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What to See & Do in San Francisco for a Weekend Waterfront Getaway

Planning a weekend getaway to San Francisco’s vibrant waterfront? Follow these recommendations for what to see and do, and where to stay and play.

What to See
Want to see the best of San Francisco? Start at Fisherman’s Wharf and then take a tour of Alcatraz. Say hello to the sea lions at Pier 39 and then visit the Aquarium of the Bay for more wildlife adventure. Take a ride on a cable car and then explore San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or wander around Exploratorium. Take advantage of a package discount on five city attractions with the San Francisco CityPASS.

What to Eat
While strolling around Pier 39, be sure to pop by Trish’s Mini Donuts for a sweet treat. Visit world famous Boundin Bakery for chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Cool down with an ice cream sundae in Ghirardelli Square. For the best and freshest local seafood, reserve a table at Scoma’s—a local favorite for their pier-to-plate specialties. Scoma’s began in 1965 and has a longstanding tradition as the go-to place for fresh, sustainable seafood. In fact, you’ll see their catch come in at the pier every morning, fresh off the boat. Start your evening with a signature cocktail. I loved the refreshing flavor and bright color of the Mont Blanc Fizz. Then segue to classic chowder and sourdough, a San Francisco must. Then sample and share king salmon, Dungeness crabcakes, prawns, and more. While the food feels like fine dining, the restaurant has a casual, welcoming atmosphere where locals and tourists blend together.

Where to Stay & Play
You won’t believe the incredible location of Hotel Zephyr until you check in, but once you take a look around—and notice the waterfront views from your private balcony—you’ll see you’re right in the heart of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and waterfront districts. If you’re looking for a fresh, vibrant venue to call home for your weekend getaway, this is it. There’s a super friendly vibe to Hotel Zephyr—everyone from the registration and bell desks are attentive and helpful when it comes to suggesting area to-dos. But there’s so much to enjoy on the property, you may find it hard to leave.

A funky nautical lobby leads to a games room and outdoor playground—for adults and families alike. From garden sculptures to an on-site food truck, there’s plenty to keep you entertained and satisfied on a lazy afternoon soaking in the sun. Room amenities include a coffee maker, mini fridge, smart television, and super comfy linens atop a Sealy mattress. If you have a room with a balcony, there’s just enough outdoor furniture to invite you to plop down and watch the waterfront in the comfort of your jammies.

If you’re gathering with friends, there’s a grand amount of space indoors and out for private parties and casual socials. And, if you need to get some work done, there’s an on-site business center and lightning fast WiFi throughout the property.

At Hotel Zephyr, you’ll be right in the middle of downtown nightlife and area attractions, with Fisherman’s Wharf directly across the street. For more travel tips and ideas, visit

Lori A. May is a Seattle-based travel writer.
Photos © CT Shier.

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