How to spend 24 hours in San Francisco

By Kris Shannon

Kris Shannon drinks in as much San Fran as he can during a brief visit.

Hire a bike from Blazing Saddles and cycle across San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user John Martinez Pavliga
Hire a bike from Blazing Saddles and cycle across San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user John Martinez Pavliga

What to do for 24 hours in San Francisco? Sight-see? Eat and drink? Exercise? Why choose one, when the intrepid traveller can accomplish all three.


The most important dining aid to remember at Fogo de Chao is the coaster. Sure, a knife and fork is handy — and an empty stomach helps.

But the coaster is the only thing that makes the restaurant's all-you-can-eat mantra more an amusing challenge than an arduous chore.

Facing up, green means go. As in, "go on, my profuse meat sweats are no reason to stop eating". And flipped over, red means stop. As in, "if you don't stop making me eat this cow I'm going to end up resembling one".

A traditional Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chao offers more cuts of meat than a slaughterhouse. For a set price, vast quantities of various beasts are brought straight to your seat, until you make like Roberto Duran and plead: "No mas."

You might think you're handling the task pretty well after the six cuts of steak, but then comes the chicken. And then the sausage. And then the pork ribs.

Oh, and there's also a fully equipped salad bar, because balanced eating is healthy eating.


With all that salad, it's understandable to wake up a bit bloated and in need of some exercise. And there's no better way to make the blood flow than cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Picking up a bike from Blazing Saddles near Fisherman's Wharf, a rider can cruise along the waterfront toward the base of the bridge having barely raised their pulse. But when the resplendently red steel is seemingly within touching distance, it's time to rise out of that blazing saddle and make like a mountain stage on the Tour of California.

Or not. On a brilliantly sunny Saturday, we traversed the most photographed bridge in the world. Plenty of people — this athlete included — jumped off and walked their way up the winding hills to reach the summit.

It is, after all, a journey far from limited to the fit; for every lycra-clad semi-pro, there's an idiot like me who decided to wear jeans.

The path along the bridge is magnificent — albeit a little crowded — and riding down into Sausalito is much more relaxing than riding up.


You did it, you biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, 90 minutes of tough but rewarding work. Time to get drunk. But not just normal drunk — you deserve a treat.

The Li Po Lounge is an intimate cocktail joint where only one order is acceptable: the Chinese Mai Tai, a drink so potent that patrons are restricted to two servings before being sent packing.

Legend has it, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were once regulars at Li Po and, chances are, probably exceeded the two-drink limit.

But you're not some famously alcoholic writer; you're an athlete! So toast your success in small doses, enjoy the anachronistic pop tunes and contemplate 24 hours well spent.


Getting there: Fiji Airways flies from Auckland to San Francisco via Nadi.

- NZ Herald

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