Things to Do in San Francisco

This post has information on the best things to do in San Francisco. Below you can find links to information on the city’s top attractions, museums, points of interest, kid-friendly activities, and suggestions for things to do at night.  Each link leads to a much more comprehensive page on that particular topic.  Be sure to consider one of our pay-what-you-wish tours to explore these neighborhoods.  As you plan your trip, you might also decide to consider purchasing a tourist pass. Tourist passes help you save money by packaging attractions together for one flat price. So many of attractions and activities listed in this post are included in the various tourist passes. We encourage you to read our post comparing the different San Francisco Attraction Passes. These passes are great deals for some and not for others.


Family-Friendly

By Month/Season

By Neighborhood

Itineraries

 

Free Things to Do

Top Attractions/Museums

Nighttime Activities

Day Trips


Free (And Almost Free) Things to Do

Though San Francisco is an expensive city, there are many free (or almost free) activities to choose from. Below is a list of our top 10 free things to do. For even more inspiration, check out our post: San Francisco on a budget.

1. Drive down Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the USA.

2. Visit one of San Francisco’s free museums.

3. Take advantage of all the incredible photo ops around the city.

4. See the Painted Ladies. 

5. Go for a ride on the San Francisco street car.

6. Visit the San Francisco Ferry Building Market Place

7. Take a tour of Fisherman’s Wharf with Free Tours by Foot! Check out our full list of free tours here. 

8. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.

9. Hike to the top of Coit Tower

10. Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway

 


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Top Attractions/Museums

Below is a list of many of the best attractions. For in-depth information on how to visit the attractions, simply click on the attraction’s name and you will be taken to another post with information such as:

  • ticket prices and ways you can find discounts and ways to visit for free.
  • days and hours the attraction is open/closed, holiday hours.
  • directions on how to get to the attractions.
  • tips and suggestions on how to make the most of your visit.
  • and in many cases, we include reviews of tour companies that offer tours of the attraction and self-guided tours.

Those that don’t yet have links will be written about in depth soon! 

  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Bay Bridge
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Exploratorium
  • Ghirardelli Square
  • Golden Gate Park 
  • Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
  • Pier 39 
  • Presidio 
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Twin Peaks

 

 

 


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Nighttime Activities

San Francisco is a vibrant city with an exciting nightlife. From taking an evening cruise in the Bay to dining at one of the city’s famous eateries, there is always something to do. Below are a few of our top suggestions. For a full list, please check out our post Things to Do in San Francisco at Night.


Take a tour of Alcatraz at night. There are a limited number of tickets that allow for late night entrance on Alcatraz. Though it might be a bit eerie to walk around the prison after dark, the opportunity is one that should not be missed! Learn more in our full post about Alcatraz Night Tours. 


Check out San Francisco’s incredible restaurant scene. Check out our post on what type of cuisine to eat in San Francisco for a full list of suggestions. 

Dim Sum – Discover some of the best dim sum in the world in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Interested in learning more about this vibrant neighborhood? Join us on our Chinatown Tour

Italian – North Beach is THE place to go for delicious and authentic Italian food. Whether you’re in the mood for pizza, pasta, or just some red wine, North Beach has you covered. We have a North Beach/Little Italy tour for those who would like to know more about why this neighborhood has such strong Italian roots. 

Korean BBQ – Though the best Korean BBQ isn’t located downtown, it’s well worth the drive out to Richmond District to enjoy some KBBQ!

Burritos – You can’t come to San Francisco and not have a burrito! The Mission District is famous for its incredible Mexican cuisine. Our favorite place is La Taqueria, but there are many other close contenders!


Visit a late night museum. There are many museums in the city that offer late night entrance on Thursday or Friday nights. 

  • Asian Art Museum
  • Auto Desk Gallery
  • California Academy of Science
  • California Historical Society 
  • Chinese Historical Society of America Museum 
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum 
  • de Young Museum
  • Exploratorium
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium 
  • Museum of Craft and Design 
  • Museum of the African Diaspora
  • Oakland Museum of California
  • Presidio Dialogues and Sessions
  • Tenderloin Museum 
  • Yerba Buena Center
  • Auto Desk Gallery
  • California Historical Society 
  • Chinese Historical Society of America Museum 
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum 
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium 
  • Museum of Craft and Design 
  • Museum of the African Diaspora
  • Oakland Museum of California
  • Presidio Dialogues and Sessions
  • Tenderloin Museum 
  • Yerba Buena Center

Go on an evening cruise. There are many different cruise companies to choose from in the Bay area. Pick between a speed boat ride, an afternoon lunch cruise, or a romantic dinner cruise. Check out our post comparing San Francisco Bay cruises, as well as our post on which is the best boat tour to learn more! 


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Day Trips

There are many incredible day trips that are just a short drive from San Francisco. Below are some of our favorite destinations:

Best Day Trips from San Francisco – The following day trips are some of the most popular from San Francisco. Muir Woods and Yosemite are a great options for those interested in experiencing California’s amazing outdoors. These areas are where you can seem the famous redwood trees and go for a quick hike. 

Best Wine Tours from San Francisco – The area around San Francisco is known the world over for its incredible wine country. Sonoma and Napa Valley are two of the most famous. 

 


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Family-Friendly

Below are a list of our 5 favorite family-friendly activities in San Francisco. For in-depth information on how to visit the attractions, simply click on the attraction’s name and you will be taken to another post with information For even more ideas check out our post, 10 Fun Places for Kids in San Francisco.


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By Month/Season

Below are annual events that occur during the 12 months of the year, and if you click on the link you will be taken to our detailed posts of these events and more. We have also included links to the typical weather for each month so you know what to expect and pack accordingly. 


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Things to Do By Neighborhood

Here is our list of things to do in each neighborhood. If you don’t have a car and want an easy way to get around, consider buying a pass to one of the hop-on, hop-off bus tours.


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Itineraries

Below are a few sample itineraries for those planning a trip to San Francisco. Choose between: 


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