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  • Writer's pictureAmanda

24-hours in San Francisco: How to pack, where to stay, and what to do

Updated: Jan 4

Don't forget to check out the bonus detailed travel itinerary!

Image of the Golden Gate Bridge with a ship passing by

Looking for a quick weekend getaway packed with a wide variety of things to do and different cultures to explore? You’re in luck, I’ve got the perfect 24-hour itinerary to San Francisco that will satisfy your wanderlust itch. What to pack: Since we’re only going to San Francisco for 24 hours, all you’ll need is your personal item and a small carry-on bag. San Francisco’s weather hovers between 55-65 degrees, so plan to dress in layers. The most important part of this trip is to pack some good walking shoes, so don’t forget those!

Make sure to check-in 24 hours ahead of your flight online at

Where to stay: The most daunting task of any trip somewhere new is deciding where to stay, especially in a major metropolitan area like San Francisco. While there are tons of districts to explore, I recommend checking out Fisherman’s Wharf. This area is in the perfect spot to be able to walk everywhere you need to go, maximizing your time spent on adventuring rather than waiting for an Uber. Where to explore and where to eat: Now that you’ve landed in Fisherman’s Wharf - slide on your walking shoes and get ready to see the sights. Here is what I recommend:

Fisherman's Warf in San Francisco

Check out Pier 39 to get all of your souvenirs and take a ride on the San Francisco Carousel.

USS Pampanito is a cool walk by attraction, a submarine that is a National Historic Landmark.

Ghirardelli Square is a must see for all the chocolate enthusiasts out there. Even if you don’t enjoy sweet treats, there’s lots of shops located in the square that overlooks the ocean. Make sure to check out San Francisco Brewing Co. on your way out for a delicious cold brew.

A quirky, but fascinating, site is the iconic Lombard Street. A bonus: you’ll get a major calf workout in the process of climbing up the steep hills.

Too much elevation for your liking? Hop on one of the cable cars to get around the neighborhood.

North Beach, or Little Italy, is home to rich Italian-American culture and packed with back-to-back Italian restaurants and shops. My favorite part? The rows of green, red, and white lights that set a romantic glow at night.

A must go-to is the Sotto Mare Oysteria & Seafood Restaurant known for, ‘the best damn Cioppino’.

Image of Cioppino at Sotto Mare Oysteria & Seafood Restaurant

For dessert, check out Stella Pastry & Café for any item on their menu (you really can’t go wrong).

Stellas bakery in San Francisco

Be prepared to feel like you stepped into another part of the world when entering Chinatown. With its rich culture, delicious food, and vibrant people, you’ll want to spend all day in this culturally packed part of San Francisco.

Known as the ‘hippie capital’, this neighborhood is nothing short of fascinating. If you enjoy thrifting, this is the place for you with its multiple vintage and thrift stores along the streets.

Make sure to also stop down to the Painted Ladies to see the iconic homes featured in shows like Full House.

Want a little more detail on what to do and where to go? Check out the more detailed itinerary below!


Bonus detailed travel itinerary:


📍5:00-5:30 a.m. arrive at Terminal 2 MSP international airport and head right up to TSA if you’ve already checked in online. We recommend arriving 2.5 hours early to TSA during the busy summer travel season.

Travel tip: Apply for TSA PreCheck® to cut this time down. It is worth the investment if you traveling often!

📍 7:35 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. from MSP to SFO

📍10:00 a.m. – arrive at SFO airport, deplane, and whip out your phone to order an Uber to your first destination, Fisherman’s Wharf

📍11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Fisherman’s Wharf + lunch

📍3:00–3:30 p.m. – Check-in to your hotel

📍3:30-4:00 p.m. – Walk to Lombard Street in Nob Hill

📍4:00-6:00 p.m. – Adventure over to North Beach + dinner

📍6:00-8:00 p.m. – North Beach dessert and live music

📍9:00 p.m. – go to bed, it’s been a long day!


📍8:00-10:00 a.m. – explore Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point or Golden Gate Post Card Viewpoint

📍10:00 - 11:00 a.m. – check out of your hotel

📍11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. – go to Chinatown for lunch + exploring

📍1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – go to Alamo Square Park to see the Painted Ladies + thrifting in Haight-Ashbury

📍3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – return to SFO airport

📍6:00 – 11:33 p.m. – flight home SFO - MSP


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