San Fransico has numerous issues to do, from strolling throughout the Golden Gate Bridge to driving its iconic cable vehicles. Dive into Alcatraz Island’s wealthy historical past, really feel the Mission Murals’ creative pulse, and indulge in the legendary Irish Coffee on the Buena Vista Cafe.
Whether you’re buying at Union Square or marveling on the creative masterpieces in the SFMOMA, town gives one thing for each traveler. Join us as we information you thru the highest issues to do in San Francisco.
Best Things to Do in San Francisco
There is little doubt that visiting San Francisco will likely be an American trip you’ll keep in mind for years to come. I do know we did!
San Francisco is among the finest cities in California if not top-of-the-line cities in the US, and planning a visit there’s so thrilling. Whether you wander via San Francisco’s Chinatown or need to discover the most effective spot to view the long-lasting skyline at sundown, this information has all the most effective issues to do in San Francisco.
Getting Around SF
When we first visited San Francisco, we purchased a hop-on hop-off bus ticket, and it was a good way to see all the key San Francisco points of interest in a short while.
Book personal your airport switch to make touchdown on the airport simpler. Enjoy a non-public switch immediately to your downtown SF Hotel. The metropolis is easy to navigate, particularly if you happen to keep someplace central. For a greater concept of the place to keep, take a look at our information on the place to keep in San Francisco.
1. Ride the Cable Cars
San Francisco’s cable vehicles are legendary, and no journey can be full with out hopping on one and doing a metropolis tour. This tour is a good way to see town’s prime highlights, together with Union Square, Chinatown, Nob Hill, The Italian Quarter, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Details right here.
Cable automotive rides are thought-about an icon of town, and you need to take a experience simply for the expertise whereas visiting. Plus, driving its cable vehicles is one of the best ways to deal with San Francisco’s steep hills. You’ll discover most points of interest in the center of San Francisco.
You don’t want to take a tour to experience the cable vehicles; they’re a part of town’s transportation. The finest means to get round San Francisco is on foot or public transport. The metropolis’s public transport system known as Muni. You will pay per particular person experience or buy a Muni Passport, which additionally offers you limitless rides on all public transportation for a one-three or seven-day interval.
2. Cable Car Museum
Visiting the Cable Car Museum gives an perception into town’s particular transportation system. Location is vital, and the museum takes the ‘location, location, location’ motto significantly. The museum overlooks the pulley system, and guests can wander outdoors onto the deck to observe the behind-the-scenes motion of its well-known cable vehicles.
The exhibit covers all the things from outdated classic vehicles from the 1870s to mechanical shows and historic artifacts like black-and-white pictures
3. Walk Lombard Street
Lombard Street is named the “crookedest street in the world” and options eight hairpin turns. It was designed in the Twenties when the vehicles of that point lacked the ability to make it up the steepest of hills.
To go to Lombard Street for your self, you possibly can stroll or drive. If you might be strolling, think about strolling down Lombard Street moderately than up – belief us, your legs will thanks. The road weaves via the neighborhood of Russian Hill, which is filled with steep hills. Read extra: 16 Great Hikes in San Francisco, California
4. Walk The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is among the most iconic landmarks in all the world. Whether staying for 24 hours, 72 hours, or two weeks, the Golden Gate Bridge will likely be on the prime of your itinerary.
The Golden Gate Bridge was constructed to join town to Marin County throughout the Golden Gate Strait, and in the present day, strolling throughout is among the hottest issues to do. The stroll begins at Vista Point. The finest means to go throughout the Golden Gate Bridge is on a guided tour. This guided bike tour is a 3-hour tour taking you throughout the bridge and to different prime San Francisco points of interest.
The iconic bridge is an enormous a part of town skyline. The Bay space across the bridge is so common that it’s now thought-about a nationwide park. The space known as Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is filled with completely different viewpoints and mountaineering trails.
