4 Day 3 Night San Francisco Itinerary – A Trip of Shopping, Eating and Street Art Mural Exploration

26 June, 2016

With the new United Airlines nonstop flight from Singapore to San Francisco, we were able to reach San Francisco in just 15.5 hours. We arrived in the morning at 9.15am, just in time for a whole day of exploration in San Francisco. There is complimentary Wi-Fi at the San Francisco airport so you can Uber/Lyft your ride to the city (about 25 minutes at US$35). Read on for our suggested 4-Day 3-Night San Francisco itinerary and how you can win for yourself a return United Economy air ticket to San Francisco.

We had covered some of San Francisco’s most famous attractions e.g. Alcatraz “The Rock” prison island during our last trip to the USA so this time round, we will explore some of the off the beaten track attractions in San Francisco and also do some shopping during San Francisco’s summer sales!

Day 1 – Bargain Shopping at Market Street, San Francisco

We kept Day 1 light and focused on shopping around the Union Square/Market Street area. We were fortunate to get an early check-in at Hotel Zeppelin – a very cool hipster hotel just a few blocks from Union Square.

hotel-zeppelin-san-francisco-usa

Then it is off to Sears Fine Food for a taste of their famous Swedish pancakes – 18 mini pancakes served with maple syrup and butter. Bacon strips are extra. You will get a Sears Fine Food token at the end of your food to try your luck with the in-house jackpot to win a meal, pancakes or drinks on the house.

sears-fine-food-swedish-pancake-review

Then it is off to shopping – it is early June and summer sales have just begun – lots of sales ongoing at Macys in Union Square, Gap and Old Navy stores at Market Street. For bargain shopping, I recommend you check out Ross and Marshalls – here you can often find great deals in anything e.g. shoes, clothes, children’s toys – almost just like outlet shopping. There is also another Ross store at Fisherman’s Wharf.

marshalls ross budget cheap shopping bargain market street san francisco

Along Market Street, you can also find Nordstrom Rack (located just beside Nordstrom) and Saks Off 5th where you can find off-season clothes sold at Nordstrom and Saks 5th Avenue for bargain prices.

nordstrom rack saks off 5th avenue market street san francisco

Day 2 – Millionaires’ Bacon for Breakfast and Exploring Chinatown, Japan Town, Hipster Town (Haight-Ashbury)

We got off to a great start at the famous Taylor Street Coffeeshop with the famous hollandaise hash and millionaires’ bacon – very generous servings and very delicious. Arrive around 7.30am – long queues start to form at around 7.45am.     taylor street coffeeshop san francisco millionaire bacon hollandaise hash

After breakfast, we took a ride on the famous San Francisco cable car to Chinatown – for an exciting ride with a great view of San Francisco’s steep uphill and downhill slopes, grab a position at the poles.

san-francisco-cable-car

Visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory at Chinatown (in Ross Alley) – the friendly shop staff will offer you some sample fortune cookies (only the flattened cookie before the fortune slips are inserted). You can take a look at how they make the cookies and you can buy some fortune cookies back too.

chinatown-fortune-cookie-factory-san-francisco

There is a car park in Chinatown/North Beach area (along Vallejo Street) where instead of the traditional parking lot numbers, you will find fortune cookie-like sayings to indicate where you are parked.

chinatown-north-beach-parking-fortune-writing

After a long walk around Chinatown in the morning, it is time to sit down for some dim sum lunch at City View restaurant along Commercial Street. Come early around 11.30am to beat the lunchtime crowds and queue.

cityview restaurant chinatown dim sum cart

After Chinatown, we are off to Japantown – Japantown feels so different compared to Chinatown – it was quieter and less busy. For dining and shopping in Japantown, visit the Japan Center East and West Mall (each of them separated by the Japan Peace Plaza where the Japan Tower of Peace or Peace Pagoda is located).

japan town japan center san francisco

After Japantown, we are off to San Francisco’s famous hipster street – Haight Street. Here you can find lots of colourful shops selling all kinds of fascinating things – the street art murals itself are worth a visit. You will also find quite a few quirky people along the street.

haight street hipster town san francisco

Day 3 – Street Art Mural Exploration at Mission District (Balmy Street Alley and Clarion Alley) and Sea Lion Viewing at Fishermen’s Wharf

