Every product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.

72 Hours in San Francisco

Harboring dreamers and individualists for centuries, San Francisco is a destination for anyone who loves to eat and drink.

Chase Pellerin

Just so we’re clear, it’s not San Fran or ‘Frisco. It’s San Francisco. Or, if you prefer brevity, then SF works. The city of notorious microclimates and perpetual spring-like weather is also known for its inclusiveness and accepting attitudes, which permeate the Bay Area. Think up a crazy personal computer idea? A new platform for online business? What about starting a local-centric restaurant before it was cool or popularizing eastern philosophy? All of this grew and thrived in the “you-do-you” mentality of the Bay.

But, San Francisco’s history stretches far deeper than the last half-century. The early mission-settlement-turned-Wild-West-town changed overnight when gold was found in the Sierras in the mid-19th century. People from across the world descended on San Francisco, and money from mining flooded into the city. It was, and still is, a city of strong-willed individualists, a place for dreamers and a place for pleasure-seekers.

When planning a trip to San Francisco, mind the micro-climates and offset summer season — always bring some light layers to wear in the evening, because when the fog rolls in, the temperature drops. The year-round moderate climate makes the area a hub for both outdoor enthusiasts and weekend warriors, from amateur kayakers to professional cyclists. And it is also a center for third-wave coffee companies and Michelin-starred restaurants.

So get a hotel in the city and explore the various neighborhoods, from Hayes Valley and the Mission to North Beach, Noe Valley and the Inner Richmond. Each has its own energy and offerings, but they all showcase the unique blend of culture and attitudes that make San Francisco a forward-thinking city of acceptance and innovation.

Where to Stay

Find a Hotel in the Center of the City


The Hotel Kabuki, in the heart of Japantown, blends eastern and western influences, creating a beautiful and relaxing setting to call home for a few days (bathrooms come equipped with Japanese-style deep soaking tubs). Centrally located, you can catch a show at The Independent or The Fillmore, nearby, or grab some incredible Szechuan at Spices II, a few minutes down the road. Before heading back to the Kabuki in the evening, swing by Smuggler’s Cove, the ultimate tiki bar with world-class drinks, unbelievable vintage decor and an extensive rum list made up of over 400 rare bottles.

Fairmont San Francisco | From $391 | Book Now
Old-school San Francisco, fit for the President.

Inn at the Opera | From $179 | Book Now
Close to Civic Center, situated in the local-centric Hayes Valley neighborhood.

The Ritz-Carlton | From $399 | Book Now
Luxury among the cable cars.

Where to Eat

Look for the Line


Situated in the former working-class neighborhood called the Dogpatch (south of downtown), Piccino sits on the first floor of a classically San Francisco bay-windowed Italianate building. Headed by Margherita Sagan and Sher Rogat, this Italian restaurant is a community gathering place where seasonal menus and great service meld for a flawless evening. Before dinner reservations, hit-up City Beer Store for a pint of some limited-release brew and browse their shelves for a tasty beer to take home. On the way back to the hotel after dinner, swing by Hard Water located at Pier 3. With a bar program designed by legendary bartender Erik Adkins, this whiskey-focused bar has countless transcendent, bucket-list bourbons. If you’re looking to splurge on a night out, and money isn’t an object, the tasting menu at Saison is second-to-none.

Nopa | $$$ | Learn More
A local favorite near the Panhandle and Alamo Square.

Liholiho Yacht Club | $$ | Learn More
Great ambience and even better food from Ravi Kapur.

Trick Dog | $ | Learn More
Great food and amazing drinks from Jason Henton, Scott Baird and Josh Harris.

Tip from a Local


“Go to Shalimar on Jones at O’Farrel — it has incredible Northern Indian food. Turtle Tower in Little Saigon makes wonderful soup, and is also a great value. Try to get to Swan Oyster Depot at 10:15 a.m. on a weekday — it opens at 10:30, but this way you’ll be able to get in. For a piece of old San Francisco, go for a swim at the Dolphin Club — a wooden, 100-year-old swimming and boating club at the end of the Pier — and talk to locals in the sauna — firemen, teachers, lawyers. Stop by Terroir for a glass of wine. Then, get some charcuterie and farmstead brandy at Trou Normand before checking out the new SFMOMA.”
-Thad Vogler, owner of Bar Agricole and Trou Normand

What to Do

Pick a Neighborhood and Go


If you’re visiting in the fall — arguably the best season weather-wise — the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is a must. This free three-day festival features headliners ranging from Ryan Adams and Jason Isbell to Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle. After getting your fill of tunes, check out the ever-changing Valencia Street. Grab a coffee at Four Barrel and stop by shops like Voyager and Joshu + Vela, then grab a snack at Craftsman and Wolves or some ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery (and just a few blocks up 18th street is menswear favorite Unionmade). Paxton Gate has oddities that are sure to entertain, and Dandelion Chocolate, a local chocolate company, gives inexpensive tours that are worth the time. Don’t miss out on the Mexican food — lengua tacos at Taqueria San Francisco on 24th street are sublime.

Bike the City | Learn More
Explore the Presidio by bike. For a longer ride, bike across the Golden Gate bridge and explore the Marin Headlands.

City Lights Booksellers | Learn More
A major player in the Beat movement, this is essential SF.

SFJAZZ | Learn More
See a world-class show at this cutting-edge venue.

What to Pack

The Gear You’ll Want

Lined Indigo Shirt by Corridor $215

Benedict Weekend Bag by Moore & Giles $860

Promaster Navihawk GPS by Citizen $1,395


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below