To expertise the Golden Gate Bridge stroll throughout it on the pedestrian footpath and head to viewpoints for a panoramic view. Marin Headlands is the most effective place to watch the sundown, whereas Fort Point is the most effective shot for daybreak and dawn.
5. Baker Beach
Baker Beach is a quiet, one-mile-long seaside that’s serene and good for a seaside stroll or a dip in the ocean. It additionally has one of many metropolis’s finest views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, which spans the bay perpendicular to the seaside. Even in the tough noon mild, you’ll be blown away by the view. Prepare to be wowed totally at sundown and keep lengthy sufficient to watch the bridge and metropolis mild up.
The seaside will get crowded (you possibly can’t hold good issues a secret for lengthy), however don’t let that cease you from visiting. If something, the crowds make Baker Beach a bit safer to go to – particularly at sundown in low-level lighting. To get there, take the 29 Sunset bus or taxi, uber or Lyft. Parking is restricted.
6. Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island is a nationwide historic landmark and is over a century outdated. The infamous island was as soon as one of many world’s most high-security jails. Alcatraz housed well-known inmates corresponding to Al Capone and Billy Cook – the Killer.
You can go to the island and tour the jail, together with the cell block.
The jail closed in 1963, and since then, it has turn into one of many US’s finest historic and cultural points of interest. If you’re keen on darkish historical past, it is among the finest locations to go to in San Francisco.
There are unbiased displays to uncover, audio excursions, and a guided strolling tour on sure days. The jail remains to be in glorious situation, and wandering the cell corridors is an eerie glimpse into the island’s pre-Nineteen Sixties life. This highly-rated tour features a self-guided audio tour of Alcatraz Island. Details right here.
7. Fisherman’s Wharf
What would a visit to San Francisco be with out recognizing the well-known California sea lions? If you head down to Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll discover Pier 39, the favourite spot of a giant colony of sea lions. They first appeared in 1989 and haven’t left since.
This might be probably the most touristy space of town, however additionally it is the right place to go to if it’s your first time in town. Here, you’ll additionally discover the well-known San Francisco clam chowder, tickets for Alcatraz, and vacationer experiences like Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and The San Francisco Dungeon.
8. Visit San Francisco’s Chinatown
San Francisco’s Chinatown is North America’s Oldest Chinatown and is a must-visit. The entrance is straightforward to discover and is marked by a hanging Dragon Gate at Grant Avenue and Bush Street.
This neighborhood of exercise and flurry covers 30 sq. blocks the place you possibly can immerse in Asian tradition, eat dim sum, do some buying, and take in its bustling ambiance.
Take a culinary tour for an immersive expertise via the neighborhood sampling genuine Chinese meals as you stroll the slim streets indulging in dim sum, tea, fortune cookies, and extra.
9. See the Painted Ladies
Ready to meet some film stars? The Painted Ladies are a row of Victorian homes continuously used as movie units in motion pictures and tv sequence – Most Notably Full House. But Full House isn’t the one title you’ll acknowledge. Mrs. Doubtifre was additionally the setting of those stunning women.
You can ebook this San Francisco Movie tour that can take you to iconic areas which have been seen on the large display. More than 50 well-known motion pictures have been filmed in San Francisco, and this 3-hour journey options the Painted women and extra!
The pastel-colored homes are positioned in the neighborhood of Alamo Square Park. And when you can not enter the Painted Ladies since they’re personal residences, you possibly can snap loads of pictures from the surface.
Alamo Square Park is positioned throughout the road from the Painted Ladies and has stunning views of the homes, metropolis and bay. The park is simply off the Hayes Street and Scott Street intersect, simply accessible by bus from town middle. The Hop on Hop off Bus additionally stops in this space.
10. Golden Gate Park – De Young Museum
Golden Gate Park spans 1000 acres with museums, manicured gardens, and vacationer points of interest. It warrants a full day to see all of its points of interest. From horseback driving to bike leases, it’s simple to spend a day having fun with all the things the park has to provide.
