If you are taking the time to go the US west coast from Europe for example, one of the likely destinations is a very urban one, San Francisco. A very human scaled town. The West Coast jewel, center and background of many a TV show and movies. Just walking, biking or taking public transport you could enjoy a full week of activities without ever crossing one of its famous bridges or even going southern than South San Francisco and the SF International Airport.
But of course you can do much more. The Bay Area is the greater metropolitan area, and even close by are great sites and day visits. May it be wine, nature or sports, the Bay Area, San Francisco, Marine County, Napa y Sonoma, dare north west to Lake Tahoe and the sky resorts or dare go south to Santa Cruz and World famous Monterrey Aquarium even further south. You are bound to use a rental car to explore them all and why not the the boat to visit Alcatraz and if you really want to risk the weather and sea sickness a one day tour of the Farallon Islands to look for the great white sharks.
So here are the tips and recommendations when you are ready and done with your urban tourist San Francisco tour checklist. First of all, rent a car, if you do not drive, find friends that do and take them with you. Once that is settled, be prudent, take it easy, it is not a race, leave stuff to do in you next visit, San Francisco is changing every day, is the Gay City, is the Singles City and it is the technology city. If you are single or gay or single and gay and work for a tech Silicon Valley giant chances are you will try to get a job in SF. That is a game changing logic that is transforming the city more than any other force, no wonder since this great force has something backing it up, money, lots of money than commands its wishes onto the city.
So you will come back and maybe to live or study.
Things you can do. Check the university towns, Stanford (Palo Alto) and Berkeley to get a feel what it is like to study there.
Check nature, Muir Woods and its impressive redwoods, take a walk among its giants and climb to see the Pacific. Do kayaking off the coast north of San Francisco by Point Reyes.
See what the laid back surfing feeling is all about in Santa Cruz and drive further to check out Monterrey book a night there instead of making it back to SF.
Also a one day escapade at least to visit Napa and Sonoma, go wine tasting to as many wineries as you can (drive safely) and enjoy a stay in a hotel with a nice spa.
If it is winter make it to any of the sky resorts close to Lake Tahoe, great places to stay and great food. Many famous like Squaw Valley or less know but with plenty of snow like Kirkwood. Check out the story of Donner Pass and find out what happens when lots of people get trapped in the mountains with nowhere to go.