Do you have a 12-hour layover in San Francisco? It's amazing to spend 12 hours in San Francisco, as there are great activities!
12 hours is plenty of time to see the major highlights of the city of San Francisco! San Francisco is a great city in the United States and it has many great things to offer.
Because there is a good connection from the airport to the city center, this is very easy to do. And with this itinerary for 12 hours in San Francisco, you know exactly where to go and when!
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San Francisco Airport
If you have a 12-hour layover in San Francisco you arrive and leave at the airport. The airport of the city is San Francisco International Airport. You can find it about 13 miles (or 21 kilometers) to the south of the city center.
It is one of the busiest airports in the United States and many flights go here. These go to destinations in the US, Europe, and Asia. Destinations in Europe include Paris, Dublin, and Rome.
Furthermore, the airport of San Francisco is one of the largest airline hubs in the country. This is for the largest part for the airline United Airlines.
Because of that, there are also many connecting flights. But often there is a lot of time between two flights, which means you have a lot of time left at the airport. For example, you can spend 12 hours in San Francisco between your flights.
Getting From the Airport to the City Center During Your 12-Hour Layover in San Francisco
It is easy to get from San Francisco International Airport to the city center of San Francisco. So that's convenient if you want to spend 12 hours in San Francisco!
The easiest way to do so by public transport is by metro. There is a direct metro, the YL-S.
This metro takes you from the airport to Powell Street Station, next to Union Square.
Moreover, the route takes about 30 minutes, which is very short. This is very convenient for your 12-hour layover in San Francisco!
Furthermore, the metro leaves every 30 minutes, so you can go to the city center every time of the day!
Another way to reach the city center from the airport is by rental car.
This is the quickest option to reach downtown San Francisco. That's because the journey takes about 20 minutes. But, the downside is that you need to rent a car for this.
Another option is to take a taxi, which is convenient as well. That's because it is also a very fast option for your layover and you can go everywhere you want to!
But it is also the most expensive option. The cost for this is about $50 (or €42).
Itinerary for 12 hours in San Francisco: the perfect 12-Hour Layover in San Francisco
Here's the itinerary for your 12 hours in San Francisco! If you're having a layover there, you will definitely have an amazing time. This itinerary consists of the most important sights and more!
Breakfast at Taylor Street Coffee Shop: A Great Start of Your 12-Hour Layover in San Francisco
You have arrived in the city center either by metro or by car! Now, it is time for breakfast!
There are many breakfast spots in downtown San Francisco. Because of that, there are many choices for a delicious breakfast during your layover in the city!
One of the best places for breakfast is Taylor Street Coffee Shop.
Of course, you can have here great coffee, which is always great to start your day! Or you can have delicious fresh orange juice.
You can have here healthy salads, pancakes, sandwiches, and more.
Besides the food and drinks, another reason to go here is the location of the restaurant!
What's great is that you can find Taylor Street Coffee Shop close to Powell Street Station. This is where you arrive when you go from the airport to the city center by metro.
Also, it is close to the next stop of this itinerary for a 12-hour layover in San Francisco!
After breakfast, it is time to go to Union Square. Union Square is one of the best things to see during your 12 hours in San Francisco.
This is the central square of the city of San Francisco, and it is great to visit. You can experience the bustling heart of the city here!
There are lots of things to do here. For example, there are art galleries, department stores, boutiques, and much more! In fact, it is a place with one of the largest collections of these venues in the United States!
It is a great way to start your day in San Francisco, as you get a good sense of the city here! And it is a lovely place for shopping if you like to do that during your layover in San Francisco!
Another interesting thing about this square is the statue in the middle of it. You find here a statue of the ancient Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike. This statue is here for Admiral George Dewey, who played a role in the history of the city.
Walk Through Downtown San Francisco
After you went to the busiest square of the city of San Francisco, it is time to see even more of the city center!
A great way to discover downtown San Francisco is by walking around. There are lots of great places in the city center.
When walking around you stumble upon great shops, buildings, restaurants, boutiques, and more! Also, you can see local life in the city.
Another great place to visit is Chinatown. This is the oldest of its kind in the United States and you can find here many elements of Chinese culture. This is very interesting to see when you have a 12-hour layover in San Francisco!
If you walk towards the north of the city center, you'll reach the next stop of this itinerary!
Ride the Cable Car
When you are in San Francisco for 12 hours, you cannot miss out on the San Francisco cable car.
In San Francisco, you find a cable car system with manual operation, which is very unique! In fact, it is the last of its kind in the world!
The cable cars are one of the most iconic things in San Francisco, so seeing them is great!
The cars themselves are very historic and feature many colors. This looks awesome!
