As a native of the Bay Area, I travel often to San Francisco for work and pleasure. With two days, there are a lot of things to choose from. I have taken the Hop-on-hop off bus and I am not a fan, I prefer to pick a few neighborhoods and explore. Public transportation is easy to navigate, but with three people, Uber or Lyft can be cost effective.
With Saturday as your first day, I would recommend the following:
Saturday morning Farmer's market at the Ferry building. Plan on having breakfast at the market. There are great food booths, my favorite are the bagels at Wise Brothers, but there is a wealth of gourmet food booths. If you want to take a Ferry ride this is the place to catch it, Sausalito is a nice trip with good views of the bay and both bridges. You can either choose to spend a little time in Sausalito exploring or take the Ferry back to the Ferry Building.
Saturday afternoon. Explore Golden Gate park--since you are interested in the California Academy of Science, I would recommend you visit that in the afternoon and then you have the option of exploring other attractions within walking distance, including DeYoung Museum or Conservatory of Flowers. Here is a link with options near the California Academy of Science: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionsNear-g60713-d117078-California_Academy_of_Sciences-San_Francisco_California.html.
Saturday evening. If you don't take the Ferry in the morning, an option is to take a night tour to Alcatraz. While it is touristy it is an interesting history and the night tour really brings home the isolation of the island. Here is a link for a tour: https://www.alcatrazcruises.com/tour-options/night-tour/. If you don't want to take a night tour, then head out to a nice dinner. My absolute favorite places in the city to take my friends from out of town are:
- Foreign Cinema (ask for the patio): not only do they have excellent food and cocktails, but they show outdoor movies while you dine (think upscale drive-in movie theatre). Reservations are a must. Here is the link: http://foreigncinema.com/.
- La Ciccia . Situated in a quiet neighborhood in Noe Valley, this restaurant is owned by a husband and wife from Sardinia. The food here is amazing, bringing the taste of Sardinia with local ingredients.
- Burma Superstar. Located in the Inner Richmond on Clement street this is a local institution for Burmese Food. There are no reservations and this is a small space. and you can wait awhile, but the food is flavorful, reasonably priced. The nice thing is that you can put your name in, give them a cell and then go shopping, they will text you when the table is ready. This street has a great independent bookstore, a german bakery (in business since 1911), Spanish and Asian stores.
Sunday morning you can either stay in the city or go to Sonoma for wine tasting. I personally would stay in the city and check out what is happening for the weekend and use that as a way to immerse yourself in the different neighborhoods. San Francisco has only a handful of great brunch places, here are some to consider:
- Mama's in North Beach: the shortest wait I have had on a Sunday is an hour. but the food is worth it and you are in North Beach which is a great place to explore the Beat culture, visit City Lights Books, and experience Italy in San Francisco.
- Marla's (near Balboa): one of the best brunches and they take reservations. In a little neighborhood not far from the park,.
- Outerlands: outer sunset location, not far from Ocean Beach and the best Dutch Baby pancakes. Like Mama's the shortest wait I have had is an hour, but well worth it.
- Brenda's French Soul Food: tenderloin is a dicey neighborhood, so Uber or Lyft. The food is New Orlean's meets California. Again a long wait, but worth it.
I will do another post for winery recommendations.