You only have 24 hours to explore San Francisco?
No problem! We recommend renting a car to start your visit directly from the airport! We used FOX car rental, and it was perfect.
It is more convenient, saves you time plus it’s more budget-friendly. In addition, having your car to drive, you won’t be thinking about train schedules or lining up for tickets.
You get to have more privacy and follow your itinerary.
Let’s get to know San Francisco for a day with these recommended tourist spots to visit.
Things to See in San Francisco in a Day
1. Chinatown to North Beach Area
If you want to experience a fusion of cultures, come to this place. Chinatown is considered as one of the oldest Chinese communities in Asia.
On the other hand, the North Beach area is dubbed as the “Little Italy.” Whether you are craving for some authentic Chinese cuisine or some Italian coffee, this is the right spot. If you are heading off to Chinatown, you check the parking areas around Portsmouth Plaza and the Golden Gateway.
For the North Beach area, you can check St. Mary’s Square and Vallejo Street. Park your car and immerse yourself into the culture and vibe of the street on foot. This is the best way to navigate around the area. If you are into arts, you can visit some of the museums below.
- North Beach Museum
- Stylers Art Gallery
- Beat Museum
- Exploratorium Science Museum
- Chinese Culture Center
2. The Mission District
This place is thriving in art and culture, not to mention various choices of restaurants and shops. Huge outdoor murals add vibrancy to this place which attracts tourists from all over the world.
Since it is considered as one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Francisco, some murals were started by the Chicano Mural Art Movement in the 1970s. Take your camera with you and capture a photo of yourself with these murals in your background.
These are unique memorabilia you can take as lasting souvenirs of your trip. Although this neighborhood showcases local Mexican foods, there are other cuisines you can choose from.
Chinese, Western, and other international food are also being offered. If you decide to eat at a restaurant, you may be lucky to watch a Mariachi band perform.
3. South of Market Neighbourhood (SoMa)
From the Mission, you can head to SoMa for culture and arts immersion. This spot is perfect for those wanting to visit museums. Some of the places you can visit around this area are the following:
- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
- Yerba Buena Gardens
- Museum of the African Diaspora
- Contemporary Jewish Museum
- California Historical Society Museum
- Children’s Creativity Museum
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
After taking a stroll around these museums, you can have your lunch or grab a snack around some restaurants. Whether you are looking for Mediterranean, Western, or Asian cuisines this place has everything.
This neighborhood is also perfect for those looking for hotel accommodations. There are plenty of hotels you can choose from such as the Four Seasons and the Intercontinental Hotel.
4. Embarcadero and Financial District
Even before the San Francisco Airport became the gateway to the city, the Embarcadero was originally the entry point to San Francisco. This is the portion that faces the waterfront. From this spot, you can view the Bay Bridge.
You can also visit the iconic Ferry Building which houses local foods. This is the ideal place to go if you are after fresh produce. While in this neighborhood, experience taking the famous F line streetcar. This mode of transportation is powered by cables overhead.
Visit this main business district in San Francisco city and be amazed at the towering skyscrapers around. This is also the place if you are looking for great hotel accommodation. You can find Hyatt Regency, The Palace Hotel, and The Harbour Court Hotel to name a few.
5. Golden Gate Bridge, Unmissable Things to See in San Fransisco
A visit to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is a memorable experience. This iconic suspension bridge, spans the Golden Gate Strait and connects San Francisco to Marin County.
During a visit, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the San Francisco skyline, the Pacific Ocean, and the rolling hills of Northern California. Many visitors choose to walk or bike across the bridge to fully appreciate its engineering marvel and scenic surroundings.
6. Palo Alto
This is where you can find Stanford University and Cantor Arts Center. Depending on your preference, if you’re traveling with kids you may take them to Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo. This is a great place where kids can enjoy interactive science experiences.
There are also plenty of hands-on activities to keep them busy and engaged. If your kids are into reading, take them to Palo Alto Children’s Library. Let them run around the Riconda Park or watch a show at the Children’s Theatre.
You can also take your SFO car rental and drive around Silicon Valley. This is considered as the technological hub for many start-ups and the home for most tech companies such as Google and Apple.
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