Best 55 Things to do in San Francisco – cool and fun places to explore around the city.
San Francisco is a fun place to explore with many things to do in San Francisco to keep you busy and exploring all around town. You can enjoy a lot activities (many of them are free to experience), so check them out below for ideas on what to plan and do when you are visiting the city soon.
Here’s what to do and see around San Francisco now
Walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge
One of the most iconic sites of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge is the gateway to the city that you can walk or bike through which is a lot of fun. You’ll have some amazing views of the bay, city skyline and the various islands around the bay including the Marin headlands you can explore if you have more free time to do that side of the bridge. You can do a fun bike tour here for more details on this 3 hour tour of the bridge and area.
Visit Chrissy Field area by the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy some fantastic views of the bay
Chrissy fields on the bay front of the city extends all the way from the Golden Gate bridge to the small harbor area of St. Francisco harbor. It’s fun to walk Chrissy fields with the fantastic Golden Gate bridge in the back ground all the way to Fort Point at the bottom of the bridge. Sunset time is a nice time to be on the water and even capture sunset behind the bridge for some magnificent photo taking possibilities.
Explore Fort Point below the Golden Gate Bridge and explore the historic fort that used to protect the entrance to San Francisco Bay
An old brick fortress that protected the entrance of the bay, Fort Point was a formidable armory and fortress that was never actually used but provided the main security to protecting the city. You can tour the inside of the fort and museum and also walk along the ramparts for unique views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge
Do the beautiful coastline trail hike around the Golden Gate bridge to Marshall beach and Baker beach
There is a nice trails that heads through the coastal walks that connects the Golden Gate Bridge to both these beaches and beyond. Spring time in San Francisco is the best time to visit and hike these coastal trails or just enjoy the beach scene and vibe away from the crowds.
Sail below the Golden Gate Bridge and around the Bay
A fun way to explore the bay by being on a boat, you’ll enjoy this water experience and actually sail under and outside the Golden Gate bridge with gorgeous views of the surrounding coastlines, panoramic skyline views and the city itself to enjoy. Check out the details of this tour here for more information to doing this unique experience.
Check out the ancient batteries from the Golden Gate bridge
If you walk or drive from the coastal drive from the Golden Gate Bridge towards Marshall beach you’ll see the old batteries that are lined up on the hills above the cliffs that used to be the batteries protecting the city and from their you get fantastic coastline views of the cliffs and hidden beaches and some wonderful vantage points to photograph the Golden Gate Bride.
Take a Helicopter tour across the San Francisco Bay
Enjoy this Helicopter tour from above around the many monuments and attractions of the city and fly over the bay to see the magnificent skyline, the gorgeous coastline, Alcatraz, Sausalito and the many bridges spanning the city. Check out this unique Helicopter tour experience here for more information on how to make it happen.
Have a fun Beach Day at Baker or Marshal Beach and enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge in the Back Ground
Nothing like enjoying a day on the beach with fantastic views of the Golden Gate bridge and the entire San Francisco coastline to enjoy. You can do this on either Baker beach which is easy to drive to or hike down to Marshal Beach where you can practically walk along the beach to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The water might be cold but it’s fun to just beach comb, hang out and enjoy the magnificent views from the beach.
Check out Lombard street and walk down the crookest street in the USA
Lombard street is an iconic attraction to visiting this city and must photo op especially when the gardens are colorful and in full bloom when you plan a visit here. The crookedest street in the world is fun to walk through especially if its from the top and walking downhill.
Check out the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39
For something fun to do at Pier 39, you’ll get to see all the cool underwater aquariums covering California to more tropical aquatic aquariums to explore in this underwater world of over 20,000 marine and sea animals. Check out the details for the Aquarium on the Bay here for visiting this fun attraction at Pier 39.
