Guide to San Francisco in a Weekend

San Francisco — the easiest city to love and the hardest to leave. Its vintage charm is enough to capture the hearts of travelers from all over the world, but this “City by the Bay” has so much more to offer than just cool weather and the Golden Gate! After just one visit, foodies, fashionistas, and culture enthusiasts alike will realize why San Francisco is arguably one of the greatest cities in the U.S.

INSIDER TIPS: PLANNING A WEEKEND TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO

TRANSPORTATION

UBER EVERYWHERE. Just kidding, that gets expensive.

SF is infamous for its cable cars so definitely ride one if you get the chance! Fare is $7 for a single ride, and stops at popular areas like Fisherman’s Wharf, Market Street, Union Square, Ghiradelli Square, and the Financial District. There are 3 cable cars that each take different routes through the city so make sure you’re getting on the right one – they’re color coded (see the routes and color codes here).

Although traffic can be frustrating, driving may be more practical and convenient so be smart about it. Search online to find a parking garage near your destination ahead of time, or download the app VoicePark to find street or garage parking anywhere in the city; most street parking is limited to 2 hours so this app will allow you to choose a longer time allowance and will find a parking spot accordingly.

Thankfully, parking garage rates are much cheaper on the weekends in comparison to weekday rates so you’re in luck! BART is also popular, and on Saturdays and Sundays you can park your car at the S. San Francisco station for free.

WHERE TO EAT

SF is a melting pot of good food, so here’s the best of a little bit of everything:

Ike’s Place: The most incredible vegan/vegetarian sandwich you’ll ever eat, not to mention the meat sandwiches are loaded with more toppings than you could imagine. Best $10 I’ve ever spent.

Pica Pica: Venezuelan cuisine, featured on Food Network!

Boudin: The classic SF sourdough bakery – opt for the clam chowder or tomato soup bread bowls.

Eats: A cute and cozy breakfast/lunch spot that’s easy on your wallet.

Brenda’s Meat and Three: A true San Francisco spin on homestyle southern food – their fried veggie po’ boy sandwich is to DIE for.

The Grove: Fresh and locally produced seasonal veggies for awesome soups, salads, and sandwiches.

Elite Audio Coffee Bar: Two words: Latte. Art. Go in between 12-4pm on Saturdays and get amazing latte art by the locally-famous Melanie Aquino!

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market: On Saturday’s from 8am-2pm you can stroll the Farmer’s Market off Embarcadero and stop in one of the many cafés and eateries. Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick is on the top of my list because they load everything with cheese.

WHERE TO STAY

Hostels are always a go-to for young travelers trying to cut back on trip expenditures, but now that Airbnb is becoming more popular (you can even rent out one of the Painted Ladies!) there are plenty of budget-friendly options.

If you want some classic San Francisco charm on a budget, try the San Remo Hotel; it has authentic Victorian décor, a gorgeous view of Coit Tower, and is within walking distance of the Wharf – all for a cool $100.

Coming with friends? The funky Phoenix Hotel is worth a bit of splurge, and has the trendy rock-n-roll themed restaurant with poolside seating. This place has some killer potential for Instagram-worthy shots!