4 Days in San Francisco Itinerary

Having 4 days in San Francisco guarantees you’ll be able to see (and taste) the best of San Francisco. These are our tips for exploring as much of San Francisco as possible in just a few short days.

After you’ve decided if you’d rather stay at one of the best hotels in Fisherman’s Wharf or at one of the popular hotels in Union Square you can start planning your San Francisco itinerary

Our San Francisco travel blog is filled with tons of great resources on fun things to do and amazing places to eat, but we wanted to put all of our favorites together to help you plan for a long weekend in San Francisco.

For this San Francisco 4 days itinerary we’ve laid out fun tours to help you explore the city during the day, nearby dinner suggestions and the best nightlife events to complete any weekend in San Francisco.

By the way, if you want to see the best parts of San Francisco check out our two day San Francisco Bay tour. This tour is designed specifically for those with a few days in the Bay Area.

Highlights include:

  • Explore the top neighborhoods with your local guide and learn the stories, history, and diversity of San Francisco.
  • 15 locations, 7 amazing photo stops
  • Spend over 75-minutes in Muir Woods and stand in awe of the famous redwood trees. 
  • After your morning tour you can enjoy a leisurely lunch in Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy Pier 39’s famous sea lions.

We hope you’ll be able to use this guide as your own personal San Francisco trip planner!

san francisco guide

Day 1 in San Francisco

Spend your first full day in the city on a San Francisco guided tour.

Karl the Fog is no where to be seen — so we hopped onto one of our very own Famous Tours with tour guide Aaron to see just how amazing San Francisco looks when there's is no fog!Book your tour at www.DYLANSTOURS.com and save 10% off Dylan's Famous Tour at check out with discount code KARLISGONE 💰

Posted by Dylan's Tours on Wednesday, May 16, 2018

You’ll want to cover as much ground as possible on your first of 4 days in San Francisco because you’ll be able to navigate the rest of your time better.

After you’ve had a chance to get a good overview of the city, you’ll know exactly where you want to spend more time for the rest of your trip.

Dylan’s Famous Tour of San Francisco is one of the most popular San Francisco bus tours on TripAdvisor. You’ll see a lot more than the Golden Gate Bridge on this small family-owned tour.

On this tour of San Francisco, you’ll discover murals in the Mission District, enjoy skyline views at Twin Peaks, stop for lunch across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito and have the option to add on an upgrade to spend over an hour to explore the 2,000 year old redwood trees at Muir Woods.

Dylan’s Famous Tour covers so much ground, it’s more of a San Francisco road trip than anything else!

Our guides are San Francisco natives and longtime locals who know where all the best places to eat around town are and fun things to do. Over the course of your first day in the city, our guides will help you with personalized plans for the rest of your 4 days in San Francisco itinerary!

Guzzle San Francisco beer and burgers inside of Ghirardelli Square for dinner.

Our love affair with craft beer makers San Francisco Brewing Co. is no secret — we’ve already declared them one of the best San Francisco breweries! Even Dylan’s San Francisco Brewery Tours kick off at the SF Brewing Co. Ghirardelli location.

Dylan’s Famous Tour ends near the only San Francisco brewery in Fisherman’s Wharf, making SF Brewing Co one the best places to grab a burger and a few pints after your tour. Chow down on classic pub fare and wash it all down with San Francisco craft beer.

Spend a night at the museum with a 21+ crowd.

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IT'S TRUE—we're giving away 3 pairs of tickets to our biggest party of the year! For a chance to win, just tag your favorite human and tell us something you love about science, nature, or (blush) us. We'll announce the winners Monday morning, which gives you 3 days to get pumped for a live DJ set by @hot.chip, a convo between neuroscientist/actress @missmayim (@bigbangtheory_cbs) and @therealkaribyron (@mythbusters), plus a silent disco, open bars, food trucks, and so much more! Best of all, the whole "Big Bang: Party After Dark" event helps support our mission to explore, explain, and protect life on Earth. Don't want to wait 'til Monday—or want to get a deal on rolling in with a big group of friends? Check our profile link for tickets and details. ✨🔭🦋🥂**Must be 21+**

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Every Thursday museums across San Francisco turn into adults-only venues with cocktail receptions. An after-hour event at one of the city’s most iconic museums is the perfect nightlight event to schedule into your weekend in San Francisco itinerary.

