Interested in how to spend a perfect weekend in San Francisco with the best things to see and do? Read on to discover all the great things you can do in and around San Francisco, from the best restaurants to the best sites.
It’s quite difficult to pick just a few things to do, so don’t expect to see everything in one day. The goal here is just to highlight some of our favorite tourism options, but remember that if you stay just the weekend in San Francisco, you might have to make some tough decisions in what makes the list of things to do.
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When to Spend A Weekend In San Francisco
The weather in San Francisco is pretty mild year round, but between November and March is typically rainy. Because of the large hills and coastal location, the weather can change within the city significantly.
San Francisco county’s coldest month is January when the average temperature overnight drops to 46*F. September is their warmest month with day time temperatures of 71*F. We’ve already noted that the weather and temperature is mild year round, but you can see that the difference in high and low temperatures is only 25*F. Depending on your tolerance of temperatures and what your plans are for your weekend in San Francisco, you can use the above info to plan your trip.
Where to Stay for Your Weekend In San Francisco
There are no shortages of hotels in San Francisco, so there’s definitely something to fit everyone’s budget. If you’re looking to really indulge yourself, there are several five star hotels in areas that are popular for sightseeing, dining, and nightlife.
Mansion on Sutter in Pacific Heights is on the expensive side and is just outside some of the hot spots, but is highly rated and would be a great option for a luxury weekend in San Francisco without fighting the crowds. A complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast is served daily from 7am to 10:30am.
Inn at Union Square is more reasonably priced and still well-rated and close to the sites. It’s just minutes away from SHN Curran Theatres and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art by foot. Inn at Union Square even offers a daily complimentary reception, so you can sneak in a few snacks at no extra cost!
A mid-range option would be Hotel VIA. It’s a four star hotel that is conveniently located to several places: AT&T Park (five minutes), Ferry Building (nine minutes), and if just 3.5 miles from Alcatraz. While they don’t offer a complimentary reception or breakfast, there is a daily breakfast buffet from 6:30am to 10:30am for a fee.
Our favorite hotel choice for a weekend in San Francisco might be Cavallo Point. Just on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, it offers incredible views from a highly rated hotel, but is at the higher end of a nightly price. You’ll be just a four minute drive to the San Francisco Bay and an eight minute drive to the Golden Gate Bridge. Like Inn at Union Square, Cavallo Point does offer a complimentary reception daily, but their breakfast is available with a fee daily from 7am to 11am.
What To Do During Your Weekend in San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge
There is no shortage of ways to experience the Golden Gate Bridge when you spend a weekend in San Francisco. You can bicycle, enjoy a Golden Gate Bay cruise, rent a GoCar, use a segway, or of course, just walk it. If you decide to walk it, we do want to note that the bridge is 1.7 miles long, so it’s about a 35 minute walk each way.
San Francisco Cable Car System
Along with the Golden Gate Bridge, is there anything else that is quintessential San Francisco? A perfect way to spend the day and see some of San Francisco’s most iconic neighborhoods and landmarks would be with this six hour small group tour that allows you to hop on and off the cable cars. This tour allows you to visit the Barbary Coast trail in the Little Italy Neighborhood, visit Chinatown and make your own fortune cookie, check out the Financial District, Civic Center Plaza, and Union Square, visit the Ferry Building Marketplace, and ride a cable car to Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the city!
Mission Street Art Tour
Mission Street has some pretty famous murals and the neighborhood is packed with beautiful tapestries and graffiti. We recommend the Lonely Planet Experiences: Mission Food and Street Art Tour to really take it in. It’s a small group tour that lasts two and a half hours.
Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf
Restaurants, entertainment, and shopping are all packed into Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a neighborhood and popular tourist attraction on the northern waterfront area of San Francisco, and has plenty of things to do. With Fisherman’s Wharf being the launching point for several tours, there are also so many restaurants that you can visit, such as Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Scoop Shops, and Alioto’s Restaurant.
You could easily spend a couple of hours, and entire day, or even your entire weekend in San Francisco there! Check out their monthly events and plan your visit accordingly!
Alcatraz, perhaps the most notorious prison in America! We suggest this great deal on a two-day, two-tour package – you can visit Alcatraz by ferry and bike the Golden Gate Bridge. While you could opt to go straight to Alcatraz via ferry, there are many tour options (including a night tour!) to help you get the most bang for your buck, especially if the point of your weekend in San Francisco is tourism.
- San Francisco City Tour with Visit to Alcatraz
- San Francisco City Sights, Muir Woods, & Alcatraz Day Tour
- Alcatraz Island and Guided City Tour
- San Francisco Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket
- San Francisco: Alcatraz at Night & Fisherman’s Wharf
Visit the San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo has more than 2,000 exotic, endangered, and rescued animals throughout 100 acres of gardens on the Pacific Coast. Whether you’re interested in the giraffes and zebras or the colorful birds, exotic plants, of the ever charming and popular sloths, the San Francisco Zoo has something for everyone.
If you like history and chocolate, or really just one of those things, then visiting Ghirardelli Square is a must do. This was originally a chocolate factory owned and established by Domenico Ghirardelli. It is now home to many shops, restaurants, and hotels.
If breathtaking views are your thing, then the Twin Peaks are a must for your weekend in San Francisco. It’s a world famous attraction and offers incredible views of the Bay Area. In addition to the two peaks which are adjacent to one another and stand at 922 feet, there is also a 64 acre park to enjoy.
Angel Island is a California State Park, a wildlife presser, and one of the most incredible historical sites in the Bay Area. You can take a ferry from San Francisco to Angel Island, and then enjoy the spectacular views from the island. There are also events on the island featuring live music and other activities, so plan ahead an make sure the day you visit has the activities you’re expecting.
San Francisco CityPASS®
Perhaps you’ve heard of CityPASS… they have a presence in most of the major cities around the United States, so of course they have one for your weekend in San Francisco. The neat thing about CityPASS is that is allows you to visit several different attractions at a discounted cost. We’d recommend the four attraction CityPASS since it offers the highest savings and is a bit of an “easy button” for you. This particular pass gets you into four (obviously) attractions of your choice, which are outlined below…
- California Academy of Sciences
- Blue and Gold Fleet Bay Cruise (one hour bay cruise adventure)
- Aquarium of the Bay OR The Walt Disney Family Museum
- Exploratorium OR San Francisco Zoo & Gardens
It is important to note here that the CityPASS is good for general admission only to the above attractions, so any extras will have to be covered on your own, but the savings upfront means you can splurge on some of the extras! And if you’re spending more than the weekend in San Francisco, the CityPASS is actually valid for 30 consecutive days from first use, meaning you don’t have to cram four attractions into a single day.
If you have more time to explore than just a weekend in San Francisco, there is no shortage of activities to take advantage of. If you plan your trip really well, you can easily explore all the highlights of San Francisco in just a weekend!. If you’re looking for tips on traveling on a budget, we recommend checking out our article that could help with your San Francisco planning. One other helpful tip we can offer is how to find discounted airline tickets if San Francisco isn’t within driving range for you.
If you are looking for something that might not be as touristy or for something outside the norm, we’ve listed out our 12 favorite things to do for a weekend in San Francisco in hopes that they inspire you to look outside the super obvious the next time you visit San Francisco.