San Francisco Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Foodie Cities in the USA
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Best Things To Do in San Francisco

San Francisco may only stretch across 7 miles, but it's packed with an assortment of activities that's sure to please outdoorsy types, foodies and curious wanderers of all ages. The Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see, while a visit to Alcatraz Island to tour the infamous and now closed federal prison should also be high on your list. Instead of spending all your time around the touristy Fisherman's Wharf, you can discover a more authentic side of San Francisco by grabbing a bite at the Ferry Building Marketplace or with a visit to the vibrant Castro. And whether it's climbing to the top of Twin Peaks or sauntering through Golden Gate Park, active types and nature lovers will find plenty to love about San Francisco.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated April 25, 2019

  • #1
    Things to do in San Francisco
    View all Photos
    #1 in San Francisco
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Golden Gate Bridge's vaulting, orange arches amidst the rocky seascape of the San Francisco Bay have made it one of the West Coast's most enduring symbols and the city's most popular tourist attraction. The bridge's name, "Golden Gate," actually refers to the body of water it spans (the Golden

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    California Academy of Sciences
    View all Photos
    #2 in San Francisco
    Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Attention all traveling families: recent visitors said this is the perfect place to bring kids in San Francisco. The California Academy of Sciences brims with plenty of things to see, including an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and even a rainforest. 

    ...Read More »
  • #3
    Golden Gate Park
    View all Photos
    #3 in San Francisco
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Zoos and Aquariums, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Zoos and Aquariums, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If California had aCentral Parkequivalent, Golden Gate Park would undoubtedly be it. Though Golden Gate Park sees a small fraction of the visitor's it's New York counterpart does (Central Park gets upwards of 25 million, while Golden Gate gets more than 13 million yearly), it's about 174 acres bigger (Central

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Yerba Buena Gardens
    View all Photos
    #4 in San Francisco
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    After a day of hasty sightseeing, the Yerba Buena Gardens provide travelers with an opportunity to wind down and enjoy San Francisco's weather and unique culture. The gardens proper include 5 acres of landscaped lawns complete with flowers, trees, water and art. The Cho-En Butterfly Garden attracts native San Francisco

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    Alcatraz
    View all Photos
    #5 in San Francisco
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    While riding acable carand getting a snap of theGolden Gateis a must when visiting San Francisco, both visitors and travel experts tend to argue the same for Alcatraz. This is because Alcatraz is rich with history. Sitting on a small, rocky island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz

    ...Read More »
  • #6
    Cable Cars
    View all Photos
    #6 in San Francisco
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Chances are you've seen a television show, movie, postcard or some type of San Francisco memorabilia emblazoned with the city's iconic cable car or trolley. So of course, to fully experience San Francisco's charm, you should hop on board. San Francisco's cable car system is the last of its kind

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Twin Peaks
    View all Photos
    #7 in San Francisco
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you want the best views of San Francisco, take a hike to Twin Peaks. These famous grassy pounds rise 922 feet from the ground, making them the second highest point in the city (after Mount Davidson). From the top, travelers can view multiple San Francisco landmarks, including the Bay

    ...Read More »
  • #8
    The Castro
    View all Photos
    #8 in San Francisco
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you want to explore San Francisco's rich gay and lesbian culture, the Castro neighborhood is its beating heart. Not only is the Castro the center of the city's LGBTQ community, but it's considered by many to be the gay capital of the world. And once you learn the Castro's

    ...Read More »
  • #9
    Baker Beach
    View all Photos
    #9 in San Francisco
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    While San Francisco isn't known for being a beach town, the city's Baker Beachis often considered one of the best in California. Located in the northwestern area of San Francisco in the Presidio, Baker Beach is primarily known for its sweeping views of theGolden Gate Bridgeand the neighboring Marin Headlands.

    ...Read More »
  • #10
    Ferry Building Marketplace
    View all Photos
    #10 in San Francisco
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Attention all foodies: this delectable attraction needs to be at the top of your San Francisco to-do list. The Ferry Building Marketplace is a public food market that features a variety of food stalls that act as small restaurants, snack stops and grocery stores. Here you can find everything from

    ...Read More »
  • #11
    Union Square
    View all Photos
    #11 in San Francisco
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Situated a couple blocks north of Market Street and southwest of the city's Financial District, Union Square sits at the heart of downtown San Francisco's hustle and bustle. This area is loved by travelers and locals alike for its awesome location and incredible energy. Union Square Park is flanked by

    ...Read More »
  • #12
    Chinatown
    View all Photos
    #12 in San Francisco
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    WhileNew York City's Chinatown tends to take center stage in the USA, San Francisco's Chinatown is just as much of a star. San Francisco's Chinatown hosts one of the largest Asian communities outside of Asia, and is considered one the oldest in North America. Chinese immigrants first started coming to

    ...Read More »
  • #13
    Muir Woods National Monument
    View all Photos
    #13 in San Francisco
    Beaches, Hiking, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    What better exemplifies California's dramatic landscape than sky-high redwood trees? That's what you'll find at Muir Woods, the beautiful and expansive national monument just 16 miles north of San Francisco. This attraction is a must-see for anyone looking to get up close and personal with some of California's most famous