In the heart of Golden Gate Park is the California Academy of Sciences: NightLife. General tickets are only $15, making them one of the most affordable San Francisco nightlife events!

You can also do a VIP ticket upgrade that comes was an hour long behind-the-scenes tour and a private cocktail reception, where the first two drinks are on the house.

** Please note, even though the popular San Francisco CityPass does include the Academy of Sciences, it is not redeemable for the Nightlife event.

Along the San Francisco waterfront, in the shadows of the Bay Bridge, is the Exploratorium: After Dark. Tickets are $20 and get you access to all the exhibits and galleries at this beloved hands-on science museum (formerly at the Palace of Fine Arts).

Watch the Bay Lights art installation on the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

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Extra bright, I want yall to see this🌃

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Since 2013, 25,000 LED lights decorate the suspension cables on the bridge that connects San Francisco to Oakland, the Bay Bridge. This art installation was meant to be a temporary project, where every night the LED lights were programmed to display a different light show dancing around the cables.

The public response to the Bay Lights was so positive that fundraising efforts were launched to create a permanent place for the light show. Since 2016 the San Francisco Bay Bridge has been permanently adorned with nightly light shows along the suspension cables.

The best viewing of the Bay Lights will be on the Embarcadero around the Ferry Building. Head down one of the piers that jut out into the San Francisco Bay and find a bench for your own personal viewing of the Bay Lights.

Day 2 in San Francisco

Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge

Hiking in San Francisco
If you’re spending 4 days in San Francisco, you have to make time to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge

Bring a jacket and catch a ride share or taxi to the northern side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge is just over a mile and a half, each way (that’s almost 2.5km for our friends on the metric system).

If you walk from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County, you’ll quickly discover that there aren’t as many ride share options on the northern side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

You won’t even find taxis or public buses that will bring you back to San Francisco. You’ll just have to walk back across.

Honestly, it isn’t that far of a walk, except for the fact that the Golden Gate Bridge roadway is actually a little hill. This hill helps add to the stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, but can be a bit tiresome for some to trek both ways.

That’s why, as locals, we always suggest for anyone looking to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge to catch a ride to the northern side of the bridge and walk into San Francisco.

On the San Francisco side of the bridge, you’ll find the Round House Cafe for hot drinks and light snacks, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center where you can explore the history of the bridge and buy unique souvenirs.

From the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge, you can easily call for a ride or take the 28 bus route which can take you towards Fisherman’s Wharf or Golden Gate Park.

Eat at the Birthplace of the Mission Style Burrito

Burritos the size of your forearm. That’s essentially what a Mission Style Burrito is. These massive burritos were created in San Francisco’s Mission District for busy Mission District locals who needed a satisfying meal they could eat on-the-go.

These burritos are typically stuffed with rice, beans, meat, cheese and salsa. Each taqueria makes their Mission Burritos a little different, and just about every San Franciscan will offer a different answer as to who makes the best burrito in the Mission.

Personally, we’re big fans of La Cumbre since they have the claim to fame of being the first taqueria mentioned in the newspaper in connection to Mission Style Burritos.That’s why we’ve dubbed this taqueria one of top 10 things to do in San Francisco!

Carlos Santana’s big brother was a tortilla maker at La Cumbre and it was a pretty common sight in the early 60s to see Santana jamming out on the sidewalk. La Cumbre remains a favorite among locals and traveling musicians.

Catch a basketball game at the new Warriors arena

4 Reasons We're Hyped About the Golden State Warriors New Arena
Catch a Warriors game at the new waterfront Chase Center.

The Warriors are coming back home to San Francisco with the opening of the new Chase Center. This new 18,000 seater Golden State Warriors stadium will be a must-see for anyone visiting once it opens for the 2019-20 season.

This brand new arena sits on the waterfront between the ferry building and Oracle Park (formerly Pac Bell Park, briefly SBC Park and most commonly remembered as AT&T Park). You’ll be able to chow down on amazing local eats like Tacolicious and Sam’s Chowder House while catch the NBA Champs play on their home turf.

