Travel

A Girl’s Day in San Francisco Itinerary

This past weekend 3 of my besties from college took flights across the country so we could all spend time together. The girls staggered in between Thursday and Friday and we ended up with 1.5 days altogether. Saturday was our only full-day so when spent it being tourists in San Francisco. Considering how many things there are to do in San Francisco, I was quite happy with the ground we were able to cover in just a single day. Here’s how we did it.

A girls day in San Francisco

One Day Girl’s Trip to San Francisco

We arrived Friday night and stayed at The Scarlet Huntington in Nob Hill. This set us up for an early start in a central location.

Saturday we got up early and started walking to breakfast around 7:30. Our plan was to arrive at Brenda’s French Soul Food just before it opened, but I got us lost and we didn’t arrive until 8:25. People were already waiting outside the restaurant, but there were only 3 groups ahead of us and the wait was only about 30 minutes.

Brenda’s turned out to be a great place for a girl’s weekend brunch! We shared the beignets sampler and each got an entree as well. It ended up being too much food and we probably could have split 2 entrees between the four of us, but everything was delicious. Even though there was a crowd waiting, we got to take our time and indulge in conversation over breakfast.

The wait list at a trendy brunch restaurant in San Francisco
Eating at a trendy restaurant is a great way to feel cool in San Francisco. Showing up early is also a great way to reduce time spent in line.

After breakfast, we grabbed an Uber to Fisherman’s Wharf. Pro Tip: Get your driver to take you on Leavenworth Street and sneak a peek at the windy section of Lombard street.

The Wharf was very touristy but not too crowded. We had great views of Alcatraz (or Azkaban as my friend kept saying) and saw the sea lions at Pier 39.

We also shopped at some souvenir shops, explored the mirror maze, bought some wooden puzzles, and stopped to play at Musée Mécanique.

Overall, we spent about 1.5 hours at the Wharf. Plan for a little more or less depending on how much time you like to spend in souvenir shops. If commercial tourism isn’t your scene, just stop by for a quick look at the sea lions.

Sea Lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco
These guys make Pier 39 a “must visit” while in San Francisco. The seal lions are here year round making a ton of noise and smelling bad.

To get back to the hotel we rode the Powell-Mason cable car line. The San Francisco cable cars are iconic and should definitely be incorporated into any trip. Combining the cable car with an Uber is a great way to handle a “there and back” destination.

San Francisco Cable Car
Do your research before you hop on a cable car! The rides are $7 for adults and you’ll be expected to pay in cash on board.

We stopped at the hotel quickly to drop off shopping bags, and then hit the streets of Chinatown. By this point it was 2:30 and we all wanted lunch but didn’t need much to tide us over until dinner. We grabbed some dumplings at Delicious DimSum, grabbed another Uber, and had a picnic in Union Square.

From Union Square, we walked back to the hotel through Chinatown and passed through the Dragon’s Gate.

Dragons Gate Entrance to Chinatown San Francisco

By this point, everyone needed a rest (those San Francisco hills are no joke!) so we headed back to the hotel for an hour to read, sleep, or shower.

We left the hotel at 5:30 for dinner and took the “scenic route.” Punching multiple destinations into Google Maps turned out to be a great way to drive by the Painted Ladies, the “Full House” house, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the Golden Gate Bridge. You can follow our route here, just remember to update the starting and ending destination to match your plans!

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco
The Painted Ladies are a must-see for any girl’s trip to San Francisco

For dinner, we ate at Le Garage in Sausalito. We all enjoyed the food, the service was great, and we had a wonderful view of the marina. After dinner, the city was turning to twilight and we got to take in those views as we came back over the bridge.

We thought we’d take in some more views with cocktails at Top of the Mark in the Intercontinental, but we decided not to wait in line or pay the cover charge. Next time I might try to get reservations for dinner or stay in the hotel to avoid the cover. ($15/person starting at 9 pm. There was a live band.)

Instead, we ordered dessert that we ate in bed and fell asleep early! It was a full day and 75% of us were on East Coast time. Overall, we had a great time together and were able to cover a lot of ground without pushing too much.

Girl's weekend in San Francisco

San Francisco Girl’s Trip: Tips and Tricks

If you’re planning your own girl’s getaway to San Francisco, here are some planning tips that will help:

  • Remember that Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” Dress accordingly and bring lots of layers. We were able to shed our jackets in the afternoon, but we wanted them back by evening.
  • Prepare for hills! Make sure everyone has comfortable walking shoes and don’t be afraid to hop in an Uber! No matter how good of shape you’re in, you’ll be feeling those hills!
  • Avoid driving if possible. We drove some and were able to turn it into a fun sightseeing route, but we didn’t ever hunt for parking in the city. Parking is scarce and even if you find a spot, it might be on a steep hill that’s hard to get in and out of. It’s tough on the budget, but valet parking at your hotel is awesome. It saves so much time so you can really just focus on girl’s weekend.
  • Bring cash. Like most big cities, many businesses will be cash only. You’ll definitely need cash to ride the cable cars at least.
  • Make a plan but leave some flex room. I mapped out the schedule for the whole day but left 4 hours of downtime in the afternoon. Having this time meant we were never rushed and never had to abandon any plans that we’d made. I made firm breakfast plans (which we were late for) and dinner reservations, but I planned on allowing lunch to float.
A Girls Day in San Francisco
This trip happened to coincide with our 10-year friendiversary! We all met as freshman the first few weeks of school. I’m so lucky to still have such wonderful friends!

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