A treasure of Golden Gate Park is the De Young Museum, a high quality artwork museum. If you need your artwork gallery repair, this museum is among the finest issues to do.
The museum is full of trendy artwork and historic treasures. You may view a Thirteenth-century wooden sculpture one minute and The Obama Portraits Tour the following. De Young Museum is fast-paced and encourages fast considering, encompassing American artwork and artwork from Africa and Oceania.
11. Spot the bison at Golden Gate Park
Another cool factor to see in Golden Gate Park is its bison herd at Bison Paddock. The animals are cared for by the San Francisco Zoo, and the paddock is open for members of the general public to spot the bison over the fence line. If you might be visiting Golden Gate Park, why not make a detour?
The first bison was introduced to Golden Gate Park in 1891 to recreate the Wild West and assist conservation makes an attempt. Thanks to conservation efforts, bison are not beneath menace of extinction.
12. Japanese Tea Garden – Golden Gate Park
Fancy a calming stroll? Walking via the Japanese Garden is among the most serene outside actions in San Francisco. It can be the oldest public Japanese backyard in the US. Make certain to cease on the tea home.
Located in the center of Golden Gate Park, it’s a stunning place to go to in central San Francisco to benefit from the serenity of a Japanese backyard. It is stylish in the springtime when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. But even in winter, the backyard has a relaxing appeal.
13. Take a San Francisco Bay boat tour
On a ship tour, you’ll go many points of interest, together with the SF Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island. You may select a sundown catamaran tour with dinner or a daytime sightseeing cruise with informative commentary. This Golden Gate Bay Cruise additionally contains the hippy enclave of Sausalito. Make certain to hold an eye fixed out for dolphins and whales.
A good way to discover the highest San Francisco points of interest is to buy a San Francisco Explorer Pass. Choose 2, 3, 4, or 5 points of interest and excursions. More particulars right here.
14. California Academy of Sciences
Think science museum, after which amplify it by 100. The California Academy of Sciences is an unimaginable museum containing an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and pure historical past museum worthy of spending an entire day (if not two). You can ebook tickets forward of time, together with entry to all in at some point on the California Academy of Sciences.
15. Palace of Fine Arts
Don’t miss going to the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco – We captured this magnificence at sundown. The Palace is the one remaining construction from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
With its Greek-style colonnades and hovering central rotunda, the Palace of Fine Arts is gorgeous and has been featured in a number of motion pictures. The structure’s grandeur and scale make is a picturesque place to calm down and have a picnic.
16. Have breakfast at North Beach
North Beach is San Francisco’s ‘Little Italy,’ and the hospitality is second to none. You’ll really feel such as you’ve stepped into Europe with the al fresco retro eating. The space has loads of Italian eating places, and it is among the finest locations in San Francisco for nightlife. The native favorites for breakfast are Nob Hill Café, Caffe Macaroni, and Tosca Café.
Or you possibly can take a stroll as you get pleasure from genuine Italian Gelato whereas buying for books at City Lights Bookstore and Publishing or visiting the Beat Museum.
17. Wander the Mission District
The Mission District is famend for its spectacular Mission Murals. The finest locations to see the Mission murals are alongside Clarion Alley, Caledonia Alley, Balmy Alley, and Horace Alley
As you wander via the neighborhood, you’ll encounter partitions and alleys reworked into dynamic canvases, showcasing gorgeous murals that inform tales of heritage, wrestle, and neighborhood.
The primary thoroughfares of the Mission District are Mission Street and Valencia Street, recognized for its various array of eating places and outlets. Visitors will discover classic outfitters second-hand data and bookstores most notably Quarius Records, Dog Eared Books, and Borderlands Books.
Plus, the Mission District is acknowledged as an rising hotspot for buying, eating, and nightlife.