Sail across the San Francisco Bay on a sunset catamaran tour.

Adventure Cat Sailing Charters

One of those days when less wind is a good thing!…..savor it….

Posted by Adventure Cat Sailing Charters on Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What better way to end a day in the city than on board one of the best San Francisco boat tours at sunset? Especially when there are a couple of complimentary drinks and h’ors devours included for your sunset cruise!

Whether you have a week in San Francisco or only a day, watching a California sunset from the Bay will be one of the most memorable experiences.

Even though it can get pretty chilly on the waters around the Golden Gate Bridge, the experience is totally worth it to see the sun disappearing into the Pacific.

Day 3 in San Francisco

Have an Irish Coffee for breakfast in Fisherman’s Wharf.

One of the best breakfasts in Fisherman’s Wharf is home to the first purveyors of Irish Coffee in America, the Buena Vista Cafe. Who says you can’t have a little historic cocktail created in San Francisco with your breakfast? This might be the best breakfast you can have during your 4 days in San Francisco!

Even if you’re not into the hair of the dog, the breakfast at the Buena Vista is worthy of a visit in its own right. Just be sure to at least catch a glimpse of the bartenders creating the Irish Coffees, sometimes a dozen or so at a time!

Buena Vista Cafe sits next to Ghirardelli Square and overlooks the San Francisco Bay and the historic schooners at Hyde Street Pier.

If you can, ask for a seat at one of the windows and watch as the historic Hyde Street Cable Car ferries people up the hill to Lombard, aka The Crooked Street. Better yet, if you’re staying at hotels in Union Square you can actually take the Hyde Street Cable Car from downtown to Buena Vista!

Eat food made in the oldest brick oven on the West Coast.

Pizza baked in the West Coast's oldest brick oven at this North Beach Italian restaurant in San Francisco.
Tommaso’s introduced the wood fired pizza oven to the West Coast in 1935.

Tommaso’s is a beloved family-run Italian restaurant and is surprisingly kid friendly. The place opens up at 5pm and there are no reservations. So come at least 15-30 minutes early if you want to guarantee a seat at one of the first tables.

The menu is small and honestly hasn’t changed very much since the restaurant opened in 1935 (then called Lupo’s). Hand painted oil murals decorate the walls of Tommaso’s. Legend has it, the original owners paid the artist in free meatballs.

Everything is still baked in the brick oven, which also has seen little change since the restaurant first opened. In fact, in the kitchen where the oven normally would be — is storage for pots and pans!

Fans of Chez Panisse by Alice Waters and Spago by Wolfgang Puck both have exact recreations of the Tommaso’s brick oven at their respective restaurants!

Watch the longest running musical revue in the world.

Backstage at Beach Blanket Babylon!

Join us on a little trip backstage at Beach Blanket Babylon – it's insanity! #BeachBlanketSF

Posted by Beach Blanket Babylon on Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Beach Blanket Babylon is notoriously difficult to describe to someone who has never seen the show.

Beach Blanket Babylon is pretty campy and a little political, but not at all very serious. This unique San Francisco experience perfectly blends bawdy musical numbers with current affairs and real life figures.

Adding Beach Blanket Babylon to your 4 days in San Francisco itinerary is a fun nightlife event that really showcases this city’s unique personality.

General admission tickets on the ground floor are pretty affordably priced. But, grabbing balcony seating will offer an amazing vantage point for the elaborate musical revue!

Day 4 in San Francisco

Explore Golden Gate Park on an electric segway.

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Picture perfect winter day to explore all of Golden Gate Park. Cruising past the @calacademy and @deyoungmuseum our new 3 hour segway tour that covers the park from the amazing Museums in Music Concourse to Ocean Beach. We offer 1.5, 2.5 and 3 hour fully guided tours that cover the entire Golden Gate Park. Book your segway tour in Golden Gate Park today and explore with our entertaining and knowledgeable guides. Among many sites you will cruise past is the amazing Conservatory of Flowers. @conservatoryofflowers . Get out and see all of this amazing park on a segway tour. . . #conservatoryofflowers #sfsegway #sanfrancisco #spring #sftrip #seglife #segwaytour #segwaytours #sunshine #onlyinsf #tourguide #sfvacation #onlyinsf #sanfranciscobay #vacation #wintervacation #goldengatepark #vacationmode #tourguide #conservatoryofflowers #gliding #segwaying #segways #segwayrental #rental #deyoungmuseum #calacademyofscience #ggpark #tourguide #goldengate #park #funtour #officialtour

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Golden Gate Park is the biggest city owned park in America and is about 20% bigger than Central Park in NYC!

