San Francisco: 3 Day Itinerary and How I Saved Us $360

In case you missed it, last week I shared how I survived my very first week long vacation without my baby. You can read all about it here and learn about my very best tips for not feeling like an asshole parent while you’re away: How to Survive a Childless Vacation Without Feeling Like An Asshole Parent

Ahh.. sunny San Francisco. Err wait.. No. Foggy and chilly San Francisco is more like it. Two weeks ago my husband and I ventured to California to spend a week visiting San Francisco and Healdsburg (Wine Country). It was a very eventful and exhausting vacation, but nonetheless, we had an amazing time.

I wanted to share our favorite spots and how to pack the city into a 3-day trip. If you guys are interested, I can share the remainder 3 days of our trip in Wine Country next week. Let me know in the comments.

San Francisco: 3-Day Itinerary

Want to see all of the attractions that San Fran has to offer but only have a few days? Is it doable? Yes! Will you be exhausted. Oh my gawd, YES! In fact, on day 2 when we visited Chinatown, the stores were booming with “FREE FOOT MASSAGE” signs in the windows. I wanted to stop so bad as my feet were killing me from all of the walking. Hubby denied me though. LOL

Here is what our 3 days in San Francisco looked like:

Day 1: Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39

We were way too excited to see the Golden Gate Bridge so it was first on our list. We grabbed an Uber and got dropped off down in the Fisherman’s Wharf area because we knew we could bike to the Golden Gate from there.  

But first, let me grab a cocktail. Which is exactly what we did at a whole in the wall bar called Jack’s Cannery Bar. It was cash only, but there were mostly locals inside which was refreshing from all the crowds outside. After a few drinks we headed off for our biking adventure.

We rented bikes from Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals & Tours. Be fair warned– if you choose to bike, it’s a 4 mile trek and it is not for the light hearted. The route is hilly.. and I mean really hilly. Halfway through, I made my husband stop so I could lay on a bench and throw up.

Just kidding, I didn’t throw up but I felt like it. You can read all about the route here.

Fisherman's Wharf

San Fran Biking
Biking to the Golden Gate
San Fran Bridge
The famous Golden Gate Bridge

I highly recommend shopping around the Wharf area after you bike so that you can grab some grub and not have to bike with your shopping bags. There are places all around the area with fresh seafood. The clam chowder bowl is a must!


If you’re looking to visit Alcatraz, book your tickets over a month in advance. We tried getting tickets 4 weeks before our visit and they were sold out! We did get a peak of the island on our way to the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was nothing like walking around on land.

The Sealions at Pier 39

Right past the main area of Fisherman’s Wharf is Pier 39 where you can see the Sea Lions. They were my favorite! We walked over to the pier to stare at these unique fury sea creatures and went shopping at the boardwalk.

The Sealions at Pier 39

Day 2: Union Square, ChinaTown, Ferry Building Market Place

Breakfast: Honey Honey Cafe and Crepery

Day two of our adventure focused on exploring the city life of San Francisco. We woke up bright and early and caught breakfast a few blocks away from our hotel. Honey Honey Cafe and Crepery was so bomb. The line was massive, but so was every other breakfast spot in San Francisco. The menu included specialty crepes, eggs, pancakes, waffles. All of the usual breakfast treats, but with a twist.

We ordered a crepe to share, called the Rice Krispie and Peanut Butter Crepe. I can not tell you how delicious this thing was. Breakfast was a little pricey, but everywhere we ate was like that.

Honey Honey Cafe

The Rice Krispie and Peanut Butter Crepe

Union Square

Once our bellies were full, we trekked our way down to Union Square. Since we didn’t rent a car until we left for Healdsburg, we walked almost everywhere. Union Square was interesting to say the least. A lot of shopping –from Louis Vuitton to Forever21.

We sat on a bench in the middle of it all and people watched for a good half hour. If you’re a shopaholic, I definitely recommend staying in the Union Square area. There were hotels on every corner, but one that I particularly liked (during my massive research before the trip) was Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

Union Square

Side Note: Beware of panhandlers around this part of town. A ton of homeless people, too. Some of them were plain frightening and would try to follow us closely and ask for our change and then get mad when we ignored them. I totally recommend having a buddy with you in this part of town.


Oh Chinatown. If you’re looking for cheap Chinese food and the most generic touristy toys you can find, definitely stop in Chinatown. We did some window shopping in this area but that was about it. They also have cheap back and foot massage salons all around. Eric and I had way too much fun dressing up in the stores.

China Town San Fran
Channeling my Inner-Chinese

ChinaTown Graffiti

Ferry Building Marketplace

The Ferry Building Marketplace was actually a hidden gem to us. We had no intentions of visiting this place but after we left Chinatown we started walking and ended up at the bay.

The Marketplace is a vibrant gathering of local farmers, artisan producers, and independently owned and operated food businesses. From soaps, to cupcakes, to cheeses, this place is a must see. Again, very touristy area. 

