How to Spend a Perfect 24 Hours in San Francisco

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You could spend a lifetime exploring all the streets in San Francisco and still not see it all.

From its stunning green spaces to endless vintage shops and bountiful restaurant scene, San Francisco has it all. Though you’ll likely want to spend even more time there, 24 hours is still enough to get a taste. Whether you’re there for a quick work trip, on a stopover to wine country, or just want to visit for a single day, here’s everything you must see in San Francisco in 24 hours. (Note: Just make sure to pack a sweater even in the middle of summer. San Francisco fog is real—and cold—and it happens fast.)

Courtesy Tartine Manufactory

9 a.m. The key to getting in as much as possible for your single day in San Francisco is waking up early and seizing the moment. And there’s no better way to seize it all than by starting with breakfast at Tartine Manufactory. Inside, hungry visitors can find coffee, pastries, an ice cream shop, and a full restaurant. Once inside you’ll likely have to wait in line for a bit as this place is rather popular, but trust us it’s worth it. Grab your food at the counter, take a seat at the open tables, and chat up a few locals to find out other must-see things in San Francisco.

11 a.m. After filling your belly with delicious treats head over to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens for a quick walkabout. Inside, guests can peruse more than 9,000 varieties of plants from around the globe all sprawled out on 55 gorgeous acres of land. The garden has events throughout the year, including everything from botanist talks to yoga on the lawn. Make sure to check out the garden’s website in case your 24-hour stay coincides with a special event you want to take part in.


12:30 p.m. Eating a lot is just a part of life in San Francisco because it’s filled with so many delicious spots, including Magnolia Haight Street pub. In 2018, Magnolia Brewing opened a brand-new beer garden so its beverage fans could sit back, relax, and enjoy a pint with a bite. At the beer garden, try the beer steamed muscles for a bit of local flavor, along with the house specialty—the Magnolia Burger.

2 p.m. To maximize your time in the city, you’ve got to stay mobile. And the best way to do that is to put the pedal to the (bike) metal with a bike tour. But, not just any old tour—an E-Bike tour. Renting an E-Bike will allow you to see miles and miles of the city without breaking a sweat thanks to the pedal-assist technology. (And hey, this is San Francisco we’re talking about, so you might as well go high-tech.) Strap on a helmet and head out with E-Bike’s Golden Gate Bridge tour to see the best sights of the city––ones no tourist can miss, even if they’ve only got hours to spare.

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5 p.m. Once you’ve seen the city it’s time to relax at one of its most iconic destinations: Mission Dolores Park. The spectacular outdoor space not only offers plenty of room to stretch out a blanket to sit on for sunset, but it also offers breathtaking views of downtown San Francisco as well. It’s an ultra-popular spot for locals to come and picnic, hang out with friends or relax to read a book. And, it’s an ideal spot for you to unpack a sunset cocktail or an appetizer to enjoy alone or with your travel confidant to watch the sun as it sets below the hills.

7:30 p.m. Keep your locals-only day going by eating your last meal of the day at NoPa. The eatery, located North of the Panhandle (or the NoPa neighborhood) specializes in creating delicious and organic wood-fired cuisine. Best of all, each of their plates is made using seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients. If you’re dining with friends go nuts and order a few plates to share. If you’re there alone, go nuts and order a few plates for yourself. Try a bit of everything, including NoPa’s shaved asparagus, roasted black cod, and a helping of pappardelle for good measure.

10 p.m. Before you go to bed, head to Bourbon and Branch to savor one last sip of San Francisco life. The 1920s-style speakeasy is the ideal spot to sit in the corner and watch the world happen around you. But remember, this place is a secret, so no cell phones, no standing at the bar, and absolutely no cosmopolitans will be ordered or made. And be patient as each drink is crafted with the utmost care.

Courtesy Palace Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel

Where to Stay:

Now that you’ve seen all you can see it’s time to rest your head for a bit in the city by the bay. An ideal spot to do just that is the W San Francisco. The ultra-modern hotel comes with every amenity you’d ever need for a short or long-term stay. Best of all it’s a place you can feel good about staying as it’s the first building in North America to receive LEED-EB platinum certification. Book its Extreme Wow suite for the ultimate views of the city below.

Related: The Best Boutique Hotels in San Francisco

Or, for something with a bit more old-school charm, book a night at the Palace Hotel, a landmark historic hotel in the city. Located in downtown San Francisco, the hotel marries historical elements with a modern fair. At the hotel, guests are treated to a professional concierge valet parking, to in-room dining, a gym, event spaces and more. And, to enjoy the city, all you need to do is step outside as you’re just feet from Union Square and Chinatown. Once again, go for a cityscape room as it’s a view you won’t want to miss during your 24 hours in the city.

American Express Platinum Card® Members receive complimentary Fine Hotels & Resorts® benefits when they book with American Express Travel. Terms Apply.