San Francisco in 4 Days

San Francisco is an incredible city located on the West Coast of the USA. It is a diverse and fun place with many pockets of nature. You can easily spend weeks in the city with many incredible day trips around Northern California. However, four days is the perfect amount of time to explore the city for the first time.

For even more in-depth information about San Francisco, check out the Planes and Plans San Francisco Travel Guide. 


Table of Contents

San Francisco Itinerary


San Francisco - Day 1

Fisherman's Wharf

To begin with your San Francisco adventure, spend the morning in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighbourhood. From the wharf, you can spot Alcatraz Island across the water. This prison was once a federal penitentiary home to inmates including both Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. Book tickets for the Alcatraz Day Tour via the Alcatraz Island website for USD$53.25*. This ticket includes return ferry rides to the island, where the tour takes around 2.5 hours. This is a great way to learn about the role of Alcatraz in San Francisco’s history. 

Return to Pier 39 for lunch. This area is filled with souvenir shops, restaurants and a carousel, and feels like a step back in time. There are many great places to choose from, but Boudin Bakery is a must. Famous for their freshly baked sourdough, order a soup to enjoy it served in a bowl of delicious bread.

Head to the far end of the pier to see the sea lion colony that inhabits this area. Listen for their barking and watch them roll around in the sunshine. You will catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

Also nearby is the famously snakey Lombard Street. This is a sight you cannot miss. Not only is it lined with lush gardens and colourful house, but also has amazing views of the city.

Golden Gate Bridge

Explore San Francisco’s most famous sight this afternoon, the Golden Gate Bridge. The best way to explore this area is by cycling, and bikes can be rented nearby in the Marina District. I recommend booking online through Golden Gate Bridge Bike Rental. They cost around USD$32* per day for a regular bike, or USD$89* per day for an electric bike. By booking online you will be able to save up to 20% on the rental price. 

To reach the bridge, ride through Presidio Park, stopping at the Palace of Fine Arts along the way. For more incredible views of the bridge, also stop at Baker Beach on the way.

Spend the afternoon cycling and exploring quiet Sausalito. There are many great places to eat over this side of the bay, including favourites Fred’s Coffee Shop, Joinery and Angelino Restaurant. Catch the sunset over the bridge from either Vista Point or Chrissy Field.


San Francisco - Day 2


Start today at Alamo Square Park. Bring snacks for a picnic and sit back to admire the Painted Ladies in all their glory. This row of seven colourfully painted Victorian homes are one of the most famous sights in the city. The park also boasts views of the San Francisco skyline in the background.

Nearby is the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood, home of the Summer of Love movement. Spend the rest of the morning exploring the funky thrift stores along Haight Street. This area is also full of bright Victorian homes that you will not miss. Afterwards, Buena Vista Park is a great place to relax and take in the city views following a morning spent thrifting.

Golden Gate Park

This afternoon, head to the MASSIVE Golden Gate Park to explore further. The park is not only home to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, but also the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers. Spend the afternoon getting lost in these three spaces. You can purchase a Gardens of Golden Gate Park Pass at the entrance for USD$28*. This will allow unlimited entry into the gardens over the next three days. 


Day Trip

Today, explore some of San Francisco’s surrounding nature on a day trip to Muir Woods and Wine Country. I recommend booking through a tour company as a more cost-effective option than renting a car. Incredible Adventures is a great option that offers a Muir Woods with Napa & Sonoma Wine Country tour for around USD$169*. This will allow you to explore both Muir Woods and the best of Wine Country.

Just a short drive North of San Francisco lies Muir Woods National Monument. This area is filled with coastal redwoods, the tallest tree in the world. Opt to hike some portion of the Main Trail, anywhere between 0.8km to 3.2km. Here you will see both Redwood Creek and the magnificent redwood forest.

This afternoon, continue onto Wine Country. Stop at 2-3 wineries across both Napa County and Sonoma County. Make sure to taste some of the local wines, including red, white and dessert varieties. The city of Sonoma itself is also a great place to stop for lunch along the way.


San Francisco - Day 4


For the last day in San Francisco, spend the morning exploring downtown. Start at the Ferry Building for a delicious breakfast on the bay. Try some empanadas from El Porteno Empanadas, pastries from Acme Bread and bagels from Daily Driver. Then sit outside and watch the ferries pass by as you feast.

Then head to Union Square for some high-end shopping and dining.

From Union Square, ride a famous San Francisco cable car into the Mission District. Cable car tickets must be purchased in advance via the MuniMobile App. A single fare ticket costs USD$8*. Riding a cable car is a fun and unique San Francisco experience. In fact, they have even been named as a National Historic Landmark.

Mission District

Spend the final afternoon exploring the Mission District. This is an upbeat neighbourhood full of rich Latino culture, food and music. Moreover, it is an amazing place to vintage shop to your heart’s content. California has incredible Mexican food, but the Mission District is particularly well known for its ‘Mission-Style’ burritos. Check out La Taqueria to try an original mission burrito. Then, head to the top of Mission Dolores Park to enjoy your feast. This park has one of the best views over the city, and is also a great spot for a picnic.

The Mission District is also home to incredible displays of street art. Some of the best murals include both the Clarion Alley Mural Project and the Women’s Building Mural.

Finally, end your San Francisco adventure by visiting the Mission San Francisco de Asís. This is the mission that gave San Francisco its name, and is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Note that entry is free, however a donation is encouraged.

*Please note that all prices are current as of the publication date of this post.

Discover Planes and Plans on both Instagram and Pinterest

Verified by MonsterInsights