24 Hours in San Francisco

If you’re headed to San Francisco for the first time, you’re doing the right thing. If you’re returning for round two, three, or ten, you’re also doing the right thing. Teeming with history, diversity, culinary destinations, cultural institutions, and everything in between, Frisco has a magnetic X factor that keeps you coming back for more. The city’s list of hometown heroes is a million miles long and full of diverse legends like Maya Angelou, Clint Eastwood, Joe DiMaggio, Robert Frost, and Carlos Santana. Not to mention, Michelle Tanner grew up there with Uncle Jesse, so it’s legit. San Fran has most recently drawn a modern wave of techies, flocking to fill the 70,000 jobs in the booming industry and contributing to the local and national economy in a major way.

But we don’t have to convince you. Sit back, relax, and let the city do the talking. (And also let us do some of the talking, because we rounded up some seriously good times.)

12PM: On A Mission

There is no shortage of amazing food in San Francisco, but you have to carve out some time to enjoy the city’s infamous “Mission-Style Burritos.” Characterized by their enormity and the inclusion of rice in the wrap-up, Taqueria La Cumbre is said to have invented the local favorite in the 1960s, so it’s a good place to try your first.

1PM: Get Lost

When was the last time you partook in a mirror maze? Exactly. Satiate your inner child, hippie and navigator all at once and get involved at Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze. It’s five bucks, so just do it.

Magowan’s Mirror Maze photo via @mariavphotography

2PM: Slip ’n’ Slide

While your embracing your inner child, you might as well head to Seward Mini Park. Bring your own cardboard, wear legit pants, and hold onto your hat as you take a thrill ride down the Seward Street Slides.

3PM: Shuck It

Set your alarm for happy hour at Leo’s Oyster Bar, where you can slurp dollar-fifty oysters and a range of other deals from 3-5pm every Monday-Friday. Hate saving money? Splurge on the Golden Osetra Caviar with housemade chive blinis and crème fraîche.

4PM: Boyfriend Material

Treat yourself (or the man in your life) to Union Mades thoughtfully curated assortment of men’s (and more recently women’s) wear. The buyers are experts at finding talented designers and stylish pieces to elevate any wardrobe, leading with an emphasis on purpose and craftsmanship.

5PM: Foresight Factory

Everyone loves hearing about their future from a cookie they’ve never met before. Quench your “tell me more about me” thirst at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Churning out 20,000 cookies a day since 1962, you can stop by the factory for a tour and/or pick up a few bags of fortunes to stroke your ego and satisfy your sweet tooth.

6PM: Jailbait

Located just over a mile off the coast of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island is infamously known as the maximum security prison that housed the most dangerous, troublemaking criminals that simply couldn’t be tamed in other facilities. The penitentiary hasn’t operated since 1963, but there’s something captivating about taking a sail to the military fort, turned jail, turned tourist trap. Add a serving of spook to your history lesson and charter an evening tour.

7PM: Old School

Thought to be the third oldest continuously run restaurant in the country (and certainly California’s longest standing), Tadich Grill first made its mark in 1849, when three Croatian immigrants put up a tent by the wharf with a sign that read “Coffee Stand.” Their stand evolved into a white tablecloth, brick and mortar melting pot of regulars, visitors, politicians, celebrities, and everyone in between. Sip on a martini while you wait for your table and people watch.

8PM: It’s Showtime

The Golden Gate Theatre has been a San Francisco entertainment destination since 1922. Originally a vaudeville stage, the venue was converted into a movie theatre before becoming a renowned center of the performing arts. If you missed it on Broadway, chances are you can catch it here.

9PM:  Sweat It Out

Photo via SHN Golden Gate Theatre Facebook

Out with the day, in with the night. Reset your mind and body at Kabuki Springs & Spa. The springs have a temperature for every taste and the spa menu is chock full of rejuvenating experiences inspired by holistic Japanese traditions.

