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Short getaways in San Francisco – two days of shopping, culture and delicious eats

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A short getaway in San Francisco is just enough to whet your appetite. Use this itinerary as a starting point to explore the best of the city with a few nights in a San Francisco hotel.

San Francisco short getaway day one, morning

Start off your short getaway in San Francisco with coffee and a pastry at the Ferry Building. It’s easy to lose an entire morning sampling all the delectable flavors on sale under the 19th-century arches. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, the outdoor space becomes a farmers’ market with vendors hawking locally-made goodies. Take a walk through the Financial District, where 19th-century buildings and modern skyscrapers stand together. Then go shopping in Union Square. Browse fashion boutiques and tiny shops selling Russian wares or explore the multi-storied Macy's department store

Start: Ferry Building
Nearest BART or bus Embarcadero


Start at the gate and make your way through Chinatown. Stop for a lunch of steaming buns, hand-pulled noodles or smoky shrimps from sizzling woks. Peer in through colorful windows displaying giant Buddhas or elaborate ivory carvings. After lunch, browse City Lights Bookstore, a testament to the Beat Generation, with two stories of novels, poetry, and political tomes. Then explore the Italian delicatessens, old churches and the ice cream shops of North Beach.

Start: Chinatown
Nearest cable car California and Powell or bus 1, 12, 30 or 45


End your day with a boat tour to Alcatraz Island, site of San Francisco’s legendary high-security prison. The night tour is particularly eerie. Book ahead to guarantee a spot.

Start: Pier 33
Nearest MUNI F-line bus stop Bay Street 

San Francisco short getaway day two, morning

Start your day exploring the bohemian boutiques in the Haight, where the hippie movement began. Traces of tie-dye and peace-loving remain, as incense smoke wafts from ”head shops” and second-hand stores. Music and movie lovers flock to Amoeba Records for hard-to-find CDs or vintage films. Grab a light vegetarian lunch or some fragrant chutney and garlic naan from an Indian restaurant 

Start: Haight-Ashbury 
Nearest bus line 5, 28, 29, 33 or 44, 71 


If the weather co-operates, take a leisurely walk through Golden Gate Park. Stop for tea in the Japanese Tea Garden, then explore African masks, oceanic sculptures and modern prints in the de Young Museum or the Legion of Honor fine arts museum. 

Start: Golden Gate Park 
Nearest bus line 6, 33 or 43 


Head south to the Sunset District and choose between spicy green papaya salad at a Thai bistro or hand-slung pizza from a neighborhood Italian joint. 

Start: Inner Sunset 
Nearest bus lines N, 6, 28, 43, 44