Have you ever taken a fun day trip with your best friend? San Francisco, California is a perfect destination! Inexpensive flights, ocean air, tasty food and the energy of a new city could be just what you need to break up the day to day. Below we have planned out how two people can potentially travel to San Francisco in one day for UNDER $200. Below, you will find everything you need to know to check off a San Francisco day trip from your bucket-list.
My husband and I love to take spontaneous trips to new places.
We both work full time jobs, and have learned that we thrive on quick and fun weekend travel dates. You’ll be surprised how much you can fit into 24 hours.
With a day trip you know it’s impossible to see everything, so you enjoy whatever comes your way!
How to Book Cheap Flights to San Francisco in One Day
The cheapest month to fly to San Francisco is January. However, if you plan it right, you can snag really cheap flights many times throughout the year. The best way to find cheap flights is to plan your trip about 2 months before you go. From Phoenix, we’ve seen flights for under $50 roundtrip to San Francisco! The cheapest days to book flights are Sundays and the cheapest days to fly out are Tuesdays. Keep this in mind when planning your trips.
Another option to save money on flights is to become a rewards member for an airline. We really enjoy the Southwest rewards program, and were able to get companion passes for a year. The companion pass allows you to basically get a 2-for-1 deal on any Southwest flights.
If you earn enough points, you can use your points towards flights and your companion can fly for free! Southwest customer service is incredible, and you can get refund flights if you need to change plans last minute. For more information visit the Southwest website.
San Francisco is a coastal port town located in Northern California. The best months to travel are suggested to be September to November, or in the Spring with temperatures on average a high of 74 and a low of 58.
January is the coldest month with an average high of 57 and low of 46. Since we were there in December, I recommend a jacket, but we ended up taking them off multiple times since we were walking most of the day.
For current weather, check here.
Cost Breakdown & Tips for San Francisco in One Day
Flight: try to find a flight that leaves early in the morning
- Phoenix International’s Airport to San Francisco regularly have cheap flights around $50 round trip
- Book on a Sunday, cheapest to fly out on Tuesdays
- Check 2 months before trip for cheapest flights
- Bring snacks/food to save money, comfortable shoes, large bag for souvenirs and a jacket
- Parking car at the airport= $12.00 a day
Transportation from Airport
- BART: $9.65 one way= $19.30
- Shuttle Van: $19.00 one way= $38.00
- Uber/Lift downtown and back: around $30 one way = $60.00 (most expensive, but quickest way)
Food/Drinks and Souvenirs
- Souvenirs: $20.00+/-
- Food/Drinks: $20.00+/-
Final Cost Breakdown:
- Flights: $50.00×2 =$100.00
- Airport Parking: $12.00
- Transportation with BART: $38.60
- Food/ Souvenirs: $48.00+/- (can spend more or less based on budget)
Our Plan (Using Points):
- Flights: used Southwest Reward Points =$0.00
- Airport Parking: $12.00
- Transportation with Uber =$60.00
- Food/Drinks: Lunch, Dinner and Coffee= $54.00
- Souvenirs (hats & ornament) =$52.00
San Francisco Day Trip
Flights from Phoenix to San Francisco are 1 hr and 40 minutes. Arrive to your airport at least an hour early and park your car in the airport parking lot. This will change based on your flight, but we arrived in San Francisco around 9am in the morning. From the airport, we decided to Uber since it was the quickest way to get downtown (25 minutes).
Our Uber took us to Fisherman’s Wharf, but you could get dropped off anywhere downtown. If you haven’t seen the famous Lombard Street, this would be a great option! You can walk down the windiest street in the world, and it would be walking distance to the pier.
Once you are by the Pier, I recommend going to Boudin and getting a fresh loaf of Sourdough bread to snack on. Then, walk to Pier 39 to shop, view Alcatraz, and see the famous sea lions sunbathing on the platforms in the bay.
Once you finish exploring the pier, you can head to Ghirardelli and see the original chocolate shop. There you can get a treat and see how the famous chocolate is made. After that, head east to explore the many unique shops and boutiques.
We accidentally made a tradition to purchase a hat every time we are in San Francisco, so we had to get a hat! If you are hungry, there are also lots of great food options here to stop for lunch.
You can plan out the rest of the day based on however you are feeling. We headed towards the Maritime National Historic Park and walked along the water. It was refreshing to hear the waves and feel the ocean air. If you don’t want to walk, there are several options like San Francisco Bike Rentals, segways, etc.
Keep heading west along the coast, there will be some incline and then you will reach the Great Meadow Park at Fort Mason. (there is a bike rental shop near the park if you are leaving later in the day, and want to go across the Golden Gate Bridge). Otherwise, keep heading west, you will see the Victorian Houses and then Marina Boulevard.
Take the San Francisco Bay Trail and spot the sailboats on the water. For a unique experience, walk out past the boats and see the art installation: The Wave Organ. The artist created a large, interactive art piece that makes music as waves enter the pipes on the beach.
We continued west and stopped to get a coffee at the Phiz Coffee Truck. It was delicious! And a great way keep up the energy for your San Francisco in one day adventure!
Then, we reached Crissy Field East Beach. This was a great spot to stop and relax and see views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Our flight left in the late afternoon, so we had a Lift driver pick us up at the Beach.
If you have more time left in the day, I highly recommend visiting the Palace of the Fine Arts (just a quick walk from Crissy Beach). Or, if you rented bikes, you can take the walking path across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Make sure to plan plenty of time to get back to the airport. You can take the BART again or be picked up by an Uber/Lift wherever you end up. Most importantly, treasure being alive and experiencing new places with the people you love! For however long you’re there.