On our recent California/Arizona/Nevada road trip, we knew we wanted to spend some time in San Francisco but we weren’t going to have very long. So we had to do what we often do – squeeze in as much as we can. Since we only had 12 hours, we had to make every minute count! If you are planning a trip to San Francisco and only have 12 hours, I’ve got a great plan for you! Take a look at this one day itinerary and get started planning your next visit to the Golden Gate City!
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12 Hours in San Francisco
Start the day with a good breakfast at your hotel in Concord, California! That will give you the energy to move through your day of sightseeing and lots of walking!
Take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) from your hotel into the city. Riding the BART is very similar to other mass transit systems. The lines each have a color and starting/ending name. We took the Yellow line and got off at the Embarcadero station. You slide your card in at the turnstile and it will open the gate. When you exit the BART, you will slide or tap your card again to let you out. If you don’t have enough money, simply go over to the vending machines and add more money so you can leave the station.
From the Ebarcadero station, exit to street level and walk about 20 minutes to Alcatraz tours at Pier 33. Along the way, be observant of your surroundings. There are some amazing pieces of public art, as well as the iconic street cars and cable cars that you see along the way.
But there is also the homeless population that you need to be aware of. This is just a part of life and not something to be afraid of. Simply recognize the human element; stay aware and then have your adventure.
Our first official stop was Alcatraz. Enjoy the boat tour out to Alcatraz Island and then tour the prison.
Walk .3 miles (about 10 minutes) to Pier 39 so you can enjoy the Sea Lions.
Sea Lions at Pier 39
One of the most fun sites and sounds in San Francisco is the bark of the sea lions. Stop and cheer on the sea lions as they wrestle and play on the docks below the tourists!
Walk .4 miles (about 10 minutes) through Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. Along the way, there are many little cafes, restaurants and concessions selling food. You can buy pretzels, clam chowder bowls, fish or hotdogs! Grab a snack to help you stay fueled for the rest of your adventure!
Walk Lombard Street
Walk 1/2 mile to the bottom of Lombard Street. Fair warning: It may be only half a mile, but it is almost all straight up. Definitely doable, but make sure you stop for water and take some breaks to catch your breath! It’s steep!
Walk to the top of Lombard Street and take pictures along the steps up the street. Then proceed about half a mile to catch the 28 MUNI City Bus that will take you to Golden Gate Bridge. The bus runs along 101 (Lombard Street) and you can pick it up every few minutes on the street. It costs under $3.00 per person to Golden Gate Bridge. If you spend less than 90 minutes at Golden Gate Bridge, then you may be able to use the same ticket to get back to the BART to head back to your hotel. Read all the rules for riding the MUNI
Experience Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most classic landmarks in the United States. Take lots of pictures and explore the different vantage points!
Check out Instagram for some of our fun photos the kids took!
When you are done walking around the Golden Gate Bridge, take a city bus to get to a BART Station. If you take the 28 MUNI bus, ask about where to transfer to the 30 MUNI to get to the closest BART.
There are so many other things to do in San Francisco. Stay tuned for full details about each of these stops! But for now, what are your favorite things to experience in San Francisco? I’d love to hear!