The Ultimate Three Day San Francisco Travel Guide

Last week, my sister and I flew out to San Francisco, California for a couple of days before heading out to Oahu, Hawaii for an exciting Gal Getaway trip.

This is our 3-day travel guide to the city of San Francisco which includes stops at the most iconic parts of San Fran that you won't want to miss if you plan on visiting soon.

Keep reading to learn more about how to approach your trip:

the ultimate three day san francisco travel guide. pictured are the painted ladies which are colorful Victorian houses located in San Francisco, California.

Not only was this going to be the longest flight in my life so far, (with a total travel time of 7+ hours), but it was my first time ever experiencing any of the west coast.

I was nervous and excited at the same time! We started our trip heading out of Tampa International Airport on a Saturday morning by taking a short two-hour Southwest flight to St. Louis. After a quick layover, we then boarded our final plane to SFO.

Once at SFO, we ordered an Uber and met up with our cousin Catie at one of the yoga studios she manages.

She took us over to Lemonade for dinner which became an instant favorite of mine! They served Lavender Elderflower Lemonade (OMG, it was so good I ordered it again the next day!) and tender brisket, truffle mac and cheese, and creamy mashed potatoes.

It was hilarious to our cousin how much I loved eating dinner at Lemonade because she and her friends usually stop at Lemonade when they are in a rush for dinner and want something quick and casual! I can not wait to visit California again just to eat and drink at Lemonade, call me crazy!

After dinner, we fell asleep pretty quickly and were ready to take on our first full day in the city early the next morning.

Day One

Visit the Golden Gate Bridge




Check the weather forecast the night before you arrive at SFO to see if your first day is ideal to head over to the Golden Gate Bridge. If the forecast calls for severe fog, you may want to switch up the order in which you visit the top iconic spots in the city.

I recommend checking out if it's going to be sunny before you head out to the Golden Gate Bridge for a peaceful early morning adventure. We had some fog on our first day in the city, which made the bridge nearly invisible to see, but we still enjoyed our time at this iconic San Fran spot for a few hours.

We took an Uber from our cousin's house to the bridge around 9:30 in the morning.

It's best to check out the bridge as early as you can because most people will start to crowd around the best picture spots as soon as they get there. My sister and I were able to check out the visitor center first and then we stopped in front of the bridge to capture our own photos (well, selfies!).

Instead of taking a car or a bus ride on the bridge, we chose to walk across it until we hit the middle. The bridge itself is absolutely breathtaking. The structure looks complex from every angle. The vast ocean views on the bridge are also quite a sight. There are constantly bikers, runners, and tourists along the bridge so keep your eyes peeled. You don't want to run into any of them!

bright pink bougainvillea in san francisco, california.

The bougainvillea plants growing along the houses in San Francisco were also beautiful to look at while we walked through the city.  


Ghirardelli Square

Another one of our top destinations to see in San Fran was Ghirardelli Square. 

If there is one thing I love most in the world, next to tea, it's chocolate!

The shopping square features a lot of new boutique stores in addition to some historical anecdotes floating around the square that dates back to the early 1900s. My sister and I walked through one of the trendy boutique stores called Gigi + Rose where we bought two matching rings as souvenirs for the day.

Naturally, we popped into the Ghirardelli ice cream parlor to check out how chocolate was originally made back in the day. The process included folding the ingredients and making sure the chocolate was completely mixed together before placing the mixture into molds. Of course, you can go to town ordering chocolate sundaes and picking out bite-sized chocolates to snack on while in the parlor.

On a quick note, the square has free WiFi, too! It was a great pit stop on our way around town so I could check my e-mails really fast and send a few texts to friends before heading back out on our journey.

Fisherman's Wharf


The next iconic area you MUST see and experience is Fisherman's Wharf.

Once again, this is a hot tourist spot that you need to see for yourself if this is your first time in San Francisco. Most native folks would rather be caught anywhere other than the Wharf because it becomes packed with tourists in a matter of hours. However, you need to check it out as a first-timer! No questions!

Fisherman's Wharf has a lot of gift shops so you can peek in and see if you find any cool souvenirs to pick up for your friends and family back home. Most of these gifts are t-shirts, postcards, sweatpants, rain jackets, hoodies, small replicas of the Golden Gate Bridge, and more.

Fisherman's Wharf has dozens of adorable seals on Pier 39 for you to take pictures of!

Don't miss out on watching these west coast creatures dive in and out of the water. When we visited Pier 39, I was mesmerized by all the squeaking seals hanging out and sleeping in the sun. They were both obnoxious and adorable at the same time, ha!

After looking at all the seals, make your way back into the heart of Fisherman's Wharf where you should grab a hot drink if the weather feels a bit chilly.

I chose a Biscoff latte from the Biscoff shop to keep me feeling warm and toasty. Looking for more to do in the Wharf? You can also experience the Aquarium of the Bay while at Fisherman's Wharf which would be nice if you plan on visiting with small children.

Day Two


The next day in the city, my sister and I opted to head to Mr. Holmes Bakehouse for breakfast in the morning. We woke up early again and ordered an Uber to take us there.

mr.holmes bakehouse in san francisco, california. the picture shows a cruffin which is a cross between a croissant and a muffin.


Luckily for us, there wasn't a crowd at all once we arrived at Mr. Holmes!

No lines, nothing. We walked into the shop which was so much tinier than I had originally imagined and I pondered what to order. I saw matcha croissants which to this day I still regret not tasting a bite of. Oh well, just another reason to head back to the west coast, right?

