Two weekends ago, Matt and I decided to drop everything for San Francisco. After starting 2018 off in the most chaotic way possible, with a fully flooded apartment, we spontaneously decided to escape for the weekend when the construction crew started to pile into our small two bedroom and two bath home. We figured it was a win-win for everyone, right? Matt and I were able to get away and explore a new city, while the construction crew was able to fully renovate since we wouldn’t be hanging around. All and all we found a cheap roundtrip ticket under $300, and jam-packed two small carry-ons and left Dallas for one of my favorite cities in the world.
Now I’ve visited San Francisco twice before and each time, I fall deeper and deeper in love with this city. Maybe it’s the historic Ferry building, filled to the brim with local farmers and flowers, or the dinging of the trolley cars as they roll up and down the historical hills of this city; it all is just so darn aesthetically pleasing. My blog challenges me day in and day out when it comes to creating content and often my creative juices can become quite stagnant in Dallas, so a quick trip to this 60’s influenced city did just the trick to get me reinspired by capturing each moment trolley stop by trolley stop. I knew our time in San Francisco was going to be limited, just over 48 hours to be exact, so Matt and I headed to the city with a plan.
I know a lot of you are in the same boat as Matt and I, being young adults we have the luxury to travel without kids, but also the constricted time schedule of being a newbie at the corporate office with limited time off. However, this year Matt and I are really pushing ourselves to take advantage of long weekends and cram in as many U.S cities as possible, even if our visit is a hit and run. To make short trips a success focus on a few key factors: a hotel with the perfect location, a city with easy public transportation and packing the best pair of walking sneakers you own. Today we are sharing our travel guide to 48 hours in San Francisco.
48 Hours in San Francisco:
I feel like I have to start this guide off with a disclaimer because honestly I still feel like there is so much Matt and I have left to explore of SF. That being said, if you’re a local or SF city fanatic please leave any additional suggestions in the comment section below, please and thank you. Now let’s jump right in:
Maximize Time by Minimizing Time Spent at The Airport – If you’re crunched for time off, which Matt and I often are, we found that flying out on Friday nights or even taking a red-eye on Friday to arrive early Saturday morning is the perfect way to avoid taking any additional time off of work. So on Friday, I picked Matt up from work and we drove straight to the airport. The nice part about living in Dallas is that it is centrally located, so our flight to SF was just a quick three and a half direct flight. To maximize time try to pack carry-ons and forgo checking any luggage, this might not seem like a huge time saver but it can usually save you anywhere from 30 min to an hour on each end of the trip. We landed in SF on Friday night around 9 PM due to the two hour time change, and quickly grabbed our carry-ons and headed to check into our hotel.
Taj Campton Place Hotel– When you’re crunched for time and trying to explore a city, picking a hotel is a paramount decision. You really want to find a hotel in the heart of the city, that way you don’t have to spend any time commuting in and out, as we all know city traffic can be the worst. We debated staying down near the pier but our friends urged us to stay in Union Square which they described to be the heart of the city, and we are so glad we did. We partnered with the Taj Campton Place which is conveniently located off Union Square which made all the difference. There was a trolley stop just one block over from our hotel, and since we purchased weekend long trolley passes we were able to save money by hopping on and off the local transportation.
First 24 hrs:
Matt and I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and grabbed a bite to eat at Union Square. Not only is the Taj Campton Place in the most convenient location but the staff went above and beyond to make sure we had everything we needed to have a successful day shooting blog photos. If you follow me on Instagram here, then you already know that on Saturday, our first full day in the city, our luggage got stolen. We had taken our luggage to meet up with Inna, a local photographer, to shoot at some of her favorite city spots. On our last stop at the Ferry Building we parked our car, walked to shoot pictures like any typical photoshoot day; except when we arrived back to the car, all within 40 min mind you, her back window was completely smashed in and all of our luggage and camera equipment was gone. This was really devasting for Matt and I because frankly, we lost a lot of pictures and video footage we had worked so hard earlier that day to capture. Luckily Inna had her memory card, so we are thankful that a few of our favorite images survived.
Anyway, when we headed back to the hotel and told them about our situation, the staff went above and beyond to call Target and Best Buy stores near our hotel in hopes of finding a similar camera in stock. Their kindness and hospitality truly helped us laugh at the matter and move forward with capturing SF, with what we could. Ironically enough Union Square is also the shopping hub of San Francisco so Matt and I spent the rest of the evening buying a few pieces and taking on the city via trolley. We even stopped at China Town for a delicious dinner, which we felt we deserved after a long day of hectic traveling. In the end, my parent’s asked if our luggage being stolen did San Francisco in for us, and honestly, I would still drop everything and go back. I mean, call me crazy but it really is a magical city and staying in the heart of it at Taj Campton Place made it all the better.
Last 24 Hours:
When we lost our camera footage Matt and I decided to reshoot as many scenic images as possible before heading back to Dallas. So we figured the easiest way to do this was by purchasing passes to one of those open-roof red bus tours. At first Matt was super hesitant about taking this tour, but honestly, I love these types of things. Call me lame or what you may, but it was such an easy way to get around the city and ‘see it all’ within an eight hour time period. So here’s the route we took to literally see it all and then some in just 24 hrs:
+ Hop on at Union Square – Hop off at Ghirardelli Square: Once we were done walking around Ghiradelli with our ice cream cones in hand, we walked back down to Fisherman’s Wharf and explored the famous Pier 39 area and all it had to offer.
+ Hop on at Pier 39 – Hop off at the Golden Gate Bridge: Because no trip to San Francisco is complete without taking a picture with this infamous landmark. We had the best weather when visiting so we got a really good view of the bridge from the Marin Headlands side, and then took the 30 min walk across the bridge to capture the city skyline. I’ll admit the walk across the bridge took way longer than anticipated but the view was worth it.
+ Hop on at Golden Gate Bridge View Point – Hop off at Sausalito: If you’ve ever been to Coronado than you kind of get the gist of Sausalito. It’s a beautiful quaint town across the bay from San Francisco with both amazing seafood and views. We spent the afternoon walking around, had a delicious lunch and headed back to the city.
+ Hop on the trolley at Sausalito – Hop on a bus to Golden Gate Park: Since we were on a time crunch, I really wanted to make this magnificent park a quick hit. I was really only interested in the Japanese Tea Garden, so we were on a mission, but I can see how one could end up sending a whole day exploring what the park has to offer. Between community activities like rollerblading to museums, if Matt and I get a chance to come back to SF we really want to dedicate a day to exploring the park and capturing it with our cameras.
+ Hop on at Golden Gate Park – Hop off at Haight-Ashbury District: Whether you’re visiting to take in the colorful Victorian homes or hippie culture; this district is really a sight to see. Matt actually had to drag me back onto the bus as I could have spent all day exploring the old homes, historic record shops and unique restaurants this part of the city had to offer.
+ Hop on at Haight-Ashbury – Hop off at Union Square: I mean the bus tour pretty much took us to everywhere we ever needed to go and was an easy way to learn about the city and its history on a budget.
We did all of that before 3:30 PMon Sunday, giving us just enough time to watch the Super Bowl and root on our favorite team, amongst true Patriots fans in the Russian Hill district. It was the perfect way to meet locals, taste more delicious food and explore one final district before our flight out of San Francisco, early the following morning. We even ended the night with a walk up Lombard Street and a trolley ride back to the hotel.
Now while our time in the city was a little hectic, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Between the night time, trolley rides back to the hotel and getting lost amongst colorful Victorians lining the street, this city will always have a special place in my heart along with the Taj Campton Place.
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Thank you to our wonderful San Francisco photographer and tour guide, Inna Elsie