There are lot of things to do in San Francisco. The city is a magnificent place to visit and is known for its culture. The commercial and financial heart of Northern California has the highest population density in the U.S. It’s filled with cultural attractions, great restaurants, and magical entertainment.
San Francisco shot to fame in 1849 as the home of the California Gold Rush. Now, the 13th most populated city in the U.S attracts visitors from all over the world looking for the best places to visit in San Francisco.
Listed below are some of the best San Francisco things to do. Some places are free to visit, and others require a fee.
Top things to do in San Francisco
Go sightseeing at Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
One of the first places to visit in San Francisco should be the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is located between San Francisco and Marin County. The gates were opened in 1937 and in its day was the longest suspension bridge. Today, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most photographed bridge in the world.
Explore Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco
Fisherman’s Wharf is a popular waterfront community in San Francisco. If you are looking for places to visit in San Francisco for mouth-watering cuisines, then this is the place. There are lots of great outdoor stands and restaurants. This is the best place to eat fresh seafood.
Before Fisherman’s Wharf became the most visited tourist attraction in San Francisco, it was a dock where Italian fishermen would sell their daily catch. Now, it has become a magnet for tourists from all over the world.
The Top Thing To Do In Fisherman’s Wharf are:
- Eat fresh seafood
- Browse the shops
- Take a bay cruise
- Climb on old ships
- Explore weird museums
- Watch the street entertainers
- Tour the aquarium
- Watch the sea lions at Pier 39
Wander around Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco
The impressive brick building dates back to 1895. It was the original site of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory. Now, Ghirardelli Square which is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, is the home to a collection of shops and restaurants.
Ghirardelli Square has become one of the most popular places to visit in San Francisco for shopping. It’s also a great place to take a stroll with some amazing views from some of the best restaurants in San Francisco.
If you are visiting Ghirardelli Square with children, then the original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop is a great place to visit. There is also mini golf available at Subpar Miniature Golf, which is great fun.
Ride The San Francisco Cable Car System
Going to San Francisco and not going on the cable car system must be a crime. The San Francisco Cable System is famous all around the world. It has been featured on lots of different cop shows and dramas.
Those living and working in San Francisco are very proud of the cable car system. The first cable car took to the street back in 1873 and at its peak there were 23 cable car lines. Sadly, now there are just three.
Jumping on the cable car system is a magical experience.
Enjoy mind-blowing views at the Twin Peaks.
If you are looking for what to do in San Francisco and want to be blown away, then you must head for the top of Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks provides a mesmerizing 360-degree view of the Bay Area and is the perfect spot for people who want to be romantic.
The views from Twin Peaks is like no other in San Francisco. Visitors can see what’s in San Francisco including The Golden Gate Bridge, Transamerica Building, Bay Bridge, and Alcatraz to name a few. There is also an opportunity to see how the skyline of San Francisco has changed and continues to change.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is for people who visit San Francisco who love art. It was reopened in May 2016 with major improvements including a ten-story 170,000 square foot addition. This new addition nearly triples the space available.
The Museum of Modern Art has a permanent collection as well as sixteen exhibition galleries. There is no charge to visit the art museum.
Visit the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco
The enchanting Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exhibition. Since then, the building has been used for many things including tennis courts, military storage, and art gallery.
The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco took three years to build. The original plan was to demolition the building after the Panama Pacific Exhibition. However, Sentimental San Franciscans who were recovering from the great earthquake and fire of 1906 campaigned to keep the building.
The grounds around The Palace of Fine Arts are perfect for relaxing, having a picnic and allow children to play and explore. Each day, at least one couple will have their wedding pictures taken in the beautiful grounds.
The lake and trees surrounding the Palace of Fine Arts are home to wildlife such as birds, raccoons, and ducks. There is also a theatre to the rear of the Palace of Fine Arts.
If you are looking for places to visit in San Francisco which is part of this magical place history, then the Palace of Fine Arts has to be on top of your list.
San Francisco China Town
For people who love Chinese food then the best place to visit in San Francisco is China Town. It is the oldest and most established China Town in the U.S. As well as experiencing some of the best Chinese food available in America, there are some historic buildings to see.
