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San Francisco in 36 Hours: Stop. Drop. Explore

Be mesmerized with San Francisco's heights and sight over a one weekend romp. Join San Franciscans in many of the places they love best and see what remains of their city's maritime heart.


1. City by the Bay | 4 p.m.

Make time for a stroll along the Embarcadero, San Francisco’s quintessential bayside pedestrian promenade. Your starting point is just south of the Bay Bridge, at Red’s Java House on Pier 30. Join the cheerfully egalitarian crowd for a sourdough cheeseburger ($5.52) and a beer on the outdoor patio — it has a view that goes for miles.

2. To Market | 5:30 p.m.
If it’s nice out, walk up to the hustle and bustle of Market Street and towards the Ferry Building. Though the Ferry Building has come to represent all the modern trends in the Bay Area food world, it hews to tradition with a thrice-weekly outdoor farmers’ market, plus indoor food stalls in former ferry berths; the butcher, the baker and the cheese monger are all on hand to talk to you. Just browsing is a pleasure: It’s all eye candy, from the ceramics to the chocolate. And whatever your age, watching the ferries come and go never gets old.

3. Two Piers | 7 p.m.
For a heartier meal, head two piers over to Michael Chiarello’s Spanish-meets-California Coqueta, where the extraordinary paella — bomba rice with clams, shrimp, chorizo and broccolini in fragrant broth made from shellfish and jamón serrano, $45 — is enough to feed three.

4. Nightcaps | 9 p.m.
A bar in the Mission is an appropriate place to end the night. Outdoor drinking is an option at Zeitgeist, a punk-spirited biergarten and neighborhood institution; its native population is heavy on the bikers and bike messengers. Don’t take selfies, or management might boot you out — service is gruff, and proud of it.

5. Break Bread | 10 a.m.

Along 24th Street in the Mission, Mexican bakeries are still where mornings begin. For just a dollar or two, pick up sugar-dusted pan dulce or custard-filled pastries with your coffee at La Mejor Bakery or Panaderia La Mexicana, and watch the neighborhood wake up. Then head south for a climb up over windswept Bernal Hill to the sprawling Alemany Farmers’ Market, said to be the oldest in the state of California, improbably situated near where Interstate 280 crosses Highway 101.

6. Picnic in the Park | 12 p.m.
Bring your provisions for a picnic at the newly spiffed-up Dolores Park, where an $8 million renovation made over the northern half of the park with new tennis courts; six acres of fresh, grassy splendor; and expanded restrooms.

7. The People’s Art | 1:30 p.m.
Take stock of the Mission’s murals with Precita Eyes, a neighborhood arts organization that has been sponsoring local and international mural projects and offering classes for nearly four decades.

8. Two Ways to Taste | 7 p.m.
Put yourself in the expert hands of some of the Mission’s best neighborhood chefs. At Ichi Sushi & Ni Bar’s airy new space, request a seat at the bar for omakase, or chef’s choice, and be entertained by the jewel-toned march of seafood across your plate — perhaps wild salmon, sweet shrimp heads and lightly seared saba (about $65 for 12 pieces). Or try the three-course menu and wine pairing at Heirloom Cafe ($65), an elegant neighborhood spot that might smartly present a bavette steak and maitake mushrooms with a malbec. At both establishments, fresh, simple dishes and friendly service are standouts, and the price is right.

9. One for the Team | 9 p.m.
Bring friends for a game or two at the Mission Bowling Club, the city’s first new bowling alley in 40 years when it opened in 2012. Two of the six lanes are held for drop-ins most nights, but you’ll probably want to make a reservation (reservations can be made a week ahead, $35 to $55 per lane per hour).


10. Bookworms Welcome | 10 a.m.
Take a visit to a local bookshop and art gallery, all in one. Adobe Books has live music shows and readings, contributing to the creative vibes on the Mission District’s 24th Street. Peruse the free gallery and pick up an affordable, used book!

11. Seasonal Tastes | 11:30 a.m.
For a leisurely brunch, head to the sun-warmed back patio of Nopalito, a branch of Divisadero’s beloved Nopa, for brightly flavored, vibrant Mexican: squash-blossom quesadilla, pork-shoulder pozole, and peach, avocado and lettuce salad with pumpkin seeds and cotija cheese (brunch for two about $45).

12. In Residence | 1 p.m.
Every month, the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park invites a new artist-in-residence to install art and work with the public during set hours at the museum’s Kimball Education Gallery (free, 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, plus Friday evenings until 8:45 p.m.).


Whether you're visiting San Francisco as a couple, with your whole family, or with a group of friends, San Francisco Inn can accommodate you and your needs. It is a quiet and budget-friendly hotel in San Francisco - only a few minutes from these spots where you can maximize your 36 hours.


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