We checked out a nearby diner – the Pinecrest Diner known for its Pinecrest Omelette – very generous servings and also very delicious – it can get quite crowded during breakfast. Do note that if you are dining alone, you are required to sit at the counter where you can get a view of the live cooking action of the Pinecrest Diner’s chefs.    pinecrest diner omelette san francisco review

After breakfast, we took a Lyft ride down to Mission District for the famous Balmy Alley Street Murals – this is a short alley but filled with colourful murals like the ones you see below. They often depict human rights abuses by governments and local political issues such as the housing crisis in San Francisco as well as San Francisco landmarks and street scenes.

balmy alley mission district street murals san francisco

There are lots to see in the Mission Street – take a 8-minute walk from Balmy Alley to Mission Street where you can check out lots of shops for Mexican Americans e.g. pinatas and Mexican wrestling masks and many more interesting stuff.

mexican pinatas wrestling masks mission district san francisco

Another area with lots of street art murals is the Clarion Alley – here the art style looks different from Balmy Alley but the messages are similar e.g. oppression from the government, politics and freedom of speech.

clarion alley mission district street murals san francisco

After a long afternoon of street art appreciation, it is time for some good old seafood dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf but not before checking out the Sea Lions chilling out by Pier 39.

Fisherman wharf pier 39 sea lion

Day 4 – Day Tour out of San Francisco – Muir Woods, Sausalito, Marin Headlands and United Airlines Direct San Francisco to Singapore Flight

Our flight back to Singapore departs at 11.25pm so there is still a lot of time to explore San Francisco – we took a half day 4-hour tour out of San Francisco to visit the majestic redwood trees in the Muir Woods Nature Reserve…

majestic-muir-woods-redwoods-san-francisco

… followed by a leisure exploration of Sausalito with …

sausalito-town

… lunch at one of Sausalito’s famous hamburger joints as well as ice-cream at Lappeats.

sausalito burger ice cream recommendations review

During this tour, we were also treated to a great view of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands – it is quite rare to get such a clear view of the bridge as it is usually shrouded in fog.

san-francisco-golden-gate-bridge-no-fog

It has been a busy 4 days in San Francisco – lots of shopping loot for loved ones back home and I have also eaten and seen so much during this trip.  For a summary of our 4D3N trip experience in San Francisco, check out this video below:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5t-OGEHrMhg?rel=0]

After some last minute shopping at Macys, it is time to leave San Francisco city for the airport. We bought a United Club lounge pass (US$59) for access to one of their airport lounges while we wait for our 11.25pm flight back to Singapore. We were quite impressed with the design of the United Club lounges especially those in the domestic terminals (as you can see below) – one of them had a futuristic theme and the other an old school San Francisco theme.

united lounge san francisco domestic terminals

The United Club lounge at the San Francisco International Terminal is more business-like and it is very spacious with some snacks e.g. cookies for passengers waiting to catch a red-eye flight.

united lounge international terminals san francisco

This United Club lounge even comes with cubicles so you can work in the comfort of your private space while you wait for your flight!

united lounge pass cubicles san francisco

I hope you are inspired by the many things you can do and see (and of course eat) in San Francisco. Do also check out our review of the United Airlines UA1/UA2 nonstop Singapore-San Francisco flight experience.

If you would like to embark on such an adventure in San Francisco, join our PassportChop.com giveaway where one lucky reader will win one return air ticket (approximately S$1600 in value) on this United Airlines direct flight to San Francisco.

To participate in this giveaway, simply leave a comment at our United Airlines flight experience review blog post to tell us why you should win this return ticket to San Francisco and what will you do at San Francisco – the best comment wins (as decided by me). This giveaway ends 30 June 2016 11:59pm Singapore time and the lucky winner will be announced here at the blog post about our United flight experience on board UA2/UA1 on 5 July 2016.

Before participating, do note these terms and conditions of the prize:

  • The winner is liable for all applicable taxes, fees and surcharges (approximately S$120), which must be paid by credit card
  • The winner will be responsible to obtain visa for the travel where necessary
  • Valid for round-trip transportation between the origin (Singapore only) and destination (San Francisco only). If issued for one-way travel, any unused portion will be forfeited.
  • All travel must be completed by 31 May 2017. Extension of the expiration date is not permitted under any circumstances
  • Open to Singapore Residents only

united-787-dreamliner-airlines

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

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