What to See in San Francisco in One Day

Last Updated on March 28, 2021 by Ellen Christian

Did you know that San Francisco is almost 232 square miles in size?

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There are a lot of places I would have loved to see in San Francisco on my latest trip but since we only had a few hours free time, I had to pick just a few. If you’re wondering what to see in San Francisco in one day, you’ll want to think carefully about what’s most important to you.

What to see in San Francisco in One Day

What to See in San Francisco in One Day

I had a huge list of places that I wanted to see in San Francisco, but we only ended up with a few hours before we had to get ready to leave. We decided to visit China Town since there is just so much to see there and it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.

What to see in San Francisco in One Day

The China Town in San Francisco is the oldest China Town in the United States.  There are many places to visit in China Town where you can go shopping, eat lunch, visit landmarks and attend cultural events at certain times of the year. We chose to focus on the shopping in China Town to see if we could find gifts for family members while we were out.  Since I’m in love with Hello Kitty and all things Kawaii, I really wanted to find a few shops that offered those things.  Thankfully, there are lots of shops with that type of merchandise as well as clothes, jewelry, home accessories, artwork and everything else you can imagine. I restrained myself and only bought one small gift for each person and one for me.

What to see in San Francisco in One Day

We considered seeing the Golden Gate Bridge but it would have involved a 45-minute trip each way and we just didn’t have the time for that. If you do have the time in your schedule, I would definitely recommend you include a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge while you’re there.

What to see in San Francisco in one day

We decided to visit Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch and the view. Fisherman’s Wharf is the northern waterfront section of San Francisco from Ghirardelli Square or Van Ness Avenue east to Pier 35 or Kearny Street. Fisherman’s Wharf is also a great place to get a far off look at the Golden Gate Bridge if you don’t have time to actually visit.

What to do in San Francisco in One Day

One tip I’ll share with you. We wanted to take a trolley to Fisherman’s Wharf to save time and have the experience of actually taking a trolley. The one on the main street would have cost over $30 there and back per person which we thought was too high. By asking a policeman, we found another trolley just around the corner that cost us less than $10 there and back per person. Look for the vintage trolleys for the best price. Riding on a trolley was fun and definitely an experience I recommend.

If you have time, I recommend just wandering around the nicer parts of the city. Definitely take a map and stick to the nicer areas. We got turned around a few times and ended up one a few streets that I was glad to not be walking alone on. If name brands are your thing, you’ll find everything from Jimmy Choo to Ugg to Vera Wang. If you don’t have the money to shop, window shopping can be almost as much fun.

What would you do with one day in San Francisco?

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What to do in San Francisco in One Day

6 thoughts on “What to See in San Francisco in One Day”

  1. This was a fun read. I haven't been to San Fran since the 80s! I was living in Ohio then so I have no excuses now, living in California! I would love the vintage trolleys and good tip on saving money. I would just walk around and see everything I could. I had a week at a nutrition convention back then and was by myself so I just went back to my hotel each day. I'd like to visit with a friend or group next time.

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