Are you planning a trip to San Francisco? This city is known for its iconic landmarks, diverse culture, and stunning views. With so many things to do, it can be overwhelming to decide what to prioritize during your stay.
Iteresting facts about San Francisco:
- San Francisco is known as the “City by the Bay” because it’s situated on a bay called the San Francisco Bay.
- The Golden Gate Bridge, which spans the entrance to the San Francisco Bay, is one of the most famous bridges in the world. It’s also one of the most photographed landmarks in the city.
- San Francisco is home to the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. The neighborhood is full of restaurants, shops, and cultural landmarks.
- The city’s famous cable cars are the last manually operated cable car system in the world. The system has been in operation since 1873 and is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
- Alcatraz Island, located in the San Francisco Bay, was once home to a federal prison that housed some of the most notorious criminals in American history, including Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz.”
- San Francisco is the birthplace of the United Nations. The UN was founded in 1945 at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center.
- The city is home to the largest and oldest LGBT pride parade in the world, which takes place every year in June. The parade attracts over a million people each year.
- San Francisco is also known for its thriving tech industry, with companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter all having offices in the city.
- The city has a rich literary history, with many famous writers, including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Armistead Maupin, calling San Francisco home.
- San Francisco is also famous for its food, with many local specialties, including sourdough bread, seafood, and Mission-style burritos.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 30 best things to do in San Francisco to help you plan your trip and make the most out of your visit.
Explore the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see attraction in San Francisco. The bridge spans 1.7 miles across the Golden Gate Strait and offers stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and the city skyline. You can walk, bike or drive across the bridge, but we highly recommend walking or biking for the best experience. The bridge is often covered in fog, so it’s best to plan your visit on a clear day for optimal views. There are also several lookout points on both ends of the bridge that offer great photo opportunities.
Visit Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island is a unique attraction in San Francisco that’s full of history and intrigue. The island was once home to a federal prison and is now a national park that offers tours of the prison cells and facilities. The tour includes an audio guide that takes you through the prison and tells you about the history of the island. You can also explore the gardens and other facilities on the island, and take in the stunning views of the city skyline and the bay.
Take a Cable Car Ride
Taking a cable car ride is a classic San Francisco experience. The city’s cable cars are a national historic landmark and offer a fun and unique way to see the city. The cable cars operate on three lines throughout the city, and you can hop on and off at various stops along the way. We recommend taking a ride from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, or from Powell Street to Lombard Street for the best experience.
Walk through Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is a large urban park in the heart of San Francisco that offers plenty of things to see and do. The park is home to many museums, gardens, and other attractions, including the California Academy of Sciences, the de Young Museum, and the Japanese Tea Garden. You can also walk or bike through the park’s trails, visit the lakes, and enjoy the beautiful gardens and flowers.
Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is a popular tourist destination in San Francisco that’s full of energy and excitement. The wharf is home to many seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, and street performers. You can also visit the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and see historic ships, including the Hyde Street Pier.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and is a vibrant neighborhood full of culture and history. The neighborhood is full of shops, restaurants, and markets, and you can explore the colorful streets and alleyways for hours. You can also visit the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum and learn about the history of the Chinese community in San Francisco.
Visit the California Palace of the Legion of Honor
The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is a beautiful museum that’s home to many art collections, including European paintings, ancient art, and decorative arts. The museum is located in a beautiful setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, and you can also walk through the museum’s sculpture garden.
Take a Ferry to Sausalito
Sausalito is a charming town across the San Francisco Bay that’s worth a visit. You can take a ferry from San Francisco and enjoy the scenic views of the bay on the way. Once in Sausalito, you can explore the town’s colorful streets, visit art galleries and shops, and enjoy waterfront restaurants and cafes.
Visit the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is a hands-on science museum that’s perfect for all ages. The museum has over 650 interactive exhibits that teach science, art, and human perception. You can spend hours exploring the museum and learning about various scientific concepts. Some of the popular exhibits include the Tactile Dome, where you navigate in complete darkness using only your sense of touch, and the Fog Bridge, where you can walk through a cloud of fog.