Most of the people that ride the cable cars are tourists, and it is a very popular sight in the city.
Often you have to wait for a very long time to get on. Because of that, I wouldn't recommend riding one during your 12 hours in San Francisco.
But if there happens to be a very short queue, you definitely should! It is a great experience, and it is a great way to get to the next stop of your layover!
To the north of downtown San Francisco, you can find the Coit Tower.
This is a tower that 210 feet (or 64 meters tall) and from the top, you have a wonderful view over the city.
It is definitely the best place for a panoramic view of San Francisco!
Besides that, the tower itself looks great as well.
The architectural style of the Coit Tower is art deco. And the material of the tower is concrete.
Furthermore, you can see many murals on the inside of the tower, painted by 25 artists. These mural depict the life in the state of California and they look lovely! That's one of the reasons why you should see it if you're 12 hours in San Francisco.
Furthermore, the tower is a memorial for the firemen that died in the fires of San Francisco. This makes it a very interesting historic site as well.
Lunch near Coit Tower
This was a busy morning, and you might be hungry now. So let's go for lunch!
There are several great places for lunch near Coit Tower, which is very convenient.
One of the best of these here is Fior d'Italia. This is a great Italian restaurant that serves all kinds of delicious Italian dishes.
For example, you can have here delicious fresh pasta, such as Ravioli di Zucca.
Besides that, they have sandwiches as well, which is great!
Furthermore, it is a very old restaurant. You can find the restaurant in San Francisco since the year 1886!
If you want to have other food for lunch, then you can also have that in this area, which is great!
Because these lunch spots are all close to Coit Tower, it is easy to get to the next stop of this itinerary!
Lombard Street is the next place you should definitely visit! This is a sight you should not miss out on during your 12-hour layover in San Francisco.
It is a very famous street in the city and many tourists go here. In fact, yearly around 2 million people see the street, which is an incredible amount.
What makes the street unique are the eight hairpin turns you can find here. This is something you won't find on other streets in the world.
The reason why there are so many hairpins turns is that the street is very steep. This was too steep for cars in 1922, when the city created the street. By creating these turns, the street became less steep.
Another great thing about this street is the nature you find here. There is a lot of green, which looks lovely. Furthermore, there are beautiful flowers in the street, making the street even prettier!
Golden Gate Park and Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park is a large urban park in San Francisco. Furthermore, it is the place you are going next if you follow this 12 hours in San Francisco itinerary.
The park has a rectangular shape like that of Central Park in New York City. But it is even larger than that park!
Furthermore, it is one of the most visited parks in the United States.
It is a great place to visit and there is a lot to see here.
There is beautiful nature in the park, which makes it a great place for a relaxing walk or to sit down.
Furthermore, there are all kinds of lakes, monuments, and gardens at the park that are amazing.
For example, the Japanese Tea Garden is a great place to visit here.
This is the oldest Japanese garden that is open to the public in the United States.
In the garden, you find several Japanese structures. And it features many walking paths that make it easy to visit!
Furthermore, there are beautiful plants and trees. These are all in a Japanese architectural style.
Also, the garden features many ponds that look lovely.
What's great about this garden is that it is a very relaxing place. It is the perfect place to come to yourself when you are doing a 12-hour layover in San Francisco!
Presidio of San Francisco Park
From the Golden Gate Park, you can go to the Presidio of San Francisco.
This is another park in the city that is great to visit too!
There are many hills in this park, but there are also large green spaces here.
What makes this park great is the many viewpoints you find here. From the park, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay of San Francisco, and the ocean.
Golden Gate Bridge: A Must-See If You're Having a 12-Hour Layover in San Francisco
One of the most iconic landmarks in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a very famous bridge and well-known all over the world.
This red suspension bridge spans the strait between San Francisco Bay and the ocean.
It is a beautiful and very impressive bridge that is great to see! When you are doing a 12-hour layover, you should definitely go here!
The bridge is very large, which makes it even better to visit the bridge! It spans about 4200 feet (or 1280 meters) and it is 746 feet (or 227 meters) tall, which is huge!
At the time of the creation of the bridge, it was the world's longest and tallest suspension bridge.
Dinner at the End of Your 12-Hour Layover in San Francisco
The last activity of your 12 hours in San Francisco is dinner.
Because it is the last activity of your layover, I recommend going back to the city center.
This makes it easy to get back to the airport once you finished dinner.
You find many great restaurants here with a large variety in food options.
This means there is always something to your liking!
One lovely restaurant in downtown San Francisco is Serafina.
This is a great Italian restaurant with amazing food.
For example, you can have here delicious pasta dishes, great desserts, and good salads!
Also, it is close to the main station of the city, which is very convenient!
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