San Francisco in 36 Hours
Updated: Jul 18, 2021
In a town as renowned as San Francisco, you'd think it would be better communicated that it can be 50 degrees and windy in June, but alas, no one told me, so at least now I can tell you: it can be 50 degrees and windy, even in June. Despite the less than ideal weather, this town was full of breath-taking views and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Within our first 24 hours in San Francisco, we had managed to eat the best Korean, Cantonese and Japanese food I'd ever had (note: I haven't been to Asia yet), and if our trip was any longer, I would have kept going back to Asian restaurants because I can't imagine ever being sick of food that amazing. Nonetheless, here's my San Francisco travel guide based on the best food in San Francisco, best places to stay in San Francisco, best things to do in San Francisco and more!
Pro tip: download the Muni Mobile app & buy a 1-day bus pass for only $5—this is the cheapest & easiest way to get around.
Best Restaurants in San Francisco
Mensho Tokyo SF—This place was the winner of the trip for me. Mensho Tokyo is a hole-in-the-wall located near Union Square, and the only reason I ended up going was because the night prior, I walked past it and saw a line wrapped around the block. Obviously, I came back for the next night for it because if something had a line that long, it had to be that good. And it was. We waited just under an hour in that line before we were seated and ordering ramen—I ordered the Tori Paitan with a soft boiled egg + Bobby ordered the Matcha Ramen with extra duck, and we inhaled it.
Aria Korean Street Food—Another star restaurant, Aria Korean Street Food is, as the name entails, amazing Korean street food. We got the veggie kimbop, kimichi fried rice bowl with Korean fried chicken on top and bulgogi fires—it was way to much food for two people but we savored it for a couple days nonetheless.
Palette Tea House—Another Asian food wonder in San Fran, Palette Tea House is located right in the middle of Ghiradelli Square and had absolutely amazing dim sum. We had the soup dumplings, lobster dumplings with butter sauce and the pork & shrimp dumplings—our only regret was that we didn't order more because they were so good!
The Mill SF—Located close to Alamo Square Park & the Painted Ladies, The Mill SF is a must-stop for breakfast. Indoor seating wasn't available when we visited, so be prepared to sit outside or take it on the go, but either way, it's worth it. We shared the smoked trout toast & the ricotta + jam toast (both were fabulous but the smoked trout especially should not be missed). Plus, they use Four Barrel Coffee so they make a mean cappuccino that will compliment the chilly summer day nicely.
Ferry Building—The Ferry Building is a must-stop on your San Fran itinerary. The inside of the building acts as a local food hall with amazing little options like this empanada shop called El Porteno. Plus, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the outside area is home to one of the biggest farmer's markets in the area!
Philz Coffee—I know Philz Coffee is a chain, but I had never been, so I had to go, and honestly, I'm glad I did! The mint mojito iced coffee was super fun and refreshing, but I also really enjoyed the iced gingersnap coffee.
In N' Out Burger—Another chain, I'm aware, but again, it's worth the visit! Get a cheeseburger "animal-style," and you won't regret it!
Best things to do in San Francisco
Crissy Field—This is definitely one of the easier-to-access viewing points of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can take the Muni bus to get very close to the entrance of Crissy Field, and as you walk West along the trail, the beautiful red bridge gets larger and larger with every step. San Francisco is an inherently windy and foggy city though, so it's never guaranteed you'll have a perfect view of the bridge (as you can see from my photo above).
Ghirardelli Square—I don't want to be the one to say it, but I think I enjoyed the views from Ghiradelli Sqaure more than I did from Crissy park. If you cross the street just North of the Square, you have incredible views of the water, Alcatraz, the bridge, everything just sort of in a distance but still close enough together to be able to take it all in. I didn't take photos of that view; I didn't dare try to battle the fog and capture an image that just simply did not do the real thing justice, but still, I remember it clearly, and I remember it beautifully. There are several amazing restaurants and fun shops inside the square itself, so make sure you carve out some time to explore!
Golden Gate Park—Honestly, this wasn't my favorite use of our time. I wished I spent the time visiting Fisherman's Wharf instead, but I will say the Rose Gardens were beautiful and the park had these forest-like patches that made you forget you were in a city all together.
Ferry Building—The Ferry Building was a treasure that shouldn't be missed; From the local food hall on the inside to the local farmer's market on the outside, there was so much to explore. Plus, there's lots of outdoor seating in the back of the building along the water.