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Daytripping in San Francisco

An insider’s guide to spending two glorious days in America’s Golden City 

July 20 2023
2 days in san francisco
Mission Dolores Park. Photo Credit: Trip Savvy

Leave your heart wide open and pack an extra layer for San Francisco, the city of a thousand views – rich with California history, stunning ocean vistas, tech entrepreneurship, and architectural charm. In a place known for championing the unconventional, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the city’s colorful tapestry of diverse neighborhoods, forward-thinking cuisine, bustling art scene, and of course, that unmistakable cool, foggy embrace of the Bay Area.

Although Mark Twain famously said, “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”, the weather is consistently the warmest in the city from June through October. With Pickle4America bringing its first East-West Coast Ballpark Series to the Giant’s Oracle Park Thursday, July 20 - Sunday, July 23, there’s no time like the present to take the west coast trip that you’ve had on your bucket list for the past 10 years. If not now, when you can watch pickleball at the renown Oracle Stadium (aka the home of the San Francisco Giants) then when? 

The Pickle4 Ballpark Series™ is not just another pickleball tournament; it is an amazing opportunity for both amateurs and professionals to demonstrate their skills and compete in various events. Players can participate in Women's, Men's, or Mixed Doubles competitions, making it an inclusive and engaging experience for everyone involved.

One of the major highlights of this spectacular series is the presence of renowned players from the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) and the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) Tours. Additionally, the reigning champions of the 2023 US Open Pickleball tournament will also grace the event, ensuring a display of exceptional talent and fierce competition. This convergence of elite athletes is bound to create memorable moments that will be forever etched in the annals of pickleball history.

While you're there, here’s our take on a few of the most interesting, value-driven, and slightly off-the-radar haunts in San Francisco, tailored just for you – the insatiably curious traveler who happens to LOVE pickleball. And no, not just the Golden Gate Bridge.

Places to Stay

2 days in san francisco
The mod-chic decor of the White Swan Inn. Photo Credit: White Swan Inn

The city’s diverse appeal and population – with a local history dating back to the Gold Rush all the way to the Summer of Love – brings in a wide variety of housing options for the traveler on a budget, and with taste. San Francisco's robust hotel scene offers choices from grand, historic establishments to trendy boutiques. Some of these hideaways may not dominate travel brochures, but they capture the authentic San Franciscan spirit. Here are some of our top bang-for-your-buck picks, based on value, style, and location. 

  • White Swan Inn (Nob Hill, $) – A quirky boutique hotel with retro British charm, the White Swan is a quick walk from Chinatown and a Powell Street cable-car stop. 845 Bush St 

  • The Mosser (Union Square, $$) – A blend of historical charm and modern style, the Mosser’s Victorian-era bones are enhanced with chic furnishings, and it offers both private rooms and European-style accommodations with shared bathrooms. 54 4th St

  • The Metro Hotel (Haight-Ashbury, $) – Unpretentious, clean rooms are perfect for budget-conscious travelers, just a stone’s throw from Golden Gate Park and the neighborhood's renowned vintage stores. 319 Divisadero St

  • Hotel Drisco (Pacific Heights, $$$): Positioned in prestigious Pacific Heights, Hotel Drisco offers luxury with a local feel. This Edwardian boutique hotel provides complimentary bikes for guests, perfect for exploring the nearby Presidio or Marina District. 2901 Pacific Ave

  • The Inn San Francisco (Mission, $$$) – Elegant bed-and-breakfast in the Mission District. You'll appreciate the carefully preserved architectural details, rooftop hot tub, and hearty breakfast served in a charming garden setting. 943 S Van Ness Ave

  • Hotel Boheme (North Beach, $) – With North Beach's Beat Generation spirit, Hotel Boheme is adorned with vintage photographs and 1950s-inspired decor. Its location makes it a great base for exploring the City Lights Bookstore. 444 Columbus Ave

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Steps away from Haight-Ashbury, the Metro Hotel has hosted guests since the 80’s. Photo Credit: Metro Hotel

Where to Eat: Neighborhood Faves

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La Taqueria, the birthplace of the Mission-style burrito. Photo Credit: SF Gate

Famed for its Golden Gate Bridge and cable cars, San Francisco is also a paradise for foodies. Here are some of the must-visit restaurants that locals love. 

  • Kitchen Story ($$) – Fresh Californian cuisine prepared with care. Tons of unique takes on old classics. 3499 16th St

  • Arizmendi Bakery ($) – Worker-owned cooperative in the Sunset District known for its changing pizza menu and delicious pastries. Try the daily-changing pizza slice and enjoy the locals' favorite bakery. 1268 Valencia St

  • La Taqueria ($$) – A James Beard award-winner touting the title of “Best Burrito in America,” this no-frills taqueria is a must if you’re in the Mission. 2889 Mission St

  • Zazie ($$) – Located in Cole Valley, this French bistro is famed for its socially conscious employment practices and its Miracle Pancakes. 941 Cole St

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Zazie is known for their delicious brunch menu. 


