Three Days, Three Tours—Visiting Schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and How We Did It

We went on a college road trip to Stanford, University of San Francisco, and University of California, Berkeley to gather the latest scoop for Daytripper University. Here are our notes--a sample guide you can use--from our trip. For detailed information visit each school's individualized itineraries.

Arrival: We took an early morning flight from NY to San Francisco, rented a car and drove to our base for the next few days-The Hotel Vitale. We’ve stayed here many times in the past thanks to its unbeatable location on the Embarcadero waterfront, right across from The Ferry Building, a gourmet food hall. Being close to the Oakland Bridge was especially attractive this trip as it made for a quick exit in and out of the city when we visited Stanford and UC Berkeley.  

Afternoon: After checking in we headed directly across the street to Yank Sing in the Rincon building for excellent dim sum, but we could have happily ventured across the street to the Ferry Building for a Gott’s Burger, Vietnamese fare at the Slanted Door or oysters at Hog Island. (The Slanted Door has a takeaway booth called Out the Door in the Ferry building of which we are big fans especially the chicken porridge, one of the best congees we’ve had.)  After lunch, we headed to SFMOMA (its open till 5 pm and 9 pm on Thursdays), which if you haven’t been since they redid it, is a must! We booked a table right across the street from the Vitale for dinner at Boulevard, a San Fran classic, as we knew we’d be tired and wouldn’t want to travel far. 


Day One: University of San Francisco 

After an early morning coffee at Blue Bottle in the Ferry Building, we took an uber to Velo Rouge Café for breakfast near the University of San Francisco. It wasn’t quite as close as we thought (a short but uphill walk to the USF campus) and would recommend eating breakfast on campus at The Grind Up instead for convenience. You could also travel via public transportation; the closest BART stop to USF is Civic Center, and the closest Muni routes include the #5 Fulton, #38 Geary, #31 Balboa, and #43 Masonic. Remember when touring Google Maps is your best friend! 

Information sessions and campus tours are available on most days throughout the year at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on select Saturdays at 10 a.m. After visiting campus, we took a 5-minute uber to Richmond, a neighborhood bordering USF for lunch at Burma Superstar to sample their famous samusa soup and tea leaf salad. Late afternoon we returned to the hotel, went for a run along the Embarcadero and had dinner at Liholiho Yacht Club. 


Day Two: Stanford University 

We left San Fran early morning to drive the one hour to Palo Alto, home to Stanford University. Our first stop was close to campus for breakfast at Tootsie’s at the Barn. Then we headed to Stanford where we parked at the Visitor’s Center. Inside we got a map and did our the self-guided tour. The campus is spread out, and we highly recommend you book the golf cart tour in advance, but if it's not available campus walking tours are held 7 days a week at 11: 30 am and 3:30 pm. Highlights on campus not to miss include the Memorial Church and the Cantor Art Center’s impressive Rodin Sculpture Garden. We refueled at Coupa Café’s outdoor kiosk by the library—a great place to sit and observe student life. The afternoon was for exploring downtown Palo Alto with an excellent lunch at Oren’s Hummus. Back in San Francisco dinner, that evening was in Chinatown at Mister Jiu’s. 


Day Three: University of California, Berkeley 

Another early morning drive, this time a quick 25 minutes from the Vitale to Cal Berkeley. We had time, so we headed to Bette’s Diner, some 10 minutes or so from campus. Bette’s is a local institution, a charming classic old-style diner with seriously good food to match. Short on time, you can grab a quick bite right on campus at the Golden Bear Café or a pastry and coffee at Caffe Strada, where we could have easily lingered all morning on their lovely patio.  Walking tours are at 10 am, and start at the Koret Visitors Center. After touring the campus, we saw the latest exhibit at BAMPFA, Berkeley’s art museum and film institute, before heading to lunch at the Cheese Board Collective. On a previous visit we had booked a table at the café at Chez Panisse, chef Alice Water’s legendary spot; well known as the birthplace of California cuisine. Late afternoon we headed back to San Francisco for some shopping in Hayes Valley (the best shops are located on Hayes Street and Gough St.) ending our day there with upscale Mexican at Cala.

DTU’s College Tour Planner