    ...Read More »
  • #14
    Lands End
    View all Photos
    #14 in San Francisco
    Beaches, Hiking, Historic Homes/Mansions, Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Historic Homes/Mansions, Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    One of the top places in San Francisco to catch the sunset, Lands End offers whimsical, winding trails through rocky cliffs. Located in the northwestern corner of San Francisco, the park sits inside of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The park encompasses multiple historic sites, monuments, a golf course,

    ...Read More »
  • #15
    The Exploratorium
    View all Photos
    #15 in San Francisco
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    This museum, or as it refers to itself, "a learning laboratory," features 600 hands-on exhibits that cover a plethora of subject matter, such as engineering, psychology, geography and biology. The museum spreads its knowledge over six main galleries, each with its own standout interactive offerings. Highlights include the tactile dome,

    ...Read More »
  • #16
    Oracle Park
    View all Photos
    #16 in San Francisco
    Sports
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sports
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The San Francisco Giants have been calling this stadium home since 2000, playing host to multiple World Series games. Oracle Park is regarded as one of the most scenic baseball parks in the United States for its picturesque placement along the San Francisco Bay. The majority of attendees are afforded

    ...Read More »
  • #17
    Mission District
    View all Photos
    #17 in San Francisco
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Mission District has attracted San Francisco's young bohemian crowd in the past decade, but it's still retained its authentic, local Mexican ambiance. This is the place that introduced the burrito to the wider world, so be sure to check out a local hole in the wall for some great

    ...Read More »
  • #18
    Fisherman's Wharf
    View all Photos
    #18 in San Francisco
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Fisherman's Wharf is so tourist-laden that some travelers might prefer the quieter, more authentic attractions nearby (like theCastroorGolden Gate Park). But if you're looking to explore all of San Francisco – from its alternative underbelly to its mainstream attractions – Fisherman's Wharf really is a must-see. This waterfront neighborhood features a

    ...Read More »
  • #19
    Ocean Beach
    View all Photos
    #19 in San Francisco
    Beaches, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located in the northwestern corner ofSan Francisco, Ocean Beach separates attractions like the San Francisco Zoo andGolden Gate Parkfrom the Pacific Ocean. This 3 ½-mile stretch of sand is a welcome respite from the city's bustling downtown. Visitors and locals can walk the beach, while experienced surfers brave the frigid

    ...Read More »
  • #20
    Children's Creativity Museum
    View all Photos
    #20 in San Francisco
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Families visiting San Francisco should set aside at least a few hours to explore the Children's Creativity Museum. The museum provides a variety of activities designed for kids, which cover topics ranging from animation to coding to music. The property also houses the historic LeRoy King Carousel, which has called

    ...Read More »
  • #21
    The Walt Disney Family Museum
    View all Photos
    #21 in San Francisco
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    True Disney aficionados would be remiss to skip The Walt Disney Family Museum, which delves into the history around the iconic creator. The museum's galleries begin with Walt Disney's childhood and trace his life through the construction ofDisneyland, highlighting his legacy and various achievements along the way. Rotating exhibitions widen

    ...Read More »
  • #22
    Angel Island State Park
    View all Photos
    #22 in San Francisco
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Angel Island State Park is situated in the San Francisco Bay and provides an abundance of outdoor activities for anyone willing to trek across the water. Before the government converted the storied island into a park, it served as a hunting location, a cattle ranch, an immigration station and even

    ...Read More »
  • #23
    Coit Tower
    View all Photos
    #23 in San Francisco
    Monuments and Memorials
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Rising from its position on the peak of Telegraph Hill in Pioneer Park, Coit Tower serves as a vantage point to take in the northwest corner of San Francisco. Visitors might think the 210-foot-tall tower was designed to resemble a firehose nozzle. While Lillie Hitchcock Coit commissioned the tower as

    ...Read More »
  • #24
    Lombard Street
    View all Photos
    #24 in San Francisco
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Fans of zigging and zagging and charming thoroughfares will appreciate Lombard Street, an exceptionally crooked street in northern San Francisco. Victorian mansions line the street, while beautiful flowers and landscaped shrubbery fill the space between its eight switchbacks. While the road runs from east to west for the length of

    ...Read More »
  • The Presidio Trails
    View all Photos
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you want to experience the Bay Area's pristine natural spaces but may not have enough time to explore neighboring Marin County, the Presidio is the perfect alternative. This park is famous for its placement at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, affording incredible views throughout. In addition

    ...Read More »
  • Craft Beer Tours
    View all Photos
    Sightseeing, Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're a foodie exploring San Francisco, you should consider adding a craft brewery tour to your itinerary. That's because San Francisco is considered one of the craft brewery capitals of the USA. Not only will you find local and regional brews at bars and restaurants here, but there's also

    ...Read More »
  • Local Tastes of the City Tours
    View all Photos
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

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