I settled on a "cruffin", which is a croissant muffin, that was filled inside with banana cream. Oh my was this amazing or what! I wanted to order another one so badly.

This also a super cool Instagram photo-op.

They have a neon sign that reads "I Got Baked in San Francisco" which is hilarious and also pops in a bright pink color against the marble white wall.

Chinatown 


After breakfast at Mr. Holmes, and a quick stop at Jane for a warm chai latte, we took yet another Uber (we rode in many, many of these!) over to Chinatown. I had heard a lot about Chinatown from friends back home. It was suggested that I should also put it on my list of top San Fran destinations to check out.

Chinatown was filled with quaint shops and restaurants. This Chinatown found in San Fran is also noted as one of the country's oldest. Mostly all of the residents are Chinese and speak little English.

We chose to walk down Grant Ave which is what most tourists enjoy doing once they hit Chinatown.

We paused at the beginning of the street to view the Chinatown Gate, a gift from Taiwan to the city, which looked incredible with authentic dragons and koi fish decorating the entire piece. 

Eventually, we were hungry for lunch and stopped in at a restaurant along Grant Ave.

Our food was a great deal, as we shared THREE courses of Chinese favorites (beef & broccoli, sweet & sour chicken, shrimp & fried rice) with a pot of hot tea for $30.00. Split between the two of us it was $17 each, including tip.

The meal we enjoyed in Chinatown was very filling. Next, we headed out to find yet another iconic stop, the Painted Ladies and Alamo Square.

Painted Ladies 


Heading over to the Painted Ladies and Alamo Square Park took us back toward our cousin's house. At this point in the day, it was almost 3:30 pm. It's crazy to think that the sun begins to set in California around 4:30/5:00 during the winter, but it does!

tampa blogger amanda burrows stands in front of the painted ladies in san francisco, california. she is wearing a pink boucle coat from old navy with a floral sweater and pair of dark jeans.


Upon arriving at the main street where Painted Ladies houses reside, we took in the exquisite architecture of the homes one by one.

Each home has its own Victorian and Edwardian features and was constructed in the late 1800s. After checking out the infamous homes and the park, we ordered a ride home for the night and prepared ourselves for our next long day to be spent in the Muir Woods!

Day Three

Muir Woods


On our third day in San Francisco, my sister and I booked a bus trip out to the Muir Woods National Monument.

There are plenty of bus trips to take you out to Muir Woods. We chose our bus trip ($65.00) and arrived at the meeting spot before 9:00 am. This bus trip was also near Fisherman's Wharf, so it was nice to be back to a familiar place.

muir woods in san francisco, california.


The entire bus trip was going to last until 2:00 pm. Kayla and I stopped in a nearby Starbucks for bagels and coffee before we boarded our bus to the woods. Our trip into the Muir Woods took roughly an hour, as we sat back and looked out the window to see the beautiful green mountain tops.

The ride up to the woods was a little hectic because you need to travel up the sides of mountains in order to get out to the woods. I was thankful that we were safely riding on a bus with a seasoned expert as our bus driver because those roads we no joke!

Once at the main entrance to the woods, we immediately took off running to explore the redwoods.

I highly recommend taking a bus ride out to the woods on one day during your trip because these redwoods were unlike anything I've ever seen in my life! Also, the ride up the mountain can make you feel queasy so I recommend packing some Dramamine if you experience motion sickness. A bus ride is a perfect way to get to the woods safely and return back home with time to spare.

As we started our journey into the woods, I noticed how the trees went up to the heavens. The rocky creeks provided us with gentle sounds as we scurried across the bridges to photograph even more spectacular redwoods. 


We often paused while walking in the Muir Woods to take iPhone videos, selfies, and camera photos of ourselves hugging the giant trees to capture the memories of our time together exploring this natural forest floor.

After staring up at the trees for over an hour and a half, we ventured in the gift shop where I picked up some cute souvenirs for my nature-loving BFF Jessica. I can't wait to give her these presents for Christmas soon.

In-N-Out 

When our amazing bus trip concluded, we were back at Fisherman's Wharf.

As girls from the East Coast, we do not have the pleasure of eating lunch at In-N-Out Burger, so we sat down at the nearest one and ordered burgers and fries. 

They were goood y'all!  Cheap and satisfying after a long day of walking in the woods.


Have you been to San Francisco before? What was on your travel itinerary? Share with me in the comments below:

7 comments:

  1. This looks like the best trip!!! I LOVE SF and Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is the best. Still dreaming about those goodies! Have so much fun in Hawaii!

    www.mollyonthemoveblog.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. You really packed a lot into 3 days! Looks like you had a fabulous time! xo

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is absolutely amazing! Such a perfect guide that covers all the best San Fran bases!! I can't believe you were able to fit all of that goodness into three days!! XX, Clarissa

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have yet to make it to SF and you made the sights look so incredible. Here's to a great post and a greater New Year! Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  5. i can't wait to go one day! your trip looks so fun and beautiful!
    - lora / www.mylifeaslora.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love this!! SF is on my list ��

    ReplyDelete
  7. This was super helpful! I will be visiting San Francisco for the first time this summer and found a few things to add to my itinerary.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for visiting my blog! I love reading your comments! Follow me on GFG & Bloglovin and I will visit your blog! Want more Affordable by Amanda? Click the social media links above! Questions? Email me: affordablebyamanda@gmail.com