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How to Spend 1 Day in San Francisco

How to Spend 1 Day in San Francisco

If you have just one single day to spend in San Francisco, you’re in luck. It’s a dense, walkable city, so you can easily make the most of a short stay by sticking close to the center, skipping day trips, and diving into the tried-and-true attractions. Here are some ways you can best experience San Francisco in one day.

 

Morning: City Market

Start your day at the Ferry Building, where guided Ferry Plaza Farmers Market tours are a great introduction to the city’s food culture outside the restaurant circuit. The market spills out from the Ferry Building onto the concourse, where chefs, locals, and visitors come to gather ultra-fresh ingredients for their meals. After sampling the food, check out the building itself, a 19th-century landmark with a great nave and 4-faced clock tower. If you also want to see Fisherman’s Wharf or Market Street, the city’s restored streetcars run from here to both places.

 

Afternoon: SF by Land or Air

There are several ways to quickly cover a lot of ground in San Francisco. Hop-on hop-off bus tours are a convenient way to get oriented and see a lot—from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Palace of Fine Arts and Lombard Street—in a short amount of time, while bike tours allow you to get outside and catch views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The cable cars are another option—although mainly frequented by tourists and stray commuters, they’re fun relics that have been using the same cable system since the 1870s. For the adventurous set, seaplane and helicopter tours showcase the whole city—and more—from above in half an hour or less.

Night: The Bay and Wharf

After you’ve said hello to the sea lions and taken a spin on the carousel at Fisherman’s Wharf, you have options. Visit the Musée Mécanique or Maritime Museum for family-friendly outings, or opt for a Segway tour to get closer to the Golden Gate Bridge and journey as far as the Marina district. Once evening settles in, say goodbye and goodnight to the city by getting to know Chinatown and North Beach on a nighttime culinary walking tour, or dance to live music while enjoying San Francisco Bay views on a dinner cruise.

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10 Tours and Activities | All San Francisco Tours

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Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Tour

Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Tour

star-4
Ride a double-decker sightseeing bus to San Francisco's most famous landmarks with a choice of 3 different passes. Explore the city's 49 square miles, including stops at big-name attractions like Pier 39, the Palace of Fine Arts and Union Square. Go at your own pace, hopping off at any of 24 stops, exploring at your leisure, and then hopping back on when you're done. Your ticket includes a walking tour of Chinatown. Choose the Premium or Deluxe pass for additional upgrades including a night bus tour or a trolley tour in nearby Sausalito.
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  • 1 to 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$36.00
From
$36.00
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Bay Sunset Catamaran Cruise

San Francisco Bay Sunset Catamaran Cruise

star-4.5
Sail across San Francisco Bay at twilight to admire the city skyline as it begins to light up for the night. With an experienced captain at the helm, you’ll glide past Alcatraz Island and cruise underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$90.00
From
$90.00
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Vista Grande Helicopter Tour

San Francisco Vista Grande Helicopter Tour

star-5
Fly in a helicopter over San Francisco's most famous landmarks on this scenic tour. Fly over the city's neighborhoods, then head for Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Continue towards Angel Island and the Marin Headlands while you enjoy choreographed musical accompaniment and informative commentary from your expert pilot. 
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  • 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$280.00
From
$280.00
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Golden Gate Seaplane Tour

San Francisco Golden Gate Seaplane Tour

star-5
Admire San Francisco from the air on this seaplane adventure from Sausalito. Aboard a 6-passenger plane, you’ll fly over the bay, taking in views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Muir Woods and more. See downtown San Francisco and Fisherman’s Wharf, and soar past Angel Island. Everyone gets a window seat on this 30-minute flight, and transportation is available from Fisherman's Wharf.
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  • 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$214.36
From
$214.36
Taking safety measures

Chinatown and North Beach Walking Tour

Chinatown and North Beach Walking Tour

star-4.5
Stroll through North Beach and Chinatown, two of San Francisco's most vibrant neighborhoods, by night on this food and walking tour. Discover the spots only locals know for dim sum, coffee, and other treats while you learn about the history and culture of these diverse districts from your knowledgeable guide. Samples make up enough for a meal so come hungry!
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$73.60
From
$73.60
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Seaplane Flight and Alcatraz Tour

San Francisco Seaplane Flight and Alcatraz Tour

star-5
See Alcatraz from above and explore the island prison on foot with this seaplane flight and Alcatraz combo tour. On a 30-minute aerial tour from Sausalito, you’ll see San Francisco landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Trans-America Pyramid. Then take the Alcatraz Island ferry across San Francisco Bay, where you’ll tour the cellblock via the included audio tour. Choose the time of your Alcatraz tour when booking, and take the seaplane tour in the morning of the same day.
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  • 2 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$226.25
From
$226.25
Taking safety measures

Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bay Twilight or Sunset Cruise

Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bay Twilight or Sunset Cruise

star-4.5
Bypass the line and head directly to the gate with your prebooked tickets. This sunset cruise takes you across San Francisco Bay with outstanding views of the city skyline, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Sausalito. Enjoy a light appetizer buffet while you sip an included glass of wine, beer or soda from the full bar. Relax as you listen to the captain’s live commentary while background music sets the tone. Watch the sunset or select a twilight cruise during winter months.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$80.00
From
$80.00
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise

San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise

star-4
Spend an evening on the San Francisco Bay during this dinner cruise, including a 4-course gourmet meal of fresh, local ingredients prepared on board. After dinner, dance to the live band or enjoy the nighttime views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the city skyline from the exterior deck. Viator Exclusive: Upgrade to include window seating and a bottle of sparkling wine, an option available nowhere else.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$154.20
From
$154.20
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Combo: Ferry Building Food Tour and Alcatraz

San Francisco Combo: Ferry Building Food Tour and Alcatraz

star-4.5
Tour San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace with a culinary expert guide and sample many products from artisan and local food purveyors. Then visit the former maximum-security prison, Alcatraz, to shed light on the history-packed location during this full-day excursion in San Francisco.
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  • 1 to 4 hours
From
$152.00
From
$152.00

San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

star-4.5
Tour San Francisco's Ferry Building on the original tour established in 2004 with a culinary expert guide during this 2-hour excursion.
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  • 2 hours
From
$80.00
From
$80.00