Visit San Francisco in 2 days
When you start planning a Western USA road trip, San Francisco is certain to be on your list of places to visit.
Widely recognized as the most European of American cities, it also has the reputation of being the most tolerant.
With its numerous districts, each with its distinct character, the City by the Bay is certainly not lacking in diversity.
So put on your most comfortable shoes, because I'm bringing you with me for a 48-hour tour.
You won't see everything, but I promise you, you'll see a lot!
Start your first day with a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf, a collection of piers that is very popular with tourists.
There you will find many boutiques, restaurants (most of them serving seafood) and museums.
To get there, you can take the iconic cable car, which was named the first moving National Historic Landmark.
Be sure to go to Pier 39 to see the famous colony of sea lions.
Since 1990, these animals have been camping out just west of the pier, to the great delight of visitors.
Pier 39 also provides a good view of Alcatraz Island.
The island was home to the notorious high-security prison in the world "from which there was no escape".
Closed since1963, the prison is now a historic centre and tours are possible.
There's no lack of restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf.
That said, I must admit I have a soft spot for Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., inspired by the film Forrest Gump.
Impossible to set foot in San Francisco without thinking of the emblematic Golden Gate Bridge, symbol of the city.
With its "international orange" color and its length of 2,737 meters, it can be seen from afar.
The bridge is extremely photogenic. One of the best spots from which to photograph it is Vista Point in Sausalito, at the north end of the bridge.
The view of the bridge is breathtaking, with the San Francisco skyline in the background.
Your hunger satisfied, I suggest cycling across the bridge; it's a lovely ride.
There are several bicycle rental companies at Fisherman’s Wharf, including Blazing Saddles, which has 7 rental locations across the city.
Be sure to ride on the bike path, not in the pedestrian lane.
Last May, as I was crossing the bridge, I was lucky enough to see whales in the bay. A priceless moment!
Ride slowly and pay attention, and maybe you'll have a pleasant surprise, too!
Once you cross back to San Francisco, you can return your bike and continue your exploration on foot.
At the end of the afternoon, make your way to Coit Tower, in the Telegraph Hill neighbourhood.
This 65-metre-high art deco-style tower was built as a tribute to the city's firefighters.
You can take the elevator to the observation deck, which offers a spectacular view of San Francisco.
In summer, the tower closes at 6 p.m. Don't arrive too late to have time to enjoy it.
Is your stomach starting to rumble?
For dinner, I strongly suggest Fog City, just a few steps from Coit Tower.
Formerly known as the Fog City Diner, this landmark eatery is a great place to eat well at a good price.
Or if you are all adults, are real foodies and would like to treat yourselves a bit (a lot), I strongly recommend Restaurant Gary Danko for some fine French cuisine.
Located near Fisherman’s Warf and a member of Relais & Château since 2002, it is one of the best restaurants in town!
Be warned, we're talking about a hundred dollars for a 5-course meal.
At that price, I hardly need to tell you that you'll need to make a reservation!
Make sure you're wearing your comfy shoes because today you'll be doing a lot of walking!
Start your day with a visit to Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in North America.
Be sure to stop at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, where the famous cookies were invented.
For some souvenir shopping, take a stroll along Grant Avenue, the neighbourhood's main thoroughfare.
Try to go early in the morning, when the local residents do their shopping. You will see that there is plenty of action here!
To get to your next destination, I invite you to use public transit.
Head to the Painted Ladies, the famous row of six colourful Victorian houses, standing across from Alamo Square.
You have probably seen this iconic San Francisco landmark in Mrs. Doubtfire, as well as on every postcard of the city.
It's hardly surprising that it's one of the most photographed views in San Francisco.
For lunch, I suggest Nopalito, a Mexican restaurant that serves delicious traditional Mexican fare.
It's quite popular, so you may have to wait a bit, especially if it's the weekend.
No problem, you're on vacation, right?
Next it's time to discover the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood, birthplace of the hippie movement in the 1960s.
I'll let you guess what kind of atmosphere you'll find here!
Take the time to wander the streets, browse the small shops and do some people-watching.
And be sure to keep an open mind.
End the afternoon with a visit to The Castro, the city's gay neighbourhood.
Take a stroll along Castro Street and admire the many rainbow flags flying in the wind.
If you're familiar with the famous "blue house" featured in French singer Maxime Leforestier's song "San Francisco", you will find it at 3841 18th Street.
Once again, keep an open mind.
For your last meal in San Francisco, I propose an original dining experience at Foreign Cinema in the Mission District.
For almost 20 years, Foreign Cinema has been serving haute California cuisine while screening independent and foreign films on the wall.
You will find a dining room, a balcony, an indoor courtyard and a bar in an impeccable industrial-chic decor.
Love oysters? You won't be disappointed!
Don't forget to reserve your table.
And there you go!
What would you add to this itinerary If you were planning a Western USA road trip?
Don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below.