food & drink · arts & culture · music & nightlife · outdoor activities ·
Published July 6, 2023
How to Spend a Perfect Day in San Francisco's Sunset District
From your morning coffee to nightlife activities and everything in between, we've got your itinerary for a day in the Sunset. Presented by Waymo.
by San Francisco Bucket List
The Sunset District is a big part of what makes San Francisco the city it is. Home to Ocean Beach, a slew of fantastic eateries and bars, and adjacent to the beautiful Golden Gate Park, no visit to the foggy city is complete without spending time in the Sunset.
Whether you've spent your whole life in San Francisco or are visiting for the first time, there's something new to discover in this area of the city. From delicious breakfast spots to scenic parks and exciting evening activities, the Sunset District has it all. We put together the perfect one-day itinerary, including world-renowned attractions and local, lesser-known spots.
This city guide is sponsored by Waymo. Waymo is an autonomous driving technology company with a mission to get people and things where they need to go safely and reliably. With Waymo One, their fully autonomous ride-hailing service operating 24/7, riders can hail a ride with up to three guests to the majority of the city (including the Sunset)! Find out how you can ride with Waymo One here.
A One-Day Itinerary for Exploring The Sunset District
Morning: Breakfast & Golden Gate Park
Start your day off right with a delicious breakfast or a cup of coffee at one of the neighborhood's popular spots. See our top picks below:
- Arizmendi Bakery is a local favorite known for its grab-and-go pastries.
- Java Beach Cafe (pictured above) is a neighborhood staple serving up homemade goods like Butterscotch Lattes and specialty bagels.
- Devil's Teeth Bakery is the place to go if you're in the mood for breakfast sandwiches.
- Andytown Coffee offers craft coffee and baked goods in a clean, warm, welcoming environment.
- Zazie's is a great choice for a sit-down brunch experience with everything from organic granola to syrupy buttermilk pancakes.
- Tartine is a must-visit if you’re into fancy (and delicious) pastries.
- LaLe is a Mediterranean-Turkish tapas bar with everyday brunch. Try the Napa Egg Scramble or the Rictooa Stuffed French Toast!
Golden Gate Park
After a satisfying breakfast, it's time to hail a ride with Waymo One to get you to Golden Gate Park. While the park technically isn't in the Sunset District, it's right next to it and is definitely worth the short trip. Hop in your Waymo and get ready to explore the city's most expansive park. Fun fact: Golden Gate Park is bigger than NYC's Central Park! Check out our top picks for things to see and do while there:
- De Young Museum: Start by exploring the de Young, San Francisco’s largest public arts institution. Apart from galleries filled with pieces from world-renowned artists, the museum hosts a range of events and activities. Take part in the Sketching in the Galleries activity, which allows all skill levels to experiment with materials while enjoying the art collections from a creative perspective. And don't miss the Hamon Observation Tower for stunning views of the city. Pro-tip: If you’re a Bay Area resident, visit on a Saturday and enjoy free admission.
- Conservatory of Flowers: The Conservatory of Flowers is a floral paradise featuring rare and unusual blooms from all over the world. With five distinct galleries ranging from the tropical rainforests of Sumatra to the cloud forests of Ecuador, there’s no shortage of exotic plants to be amazed by. It’s also free to visit for Bay Area residents!
- Japanese Tea Garden: Another must-visit spot in GG Park is The Japanese Tea Garden. Spanning about five acres, visitors can experience the natural beauty, tranquility, and harmony of a Japanese-style garden in the heart of San Francisco. Guests will find all the classical elements of a traditional Japanese garden, from architectural elements like an arched drum bridge and serene pagodas to natural scenery like native Japanese plants, koi ponds, and a zen garden. Admission is free for Bay Area residents!
- Golden Gate Bandshell: The Bandshell (located right across from the de Young) is beautiful to see up close and explore, and even better when you can catch a live performance. During the summer, the venue hosts over 100 free concerts with a wide variety of musical genres, including reggae, funk, jazz, folk, and much more. See this year’s lineup here.
Afternoon: Lunch, Shopping & Hiking
For lunch, grab a slice of pizza to-go at SF Hole In The Wall (pictured above) and enjoy it in one of Golden Gate Park's many picnic areas. Another nearby option is Park Gyros, or you can indulge in a fresh deli sandwich from Cheese Boutique, a local favorite. Nopalito offers delicious tacos and a sit-down lunch experience, while Judahlicious is perfect for vegan options.
After lunch, it's time to explore the Sunset District's shopping scene. Check out Inner and Outer Sunset Flea Markets on select Saturdays for vintage clothes, housewares, and decor. If you're visiting on the third Saturday of the month, check out Secondhand Saturdays, a thrift and flea market featuring live music and over 50 vendors. For trendy apparel and home goods, stop in to Establish Boutique, and for a great mix of modern design and laid-back vintage goods, make sure to browse through The General Store. Finally, for beachwear and all things surfing Mollusk Surf Shop is a favorite among locals.
If you’re in an outdoorsy mood, take a hike and explore the district’s natural beauty. Mt. Sutro to Twin Peaks offers scenic views and a chance to connect with nature. Grandview Park is another excellent option for a leisurely stroll. If you prefer a more relaxed experience, take a walk or bike ride along Ocean Beach and enjoy the stunning coastal scenery.
Evening: Drinks, Dinner, and Dessert
Dinner & Drinks
As the afternoon gives way to evening, treat yourself to some drinks at one of the Sunset District's many watering holes. Hit White Cap for unique craft cocktails, or try Celia's By the Beach to indulge in classic margaritas. If you're a beer lover, Sunset Reservoir Brewery is a great place to sample local brews.
When it's time for dinner, you'll have a variety of options to choose from. See a few of our top picks below:
- Toyose features a menu full of quirky Korean comfort food.
- Sunset Cantina is the go-to spot for Mexican cuisine with a patio dining experience.
- Fiorella Sunset serves up delicious Italian dishes, including woodfired pizzas and fresh pasta. For al fresco dining, ask to be seated on the rooftop deck!
- Outerlands offers a menu of New American cuisine in a cozy, rustic-chic setting.
- Damn Fine Pizza is a casual spot featuring elevated pizzas plus an extensive beer and wine list.
- San Tung is known for its dry fried chicken wings, hand-pulled noodles, and other Chinese staples in a no-frills setting.
Dessert & More
When you’ve had your fill, it’s time for something sweet. Game Parlour is a fantastic spot to enjoy creative desserts like mochi waffles and tea. They also have hundreds of board games, so stay a while and play, or check their site for gaming events and activities. If you’re an ice cream lover, you need to check out Hometown Creamery featuring surprising flavors like blueberry lemon bar ice cream and Earl Grey and lavender ice cream. For late-night cravings, hit Donut World and choose from a variety of flavorful donuts and baked goods.
Wrap up your day in the Sunset District with stunning sunset views at Grand View Park. If you visit during the summer, make sure to catch the free light show on the lawn in front of the Conservatory of Flowers. And if you're in the mood for something more lively, head to K-Time Karaoke for a fun-filled evening of singing and laughter.
LIKE WHAT YOU'VE READ?
Never miss out on a new experience!
Create a Bucket Listers account to access exclusive offers and the latest news in your city