Plan Your 72-Hour Visit With This Three-Day San Francisco Itinerary

Embark on a captivating three-day adventure through San Francisco, highlighting its prime attractions such as the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the infamous Alcatraz Island, and the bustling Chinatown. This itinerary also incorporates a thrilling cable car ride, indulgent shopping escapades, and a visual treat through the vivid murals scattered across the Mission District.

This three-day excursion is brimming with dynamic activities that involve a significant amount of walking, giving you an authentic local perspective of the city. This schedule is flexible and can be rearranged to meet your preferred sequence for an optimal three-day exploration.

Day One

Your first day commences with a rendezvous at the illustrious Golden Gate Bridge. As the day breaks, you will meander across part of the bridge, delve into its quaint museum, and capture stunning photographs from multiple vantage points.

From there, descend the stairs towards the waterfront and stroll along Crissy Field. At the trail’s end, devote some time to exploring the architectural marvel, the Palace of Fine Arts.

Next, immerse yourself in the vibrant Fisherman’s Wharf, where lunch and sightseeing await. Conclude your itinerary here by visiting Pier 33, the starting point for your Alcatraz Island tour.

As the day winds down, a relaxed dinner in North Beach offers the perfect finale.

Throuph trees

Day Two

Day two propels you through the intriguing locales of North Beach and Chinatown. Kick-start the day with an exhilarating cable car ride culminating at the peak of Lombard Street.

Your next stop is Coit Tower, followed by a leisurely lunch in North Beach.

Sf Mural Coit Tower

The afternoon unfolds in the heart of Chinatown. Here, you will explore traditional temples, unravel the secrets of fortune cookie creation, and indulge in a shopping spree. Cap the day off with a delightful and affordable Dim Sum feast.

Day Three

The final day of your sojourn draws you to Golden Gate Park and the vibrant Mission District.

Immerse in the wonders of the California Academy of Sciences

Commence your day with a visit to the multifaceted California Academy of Sciences. This remarkable institution encompasses four distinct experiences: a four-story rainforest, a planetarium, a natural science museum, and an aquarium.

Designed to engage and educate individuals of all ages, the museum offers a closer look at the animal kingdom and various scientific disciplines. Highlights include the earthquake exhibit, where visitors can experience simulated seismic activity, the butterfly-packed rainforest, and a chance to see Claude, the rare albino alligator.

Butterfly Academy Sciences


If your itinerary includes a performance at the planetarium, it’s wise to procure your ticket upon your arrival. The shows run throughout the day, but it’s important to note that the seats are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The popularity of these tickets means they’re snapped up swiftly, so be sure to secure your reservation promptly.

The California Academy of Sciences welcomes visitors from Monday to Saturday, opening its doors at 9:30 am and closing them at 5 pm. On Sundays, the opening hours are slightly later, starting at 11 am but still closing at 5 pm. The last admission is granted at 4 pm each day. To maximize your experience, it’s advisable to avoid Sundays, thereby providing additional time for other exciting activities.

Explore Unique Botanical Wonders

Post your exploration at the California Academy of Sciences, consider enriching your day further with a visit to a nearby botanical attraction. You have three choices within a short stroll from the museum: the Botanical Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the Japanese Tea Garden.

Each of these offers unique experiences, making it a challenging task to choose just one. It would be best to pick the one that piques your interest the most for this segment of your excursion.

Magnolias Botanical

The Botanical Gardens spans 55 acres and hosts a plethora of plants and flowers sourced globally. It becomes a must-visit place from December to March when the Magnolias burst into bloom, offering a stunning spectacle. It’s equally vibrant during spring and summer.

You can visit this magnificent park at 1199 9th Avenue: it’s open from 7:30 am to approximately 5 pm daily.

The Conservatory of Flowers offers a unique indoor experience, featuring four climate-controlled rooms that house an array of plants and flowers. Expect to see giant lily pads, exotic orchids, and carnivorous Venus’s flytraps.

They also have a special exhibit room. Its operational hours are Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 4:30 pm.

The Japanese Tea Garden, your final choice, is an outdoor oasis that features historic Japanese structures along with native Japanese flora. Visiting in late March to early May rewards you with the exquisite cherry blossoms in full bloom. It opens daily at 9 am and is located at 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Way.

The map provided below illustrates the locations of these three attractions in relation to the California Academy of Sciences, marked with a star. The Botanical Garden is labeled as #1, the Conservatory of Flowers as #2, and the Japanese Tea Garden as #3.

Gardens In Gg Park

Enjoy a Midday Meal in Inner Sunset

Before embarking on your adventure to the Mission District, it’s advisable to grab some nourishment along either 9th Avenue or Irving Street. Your next destination, reached via the N Muni line, is conveniently situated at the junction of 9th and Irving, making any proximate eatery an excellent choice.

My personal recommendations include Pacific Catch, an informal seafood haunt located at 1200 9th Avenue, and Nopalito, renowned for its authentic Mexican fare at 1224 9th Avenue. Moreover, this area is a gastronomic hub offering a diverse array of dining options, from pizza joints to Thai restaurants, satisfying every conceivable palate!

Journey by Light Rail to the Mission

Post your gastronomic indulgence, make your way to the intersection of 9th and Irving to catch the N Light Rail, which traverses downtown San Francisco. Alight at the stop on Duboce and Castro Streets.

From this juncture, proceed southward on Church Street, traverse Market Street, and turn left onto 16th Street. A brief walk westward will bring you to the corner of 16th and Dolores.

Visit the Historic Mission San Francisco de Asis

Your inaugural stop in the Mission is the revered Mission San Francisco de Asis, one of the oldest edifices still erect in San Francisco since its completion in 1791.

A visit to this historic site also offers an opportunity to explore the grandeur of the Basilica, which was reconstructed following the devastating 1906 Earthquake, and the city’s oldest cemetery. This hallowed ground is the final resting place for some of the area’s earliest leaders.

Explore the Murals in the Mission

San Francisco is a vibrant canvas showcasing hundreds of dynamic murals, with the Mission district boasting the largest collection. I recommend dedicating the remainder of your day to appreciate the visually striking murals in the Mission.

Father Junipero Statue

From socio-political commentary to pieces featuring iconic figures like Carlos Santana, you will encounter art on walls, garage doors, and even sidewalks.

Upon exiting the mission, make a right turn onto 17th Street. Then, turn left and saunter for two blocks to Valencia. Crossing Valencia Street and turning right will lead you to Clarion Alley, known for its abundance of politically charged murals. Navigate through the alley and turn right onto Mission Street.

A leisurely walk down Mission Street will reveal several murals, though the majority are located on the numerical streets within a block or two of Mission Street.

Another mural-rich sector in the Mission is on 24th Street, sandwiched between Mission and York Streets. This neighborhood, home to Balmy Alley and Lucky Street, has an impressive concentration of murals. However, due to safety concerns at night, it is advisable to explore this region for its murals before dusk.

Unwind & Recharge with an Evening Meal in the Mission

Conclude your day by partaking in a delightful dinner in the Mission district. This neighborhood is a culinary paradise, offering everything from refined American gastronomy to relaxed Mexican offerings.

Discover the Prime Accommodation Spots in SF

The next segment of the itinerary places you in the heart of the city. Opt for either Fisherman’s Wharf or Union Square for your accommodation to ensure a quick commute to your initial destination.

Each location provides a wide spectrum of accommodation options, catering to diverse budgetary needs. Additionally, it’s worth exploring potential bargains on your hotel stays by investigating the excellent deals available prior to booking.

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