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How to Spend 3 Days in San Francisco

How to Spend 3 Days in San Francisco

If you have three days in San Francisco, consider yourself lucky—it’s ample time to immerse yourself in the city’s dreamy fog, diverse neighborhoods, and far-out sophistication. After your urban adventures, there’s even time for a wine or wilderness excursion. Here are a few ways to spend three days in and around SF.

Day 1: The Hills and the Bay

Introduce yourself to San Francisco by taking a road often traveled—it’s actually quite nice. Choose a hop-on hop-off bus tour to get your bearings and explore at your own pace, or, if you’re staying downtown, catch a historic cable car at Market and Powell streets and ride over the hills to the waterfront. From the end of the line at Fisherman’s Wharf, you have options: cruises depart from the nearby piers to Alcatraz, to Sausalito, and around the bay. Combination tours save time and money by pairing a cruise with additional experiences such as a food tour or admission to local museums. Alternatively, rent bikes and ride along the San Francisco Bay Trail to the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Day 2: Golden Gate Park and Off-Beat Neighborhoods

Day two is for more in-depth exploration. Start with a walking tour in the Mission, a diverse district known for stellar street art and an explosive cuisine scene. The next neighborhood over is another walking tour option: the Castro, a few square blocks of LGBTQ culture with the city’s most popular historic theater. You’ll also want to journey through the Haight—home to colorful Victorians, funky boutiques, Deadheads, and visionaries—and emerge into the vast urban oasis of Golden Gate Park, easily seen in just a few hours on a Segway or self-guided bike tour. The park is also home to the California Academy of Sciences and de Young Museum, two sights best seen with skip-the-line admission tickets.

Day 3: National Parks, Wine, and Whales

Just beyond the bay lie several essential day-trip destinations. Wine lovers can spend a day in the internationally renowned Napa and Sonoma valleys, exploring by bus, train, private car, or bike, while nature enthusiasts can embark on an epic day in Yosemite, one of the US’ first national parks. Guided Yosemite tours leave San Francisco early in the morning and return after dinner, including time to revel in Gold Rush towns, hike among giant sequoias, and spectacular park highlights such as Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and El Capitan. If you’d like more time on the coast, journey down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Carmel, or try a whale-watching trip out to the Farallon Islands.

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10 Tours and Activities | All San Francisco Tours

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Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Full-Day Tour from San Francisco

Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Full-Day Tour from San Francisco

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2389
Escape to California’s famous wine country on this full-day tour from San Francisco. Taste regional varietals at multiple wineries in Napa and Sonoma, including both big-name and family-run estates. Learn about the winemaking process during guided tours of vineyards and barrel rooms, and savor the area’s gourmet culture with a stop for lunch in charming Sonoma Square Plaza.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
USD149.00
From
USD149.00
Taking safety measures

Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Day Trip from San Francisco

Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Day Trip from San Francisco

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1784
Discover the rugged beauty of the Sierra Nevada on this full-day trip to Yosemite National Park from San Francisco. Travel aboard a comfortable van through historic Gold Rush towns to reach the park, where you’ll be amazed by supersized natural wonders like Yosemite Falls and the granite cliffs of Half Dome and El Capitan. Take a hike among ancient sequoia trees, and enjoy several hours to explore the park’s wonders on your own.
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  • 14 to 15 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
USD189.00
Price varies by group size
From
USD189.00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco

Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco

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1421
Drive down one of the most scenic roads in California on this full-day tour from San Francisco. Cruise along the coast-hugging Highway 1, passing the mansions of Pebble Beach on the iconic 17-Mile Drive. Enjoy free time to explore Monterey, where you can stroll down Steinbeck’s Cannery Row or visit the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Browse the ritzy boutiques of Carmel-by-the-Sea and get a glimpse of Silicon Valley’s tech campuses on the return drive to San Francisco.
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
USD85.00
From
USD85.00
Taking safety measures

Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

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476
Explore one of California's most iconic settings from the beauty of San Francisco Bay. This narrated Golden Gate Bay cruise journeys alongside Alcatraz and Angel Island State Park, past the shores of Sausalito and beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. You can choose to view the sights from inside your boat or out on deck.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
USD38.00
From
USD38.00
Taking safety measures

The One Day in San Francisco Tour with Alcatraz

The One Day in San Francisco Tour with Alcatraz

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147
See the best of San Francisco in one day on this guided tour that includes all transportation and admission to Alcatraz. Visit multiple locations in the city, including Castro, Presidio, Fisherman's Wharf, and Twin Peaks, with plenty of stops for photo ops. Take the ferry to Alcatraz Island where you can explore with an award-winning audio-guided tour of the former federal prison.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
USD150.00
From
USD150.00
Taking safety measures

Day Trip to Monterey and Carmel via California Coast

Day Trip to Monterey and Carmel via California Coast

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87
The California coastline is dramatic, iconic and rugged, but also difficult to enjoy when you're trapped behind the wheel of a car rental. So take this day trip to Carmel and Monterey, and enjoy the cliffside and ocean views from the window seat of your coach.
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
USD105.00
From
USD105.00
Taking safety measures

California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket

California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket

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387
Enjoy easy access to the California Academy of Sciences with this pre-paid ticket. Walk right in to enjoy the museum's 4-story rain forest, planetarium, and aquarium. Avoid wasting your precious vacation waiting in the long lines to purchase tickets for this exhibit-packed museum. Your admission includes all shows and exhibits, and is a perfect activity for families.
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  • 3 to 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
USD36.95
From
USD36.95
Taking safety measures

Lonely Planet Experiences: Food & Street Art of Mission District (Small Group)

Lonely Planet Experiences: Food & Street Art of Mission District (Small Group)

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56
Discover a variety of delicious foods along with vibrant street art on a 2.5-hour food and art tour in San Francisco’s Mission District. Your guide introduces you to the history and culture of the neighborhood as you take in eye-popping murals along Balmy Avenue and Clarion Alley, and taste the specialties at five favorite local eateries. Expect to try gourmet donuts, Mexican pastries, agua fresca (fruit drink), sweet or savory pie, and stop at a famous taqueria before finishing up at Dolores Park and the Mission Dolores.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
USD91.96
From
USD91.96
Taking safety measures

Full Day Bike Rental from Fisherman's Wharf

Full Day Bike Rental from Fisherman's Wharf

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46
Discover San Francisco on your own schedule with a 1-day bike rental. Visit the crooked path of Lombard Street, North Beach, Haight-Ashbury, the Golden Gate Bridge and other culturally rich and unique San Francisco neighborhoods. This self-guided trip gives you the opportunity to create your own itinerary as you explore the beloved City by the Bay. The entire fleet of equipment is sanitized regularly and curbside pick-up is available to ensure that your rental experience is safe and enjoyable.
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  • 1 hour to 1 day
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
USD32.00
From
USD32.00
Taking safety measures

Mission 18th Street San Francisco Food Tour

Mission 18th Street San Francisco Food Tour

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10
Get a taste of San Francisco’s Mission District on this 3-hour food tour. Led by a local guide, you'll treat your taste buds to a diverse range of cuisine, from traditional Latin recipes to modern spins on local dishes. Bring an appetite for authentic tacos and Mexican delicacies, house-cured pastrami sandwiches, horchata-flavored cupcakes and more. This tour is offered along Mission in the evening along 18th Street.
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  • 3 hours
From
USD115.00
From
USD115.00


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