This strolling tour is an immersive cultural journey that provides a novel glimpse into the center and soul of town. The space can be recognized for its second-hand data and bookstores it’s a treasure trove of nostalgia with shops like A
18. City Lights Bookstore
Speaking of Bookstores, City Lights Bookstore is a San Francisco Institution specializing in world literature, the humanities, and progressive politics. It was based in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, who left two years later.
The retailer gained fame following the obscenity trial of Ferlinghetti for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s influential assortment “Howl and Other Poels. In 2001, City Lights was designated an official historic landmark.
TreasureFest, previously generally known as Treasure Island Flea Market, is held on the final full weekend of each month. This vigorous occasion transforms Treasure Island into an eclectic hub of indie crafts, antiques, and stay music.
Launched in 2011 by San Franciscans Angie and Charles Ansanelli, the competition was designed to foster neighborhood involvement and spotlight native expertise.
With over 400 native distributors, buyers will discover classic items, handmade crafts, and distinctive antiques, all set towards the scenic backdrop of the San Francisco Bay.
Visitors also can get pleasure from a wide range of meals vans, interactive DIY workshops, and stay music, creating an immersive expertise that encapsulates the spirit of San Francisco. The occasion’s pet-friendly ambiance, themed markets, and number of culinary choices make it a pleasant vacation spot for all kinds of vacationers.
20. Hayes Valley
Nestled in the center of San Francisco, Hayes Valley is a vibrant neighborhood recognized for its stylish boutiques, beautiful eating, and dynamic artwork scene. Stroll alongside Hayes Street to uncover a various number of fashion-forward outlets and specialty shops, good for distinctive finds.
Food lovers can savor varied culinary delights, from cozy cafés to upscale eating places serving international cuisines. The space can be a cultural hub, dwelling to the San Francisco Jazz Center and a stone’s throw from the famend SF Symphony and Opera.
Don’t miss the Proxy, an out of doors area internet hosting movie screenings and meals vans, providing a style of the local people spirit.
21. Shop at Haight Ashbury
Haight-Ashbury turned well-known primarily due to its function as a central hub of the hippie counterculture in the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties. By the mid-Nineteen Sixties, it had turn into a middle for the hippie motion.
Today, Haight Ashbury is understood for its distinctive boutiques, distinctive eating places, classic and retro-themed outlets, just like the well-known Amoeba Records and Booksmith. The space can be recognized for its focus of Victorian houses, colourful murals, galleries, and artwork areas.
22. See the Parrotts Coit Tower
Coit Tower is a 210-foot constructing providing panoramic views over the San Francisco skyline, plus a house for an estimated flock of 400-plus parrots. The parrots don’t simply stay in the tower; they’re all around the Telegraph Hill neighborhood.
You can climb to the highest of the tower for an inexpensive entrance value and see the entire metropolis on a transparent day. You’ll have the opportunity to spot Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, plus all of the skyscrapers and skyline landmarks.
The tower was constructed in the Nineteen Thirties but stays top-of-the-line viewpoints in SF. You might also need to learn: The Ultimate San Francisco Photography Guide
23. Ferry Building Marketplace
Ferry Building is an indoor artisan meals market. If you need to seize breakfast or lunch on the go, you actually can’t discover wherever higher. Once a major public transport constructing, it’s now a spot for native distributors and farmers to promote their natural and handmade produce.
The market advocates for regional and conventional manufacturing – constructing a robust sense of neighborhood whereas preserving native historical past and life. Grab a cup of Joe at Blue Bottle Coffee and luxuriate in perusing the outlets. The Saturday Farmers Market is the most effective time to go to.
24. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Step into the World of Wonder at SFMOMA: A San Francisco Must-See for Art Aficionados. As one of many metropolis’s premier locations, SFMOMA is dwelling to a staggering array of over 33,000 artworks, encompassing a various vary of recent and modern items.
From awe-inspiring installations to thought-provoking work and sculptures, the museum presents works by illustrious artists like Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol.
