Emma Chong Johnston for The Travel Insider
24 hours is nowhere near enough to time to take in all the culture and creativity of San Francisco… but it’s better than nothing. Split your time between buzzy restaurants, time-honoured institutions and historic sights and you’ll have spent the day well. These are our top recommendations.
Queue up at Mama’s at Washington Square
Image credit: Mama’s
There’s always a line at this family-owned institution (we’ve heard stories of people waiting for up to three hours!) but it’s always worth it. If you can get up early, head over before opening hours at 8 am and you might be blessed with a shorter queue than most. Order the french toast, you won’t regret it.
Spend the Morning at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Image credit: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
You could spend a whole day here and it wouldn’t be enough, but since we’ve only got 24 hours, a morning will have to do. Spend those hours at the René Magritte exhibition, which encompasses over 70 artworks by the Surrealist painter, across nine galleries. And remember, the museum is closed on Wednesdays.
While you’re at SFMOMA, you can’t miss the in-house dining options. In Situ is a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant that draws culinary inspiration all over the world. The menu changes seasonally but if you’re lucky you’ll find wasabi lobster, caramelised carrot soup with chaat masala and sage-smoked chocolate brownies.
Visiting Alcatraz is a moving experience, and even more emotional when you visit the gardens that were tended by the prison’s inmates. Today the Gardens are a thriving testament to the site’s history and also sustainable gardening, and make for a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.
Tartine is best known for its incredible pastries that sell out in the morning, but it also makes for an elegant dinner venue. The dinner menu is seasonal, inventive and exciting, with a focus on fresh produce and really excellent wine.