked street is Lombard Street in San Francisco though I have seen the picture of it hundred times over the social media.

    1. I found out about Lombard Street from some locals while I was there! I was in the same boat as you – had seen photos before, but didn’t know it was in San Fran until right before I left.

  12. This is a great post, covering all the reasons we would love to visit San Francisco. Have pinned for future reference! #feetdotravel

  13. I would love to visit San Francisco one ady, it’s one of the few places in America that I really want to see (and it’s impossible at the moment due to visa). I would love to walk on those hilly streets and admire the colorful houses.

  14. Had not heard of the Sutro Baths. Saturday brunch sounds perfect. Haven’t had a relaxing weekend in a while. Love your list of activities for San Francisco. #feetdotravel

  15. Great read. The actual Full House house isn’t with the Painted Ladies which is a common mistake. Here’s the address: 1709 Broderick St, San Francisco, CA 94115, you can even take pics on the stairs.

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