Explore San Francisco || How to Make the Most of a Business Trip
We recently had the opportunity to go to San Francisco for a corporate shoot with the American Bar Association. We knew that there would be 2 days set aside for shooting. And we felt we could add on 2 days to explore San Francisco on our own. With my birthday coming up we worked it out to be in SF during that time. And we wanted to make the most of a business trip seeing the sights.
Overall we were set to arrive on Monday and leave on Saturday. That gave us a night to settle in, two days of business shooting and some time for ourselves. We knew that really wouldn’t be enough time to do everything we wanted to explore San Francisco but with a little bit of organization we could see alot.
Our shoots were only basically 9am-5pm so that would leave us evenings free and 2 full days. While I had been to SF many years ago this was Al’s first time. We chose to stay in an Airbnb to get an authentic (living in San Francisco) experience. We picked a beautifully renovated Victorian home in Pacific Heights. And finding a place with a garage was very important. We were going to have car because we had all our filming gear with us for work. And we also wanted to be a neighborhood we could explore.
Why Stay in an Airbnb
Airbnb’s are great way to experience new places and often save money instead of staying in a fancy hotel and then having to pay for overnight parking! (Travel Tip #1). It is also great because with most hosts you can ask questions and get suggestions for local places to eat and shop. (So we mostly stay away from the more tourist places to eat.) This one had an awesome natural grocery store a couple blocks away. This is a great way to save money. (Travel Tip #2) We always pick up breakfast items and snacks. No sense spending money out! And besides I always feel like it’s vacation time when I’m eating fresh bread with cheese and yogurt before setting out to explore.
As I mentioned earlier is important when you’re trying to see a lot in a few days to be organized (Travel Tip #3). Before the trip I planned out exactly what we wanted to see and do. I searched online, read travel blogs on SF and used hashtags on Instagram to check out cool things to see and do. If you aren’t using Instagram to search out cool places and things to do on your vacation, then you’re really missing out on a great resource.
We knew there were a couple things we wanted to do that are basic tourist stuff. We are never afraid to check that stuff out because- Hey- we ARE
tourists but we also want to get off the beaten path (talking to locals is a Great way to find cool things to do and places to eat (Travel Tip #4). I found a map of the scenic route with everything labeled on it. So I printed it out and Al and I went through what we wanted to do. I then made an itinerary based on our shooting schedule with the ABA and the different locations. (Travel Tip #5)
If you look at the locations of places and try to group things together this will save you a lot of time and frustration driving back and forth all the time. So try not to backtrack. Also try to avoid the most popular places during the busiest time of the day. (Travel Tip #6) While we know most tourists areas are always busy you can save some frustration by booking things in advance (like if you want to go to Alcatraz you need to book WAYYYYYY in advance- tickets go FAST!!) and why put yourself on any of the highways during rush hour!! We booked tickets to see Beach Blanket Babylon and we are sooo glad we did- it is Awesome!!)
Here is our breakdown. This is an easy plan to follow if you have 2 days of business with a typical 9-5 work schedule.
- Arrive in the afternoon in San Fransisco, pick up rental car (or take a the bus, Lyft, Train into SF)- check into Airbnb or hotel.
- Settle in
- Explore area (find grocery store)
- Eat dinner (ask host or concierge for a good local place)
- Fun: we then hit a couple of places on our list – like the Painted Ladies (growing up on Full House) and took in the views of the city from Alamo Square
- Work: film schedule in Financial District and Tenderloin. (9am-5pm)
- At lunch explored this area. We walked to the Ferry Building and did some shopping at an arts street market
- Dinner in the Mission at Flour + Water. For my birthday we went with a friends recommendation and it was Awesome! We couldn’t get a reservation but they hold a certain number of tables for walk-ins. So we put in our names and spent 45 minutes exploring the area and some of the cool murals
- Filming in the Financial District (9am-3pm)
- Hiked about an hour at Lands End (and a bit of the Presidio) and watched whales playing in the Bay
- Walked all around Chinatown and ate
- Haight Ashbury– walking around, some shopping and went to a couple of bars (ended up in a private Puma Party!!)
- Up early to get to Muir Woods because the parking lots fill up Fast (Travel Tip #7). And we spent a couple of hours hiking
- Late breakfast at the Lighthouse Café in Sausalito (AMAZING Pancakes)
- Spent afternoon in Sausalito
- Point Bonito Lighthouse but it was closed – only open Sat, Sun, Mon 12:30-3:30 (Travel Tip #8)
- Walked down and up the Lombard Crooked Street
- Beach Blanket Babylon- North Beach
- Dinner at small family owned Italian Restaurant- Firenze
- Coit Tower and Filbert Steps
- Lunch with friend at Slanted Door at the Ferry Building (we parked in the middle between the Ferry Bld. and Pier 39)
- Walked the Embarcadero to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. Saw sea lions, street performance and picked up fresh sour dough bread to take back to Philly. Make sure to ask for a plastic bag so the bread stays fresh longer. (Travel Tip #9)
- Fort Mason – We wanted to see the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and then go walk across it. Although the bridge was covered in fog as it had been the whole time we were there. So we skipped walking on the bridge and will do it next time!
- Golden Gate Park for a few hours. We rented a bike cart to ride around for an hour and really enjoyed walking around Stow Lake.
- Castro District for shopping and having a drink
- Dinner at “home” eating up leftovers and sitting on deck watching the sunset and the fog rolling in! (Travel Tip #10) It is always important to make sure you are spending some of your vacation time RELAXING and doing NOTHING!
- Up early to return rental car and fly back to Philly. We finally had our excursion to San Francisco.
We are so happy to share our travel tips with you because we are often traveling for work. And why not learn the best way to have fun while on a business trip. In addition to the touristy stuff, there is so much to see out there. Take a look at out other blog posts while you travel the world with us.