Whenever we need a break from our day-to-day lives on the Monterey Peninsula, we often hop in the car and head up north. Whether we’re exploring the charming town of Los Gatos or venturing into the Bay Area, we’ve realized that sometimes a little Summer getaway is all we need to put us in a good mood. That’s why a day trip to one of the most beloved cities in the world – San Francisco, California – is always a great idea.
If you’re planning on visiting San Francisco, here are a few fun ideas to inspire you.
Take a Champagne Brunch Cruise in the San Francisco Bay
Whenever we celebrate a birthday or special occasion in our family, one of our favorite things to do is a new and different experience that we can all enjoy. After discovering the activity-booking site Xperience Days, I have bought several experience-based gift certificates from the site – including a recent Brunch Cruise in the San Francisco Bay aboard a Hornblower Cruise.
This two-hour excursion is a beautiful way to see some of the most notable landmarks in San Francisco – including Alcatraz Island, the Embarcardero, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The cruise provides guests with Champagne, beverages, and a beautiful brunch buffet, plus a dedicated waitstaff to take care of all your needs. That’s not all… they even have live music on board, to entertain everyone.
Not to mention – the views from the cruise are unsurpassable. You can see everything from San Francisco to Marin, Tiburon, and beyond. It’s truly a majestic way to view the Bay.
Set Sail in San Francisco Bay
Another exciting and memorable way to enjoy a day trip in San Francisco is by setting sail in the Bay. Whether you go on a chartered sailing trip (enabling you to sit back and relax), or you go sailing with boating friends (from the St. Francis Yacht Club), a few hours spent aboard a sailboat is a lovely way to enjoy the sights.
Do The Alcatraz Tour
What once was a prison (surrounded by treacherous shark-infested waters) is now a popular tourist attraction and landmark in the San Francisco Bay known as Alcatraz Island. Open to the public, you can take a tour of this infamous destination. Learn the history of the facility, tour the former prison, and even discover the fabled story of the prisoners that escaped (but were never heard from again). Plus, you can do a day tour or even a night tour (which some say is best during Halloween, for an extra spooky experience).
Go Shopping at the Ferry Building Marketplace
One of the most enjoyable places to go shopping for artisan crafts, unique gifts, and delicious food is at the legendary Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco. Here you can find everything from popular eateries and specialty foods to hand-made products (like honey-infused lotions and woven bags). Plus they even offer a regular Farmers Market, which is a wonderful opportunity to pick up fresh flowers, produce, and other items.
A few great places to visit at the Ferry Building Marketplace include McEvoy Ranch (for specialty foods like olive oil), The Slanted Door (for tasty dishes), Farm Fresh To You (for fresh produce), and Beekind (for honey-based natural beauty and bath products).
Explore The Fillmore Neighborhood
If you only have a few hours to explore San Francisco, we recommend starting your day in the bustling Fillmore neighborhood. Home to several popular boutiques and brands (like Paige, Ralph Lauren, Alice + Olivia, and others), great restaurants, and hip bars, this cool neighborhood offers something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a lively and welcoming place to have breakfast, we highly recommend The Grove – one of the most notable local restaurant chains in San Francisco. From their hearty and delicious home-made granola to egg dishes and so much more, this beloved restaurant offers a cozy, eclectic atmosphere and fantastic food. If you happen to hit up The Marina district, they also have a location there too (which is always a hotspot on weekends).
Explore San Francisco Art & Architecture
As one of the biggest attractions in San Francisco, the cultural and art scene up here can’t be beaten. From the iconic Palace of Fine Arts (pictured below) to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, there are so many great places to explore San Francisco art and architecture. Whether you spend your day strolling through the lush gardens underneath the towering buildings (that are over a century old), or you enjoy a few inspiring hours taking in the spectacular art at the museum, a cultural excursion in the city is always a great time.
You can even just take in the sights and sounds of the city by exploring charming neighborhoods (like Nob Hill, The Marina, and Russian Hill) by foot. The Victorian-era homes and buildings are so beautiful, you’ll definitely want to bring along your camera. Plus, it’s a fun way to get acquainted with the area, especially if it’s your first time in SF.
No matter how you decide to plan your day trip in San Francisco, keep in mind that the weather up here often vacillates throughout the day – so wear layers and bring a scarf (just in case). Plus, it’s also wise to wear comfortable walking shoes (like flats, espadrilles, or sneakers), since the hilly terrain makes outdoor excursions challenging (in the wrong shoes).
For more inspiring vacation and activity ideas, check out the Travel section on Inspirations & Celebrations.