10PM: Trust Us

San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood is the oldest and largest Chinese community outside of the motherland itself. Help us, help you, avoid a “Best Chinese Food In San Fran” rabbit hole and snag a table at Michelin-starred Mister Jui’s. Start with the Dutch Crunch BBQ Pork Buns and take it from there.

11PM: Book Club

If you’re not into club clubs, consider a late night trip to City Lights. Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, it’s a beloved bookstore slash publisher that’s known for its anti-conservative, anti-censorship point of view.

12AM: Irish Roots

Ostensibly the birthplace of Irish Coffee as we know it, The Buena Vista Cafe has been bringing people together wharfside since 1916. Order yourself the infamous drink, ask your bartender to share the story of Jack and Stanton’s alcoholic invention, and plan to leave your tab open for a few rounds.

1AM: Drunk History

Take a trip down American history lane at Bourbon & Branch. It’s set in an actual speakeasy that operated illegally from 1921 to 1933 during the Prohibition Era, where you’ll find yourself sipping on 18-year-old single malt and acting like a smooth criminal as soon as the hooch hits your lips.

2AM: Rendezvous

“Last Call” is reverberating through the city, but there’s still time to get your groove on at Cat Club. Located in the trendy SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood, the party changes themes on a nightly basis, so be prepared to go with the flow and stay on your toes.

3AM: Tipsy + Competitive?

Perfect. Bob’s Donuts has a delicious challenge for you. Scarf down one whole donut within two minutes and not only will you get your money back ($10.95), but you’ll also get a free drink, t-shirt, and your name on the Hall of Fame. Took too long? All good. You can still get the t-shirt and the Hall of Fame shoutout if you finish in under three.

Bob’s Donuts via @aosopa

4AM: Joy Ride

Assuming you aren’t seeing double, save money on a taxi back to the hotel and take advantage of your bike rental from City Ride.

5AM: Rise + Shine

Whether you watched the original “Twin Peaks”, binged the remake, and/or just heard everyone and their mother talking about it, it’s reason enough to visit the real thing for a legendary sunrise. Give yourself enough time to hike to the grassy knoll between the 922-foot twin summits for a breathtaking, 360-degree view of the city at daybreak.

6AM: Om For All

And All For Om. Built on the principles of accessibility, inclusivity, and community, Yoga To The People offers a range of hot and vinyasa flows with a price tag that welcomes everyone. There’s a suggested donation of $10 per class and a priceless energy that you’ve come to the right place as soon as you walk through the door.

7AM: Drink Local

Start your day off right at Native Juice Co. Whether you’re just grabbing a juice or staying for the legendary avocado toast, you can bet that it’s been sustainably sourced from a farmer’s market and made with love just for you.

8AM: Fancy Pants

Located in the city’s iconic Ferry Building, Boulette’s Larder offers an upscale breakfast service that’s the perfect match for your “I’m on vacation, I deserve it” attitude. Watch the ships pull into the harbor as you Instagram the most perfectly poached egg you ever did see.

9AM: Tea Time

Get your daily dose of zen at the Japanese Tea Garden. Located in the heart of The Golden Gate Park, this tranquil sanctuary was created in 1894 with the intention of being a temporary exhibition. Almost 125 years later, it remains a chill destination for locals and travelers alike.

Japanese Tea Garden photo via @cengbingyu

10AM: Exhibit A

SFMOMA is the largest museum of modern and contemporary art in the country, showing an eclectic mix of ongoing and rotating exhibitions from Andy Warhol to Jean Mehretu. Not to mention, the building itself is an awe-inspiring work of art, designed by global architects Snøhetta and Mario Botta.

11AM: Picnic Pigout

Head to Bi-Rite Market’s 18th Street location and grab a smoked chicken sandwich (or two) to go. Resist the temptation to dig in before you turn the corner and find a patch of grass at Dolores Park to stuff your face in the sun.

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