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San Francisco in a day

An iconic bridge, an island prison, sour dough pizzas and a man pretending to be a bush – there is lot’s to see in San Francisco! For those short of time we attempt to condense the best bits into just one day for you. 

You will need to rise early to get a close look at San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge as it is a little way outside of town. Instead of wasting time on working out the public transport or trying to get hold of a taxi (which are rare in the city!) hire a bike and cycle it. There are bike hire shops on Fishermans wharf which is handy as this should be your next stop anyway. Once you have peddled back to the wharf hop on a ferry to Alcatraz. It takes just 2 ½ hours to discover the infamous and notorious former federal prison, once home to the likes of Al Capone. 

Back on land, Pier 39 of Fisherman’s Wharf is home to some unusual residents – a family of sea lions. It is said there used to be thousands of them living on the pier, they turned up one day over 20 years ago. Just before their 20 year anniversary, however, which was to be celebrated with a huge event, they all disappeared. They were later spotted lounging further up the coast. Some have now returned though and on the day of our visit we spotted about 20 lazing in the sunshine.


If you are feeling peckish by this point you may want to stop at Boudin on the main road who make famous sour dough bread and pizzas. For those with a sweet tooth head to Ghiradellis Square, full of cafes and shops selling chocolate treats of the same name. Beware of the bushes on your way there though, not all will be as they seem. The Fisherman’s Wharf ‘Bush Man’ has been hiding behind branches and jumping out to frighten tourists for years! 

If you can handle the uphill climb then you should visit Lombard Street – the wonkiest road in the world. A more pleasant way to travel is via the vintage trolleys that journey the waterside. Old street cars from neighbouring states have been put into use in San Fran to ferry people from Fishermans Wharf, costing only $2 per ride it’s a cheap and glamorous way to get around. On the trolley route is the Ferry Building, now a Farmers Market, pop in and browse the selection of meat, cheese and sweets. 

No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a ride on a cable car. In some areas navigation of the city would be almost impossible for pedestrians without them; the hills really are that steep. From the Ferry Building you can take a ride for $6 on one of the old cars towards Nob Hill – home to many 5 star hotels and the stunning Grace Cathedral. If you have the time and energy hop off the car just before the top of the hill and head left towards Union Square – the delights of Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue will be waiting for you! 

Are you up for the challenge of seeing San Francisco in a day? Maybe 4 nights would be better! For city breaks to San Francisco and other US cities from only £439 visit our website.


Written by Jayne Gorman

Jayne is a latte-loving travel and lifestyle blogger who has travelled to more than 60 countries and spent the last 10 years writing about it.  She’s called London, Sydney, Melbourne and (very briefly) New York home – but don’t ask her to rank them. Often found brunching or scoping out boutique hotels – now with a mini explorer in tow.

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