Enjoy Pier 39 and window shop, watch the free performances and watching the sea lions at Pier 39
There’s a lot of fun window shopping, watching all the live street performances around Pier 39 or grab a nice seafood meal or snack at the many food venues with nice bay views on the Pier to explore
Do the Land’s End hike
From Sutro baths and into the forested coastal trails to some unique and open areas along the rugged coastline up to Baker Beach, Marshall beach and even the Golden Gate Bridge for an extended hike along the coastal trails
Do the Labyrinth walk at Land’s End
A nice meditative labyrinth awaits you at Land’s End with gorgeous coastal views, this is a wonderful spot to stop and slow down and be meditative in your focus and pace to enjoying this unique space on the coastline of the city.
Check out the Sutro bath pools and tunnel view to the coastal areas of Land’s End
This historic area of the coastline is fascinating to tour the old pools and coastal walk, enjoy the views and just explore the area of Sutro baths, check out the history at the visitor’s center just in the parking lot area for some displays and good information and history of the area.
Check out the Views on top at Sutro Heights Park down to Sutro Baths and ocean beach.
There are some magnificent views from this old park that used to be the topping point of the old railway on the way to the Sutro Baths. You get a unique view point of the wonderful coastline from above and views to Sutro Baths, the Cliff House and Land’s End along with walking through some of the wild gardens in the park.
Hang out at Ocean beach
On sunny days Ocean beach is fun to hang out and picnic or beach come and even enjoy a nice sunset view from there. Night time gatherings are also fun for a bit on the wild side and some impromptu small bonfires that happen infrequently with groups hanging out on the beach
Take a tour of Alcatraz Island
One of the most iconic prisons of the United States, Alcatraz housed some of the most dangerous criminals on this isolated island that only a few have tried to actually escape from. You can tour and see the main facility and historical sites around this fascinating island. Check out the details Visiting Alcatraz Island here for more information to going there.
Walk to the Dutch windmill
Explore the Dutch windmill at Golden Gate park from spring to summer flowers at the surrounding garden with the tulips are blooming late February to March timeframe.
Check out the Academy of Sciences
A very cool museum to visit and family friendly in the concourse area of the park, the Academy of Sciences features the cool natural and scientific exhibits of California with an extensive aquarium, natural science museum and exhibits along with dioramas and beautiful displays, education centers, videos and even a living garden roof that you can explore upstairs. To book advance tickets to visiting the Academy of Sciences, check out this post here for more details.
Check out more details to visiting the Academy of Sciences here for more inspiration and fun things to do and see in the museum.
Do a walk around Stowe lake and climb up Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park
Stowe lake is where most locals walk or jog around the lake for exercise or rent rowboats to enjoy time on the lake. Also climb up Strawberry hill island for some nice views of the park and also to check out the fun waterfall from the island.
Check out the Bison in their large pen area close to Stowe Lake
Did you know that there are actual Bison staged at an outdoor section of the park and some stable areas? They were located in the park at the paddock and were given to then Mayor Diane Feinstein from her husband in 1984.
Check out the beautiful rose gardens and blooms at Golden Gate Park
The rose gardens are spectacular during the late spring to early fall months and are fairly easy and quiet to visit in the area and worth smelling and seeing these gorgeous blooms.
Other public gardens of Golden Gate Park
There are so many other wonderful public gardens to explore in the park including the Japanese tea garden, San Francisco Conservatory and Rhododendron dell along with the Dahlia Dell. Check out which gardens to visit in season at these Golden Gate Park gardens here for more inspiration.
Enjoy the grassy areas around the Conservatory of flowers
You can explore the gorgeous glass wooden greenhouse at the Conservatory of Flowers with it’s gorgeous displays of Tropical, water, potted plants and floating shows and check out the cactus/succulent area and Dahlia dell in blooms around summer time frame
Explore the Irving district
Just outside the park off Ninth and Irving and window shop till you drop or pick up some cheap snacks or take-out food
Weekend fun in Golden Gate Park
On weekends the park is closed and you can walk or bike the closed streets in the park. Or, watch the roller blade dancers jive to some funky tunes or watch the classic big band dancers around the big bandstand. You can actually do a fun Segway tour of the Golden Gate Bridge here for something unique and fun to do in the park.
