48 Hours in San Francisco
It’s hard to imagine an American city whose residents enjoy a dreamier lifestyle than San Francisco. The city full of fairytale homes has always boasted some of the most breathtaking coastal views and natural scenery. But in the past few years, a booming economy has helped support a new era. The newly reopened SFMoMA is one of the single most impressive museums in the country. You’ll find shops with chic, handmade goods in just about every neighborhood. And expert chefs and sommeliers have capitalized on the region’s quality produce and wine to create exceptional dining experiences.
9 a.m.: Start Your Morning Right at The Mill
Every morning, locals line up at this bright, high-ceilinged institution namely for one thing: It’s dead-simple, crunchy and decadent buttered cinnamon toast. The kitchen serves the treat on extra-thick slices of fresh country bread and tops it off with a pinch of sea salt. For something more savory, try the cream cheese on dark rye.
10:30 a.m.: A Hike That Will Leave You in Awe
One of Northern California’s most gorgeous hikes is right within the city limits. Perfectly fine for beginners, the short trail through trees opens up to a cliff with views of the wild coastline. Further down, visitors are led to the ruins of Sutro Baths, a public swimming pool from that burned down in 1966.
1 p.m.: Trou Normand, Meat-Lovers Paradise
The pro-butcher behind this stylish bistro for small plates and sandwiches makes all of their dozen or so charcuterie options in-house. In fact, it’s well within the realm of possibility a whole pig will be wheeled back to the kitchen during your meal.
3 p.m.: Experience the SF MoMA’s Impressive Collection
With 170,000 square feet spread across seven floors, the SF MoMA has something for everyone: rooms full of Richard Serra’s towering, immersive sculptures; a wing of beautiful abstract masterpieces; and a massive living wall of native plants, one of many stellar additions from the building’s recent remodel.
5 p.m.: Shop and Unwind in Hayes Valley
Make your way down Hayes Street beginning at Steven Alan. The unisex boutique is a gold mine of impossibly simple staples like lightweight sweaters and sunglasses. After, grab a delicate vanilla macaron at Miette and pick up a bottle of local wine at Arlequin, which has a verdant backyard garden for enjoying your selections.
7 p.m.: Cala
While the city is filled with delectable hole-in-the-wall taco spots, Cala offers something a bit different: elevated Mexican served in an approachably sophisticated setting. Don’t miss the mussel tamales with Serrano chiles and the oversized baked sweet potato with bone marrow salsa.
9 p.m.: Enjoy Churned-to-Order Ice Cream
Smitten has special bragging rights: each creamy scoop they serve is made fresh using liquid nitrogen and local dairy and produce. Flavors change with each season, however, their popular salted caramel is nearly always kept in rotation.
The ruins of Sutro Baths, which was once the world's largest indoor swimming pool establishment when first built in the late 1800's. Visitors can hike to the site, now operated by the National Park Service as a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
After a major transformation, the SFMOMA reopened its doors in May 2016, revealing an expanded, eco-conscious design with more than double the exhibition space.
10 a.m.: Load up on Pastries at Tartine Manufactory
The Mission District’s Tartine Bakery was so beloved that the owners had to open a second, much larger location to accommodate the demand. Ask a local and every one will have a different favorite but they nearly always sell out of the morning buns, the eclairs, and the perfectly crisp croissants.
11 a.m.: Visit the City’s Handmade Headquarters
Heath Ceramics is well known in town for their kaleidoscopic line of tiles, dinnerware, and vases that are made by hand in their Mission location’s showroom. The industrial space also contains several artist studios, including a printing house that sells gift stationary in graphic prints.
12 p.m.: Picnic in Dolores Park
Bi-Rite Grocery has a reputation for sourcing San Francisco’s most high-quality produce directly from California farms. Grab some of their artisanal snacks and order one of the deli’s made-to-order sandwiches. Then head down the block for a picnic in Dolores Park, where locals of every stripe congregate for sunshine.
2 p.m.: A Short Walk with a Big Payoff
A quick, 20-minute walk up Bernal Heights Hill, past patches of wildflowers and lilies, ends with one of the greatest photo opps in the city: while it’s only 445 feet tall, the summit has panoramic and unobstructed views of the entire San Francisco skyline.
5 p.m.: Whet Your Appetite with Oysters
Located among the food shops in the Ferry Building Market, Hog Island Oyster Co. serves the city’s freshest selection of Pacific oysters from nearby Tomales Bay. Order a dozen or so before your dinner reservation and enjoy some sparkling wine from Napa on the waterfront.
7 p.m.: Dine on Pasta in North Beach
The brick-bordered Cotogna serves a daily selection of rustic, freshly-prepared pasta dishes like pumpkin dumplings and tagliatelle with oxtail, delicious wood-fired pizzas, and spit-roasted meats.
9 p.m.: Romolo 15
For over a century, the building that contains Romolo 15 was many things - speakeasies, and perhaps most famously, The Basque Hotel. Today, it serves a tempting mix of throwback cocktails (negroni, Pimm’s cups, corpse revivers) and modern innovations (try the chamomile-bourbon Sleepy Jean).
Bernal Heights Hill offers visitors panoramic views of the city's skyline. On a clear day, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge to the north, and all of downtown.
San Francisco's Ferry Building is a landmark for good reason. Local, seasonal gourmet food can be found at any time of day.