25. Asian Art Museum
For those that love the high quality arts, the Asian Art Museum comprises over 18,000 Asian artworks and is among the world’s best collections. The exhibitions are dynamic and thrilling, utilizing a wide range of mediums, together with video, basic canvases, and gem stones.
26. San Francisco Botanical Garden
Visiting the San Francisco Botanical Garden is a stunning means to escape town. The 55-acre backyard has 8,000 flower varieties, together with native and worldwide vegetation. Visitors can discover from a succulent backyard to a towering Redwood grove, passing by African calla lilies.
You’ll discover the Great Meadow & Fountain Plaza and Redwood Grove in the gardens. The botanical backyard’s Redwood Grove gives a glimpse of those majestic bushes for those that can’t go to the Redwood National Forest or John Muir Woods.
Plus, the backyard has the most important assortment of Magnolia bushes outdoors of China, with the most effective viewing time from mid-December via March.
27. Lands End Lookout
This space known as Lands End as a result of it’s positioned actually on the finish of all land to the west, as its cliffs finish on the base of the Pacific Ocean. Here, you’ll discover Ocean Beach, the place superior surfers exhibit their expertise.
Its waves are notoriously enormous and unsuitable for swimmers due to harmful currents however sunbathers can safely watch the motion from the shore. On a transparent day, the hikers can see far into the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Marin Headlands to the north, and the Golden Gate Bridge to the east.
The historic Sutro Baths and Park on the Lands End Main Parking Lot can even be discovered. The Sutro Baths are top-of-the-line locations for images, the place you’ll discover San Francisco’s Heart. A rock formation in the form of a coronary heart.
Besides the Sutro Baths, different viewpoints embody the Eastern Coastal Trail Lookout, Lands End Labyrinth, and Dead Man’s Point.
28. Angel Island
Angel Island is one among our favourite San Francisco issues to do. The island was as soon as an immigration station (not not like Ellis Island in New York), and a navy base. Visiting right here gives an exquisite 360-degree view of town and the Bay Area.
The island is now a state park bursting with trails, greenery, and San Francisco’s historical past. It is the second largest island in SF Bay and is conveniently positioned, making it a incredible day journey.
It has loads of pure magnificence in addition to historic buildings to discover. The island is an ideal choice if you’d like an tour from the CBD.
To go to, catch a ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf. You can then select to discover independently or buy a guided strolling tour.
29. Mission Dolores Park
This 16-acre park is among the hottest parks in San Francisco. It has all the things: a soccer discipline, tennis courts, a basketball court docket, and frequent cultural occasions.
It has superb views of the bay, and the park has considerably of a cultural and historic stamp. Mission Dolores Park has a number of monuments, such because the Mexico Liberty Bell and Miguel Hidalgo Statue.
And, with all of the cultural occasions like festivals and music performances, it’s value checking to see if something of curiosity coincides along with your go to. Who is aware of? Maybe you’ll strike fortunate. Plus, the ambiance will likely be second to none, even if you happen to don’t know any performers.
30. Watch a Giants sport at Oracle Park
What is extra American than baseball? The San Francisco Giants are a number one baseball group in the Major League with a fierce following throughout the US.
Whether or not you’re a sports activities fan, watching a baseball sport at Oracle Park is among the most enjoyable and atmospheric issues to do in SF.
A baseball sport is a incredible means to admire the American (and San Franciscan) spirit.
The main league baseball season sometimes runs from April to October, longer in the event that they make the playoffs. It is value checking to see if a sport coincides along with your go to or contemplating it when reserving your journey.
31. Hike Up Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks is among the finest mountaineering trails in town for spectacular metropolis views of the bay. It is a closely trafficked loop path, and you’ll drive or cycle up to the lookout.
It is the second-highest peak in San Francisco (922-foot tall ) that overlooks all the Bay Area and town’s landmarks.
The hike feels distant from town, with forest trails, eucalyptus bushes, rocky outcrops, picket walkways and dust paths taking you up to Eureka Peak and Noe Peak.
