When I went to San Francisco earlier this year, people couldn’t believe I was only there for two nights. To be fair, there is a whole lot to do in the Northern Californian city, and if you hate a packed itinerary, you’ll definitely be better off throwing in an extra night – or, you know, three (with all the steep hills, your tukus will thank you for it).


But if you’re on a schedule? Keep reading for the must-dos you can pack into 48 hours.

1. VISIT ALCATRAZ ISLAND’S OLD MAX SECURITY FEDERAL PRISON

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You’d be a huge dingus if you went to San Francisco and didn’t visit Alcatraz. If you’re not up to speed, Alcatraz Island was once a maximum security federal prison from 1934 to 1963. It was home to some of America’s most notorious criminals.

Catch a ferry from San Francisco Bay’s Pier 33 (head in ahead of your departure time to see everything the Bay has to offer) with Alcatraz Cruises. The ferries depart around every half hour from 9-4pm, and you’ll want to set aside up to three hours to take it all in. I’d highly recommend the free audio tour.

2. JUMP ABOARD THE CABLE CARS

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This one’s easily incorporated into even the most packed of schedules given it, you know, gets you from A to B. Definitely allow extra time if you need to be somewhere by a certain time, as these cable cars fill up quite quickly and you might not get onto the first (or the second, or the third) one that rolls around.

Side note: no funny business. The driver booted someone for refusing to give up his seat for a pregnant woman. He also got a scathing lecture via my eyes and well, just about every other passenger. Well deserved.

3. SNAP A PIC AT THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

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What, you thought I wouldn’t play Captain Obvious with this one? There are a few vantage points which you can get a good view or snap from:

  • Marshall’s Beach
  • Marin Headlands Vista Point
  • Battery Spencer Golden Gate Bridge Lookout
  • Fort Point

If it’s a foggy day you mighn’t be able to see the thing, so keep that in mind. You can always just hire a bike or scooter and ride over it too, but it’ll chew up a few hours of your day, easy.

4. GET ROWDY AT A GIANTS GAME

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If there’s one thing that’s certain in this life – other than BBQ sauce reigning supreme over all other sauces – it’s that Americans love their sports. Like many home stadiums, the crowd goes wild with support for the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park.

Tickets are usually pretty cheap for the baseball games and are able to be snapped up last minute, but avoid the scalpers at the door – there’s really no need with online ticketing and box offices lining the venue. It’s about a 25-minute walk from Union Square or a 15-minute Uber.

5. TAKE A STROLL DOWN LOMBARD STREET

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If you thought driving in the CBD was wild, I dare you to give Lombard Street a go. Actually I take that back because I don’t want to be liable for anything, but people seriously drive down the wildly steep, winding street, made even more chaotic by tourists (guilty) trying to take snaps along it – thankfully it’s safely monitored by traffic controllers.

The hairpin turns make it well known as the most crooked street in the world, and it’s easy to slap onto your trip seeing as it’s free and all you need to do is Google map it. Start from the bottom if you wanna work on that sweet booty.

6. CHECK OUT THE LOCAL NIGHTLIFE

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Start your evening with late-afternoon drinks at Hilton’s Cityscape Lounge. Located on the hotel’s top level, it’s helmed as San Fran’s best view thanks to its panoramic views of the city through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

If you want the real deal when it comes to rooftops, Charmaine’s on Market Street is wildly popular, but I personally loved 620 Jones bar. It’s located conveniently near Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel‘s Redwood Room, where you should kick onto afterward for what could very well be California’s most eclectic furniture collection – including one ginormous chair in the lobby which has become an Insta hotspot.

Image: @seanchlee/@onlyinsf, The Sweetest Thing