Check out 16th Avenue steps in the Richmond
This outer Richmond venue has become an Instagram venue with this colorful and amazing staircase made of mosaic art that the neighborhood helped to create a magical tapestry of earth to celestial experiences walking the staircase and enjoying the views out to the ocean from the area. You’ll love taking this colorful walk and enjoy the gardens, art and views at the 16th avenue staircase.
Explore the Haight district – funky and colorful neighborhood
Walk around the funky area of the Haight district where hippy shops meld in with thrift and uber chic shops shoulder to shoulder and makes for some fun window shopping in the are
Visit Japan Town
Japan Town on Geary street is fun to explore the different areas that comprise this area with shops, galleries, snacking areas and hang out spots and all the spectacular Japanese food restaurants you can visit and enjoy around the center.
Check out the fun and uber trendy Divisadero district and going towards the Castro Area
Lots of uber fashionable dining venues, bars and cool hang out spots have sprung up along Divisadero Street from the Filmore area and down to the Castro. This is the see and be seen street with all the cool clubs, bars and chic restaurants in San Francisco now.
Check out the Painted Ladies at Alamo square and do some selfies
A fun experience to enjoy the view of the Painted Ladies and hang out in the park and watch the views into sunset time frame is a simple and fun thing to do in the area and then check out the cool food venues on Divisidero street afterwards.
Explore the Cool Castro district
The Castro Street and neighborhood is fun, colorful and becoming more gentrified, but you can still see a lot of the fun gay venues and theatrics around the street, window shopping, catching a delicious bite or watching a movie at the historic Castro Theater.
Hang out at the Mission Dolores park and enjoy the playground and views of the city
One of the most popular hang out spots for locals to picnic, drink and just enjoy the magnificent views of the city from above on the various grassy areas, the weekend scene is loud, colorful and busy at Delores park
Window shop the fun Guerrero Neighborhood
The Guerrero street area is fun to explore with all the cool coffee shops, ethnic and trendy restaurants and bars, cool boutique and art galleries and other hip hang out spots in the street that is so fun to people watch and just enjoy being a part of this cool neighborhood and vibe
Check out the cool graffiti on Clarion Alley
Always changing, the graffiti at Clarion is always colorful, impactful and makes statements that make you think beyond just the graphic and bold designs and well thought out messages for you to be a part of and take away from this visit.
Check out this post on visiting Clarion Alley here in the Mission district for more inspiration
Find the cool spots to hang out in the Mission district
The Mission District is uber trendy with Mission and Guerrero street busy and filled with hip stores, bars, cafes and places to hang out, people watch and just enjoy this fun and hip area that always seems alive and cool to explore and be in day or night time.
If you’re into food tours, check out this fun food tour to do in the Mission district here for inspiration.
Climb Bernal Heights for some fabulous views of the city below
Bernal Heights is one of those fantastic local hills that everyone loves to visit and enjoy and it has a really cool feature on top
Enjoy the fun swing at Bernal Heights
One of the best features and views to visiting Bernal Heights is this magical swing and boy does it really swing very high up as high as you can actually take it. The views from there are really amazing with not too many visitors but mostly locals walking their dog in the trails around the hill.
Check out Noe Valley and some fun shops and people watching in the area
Noe Valley is just one of those easy and quiet neighborhoods that just locals mostly hang out and shop in. It’s fun to visit and check out the local stores, eateries and even the fantastic cheesery in the neighborhood along with the myriads of coffee shops that make this a popular neighborhood to hang out in all day and night
Hike or bike up to Twin Peaks for amazing views of the entire city below
Twin Peaks is the spot to go for amazing panoramic views of the city from above. You can drive, bike or even hike up to the top and explore the other hills and trails around the area to get a different perspective of the landscape and views of the city from above.
Ride the old cable cars of San Francisco
No experience is more uniquely San Francisco than a ride on a cable car in the main railways that are still intact. It is still real working transportation up the steep hills of the city taking you from Union Square all the way down to Fisherman’s Wharf area or even through the Financial District to the Ferry Building of San Francisco.
Visit Chinatown and take a fascinating tour and lunch
You can sign up for these cool walking tours of Chinatown with a meal and enjoy the inside attractions and historic hidden places to tour in this unique section of the city and all the fascinating places you’ll visit in Chinatown. Check out the details here for exploring Chinatown and doing any of these unique walking tours here.