32. Visit the Buena Vista Cafe
As the birthplace of the American model of Irish Coffee, the Buena Vista Cafe gives a pleasant mix of wealthy espresso, clean Irish whiskey, and creamy topping, creating an unforgettable style sensation.
Savoring this famed beverage isn’t nearly having fun with a drink; it’s about being a part of a timeless San Francisco custom. The cafe’s cozy, welcoming ambiance and panoramic metropolis views make for the right backdrop to get pleasure from this basic concoction.
33. Attend the Stern Grove Festival
The Stern Grove Festival is a sequence of free performing arts occasions held every summer season. Established in 1938, it takes place in the picturesque Sigmund Stern Grove, a eucalyptus-wooded pure amphitheater about two miles south of Golden Gate Park. The competition spans a 33-acre web site from nineteenth Avenue and Sloat Boulevard to thirty fourth Avenue.
Since its inaugural live performance on July 10, 1938, carried out by the Bay Region Symphony of the Federal Music Project, the competition has featured varied performances. In 1943, the San Francisco Ballet carried out on the competition for the primary time, turning into an everyday in its summer season lineup.
The competition underwent renovations in 2004, reopening its 68th season in June 2005.
How to Get to San Francisco
San Francisco sits in Northern California, a few six-hour drive north of Los Angeles. The metropolis is straightforward to attain by way of air, rail, street, and sea. We visited San Francisco on a street journey and located driving a good way to get round. You can examine automotive rental costs right here.
The primary airport is the San Francisco International Airport, which is positioned 13 miles from downtown. To get downtown, you possibly can take the airport shuttle busses, taxis, Uber, and Lyft.
Best Time to Visit San Francisco
Spring and fall are San Francisco’s two shoulder seasons. However, fall (September to November) has a number of the warmest temperatures and fewest crowds – a win-win.
September is San Francisco’s warmest month and is ideal for strolling across the metropolis and exploring the most effective close by mountaineering trails.
San Francisco is a metropolis that fits all seasons, however if you’d like the most effective expertise we advise visiting in the autumn.
At the start of autumn, you’ll additionally discover probably the most road gala’s and markets in San Francisco. This season is filled with life and exercise and has the climate to match.
Questions People Also Ask About San Francisco
Is 2 Days Enough for San Francisco?
Two days in San Francisco may be enough to see a few of its highlights, however it received’t permit for a complete exploration of town. With a well-planned itinerary, you possibly can go to well-known landmarks such because the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Alcatraz Island.
What is the Number One Attraction in San Francisco?
The Golden Gate Bridge is commonly thought-about the primary attraction in San Francisco. This iconic suspension bridge is a marvel of recent engineering and gives breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay and town skyline.
How Can I Spend a Few Days in San Francisco?
A couple of days in San Francisco may be spent exploring a mixture of its well-known points of interest and native experiences:
Day 1: Visit the Golden Gate Bridge, discover the close by Golden Gate Park, and see the Painted Ladies. Spend the night in the colourful neighborhoods of the Haight-Ashbury or the Mission District. Day 2: Take a ferry to Alcatraz Island in the morning. In the afternoon, go to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. You may additionally discover Chinatown and Union Square.
What is San Francisco Popular For?
San Francisco is common for its various tradition, iconic landmarks, and delightful pure surroundings. It’s recognized for the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, cable vehicles, and vibrant neighborhoods like Chinatown and Castro.
Where to Stay in San Francisco
We have a whole article breaking down the most effective neighborhoods and accommodations for each finances and customer. You can learn it right here. Where to Stay in San Francisco – A Guide To The Best Neighborhoods
San Francisco is an unimaginable US vacation vacation spot. The metropolis is one among America’s hottest vacationer locations and has a legendary, legendary attract. With its world-class museums, incredible buying, and eating at all the things from a sustainable seafood restaurant to having fun with one of many metropolis’s well-known festivals, San Francisco simply lives up to its enormous status.