The Slanted Door

We were starving by the time we got to this part of San Fran so we decided to grab lunch here. We tried to get in at Hog Island Oyster Company but the line was over a mile long and I was getting hangry. We ended up settling for The Slanted Door and oh my gawd I was so pleasantly surprised. If you visit this place you have got to try the slanted door spring rolls (pictured below) and the cellophane crab noodles. They were so good!

the slanted door
The Slanted Door Spring Rolls

Day 3: Lombard Street, Painted Ladies, Sausalito

Our last day in San Fran before Healdsburg was a very busy day. We wanted to fit everything in before we left so we started the day off super early and grabbed breakfast at the hotel. We walked again, all the way to Lombard from our hotel but it was so worth it. The scenery in San Francisco is just amazing. There’s buildings all over that go right up to the sky, the greenery is gorgeous, and the weather is beautiful. (You don’t get that in Florida.)

Lombard Street

Lombard was a very touristy area but it’s for sure a must see! You’re free to walk as fast or slow as you want down the sidewalk of the street, but do not go out in the street unless you’re in a vehicle. Otherwise, the traffic guard nazi will call you out in front of everyone. She was a trip, yelling at people when they didn’t listen with her microphone. 

Lombard Street
The view from the top of Lombard Street
Lombard Street2
The walkway down Lombard Street

Painted Ladies

I couldn’t help but sing the theme song to Full House the entire time we sat gazing at the Painted Ladies. It was a beautiful area to just sit and relax and take everything in. I recommend packing a lunch for this one, and sitting it out for a few minutes.


Sausalito, my favorite part of visiting San Francisco, besides seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, was going to Sausalito. This was such an exciting experience for us. To get there, you need to take an uber or cab or the ferry. (Or ride a bike if you want to be an overachiever!)

We purchased tickets from blue and gold fleet and took the Sausalito Ferry. Tickets for adults were $31.00 per person. If you’re interested in bringing a bike with you, you totally can which was really cool in my opinion. I recommend doing that if you have the chance so that you can explore more of the little town once you’re there. (You can only go so far on feet.) On the way to Sausalito, the ferry stops at Angel Island which is a national park. You’re free to get off an explore but we were too excited to get to Sausy so we skipped the park.

The Ferry Ride from San Fran to Sausalito
The Ferry Ride from San Fran to Sausalito
Pit stop at Angel Island
The shoppes at Sausalito

Sausalito is a beautiful, quaint town right across the bay from San Fran. It reminds me a lot of Cedar Key, FL. It’s filled with cute shops, a few bars and restaurants and very friendly locals. We caught dinner at Barrel House Tavern right off the water. You can read more about the gorgeous view and yummy food here.

After a romantic waterside dinner, we took the ferry back to the city and prepared for our departure for the following day. We chose to visit Healdsburg over Napa Valley because it is said to be less touristy. We stopped at Muir Woods on the way which was absolutely beautiful. Like I said, I’ll write another blog on this second half of our baby-less trip.

San Fran Travel Tips & How I Saved Us $360

As a frugal mama, I did a lot of research before we actively started planning our trip. When I say a lot of research, I mean I looked on Pinterest for hours upon hours, probably two weeks straight looking up things to do, where to go, when to purchase flights, best hotels to stay at, etc.

You can totally creep on my California Pinterest board here, to see all of the great articles I shared. Here is are my very best traveling tips and how I saved us $360 dollars.

  1. Pinterest: Hands down, the best resource for planning a vacation. Literally found everything including places to go, things to see, what to wear, and more.
  2. Car Rental: We did not rent a car until day 4 when we were set to travel north to Healdsburg, CA. This meant a whole lot of walking and lots of Uber rides. We did, however, save $39 per night on parking. (Over $100 in savings)
  3. Plan in advance: We planned our trip about a month in advance and scored the best prices on plane tickets by booking about 4-5 weeks out. We saved about $25 per ticket by booking during this window. (Almost $50 savings)
  4. Google Flights: I used Google Flights to track ticket fluctuations at least 2 weeks before we started actively planning.
  5. Checked bags: My husband and I checked on one bag and packed two carry ons for our luggage. This saved us $25 one way. ($50 savings)
  6. Share on social: Our Hilton Honors Reward Program offered a $10 certificate for sharing our trip on social media. ($10 Savings)
  7. Book Hotel Stays in Advance: We booked our hotel about a month in advanced. The week of our trip, hotel costs were up $25-50 per night. ($150 average in savings)

Google Flight Tracker

 The cool thing with Google Flights, is that you can untrack at anytime. The “fare likely to increase” emails were my favorite, and were always on point. Great tip for saving money on airfare.

Peace out, San Francisco

And that, ladies and gents was our 3-day itinerary for San Francisco. On day 4 we left for Healdsburg, CA where I drank more wine than my 5 foot 2 body could handle. I’ll try to post about that later in the month with my favorite vineyard stops!

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Author: Smother Mother Kate

Katelyn isn't a regular mom. She's a cool mom and creator of The Smother Mother.

One thought

  1. A study was done in different areas of Ca. , the panhandlers in San Fran. Make on an avg. 600.00! Yes, I wrote 600.00 in one week. Here in Dixon about 250.00.

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