Most big cities in the world have their own China Town but nothing beats the China Town in San Francisco. There is so much to do and see, which includes visiting the popular supermarket, looking around the modern boutique, and the fortune cookie factory to name a few.
San Francisco China Town by many has been described as the American birthplace of Chinese food like fortune cookies, and chop suey. Spending a day here is simply not enough.
The China Town is perfect to visit at any time of day, but at night it really comes alive.
Relax at Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is the pride and joy of those living in San Francisco. The San Francisco beach features stunning white sand. The beach is on the west cost of San Francisco, California. It borders the Pacific Ocean and is a great place for surfing.
The 1.5-mile-long beach is the largest beach in San Francisco. It’s the perfect location to relax. It’s also a great place to fly a kite, ride a wind-powered kite buggy, and take part in beach sports.
If you want something that is more relaxing than surfing or beach sports, then how about a bit of fishing.
The views from Ocean beach looking out to the Pacific Ocean and the Cliff House are stunning.
Sunset Catamaran Cruise
For romantics visiting this magical city, a sunset cruise is highly recommended. The sunset cruise allows people to have a romantic evening onboard a luxurious catamaran and experience the wonderful views under the sunset.
The catamaran sails by Alcatraz Island, and under the Golden Gate Bridge and exploring the city skyline. While travelling on the water don’t be surprised when you see sea lions and dolphins dancing in the water.
Catching the sunset on the water is very romantic and the perfect moment to propose to a loved one.
Admire The View From Coit Tower
For those people who have a head for heights and love some magical views, then Coit Tower is the perfect choice.
Coit Tower which is located at the top of Telegraph Hill was built in 1933. The tower which has a viewing platform at the top was named after an eccentric and wealthy woman called Lillie Hitchcock Coit.
The reason why the tower was named after Lillie Hitchcock Coit was due to the large amount of money she left to the city after her death. Coit Tower which has become very popular with tourists visiting the city was built to honour her.
The viewing platform is very impressive. It provides a 360-degree views of the city. However, if you don’t like heights then it maybe wise to give Coit Tower a miss.
Explore the Golden Gate Park
This is among the top attraction in San Francisco and it attracts about 13 million visitors each year. The park covers 1017 acres of land and filled with numerous places that you can explore and relax. You are going to find lots of lakes, monuments, picnic areas, gardens, and playgrounds that you can explore. The park also hosts varieties of events and activities which you can attend.
Golden Gate Whale Watching Tour
One of the best tours available for those that like marine life is the Golden Gate Whale Watching Tour. This tour lasts around 2.5 hours on a catamaran that departs from Pier 39.
The Whale watching tour travels under the Golden Gate Bridge and takes passengers to the open Pacific, to see the magical Humpback and Gray Whales. While exploring the deep waters keep your eyes peeled for seals and dolphins.
This is a great way to see the local natural marine life and famous landmarks. It is a great tour that all the family will enjoy.
Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Tour
The best way to see what’s in San Francisco is by exploring through a guided tour. The Big Bus Tour has become popular with tourists looking to explore San Francisco. The Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Tour is a comprehensive tour with 20 hop-on hop-off locations. Those looking to see the sights of San Francisco can hop-on or hop-off the bus at different locations from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge.
The bus takes passengers to key locations, attractions and famous neighbourhoods. It is the best way to see Pier 39, Little Italy, Chinatown, Lombard Crooked Street, Haight-Ashbury Neighbourhood, and Union Square Shopping District. One great thing about the Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Tour is the journey across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Visit Alcatraz Prison On Alcatraz Island
When going to San Francisco, one place on the list should be Alcatraz Island. The most famous prison in the world has now become one of the most visited tourist attractions.
Alcatraz Prison is 1.5 miles off the shore of San Francisco. The tiny island was originally built as a military fortification to hold military prisoners. It then became a federal prison between 1933 and 1963.
The ideal behind Alcatraz was to house prisoners who caused problems at other prisons in the USA. Two of the most famous criminals Robert Franklin Stroud and Al Capone were sent to Alcatraz prison.
When the prison was first built no one could have imaged that it would one day become one of the top ten things to do in San Francisco. During the years the prison was active the prisoners were all trying to get off the island and now people visiting San Francisco are trying to get on. Strange how the world changes.
Have a read of our New York Article and see the things to do in New York.