The windy roads of Golden Gate Park are perfect for segways that will help you discover all four miles of the park — including the hidden herd of bison, Dutch windmills, the California Academy of Sciences, the de Young Museum and the Japanese Tea Gardens.

Escape to Alcatraz

How to get Alcatraz tours last minute tickets | Dylan's Tours
Even with 4 days in San Francisco, be sure to book Alcatraz in advance!

You won’t have to worry about how to get to Alcatraz because tours run almost every day of the year. Night tours are seasonal, but well worth the extra money because you will get a narrated tour around the island and have guided private tours on the island.

Be warned, tickets to Alcatraz sell out fast! Try to plan your trip to Alcatraz over a month in advance if you can. If you can’t, here are a few ideas on how to get last minute tickets to Alcatraz.

Alcatraz sits on a small sandstone rock in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, earning it the famous nickname, The Rock.

Since Alcatraz is a windswept island, be sure to bring a jacket with you. Otherwise, you’ll be buying a $50 novelty sweater in the gift shop once you arrive! Be prepared for your trip to prison with our guide on things you need to know before visiting Alcatraz.

Try cioppino while sitting on the dock of the Bay.

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Finally. We're #Home.

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Move over Rice-a-Roni, cioppino is the real San Francisco treat!

That’s right, cioppino — a seafood soup is an authentic San Francisco culinary creation. Back when there actually was a beach in North Beach, Italian fishermen would sail out into the waters and not return home until their boats were full.

For safety, the fishermen would moor together in the evening and “chip in” a little bit of their catch into a communal soup.

Cioppino, a pidgin word Italinizing the word “chip in”, doesn’t really have any exact recipe to follow. Each restaurant makes their cioppino a little differently and lately we’ve been obsessed with the cioppino at the Crab House in Pier 39.

The Crab House is sits on the dock of the Bay and  serves their cioppino with shrimp, calamari, mussels and white fish. Grab reservations around sunset and watch the skyline and boats in the harbor light up in the evening.

Join a San Francisco night tour in a vintage VW bus.

San Francisco Night Tours
See the city by night on a San Francisco night tour.

San Francisco Love Tours, one of the best San Francisco VW bus tours, is one of the only small local tour companies offering night tours year round.

Even though San Francisco hop on hop off tours offer daily night tours on their double decker buses, there is something really special about seeing the city lights from a VW.

Double decker buses are C-O-L-D at night and that experience in itself can ruin an entire San Francisco night tour. Catching a ride with San Francisco Love Tours insures you’ll be comfortable (and stylish) as you cruise around to see the sights in their vintage VW bus.

Visit an authentic speakeasy where passwords are required.


Behind the frosted windows of Wilson & Wilson Private Detective Agency you’ll discover an authentic 1930s speakeasy that looks straight out of a film noir about shoe gum detectives.

Even visiting their website offers little assurance that you’ll be visiting a bar. Instead you’ll find a case description on a missing person with a number to call if you have information.

Wilson & Wilson is one of a handful of elaborate speakeasies organized by Bourbon & Branch, local San Francisco restaurateurs who have perfected the Prohibition style speakeasy popularized while alcohol was banned.

During the American Prohibition on Alcohol, drinks and selling alcohol was illegal and a punishable crime. Many bars went underground and had false fronts that required secret passwords to gain access to the libations.

4 days in San Francisco

While your trip has to end, that doesn’t mean you can’t come back! As natives to San Francsico we still find awesome new places in our city! While we tried to pack as much as possible in your 4 days in San Francisco, there is always more to do!

san francisco guide

Discover more fun things to do on our San Francisco blog!

15 Best San Francisco Tours

8 Best Alcatraz Tours

Best Muir Woods Tours