Enjoy some window shopping in Union Square area
All the cool local boutique stores and international brands are located in the fun Union Square area that is fun to window shop, have a nice meal or just hang out in the big square and people watch or just relax before you catch a cable car or tour around this upscale neighborhood of the city.
Explore the historic North Beach and Little Italy district
Located mostly on Columbus and Grant with square fronting Washington square and Sts. Peter and Paul Church., this is a fun district to explore with the cool bakeries, coffee shops and boutique stores, bars along some delicious Italian food restaurants to try out in the area. Grant street contains more of the funky art, galleries and vibe which is more bohemian and trendy exploring the neighborhood on Grant street.
If you are into food tours, check out this excellent tour of the Little Italy district here for information.
Climb Filbert street to Coit Tower
Once of the fun challenges of walking the streets of Filbert to the top of Coit tower and explore the area and back down the Filbert stairs for some unique gardens and hidden homes and views of this unique stair case and neighborhood
Check out this tour of the Filbert Steps here for more inspiration to visiting this beautiful and quiet neighborhood
Explore the Greenwich stairs
Also close to the Filbert street stairs are the colorful homes, gardens and hidden spots of this lovely little stairs and neighborhood with views of the bay and city skyline.
Check out more inspiration to visiting the Greenwich Steps and North Beach here for more details.
Check out the Moscone Center
The Moscone Center and park is a nice quiet respite and park area with beautiful gardens, fountains and views to the downtown skyline. Flanked by a shopping center and food venues on the right part of the park and Moma and the Yerba Buena Arts center, you can explore all these venues, eating or enjoying some wonderful art and innovative art installations in the exhibit centers. There are a few eateries with outdoor seating venues that are also fun to just hang out and enjoy skyline views of the city.
Check out the spectacular Moma – Museum of Modern Art
Located at the Moscone center to the left of the park is the Moma building housing all the contemporary modern art exhibits and rotating shows in a spectacular setting. The Moma has a larger expansive space to check out their entire collections and also enjoy some views of the park and city and hang out at the various cafes on site. You can book advanced tickets here to bypass the long waiting lines at the Moma.
Check out the details to visit the Moscone Center here for more information and images
Visit the Embarcadero Center
A large business and shopping complex in the Embarcadero Center, you can explore, shop, eat and enjoy this urban setting with gardens, shops and eating venues along with other fun hang out spots around the plaza area that typically hosts a variety of events, activities and gatherings in the main plaza area
Visit the Ferry Building
The Embarcadero Ferry Building is fun to explore the many shops and food venues along with spectacular restaurants in the area from some of the well known restaurants and specialty food purveyors of the area. You can also explore the various outside venues and piers that you can walk and capture some photos of the bay and city skyline
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
One of the most popular local farmers markets that hosts a farm to table concept of regional fruits and vegetables, artisanal food items, snacks and prepared foods at their Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Market on the front and back areas of the Ferry Plaza.
52. Hop on Hop off self Tour
You can do your own self tour of the city and highlights to the main attractions to visit around the city and what you want to see and tour on this trip to get off and then back on the tour. Check out more details to this tour program here for more details.
53. Visit Silicon Valley and the Tech Companies
Explore the main headquarters of Apple, Google and Facebook in the Silicon Valley tour of Tech Companies here for an interesting visit to the biggest names in the tech industry and visiting their main headquarters and attractions.
54. Enjoy a tour of Muir Woods and Sausalito
You’ll enjoy a half day outside of the city with this tour of beautiful Muir Woods and Sausalito here The tour highlights the best of Marin County with the gorgeous redwoods combined with a tour of Sausalito, a quaint and charming art town facing the bay and San Francisco in the background.
55. Do a Sunset Sail on the bay
Enjoy a two hour sunset sail around San Francisco Bay on board the Privateer. This gorgeous sunset cruise is pure sailing and enjoying the bay and some of the scenic attractions around the city. Check out the details for doing this sunset tour here for more information on doing this unique event on the bay.
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