See the Painted Ladies
The Painted Ladies are a row of Victorian houses that are painted in bright and vibrant colors. They’re located across from Alamo Square Park and offer a picturesque view of San Francisco’s skyline. You can sit on the grass and enjoy a picnic while taking in the beautiful views. The houses have also been featured in many movies and TV shows, including the opening credits of Full House.
Stroll through the Mission District
The Mission District is a vibrant neighborhood that’s home to many street murals, trendy cafes, and boutique shops. You can explore the neighborhood’s colorful streets, visit the Mission Dolores Park, and try some of the best Mexican food in the city. The neighborhood is also home to many cultural events and festivals, including the Day of the Dead parade and the Carnaval festival.
Visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a museum that’s dedicated to modern and contemporary art. It’s home to over 33,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and installations. The museum is located in a beautiful building that was designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta. The museum also has a rooftop garden that offers panoramic views of the city.
Enjoy a Giants Game at Oracle Park
Oracle Park is the home of the San Francisco Giants, a Major League Baseball team. You can catch a game, enjoy some ballpark food, and take in the views of the San Francisco Bay. The stadium is also known for its unique features, including the Coca-Cola bottle slide and the giant glove in left field.
Haight-Ashbury is a historic neighborhood that’s famous for its role in the 1960s counterculture movement. You can explore the neighborhood’s colorful Victorian houses, vintage clothing stores, and record shops. The neighborhood also has many murals and street art that showcase its vibrant culture and history.
Visit the Japanese Tea Garden
The Japanese Tea Garden is a beautiful garden that’s located in Golden Gate Park. It’s home to many Japanese plants, trees, and sculptures. You can enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and take a stroll through the serene gardens. The garden also has a koi pond and a waterfall that add to its peaceful atmosphere.
Walk along the Embarcadero
The Embarcadero is a waterfront promenade that’s located along the San Francisco Bay. You can enjoy views of the Bay Bridge, visit the Ferry Building Marketplace, and see the iconic Pier 39 sea lions. The Embarcadero also has many restaurants, cafes, and shops where you can grab a bite to eat or do some shopping.
Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum
The Walt Disney Family Museum is a museum that’s dedicated to the life and work of Walt Disney. It’s home to many exhibits that showcase Disney’s animations, movies, and personal life. You can learn about Disney’s early days in animation, his contributions to the film industry, and his vision for Disneyland.
Go to the Top of Coit Tower
Coit Tower is a 210-foot tower that’s located in Telegraph Hill. You can take an elevator to the top and enjoy 360-degree views of the city. The tower was built in 1933 and is known for its beautiful murals that depict scenes from San Francisco’s history. You can also take a guided tour of the tower and learn about its architecture and history.
Visit the de Young Museum
The de Young Museum is an art museum that’s located in Golden Gate Park. It’s home to many American art collections, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The museum also has a beautiful observation tower that offers panoramic views of the city. The museum hosts many temporary exhibits throughout the year, so be sure to check out their website for current exhibitions.
Take a Segway Tour of San Francisco
Taking a Segway tour is a fun and unique way to explore San Francisco. You can see many of the city’s top attractions while gliding on a Segway. The tour guides will show you how to ride a Segway, and you’ll have a chance to practice before heading out on the tour. Some of the popular Segway tours include the Waterfront Segway Tour and the Golden Gate Park Segway Tour.
Visit the Cable Car Museum
The Cable Car Museum is a museum that’s dedicated to the history of San Francisco’s cable cars. You can see the museum’s collection of historic cable cars, learn about the mechanics of the cable car system, and see the cables in action. The museum is also home to many antique cable car-related artifacts, including photographs and uniforms.
Tour the Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is a beautiful monument that was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The monument is surrounded by a serene lagoon and lush greenery. You can take a walk through the monument and enjoy the beautiful architecture and peaceful surroundings. The monument also hosts many cultural events and concerts throughout the year.
