A Day and a Half in San Francisco
February 26, 2013 6:47 PM   Subscribe

Mr. Liet and I have a day and a half in San Francisco. What should we do?

More specifically, we have a day and two halves: Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. We're staying near the Moscone Center and would prefer not to travel too far -- at least not on our half days. We'll be walking or cabbing it, not renting a car or using public transportation.

We like food, sight-seeing, shopping, aquariums, zoos... and wouldn't mind taking a detour to any particularly trip-worthy yarn stores or game stores.
posted by liet to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is amazing - aquarium, natural history museum, biodiversity museum. And they have penguins.

On the transport tip, there are a number of cab/rideshare options in SF which is nice because it can be hard to hail a cab. I have used Taxi Magic several times recently and recommend it.
posted by radioamy at 7:08 PM on February 26, 2013

Alcatraz is a cliched answer to this question but I thought my visit and audio tour was really interesting. It is run by the National Park Service so the interpretive quality of the experience is on the high side compared to your run of the mill tourist attraction.
posted by mmascolino at 7:19 PM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Ferry building is closer to where you're staying than some of these other options - incredible farmer's market on Saturday morning with lots of yummy food options (lots of prepared options as I assume you don't have a way to deal with, say, a bunch of potatoes!). Don't miss the Blue Bottle coffee if you're a coffee fan - long line but worth it. Then you can work off your breakfast by walking down the Embarcadero and climbing up to Coit Tower.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:00 PM on February 26, 2013

they may be testing the art project on the oakland bay bridge near the ferry building at the end of market street. basically lighting up the vertical wires of the bridge. Official lighting in Tuesday but they have been testing beforehand.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:01 PM on February 26, 2013

I've heard good things about Imagiknit. Our favorite game store is Gamescape. You'd need a car or be up for a bit of a walk to get to those. The website should give you an idea what they are like.

Seconding the Ferry building Farmer's Market. There is lots of good food there at other times too - we like Boccalone, Acme Bread, Cowgirl Creamery,
There is wandering through Chinatown. You could hit Brandy Hos or R&G, Yank Sing has nice but pricey dim sum.
posted by oneear at 8:07 PM on February 26, 2013

I'm from San Francisco and finally went to Alcatraz for the first time and it was incredible! That is, if you like ruins, succulents, beautiful views (assuming it's not too foggy) and stark geometric spaces. If you want to go on a ranger led tour, be sure to go on one of the earlier ferries, as it seems like they mostly do those in the morning; we were too late for that, and I only listened to part of the audio tour because I had such a good time just looking and walking all over the island on my own.

I also recommend getting a drink at the Top of the Mark, the classy bar at the top of the Mark Hopkins hotel, which is on top of Nob Hill, fairly close to where you're staying. It has fabulous 360 degree views of the city. At night there is a dress code and sometimes a band, but it's more informal during the day, and probably a better bet getting a table than on a weekend night, unless you are able to make a reservation.
posted by sumiami at 11:11 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

San Francisco MOMA is right there next to the W hotel, so that's a start. I think they have a special deal on Thursday evenings after 6:00.

I too agree that Alcatraz is an awesome excursion. You will need to secure tickets in advance though. It's a terrific way to spend an afternoon. Wear good walking shoes, the schlep up the hill is a doozy! (dress warmly!)

I'm not sure why you're not taking public transportation, it's pretty great in San Francisco! You can buy a pass at the airport, and you can get on any MUNI transport, including Cable Cars!

The 45 bus will pick you up right in front of Chevy's. You can get to Chinatown on it, and that's always a good time. Check out some dim sum, or just walk around and see all there is to see. Another option is to take the 45 to Polk Street (Russian Hill), and just walk down there. Lots of neat little shops and restaurants to check out (walk towards Pacific).

If you like upscale shopping, walk to Union Square. Have lunch in the Oak Room at the St. Francis (my Mom and I used to shop and lunch there every Saturday.) Or, at Hubert Keller's Burger Bar at Macys, either is worth the trip.

Go to the De Young Museum, check out the collections. I love the Steinhart Aquarium in Golden Gate Park!

If you want to hit the hot spots, take a tour bus around and hear about the fascinating city!

Some standard stuff you can afford to miss, Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square.

I do recommend getting some Cioppino and crusty bread. Any place in North Beach will be good for this (I still like my own the best!)

If you can swing it, a fun option for a show is Beach Blanket Babylon.

Have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:56 AM on February 27, 2013

Thanks everyone! Looks like Alcatraz is definitely on our list. I'll check back in when we get back.
posted by liet at 10:04 AM on February 27, 2013

We were on a similar schedule, and absolutely loved the Muir Woods.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:26 AM on February 27, 2013

I always recommend San Francisco City Guides walking tours. They're run by volunteers affiliated with the Friends of the Public Library, so the tours are free (donations accepted).

There are dozens of tours all over the city, every day of the week.

Friday afternoon, you might enjoy

City Scapes and Public Places
Gold Rush City

Saturday you have a huge range of options, including North Beach, Chinatown, the Palace Hotel, and the Ferry Building.


Rising Steel
Hitchcock's San Francisco
Downtown Deco

(There are tons of other options; those just seemed reasonably close to Moscone.)

Some tours are only certain weeks, not every week, so do check the tour schedule for the specific days you're in town.

Have fun - welcome to the city!
posted by kristi at 2:32 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Shmoke and a Pancake - ECig Style   |   Pinched nerve, Tokyo: physical therapist or... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.