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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 the eateries and bars in Chinatown and North Beach, or dance to live music while enjoying San Francisco Bay views on a dinner cruise.

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10 Tours and Activities

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Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour

Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour

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2417
Ride a double-decker sightseeing bus to San Francisco's most famous landmarks with a choice of 2 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 16 stops, exploring at your leisure, and then hopping back on when you're done. Choose the Premium pass to include a night tour or a Deluxe pass for an additional 24 hours of hop-on-hop-off and a night tour.
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  • 1 to 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$40.50
From
$40.50
Taking safety measures

Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bay Twilight or Sunset Cruise
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

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

star-4.5
797
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, the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and Alcatraz Island. Relax while background music sets the tone. Watch the sunset or select a twilight cruise during winter months.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$50.00
From
$50.00
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Vista Grande Helicopter Tour

San Francisco Vista Grande Helicopter Tour

star-5
290
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 Dinner Dance Cruise

San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise

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268
Spend an evening on the San Francisco Bay during this dinner cruise, including a 3-course gourmet meal of fresh, local ingredients prepared on board. After dinner, dance to the DJ's music or enjoy the nighttime views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the city skyline from the exterior deck.
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  • 3 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$154.20
From
$154.20
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Combo: Ferry Building Food Tour and Alcatraz
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

San Francisco Combo: Ferry Building Food Tour and Alcatraz

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146
Tour San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace with a industry 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
  • Taking safety measures
From
$174.00
From
$174.00
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

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

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73
Tour San Francisco's Ferry Building on the original tour established in 2004 with an industry expert guide during this 90-minute excursion.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Taking safety measures
From
$77.00
From
$77.00
Taking safety measures

Private Group Segway Tour - Wharf & Hills of San Francisco 3 Hours of Fun
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Private Group Segway Tour - Wharf & Hills of San Francisco 3 Hours of Fun

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50
See beautiful San Francisco by Segway on this 3-hour private tour. This route is only available on the private tour. The extended route includes the best of the Waterfront, North Beach and the Advanced Hills Tour in one incredible experience. A local guide will lead the way, providing fun and insightful commentary as you discover San Francisco on two wheels.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$160.00
Price varies by group size
From
$160.00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

2.5 Hour San Francisco Wharf and Waterfront Segway Tour

2.5 Hour San Francisco Wharf and Waterfront Segway Tour

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353
Take a San Francisco Segway tour along the waterfront to see popular city attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, and Alcatraz Island. With an experienced guide, cruise along San Francisco Bay on a personal 2-wheeled Segway, and learn how to operate during a training session. Limited to 10 people per tour, this tour provides a small-group experience. Choose from several tour times throughout the day.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$79.00
From
$79.00
Taking safety measures

San Francisco Vista Helicopter Tour

San Francisco Vista Helicopter Tour

star-5
110
Take to the sky and soar over San Francisco on an exhilarating helicopter tour. During the flight, get an unbeatable perspective of iconic attractions like Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, the Embarcadero, the city’s famous hills, and the San Francisco Bay. During suitable weather conditions, experience the thrill of flying under the Golden Gate Bridge.
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  • 20 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$215.00
From
$215.00
Taking safety measures

City and Sea Adventure: 1 Day Hop-On Hop Off Pass and San Francisco Bay Cruise

City and Sea Adventure: 1 Day Hop-On Hop Off Pass and San Francisco Bay Cruise

star-4
19
In just one day, experience the best of San Francisco by land and sea with this combo package that includes two hop-on hop-off bus tours and a cruise. Check out the top attractions of San Francisco, wind through the downtown streets, and cross over the Golden Gate Bridge. Each hop-on hop-off bus tour lasts 60 minutes to 2 hours and offers live commentary. The 1-hour boat cruise takes you through San Francisco Bay, giving you prime views of Crissy Fields, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.
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  • 1 day
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$84.99
From
$84.99
Taking safety measures