The 7×7 cultural epicenter known as San Francisco offers many well-known attractions — from the oldest Chinatown in North America, to the iconic cable cars and the infamous Alcatraz Prison. But San Francisco also is the second densest city in the U.S. behind New York City, leaving an exhaustive set of adventures, sites, parks and great eats to explore. So whether you’ve booked your intraday room at marquee hotels like the Serrano Hotel or Hotel Abri, you’ll be in a centralized location to hit the ground running on your day stay in San Francisco.

Check out our HotelsByDay insider’s guide to San Francisco below:


  • Bike the Marin Headlands via the Golden Gate Bridge – Adventure-seekers and fitness-lusting travelers will do well renting a road bike (or using their own) to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and immediately take a left up the Marin Headlands. As you climb in elevation, so do the quality of views of the Golden Gate, the Bay and hilly SF backdrop with skyline. Recommended for the seriously in-shape only.
  • Bike to Ocean Beach via Golden Gate Park – A more family-friendly, less difficult and almost as beautiful trek is through the Lower Haight on your way to Golden Gate Park before ending at Ocean Beach. The way back is slightly-but-steadily uphill, so make sure you have enough water.
  • Get a Taste of the Old at Land’s End – You can continue your bicycle ride from Ocean Beach (again there are hills) to Land’s End, and enjoy more fabulous angles of the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge. See the ruins of what was at one time the world’s largest indoor swimming pool in the Sutro Baths, or peruse the numerous hiking trials within it.

People Watching

  • Revolution Café – This tiny wine, beer and coffee bar in the Mission is full of colorful local characters from around the neighborhood, and though it provides Wi-Fi, you’ll mostly see people drinking and chatting at the various tiny circular tables peppered around the room.
  • Dolores Park – Since you’re already in the Mission, you may as well pop west a few blocks and up the hill to Dolores Park. Amid the children’s playground, basketball and tennis courts, the multi-tiered park is a popular place for locals and tourists alike to chat, read, drink or sleep. Voyage here on the weekend for some premier people-watching festivities.
  • Japantown Peace Plaza – The six square blocks of Japantown pack quite the stimulating punch, whether you’re a first time visitor or a been-there-done-that local. It culminates in the Peace Plaza, which is the site of the Peace Pagoda, a five-level concrete shrine designed by architect Yoshiro Taniguchi. The plaza hosts many annual festivals and events, but is also good to sit and eat lunch in any ole Wednesday, too.


  • Musée Mécanique – If there’s one reason to venture near Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s probably because of Musée Mécanique. A historic antique arcade featuring over 200 privately owned machines and instruments depicting macabre and intricate scenarios, it’s the perfect afternoon spot to hit on your day trip. Free admission is offered daily.
  • The Institute of Illegal Images – Located in the vibrant Mission District, Mark McCloud’s Institute of Illegal Images boasts the world’s largest collection of acid blotter art around. But be careful not to touch! That would make for quite a different San Francisco day trip—just kidding, the chemicals are inactive.
  • Seward Street Slide — Designed by a 14-year-old and a true homage to San Francisco’s sense of community, the Seward Street Slides were about to be a new residential apartment building back in the ‘60s. Today the steep concrete slides bring people of all ages back to their childhood selves. Tip: bring a piece of cardboard if you’re worried about your bottom.


  • Burma Superstar – Burma Superstar has been lining sidewalks up around the block in the Inner Richmond since it opened its doors in 1992, providing food-lovers with an authentic yet fresh take on Burmese cuisine. Popular menu choices include the tea leaf salad, rainbow salad and pumpkin pork.
  • Golden Boy Pizza – Everyone and their mother have pizza recommendations to offer, which makes a spot-on pizza suggestion truly hard to come by. Golden Boy Pizza is an exception. Located in the bustling neighborhood of North Beach, Golden Boy serves simple but delicious square pan pizza. Do yourself a favor and go with the garlic clam.


Book a day room with Hotels By Day today and have an incredible daycation at San Francisco! Be sure to regularly check back for more insider guides around the world.

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Vickie Lin

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