The Clog’s guide to being a San Francisco tourist for a day

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Whether you’re new to the Bay Area, a student who’s never found the time to get off campus or you have friends visiting from out of town, a day trip to San Francisco is always a good idea. The city is so big and full of classic tourist sites that it can be a daunting task to see them all in one day, however. Luckily for you, we at the Clog have compiled a sample itinerary of a walking-and-food tour of the city that you can easily complete in just one day.

Start your day by hopping on BART at the Downtown Berkeley station. Get off at the Embarcadero stop, the first one after going through the tunnel under the bay, and walk down Market Street to your first stop.

The Ferry Building

This ferry terminal also serves as a marketplace and food hall. Take some time perusing the various food offerings — we recommend Cowgirl Creamery’s grilled cheese, Brown Sugar Kitchen’s chicken and waffles and Gott’s Roadside’s milkshakes. There are often street vendors selling homemade crafts outside, and there’s a farmers market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. From the Ferry Building, head down the waterfront away from the Bay Bridge to get to your next stop.

Pier 39

It might seem like a long way to walk, considering the Ferry Building is at Pier 1, but the numbers go by relatively quickly, and you can always hire a pedicab to get you there faster. Pier 39 is a popular tourist destination, boasting shops, restaurants, the Aquarium of the Bay and views of San Francisco’s sea lions. For the classic San Francisco experience, stop at Boudin Bakery for clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Once you’ve fueled up, keep walking down the waterfront and through Fisherman’s Wharf, another area full of touristy shops and seafood.

Ghirardelli Square

Eventually, you’ll reach a large grassy area — the perfect place to rest your feet with a killer view of the bay and Alcatraz Island. If you trek up the hill from here, however, you’ll reach Ghirardelli Square, the former chocolate factory that has now been filled with numerous shops and restaurants. Stopping by the Ghirardelli store is a must, whether it’s for the free chocolate squares given away in the store or for a hot fudge sundae. The sugar rush will carry you through the next stretch of your trip down Columbus Avenue through North Beach.

North Beach

Walking down Columbus Avenue takes you right through the heart of North Beach, the Little Italy of San Francisco. You’ll have the option to stop for a cannoli or a coffee at one of the numerous family-owned bakeries or cafés. We highly recommend that you browse the shelves at the iconic City Lights Booksellers & Publishers as well! Turning to the right off of Columbus Avenue after stopping at City Lights will take you right into the heart of your next destination.


As the oldest Chinatown in North America, San Francisco’s Chinatown is full of souvenir shops, dim sum eateries and ornate architecture. With a stop by the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory off of Jackson Street, you’ll learn how fortune cookies are made and get a free sample of a fresh one.

Union Square

The final stop on your tour is just down Stockton Street from Chinatown. On your way, a stop at Boba Guys is a must for most UC Berkeley students and the perfect pick-me-up after a long day. Union Square is full of shopping, hotels and theaters if you have energy left for that at this point. If not, the Powell Street BART station is right there to take you back to Berkeley.

This is just a sample itinerary for your trip — feel free to switch up the order, add in your own stops or throw in a cable car ride! Regardless of what you do, you’ll head back with a slightly emptier wallet but full of good food and classic touristy photos.

Contact Beatrice Aronson at [email protected].