  • Swan Oyster Depot ($$) – A family-run seafood counter on Polk Street that's been serving fresh, locally sourced seafood for over a century. The clam chowder is a local favorite. 1517 Polk St

  • Mr. Pollo ($$$) – In the Mission District, this hole-in-the-wall serves an unforgettable tasting menu for just $30. Chef Johnny Ortiz uses seasonal ingredients to craft dishes like the Arepa de Choclo, which keeps the tiny restaurant always packed. 2823 Mission St

  • Nopa ($$$) – This restaurant, with its rustic, wood-fired cooking approach, offers some of the best organic Mediterranean meals in the city. The Moroccan vegetable tagine is a must-try. 560 Divisadero St

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Nopa’s menu features seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms and purveyors. Photo Credit: Conde Nast

Where to Drink

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Bourbon & Branch was one of the first speakeasy-style bars in SF before the trend hit the mainstream. Photo Credit: Bourbon & Branch
  • Alchemist Bar & Lounge ($$)Directly across the street from Oracle Park, this swanky spot is perfect for a post-pickleball cocktail.  679 3rd St

  • Bourbon & Branch ($$$)Although reservations are required, this speakeasy-style bar offers an authentic Prohibition-era experience. 501 Jones St

  • Zeitgeist ($-$$) – A popular Mission spot, this punk-style beer garden has a host of craft beers to enjoy in the sunshine, if you’re fortunate enough for the clouds to part. 199 Valencia St

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The Interval is a bar, café, and museum all-in-one. Photo Credit: Interval at Long Now


  • Interval at Long Now ($$) – Whimsical, industrial-chic bar in Fort Mason. This extraordinary time-themed cocktail bar is an ode to innovative thinking, and features a clock designed to run for 10,000 years. 2 Marina Blvd Bldg A Fort Mason Centre

  • Smuggler’s Cove ($$) – A multi-level tiki bar serving over 500 different types of rum in an eccentric pirate-themed setting. 650 Gough St

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The Alchemist brings a steampunk vibe to South Beach. Photo Credit: Alchemist Bar & Lounge

Walking Tours

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Chinatown has been a vibrant part of SF since the 1906 earthquake. Photo Credit: Audley Travel

Though it may seem expansive when you’re on the ground, San Francisco is a relatively small city – measuring roughly 7x7 miles. So if you really wanted to, you could walk the length of the city in a day. Here are some great options to take a first-hand look through San Francisco's kaleidoscopic character, taking you beyond the tourist-trodden routes and immersing you in the city's authentic allure.

  • ChinatownExperience the rich Chinese-American history that’s been an integral part of San Francisco’s identity for over 150 years. 

  • Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco (Nob Hill/Union Square) – Inherently picturesque, San Francisco is popular among Hollywood directors, new and old – see Hitchcock’s favorite spots. 

  • Castro Walking TourTake a look at the Castro’s historic architecture and how it transformed from an Irish/Scandinavian immigrant community to the epicenter of the gay rights movement. 

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The Castro Theater is a landmark of LGBTQ history. Photo Credit: SF Gate

Hidden Attractions

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 The mosaic steps on 16th are one of the many street art happenings in San Francisco. Photo Credit: My Modern Met

San Francisco is a city of iconic landmarks, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz… yada yada yada. There are scores of lesser-known attractions waiting to be discovered. Here are a few sights to see off the beaten path.

  • Mosaic Steps on 16th Avenue – This stairway in the quiet Sunset District is adorned with a beautiful mosaic depicting the sea, land, sky, and stars. The view from the top is equally stunning.

  • The Wave Organ – Tucked away on a jetty in the Marina District, this wave-activated acoustic sculpture turns the movement of the tide into music. Listen to the ocean’s symphony at high tide.

  • Angel Island – Often overshadowed by Alcatraz, this island in the bay offers stunning views, hiking trails, and a poignant history as an immigration station.

  • Clarion Alley Mural Project – This Mission District alleyway is an explosion of colorful, often politically-charged murals painted by local artists.

  • The Camera Obscura – Housed in a giant camera behind the Cliff House, this optical device projects a 360-degree live image of the surrounding area onto a viewing table.

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Find the Camera Obscura in the Lands End area in the Outer Richmond District. Photo Credit: Secret San Francisco


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Mission Dolores Park is one of the most summer hangs. Photo Credit: Trip Savvy

San Francisco is a bit of a unicorn of concentrated, densely packed metropolitan areas – it’s a patchwork of bustling neighborhoods, stitched together by an intricate web of verdant oases that provide a respite from the urban grid. The city's parks are as varied and captivating as the metropolis itself: steeped in history, pulsating with life, and brimming with natural beauty. Here are a few of the many parks on the peninsula. 

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Golden Gate Park is home to several music festivals every summer. Photo Credit: SF Gate


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The General Store features a carefully curated mix of clothing, household items, books, and more. Photo Credit: Bon Appetit

From the high-end luxury boutiques of Union Square to the funky vintage shops of Haight-Ashbury, shopping in SF offers a wide spectrum of tastes. Here are a few of the best and most iconic retail offerings.

