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The Perfect Weekend in San Francisco

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It's easy to spend weeks in San Francisco without running out of things to do, so if you only have three days in the city you'll want to make the most of your stay. If you plan right, however, you'll have time to squeeze the most essential San Francisco experiences into three action-packed days. From the Golden Gate to Alcatraz, museums to must-eats, here is how to best spend three days in the City by the Bay.
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100 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
The Victorian-era glass and wood structure, which looks like a sugar-coated castle atop a grassy slope, is Golden Gate Park's oldest building. It's also one of San Francisco's most splendid historic sites. Wander through five different galleries...
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50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
The de Young Museum, with its perforated copper facade and spiraling tower in the center of Golden Gate Park, is as dramatic outside as it is inside. Follow the widening crack in the sidewalk into the atrium. It's an Andy Goldsworthy–created...
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55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

The California Academy of Sciences is an unfortunately stuffy name for an institution that is anything but staid. The country's largest natural-history museum includes an aquarium, a planetarium, an enormous rain-forest exhibit under a...

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75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

While Japanese gardens have come to be an expected feature of many botanical parks around the world, the Japanese Tea Garden, which opened in 1894, was the first public tea garden in the United States. The original plot consisted of less than half...

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San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Alcatraz—the very name conjures dark images of impregnable prisons, infamous criminals, and daring escape attempts. But the island is not all murder and mayhem. “The Rock,” set a few kilometers offshore in the San Francisco...
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151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
It had been a long wait for modern art lovers, but after a three-year closure and a $305 million renovation and expansion, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) reopened in May 2016, and was it ever worth the wait. A new 10-story...
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Pier 15 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Ask anyone you know who grew up in the Bay Area about the Exploratorium, and they’ll likely be able to share stories of class trips and seeing their hair stand on end at an installation about electricity or fun-house mirrors that...
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Twin Peaks, San Francisco, CA, USA
The best views of San Francisco are from the top of Twin Peaks, the two hills that are located in the geographic center of the city. Only from Twin Peaks can you get a 360-degree view of the entire city. If you are lucky, on a clear day you can...
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One, Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Outdoor markets always tell a story about their city: what goods are for sale, what foods are locally grown and how the residents interact with one another as they buy and sell their wares. San Francisco's Saturday Market at the Ferry Terminal...
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0-11, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
The '60s and '70s in San Francisco were synonymous with psychedelic "hobbies," but tripping in the new millennium on Pier 39 is something you can now enjoy, legally, with the entire family. This labyrinth of 77 mirrors and black lights...
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3601 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA
Standing out in San Francisco's Marina District, this historic landmark is a leftover from the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Expo and was designed by Bernard R. Maybeck, a student of the École des Beaux-Arts. His vision was to...
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600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
With no sign above its unassuming storefront, Tartine is most easily recognized by the line that snakes out its door and down Guerrero Street. People patiently wait for flaky pains au chocolat (the best outside Paris, in my opinion), decadent...
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3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
It's no wonder that on any given weekday afternoon, the line for ice cream at this legendary San Francisco establishment goes out the door and wraps around the block. Once you try it for yourself, you'll understand: it's just that good. With...
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515 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
This popular Mexican-food mainstay in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District is one of two places in the city that claim to have invented the Mission-style burrito (the other is El Faro): a hefty, elephant-leg-size wrap distinguished from...
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3611 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
There's nothing more San Fransisco (or hipster) than buying a margharita (with pepperoni) and taking it to Dolores Park for some prime people watching. It may be easier than getting a seat in the restaurant. Don't forget the chilli flakes! How I...
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1 Pagoda Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
Hang Ah Tea Room's brick facade and missing letters may not be much to look at from the outside, and the interior's low ceilings, fluorescent lights, and basic furnishings won't win awards, either, but the inexpensive dim sum served inside...
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950 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
This 70-year-old Polynesian-inspired bar at the Fairmont Hotel is part Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean and part theme party with potent drinks. The bartenders mix rum cocktails of their own creation and showcase...
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2765 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
A writer walks into a bar. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but when it happened at the Buena Vista on November 10, 1952, a new drink was born. Stanton Delaplane, a longtime columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, walked...
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355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Is Bar Agricole the best bar in the city? It’s certainly in the top five, based on the groundbreaking cocktail program developed by bartender and owner Thad Vogler; the award-winning architecture and interior design by local favorite Aidlin...
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2900 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

While Heath Ceramics is over 60 years old, having been founded in 1948 in Sausalito, their colorful bud vases, dinnerware and tiles have enjoyed a boom in recent years. Straddling the line between a rough, hand-crafted aesthetic and an elegant,...

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4519, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

In an age when many independent bookstores have surrendered to the advance of chain stores and Amazon, City Lights is a true survivor. Since it was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, it has served as a gathering place for San...

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1855 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Amoeba records is a destination in itself, and every music lover will want to head there. But, turning your attention from the music to the people is also a worthwhile pursuit. Very, very fascinating! Young Cyndi Laupers and John Lennon wannabes,...
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One, Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
If Chinatown is one of San Francisco’s most historic neighborhoods, continue walking for another ten minutes and you’ll arrive at one of its newest attractions, the Ferry Building. Actually, the building itself is not new, having been completed in...
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540 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Fly fishing may not be top of mind while walking through San Francisco’s Financial District, but fantasies of casting in crystal clear rivers and commencing the day around a campfire are sure to materialize once you step inside Lost Coast...
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1100 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
The San Francisco Proper Hotel is the hottest new hotel in town. The reason why? International grande dame of maximalism, designer Kelly Wearstler, revamped a down-and-out tourist hotel deep in the heart of the city, and established the Proper as...
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12 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Hotel Zelos brims with understated luxury. Rooms are kitted out with on-demand movies and music, in-room spa services upon request, and a complimentary honor bar stocked with organic treats. The hotel’s 4th and Market Street location puts it...
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One Ferry Building #3, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA

Chef Charles Phan's restaurant Slanted Door helped elevate Vietnamese cuisine in the United States, introducing it in all of its nuance and complexity to diners who may have tried pho soup only once, if that. When the original location closed in...

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4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
Outerlands is an Outer Sunset institution. The small restaurant near Ocean Beach serves local, organic cuisine in a rustic-chic setting. Covered floor-to-ceiling in warm, rough-hewn wood, the interior invites lingering over an artisan cocktail or...
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1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
Nicole Krasinski describes the novel concept of her restaurant State Bird Provisions as “dim sum and a great hors d’oeuvre party morphed into one experience.” She and her husband, chef Stuart Brioza, prepare beautifully executed...