Best 4 Ways to Spend a Day in San Francisco

There’s certainly no shortage of things to fill your day with in San Francisco. If you plan things right, you may even be able to fit two or three activities or attractions into each day. But there are some things – whether farther afield or not – that deserve a day devoted to them. Here now are four of the best ways to spend a day in San Francisco.

Tour wine country

With Northern California’s famous wine country just a short jaunt north of San Francisco, there are full-day tours that leave from the city to take you on a guided expedition through some of the region’s best wineries in Sonoma and Napa. You’ll learn about winemaking while you savour the included tastings of a variety of wines from famous wineries and family-run estates alike.

Some of the more popular excursions, such as the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour, will pick you up right from your hotel in a luxury, air-conditioned coach with free Wi-Fi, onboard restroom and other amenities. Then you’ll coast across the Golden Gate Bridge and cruise through the verdant hills and rolling pastures of wine country while your insightful guide offers knowledgeable commentary on not only the local wineries but also local history and culture. A lunch stop in fashionable Yountville will let you dine in Michelin-starred restaurants, peruse local art galleries or explore the celebrated V Marketplace. After the return trip to San Francisco, you’ll be dropped off at your hotel.

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See the seaside in Sausalito

Another great day trip idea is to hop on a ferry and journey over to the charming town of Sausalito, known for its amazing waterfront views and Mediterranean vibe.

You can take a Blue and Gold Fleet ferry from near Pier 39 or catch the Golden Gate Ferry from the San Francisco Ferry Building (Embarcadero at Market), which is worth a visit on its own; get there early and explore its shops and food halls. You can also get to Sausalito by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge either by car or by bike.

Along Sausalito’s main drag, Bridgeway, you’ll find interesting souvenir shops and art galleries. If you’re looking to pick up some gifts for someone back home, you’ll want to visit the Sausalito Ferry Co. (688 Bridgeway) where you’ll find lots of very cool novelties and toys as well as quirky souvenir items to remind you of your Sausalito and San Francisco visit.

Among Sausalito’s most fascinating attractions are its charming and picturesque floating houses. It was in one of these rented houseboats that Otis Redding wrote his classic song “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” in 1967. Even if you don’t intend to write a song while you’re there, you too can rent a floating house for a few days.

For a more active water experience, you can also rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards and venture out onto lovely Richardson Bay. Rentals are available near the Bay Model Visitor Center. Group outings and lessons are also available, as well as guided kayaking tours around Angel Island ($75 per person).

Enjoy a beach

You don’t usually think of beaches when you think of San Francisco. But there are some great beaches in the Bay area, and they’re worth searching out – not always for sunbathing or swimming (people do swim, but often in wet suits) but for other kinds of fun in the sun and sand.  

Baker Beach runs for a mile below the cliffs of the Presidio’s western edge, offering what many believe to be the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a great place to go for activities like beach volleyball, kite-flying or Extreme Frisbee. And you may even catch a glimpse of harbour porpoises playing in the waves. Although you may want to bring a jacket if the day turns chill, Baker Beach on a sunny day is fine for sunbathing and there’s also a picnic area located in the cypress grove at the eastern side of the parking lot, and nearby hiking trails.

A little further up the coast, Marshall’s Beach also offers spectacular views of the bridge and a great spot for a romantic sunset walk. South of Baker Beach, in Pacific Heights, East Beach (also known as China Beach) is perfect for families, with kid-friendly shallow waters and lifeguards on duty throughout the summer months.

Take a trip to the East Bay

The hip East Bay area has become more than just a suburb of San Francisco. Comprising communities such as Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, Concord and Fremont, it offers visitors lots of lively city attractions and activities. Sometimes called “San Francisco’s Brooklyn,” Oakland’s hip restaurants, coffee bars, cafés, galleries and clubs fuel the city’s dynamic, edgy vibe.

Victory Burger 
(1099 Alcatraz Ave.) is a local gem that only makes burgers, but you’ll find none better. And it’s not just for meat-lovers; their menu includes such items as a veggie-filled patty in a sourdough roll, and their vegan milkshakes are delicious. Hopscotch (1915 San Pablo Ave.) offers a brilliantly crafted cocktail menu in addition to its upscale Japanese-American fusion cuisine.

While the lower rents have lured swarms of young urbanites, they’ve also attracted many chefs – from big names to rising stars – and you’re sure to find a dining experience to fit your tastes, whether it’s the hipster allure of Plum (2216 Broadway) or the Art Deco coolness of Flora (1900 Telegraph Ave.).

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How about you? Did you take any day trips when you were in San Francisco? What did you do and see? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

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