  • General Store – In the laid-back Outer Sunset district, this sunlit haven presents a finely curated blend of new and vintage items, artisan-crafted treasures, and art books, framed by a hidden back garden oasis.

  • Rare Device – Nestled in the Divisadero, Rare Device is a beacon of design-centric, innovative, globally-sourced art pieces, home decor, and thoughtfully selected gifts.

  • “Stuff” – Not your grandma’s antique store. An ever-changing landscape of mid-century furniture, retro fashion, kitschy collectibles, and forgotten artifacts that speak volumes of San Francisco's eclectic history.

  • Community Thrift – A quintessential secondhand shop, featuring a wide array of clothing, books, furniture and more, all generously donated by locals.
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Amoeba Music is one of the last bastions of physical media in the 21st Century. Photo Credit: SF Chronicle


  • Amoeba Music – No trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to this legendary Haight-Ashbury record store. Lose hours sifting through bins of new and used vinyl.

  • City Lights Bookstore  – Founded by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, this North Beach bookstore is a piece of San Francisco history and remains a go-to spot for its excellent book selection. 

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City Lights, a literary meeting place since 1953. Photo Credit: Conde Nast 

Art Scene

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De Young Art Museum, located in Golden Gate Park. Photo Credit: Lonely Planet

The museums of San Francisco, are a richly representative sampling of the city's diverse history, artistic innovation, and technological breakthroughs – high art, low art, and everything in between. 

  • de Young Art Museum – Spotlights American art from the 17th through 21st centuries. Its towering observation level offers a breathtaking panorama of San Francisco.

  • Gray Area – Singular hub for emerging artists working with technology and culture – a local artist emphasis with a global reach.

  • Cartoon Art Museum – Everything from comic strips, comic books and anime to political cartoons, graphic novels and underground comic artists. 

  • SFMOMA – Modernist haven that sparks the imagination, with collections from Rothko to Rauschenberg. An array of galleries unfolds over seven floors, accentuated by breathtaking city views from multiple outdoor terraces.

  • Academy of Sciences – An expansive aquarium, planetarium, and a four-story rainforest all under a living roof.

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Gray Area’s current “Difference Machines” exhibition through August 31. Photo Credit: Gray Area 


city lights bookstore
The bohemian-chic appeal of Caffe Trieste. Photo Credit: Flickr

From artisanal roasters, innovative bakers, and early beat poet hangs, San Francisco offers both vintage haunts and modernistic-chic cafés, each telling a unique story of the local neighborhoods they call home.

  • Caffe Trieste  – The first espresso coffee house established on the West Coast, open since 1956. There’s a sip of history in every cup at this bohemian landmark.

  • Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters – Nestled in a charming corner of Cow Hollow, their commitment to sustainable sourcing shines through each balanced, handcrafted cup.

  • Sightglass Coffee – Find solace in the industrial chic interiors of Sightglass Coffee amidst the bustling SoMA scene.

  • Spike’s Coffee and Teas – About a block away from Harvey Milk’s old apartment, this off-the-grid throwback offers no WiFi and discourages phone use – an oasis for the modern luddite. 

  • SPROAt Spro, “spro” is barista slang for “espresso” – they also serve great “fee”, short for drip coffee. 

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Sightglass Coffee in SoMA. Photo Credit: Conde Nast

Local Music

Bottom of the Hill, an iconic venue for locals and touring acts. Photo Credit: SF Gate

Indie rock, punk, jazz and more is as vibrant as ever in the city – here are some of the best spots where you can see up-and-comers and established touring acts. 

  • The Knockout – Located in the mission, this divey watering hole is a favorite for locals, touring acts, and DJ nights. 

  • The Chapel – A refurbished mortuary in Valencia that is now a local haunt for eclectic music sets; its blend of Gothic architecture and contemporary acoustics provides a unique sonic experience.

  • The Independent – Small venue, big names. Offers an intimate space to see a mix of indie bands and mainstream acts.

  • Bottom of the Hill  – A bastion for punk, indie rock, and pop performances. Famous for showcasing emerging talent, this Potrero Hill spot is a place to discover your next favorite band.

  • SF Jazz  – A diverse lineup of world-class jazz performances in an intimate, modern setting.

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SF Jazz is the first free-standing building dedicated to jazz performance and education in America. Photo Credit: KQED


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The MUNI buses are one of the best ways to get around town. Photo Credit: SFMTA

San Francisco’s public transit system is a lot more fleshed out than its glitzy neighbor to the south. Between the iconic cable cars, MUNI buses, and the BART it’s easy to venture into the more remote parts of the city and get back to the Embarcadero in time for lunch. 

This weekend, take on the trailblazing spirit San Francisco is built on, and experience all the culture the world-renowned city has in store - for you, the traveling enthusiast.

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Cable cars remain a mainstay of San Francisco. Photo Credit: The Atlas Heart




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