A stopover in San Francisco

See the highlights of San Francisco in 48 hours.

A stopover in San Francisco

Your flight from Auckland will arrive in San Francisco at around 1:00pm. After settling into your accommodation, you have nearly half a day for initial explorations. We recommend getting some fresh air and sunshine, to help your body switch to local time.

48 hours
Couple looking at Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA.

Things to do when you first arrive

  • Find your way to Presidio - the 1500-acre park to the west of the CBD that's home to the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. This park was formerly a military base, but now it's a major outdoor recreation area
  • Enter the park from the Lyon Street Steps. There are 332 in total and at the top you'll get amazing views of the city
  • Head to the visitor centre to stock up on brochures and information about San Francisco. The staff here can answer any question about San Fran, so fire away!
  • If you're feeling up to it, walk across Golden Gate Bridge - it's nearly three kilometres long. A taxi back to your hotel might be a good idea after this hike
  • For your first night, prepare for a great sleep by finding healthy food for dinner. Northern California grows amazing ingredients, so it's easy to find something nutritious and thoroughly delicious. Consider Liholiho Yacht Club, The Progress, Cala, Al's Place or Quince - they all champion local produce
2Pier 39, Harbour & Ferry Plaza1 day
Ferry building, San Francisco, USA.

You'll be rarin' to go this morning, so point yourself towards the ferry terminal. Before or after your harbour cruise, check out the wonderful historic ferry building and the sea lions of Pier 39. Later you can explore Chinatown, an adventure that will naturally flow into dinner.

Things to see and do today

  • Fuel up with a big San Francisco breakfast at the Ferry Building Marketplace. You're spoiled for choice in this mecca of eateries. After you've eaten, take a look around the marketplace shops
  • Catch a boat trip or ferry to see San Francisco from the water. Pick a route that takes you under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz, the world's most famous prison island
  • Stroll along the waterfront to Pier 39 to see the sea lions. They're hugely entertaining and will provide some great material for your Instagram posts.
  • Eat a late lunch at Fisherman's Wharf, where seafood restaurants abound. The ultimate San Francisco dish is Dungeness crab; clam chowder's an iconic choice too
  • Explore Chinatown on foot, either guided or self-guided. Established in 1848, it's the oldest Chinatown in North America and comes complete with temples, tiny back alleys, Chinese herbalists and an immense choice of eating places
  • Dine in Chinatown tonight - top places include Henry's Hunan Restaurant, Great Eastern, R & G Lounge, House of Nanking and Hong Kong Clay Pot
  • Finish the night with a cocktail at a rooftop bar. Close to Chinatown is the Starlight Room, one of the best bars in downtown San Francisco, or try the View Lounge on the Marriott's 39th floor
    3Mission District and Twin Peaks1 day
    Eating taco, Mission District, San Francisco, USA.

    Venture beyond the CBD today, taking in the historic Mission District - now an ultra-cool suburb - and Twin Peaks, a hilltop park with hiking trails. Head back to the city in time for high tea, then finish your day with dinner in posh Nob Hill or flower-power Haight Ashbury.

    Your options for today

    • Get to the Mission District early, so you can breakfast at one of the many excellent cafes. Enjoy eggs benny at the Mission Beach Café, pastries at Craftsman and Wolves, or challah French toast at Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
    • Explore the Mission District, with a view to doing some shopping along the way. Discover the street art on Valencia Street and Balmy Alley, taquerias on Mission Street and a host of hipster businesses on 24th
    • Appreciate art at a couple of the Mission District's art spaces - Southern Exposure, Galeria de la Raza and City Art are all recommended
    • From Mission you can either walk or taxi to Twin Peaks - one of the best free attractions in San Francisco. Hike up the stairs, or cheat by taking a taxi to the summit
    • Back in the CBD, find a hotel high tea for a late lunch. The Palace Hotel, Ritz Carlton and the Fairmont are all known for their generous servings and elegant surroundings
    • For your last night in San Francisco, splurge with dinner in Nob Hill, an upmarket suburb that's crammed with historic Victorian homes. Or go in the polar opposite direction and find a modern hippie dinner in Haight Ashbury - you'll have to pay for a taxi ride, but you'll save on menu prices

      Departure day: USA here we come!

      Refreshed and renewed, you're ready to continue your USA holiday by picking up a car, jumping on a train or catching a domestic flight.

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