Explore the Castro District
The Castro District is a colorful neighborhood that’s known for its LGBTQ+ community. You can explore the neighborhood’s vibrant streets, visit the Castro Theatre, and try some of the best brunch spots in the city. The neighborhood is also home to many historic sites, including the Harvey Milk Plaza and the GLBT History Museum.
See the Wave Organ
The Wave Organ is an acoustic sculpture that’s located in the Marina District. The sculpture is designed to make music from the sound of the waves. You can sit on the nearby benches and listen to the sounds of the waves as they pass through the sculpture. The Wave Organ is a unique piece of art that’s worth visiting.
Visit the Conservatory of Flowers
The Conservatory of Flowers is a botanical garden that’s located in Golden Gate Park. It’s home to many exotic plants and flowers, including orchids, bromeliads, and carnivorous plants. You can take a self-guided tour of the conservatory and learn about the different plants and their habitats. The conservatory also hosts many special events, including flower shows and holiday exhibits.
Explore the Ferry Building Marketplace
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a food hall that’s located in the Ferry Building. It’s home to many local food vendors, artisanal products, and restaurants. You can try some of the best oysters, bread, and cheese in the city, and buy souvenirs and gifts from the local shops. The marketplace also hosts a farmers’ market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Walk through Lombard Street
Lombard Street is a famous street that’s known for its winding curves and beautiful flowers. You can walk or drive through the street and enjoy the beautiful views of the city. The street has eight hairpin turns and is lined with colorful flowers and houses. Lombard Street is also known for its appearance in many movies and TV shows, including the car chase scene in Bullitt.
Visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum
The Contemporary Jewish Museum is a museum that’s dedicated to Jewish art, history, and culture. The museum hosts many temporary exhibits throughout the year that showcase Jewish artists and their work. The museum is also home to a beautiful architectural design that blends the historic and modern elements of San Francisco.
See the Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument is a beautiful park that’s located just outside of San Francisco. The park is home to many ancient redwood trees that are over 1,000 years old. You can take a guided tour of the park and learn about the history and ecology of the redwoods. The park also has many hiking trails that offer stunning views of the trees and the surrounding landscape.
Visit the Asian Art Museum
The Asian Art Museum is a museum that’s dedicated to Asian art and culture. The museum is home to many collections of Asian art, including paintings, sculptures, and textiles. The museum also hosts many temporary exhibits throughout the year that showcase various aspects of Asian culture. The museum is located in a beautiful building that was designed by the Italian architect Gae Aulenti.
In conclusion, San Francisco is a city that’s full of culture, history, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in art, food, or outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. These 30 best things to do in San Francisco are just a few examples of the many attractions and experiences that the city has to offer. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to explore this beautiful city on the bay!
What is the best time of year to visit San Francisco?
The best time to visit San Francisco is in the fall (September-November) or the spring (March-May). The weather is mild, and there are fewer tourists during these seasons. However, be prepared for some fog and cooler temperatures, especially in the morning and evening.
How do I get to Alcatraz Island?
You can take a ferry from Pier 33 in San Francisco to Alcatraz Island. It’s best to book your tickets in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly. The ferry ride takes about 15-20 minutes each way, and the tour of the island takes about 2-3 hours.
Are there any free things to do in San Francisco?
Yes, there are many free things to do in San Francisco, including visiting Golden Gate Park, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, exploring the Ferry Building Marketplace, and hiking in the Presidio. You can also enjoy free admission to many museums and cultural institutions on certain days of the week.
Can I rent a bike to explore the city?
Yes, you can rent a bike to explore San Francisco. There are many bike rental shops throughout the city, and you can also rent bikes through bike-sharing programs like Ford GoBike. Biking is a great way to see the city and get some exercise at the same time.
Where can I find the best seafood in San Francisco?
There are many great seafood restaurants in San Francisco, but some of the best include Swan Oyster Depot, Fisherman’s Grotto, and the Crab House at Pier 39. You can also try some of the local seafood specialties, like Dungeness crab and clam chowder.