28 What to See and Do in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

I loved visiting SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA right away. It’s a city home to hippies, techies, artists, immigrants, students, and everyone among. There’s incredible music, wold-class food for all budgets, the best Asian food in the united states, parks galore, and amazing bohemian vibe to it.

With so many diverse influences, it’s no real surprise that SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA has evolved right into a world-class city which has a ton of amazing what to see and do.

Personally, I really like visiting SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA for the meals. It’s home for some of the greatest Asian and Mexican food in the united states (in addition to some incredible cafes).

But addititionally there is a lot more to see here too. And because it’s an expensive spot to live doesn’t mean a visit must break your budget either.

To assist you plan your trip, listed below are the best 28 what to see and do in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

1. Have a Free Walking Tour

The initial thing I really do whenever I get to a fresh destination is to have a walking tour. It’s the easiest way to get the lay of the land, start to see the highlights, and have your questions to a specialist local guide. Free Tours ON FOOT includes a few different FREE possibilities covering different regions of the town. (Just be sure to tip your guide)

If you wish something more in-depth, additionally, there are a lot of paid tours you may take. Take Walks is my go-to walking tour company plus they offer some interesting tours around the town. If you want to essentially learn a whole lot (whilst having fun), book a tour with them!

2. Walk the Golden Gate Bridge

There is absolutely no question that the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is among San Francisco’s most well-known landmarks. Opened in 1937, it’s arguably the most-photographed bridge on earth. At its inception, it had been both longest and the tallest suspension bridge on the planet, spanning 4,200 feet (1,280m) long and standing 746 feet (227m) tall.

You can walk over the bridge (that i recommended) or simply stare at it out of every angle and snap your own iconic photos. In case you have time, make the right path to the Golden Gate National CAR PARK. It includes a waterfront promenade, sweeping views of the bridge, and some easy hiking trails.

3. Visit Crissy Field

This park is situated close to the bridge and produces a good follow-up. It includes a beach, some restaurants, piers where you could see locals fishing, and a lot of green space to relax. It provides some sweeping views of the harbor, rendering it a laid-back spot to come in the summertime to possess a picnic, lounge in sunlight, and watch life pass.

4. START TO SEE THE Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts is a Roman-style remnant of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (a world’s fair held in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA). The outdoor rotunda and its own lagoon are a different one of the city’s most photographed sights. It’s also a great social destination where one can bring friends to play giant Jenga, cornhole, table tennis, and other games. The town often has events here.

601 Lyon Street, +1 415-608-2220, palaceoffinearts.com. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm. Admission is free (some events charge admission).

5. Wander Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39

The wharf was originally dominated by Italian immigrants who helped popularize the city’s fish market. Even today, you can view fishermen at the job in Fish Alley (the primary street where in fact the fishermen work). If you need to try a number of the mouthwatering seafood that SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA is well-known for, I sugged Waterbar and the Anchor Oyster Bar.

Pier 39 is touristy but it’s also a great way to invest an hour roughly. There are buskers, tacky souvenir shops, arcades, an aquarium, and a great deal of overpriced restaurants (so avoid eating here).

6. Explore Alcatraz

Alcatraz is just about the most well-known (or infamous) prison in the us. From 1934-1963, it housed the country’s most notorious criminals (criminals like Al Capone). In its 29 year history, not really a single prisoner successfully escaped (roughly they say). Following its closure, it became a national landmark. Visitors can explore the island, find out about the prison and what life was like as an inmate, and tour the inside. It gets very busy in the summertime so make sure you book ahead.

+1 415-981-7625, alcatrazcruises.com. Tours run daily year-round and cost $39.90 USD which include an audio tour.

7. Have a EXCURSION to Berkeley

Located just 20 minutes over the bay by car, Berkeley houses music, hippies, students, and the University of California – Berkeley (30% of the city’s population head to school here). You may take a tour of the campus (self-guided or guided), hike up the Berkeley Hills, or shop on Fourth Street (the primary thoroughfare). You’ll also find plenty of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, street performers, and eclectic shops to browse.

8. Go out in the Mission

For an incredible view of the town, check out Dolores Park in the Mission District. If you’re a brief history buff, don’t skip the Misión SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA de Asís (Mission Dolores). Founded in 1776, it’s the oldest surviving structure in the town and home to the only cemetery within city limits. It’s the structure that provides this part of town its name.

The Mission District can be a fun spot to spend a particular date. The district has a great deal of great Mexican restaurants and lively bars and clubs. Grab a burrito at Taqueria Cancún or Papolete, or visit among the cocktail bars on 16th (Dalva is good).

9. See Lombard Street

This can be the world’s windiest street. Surrounded by gardens and flowers, it’s made up of eight hairpin turns because, through the 1920s, people in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA were starting to drive around in automobiles. However, most of the city’s famous hills were too steep to navigate. The thought of utilizing a curved street to greatly help vehicles move downhill was embraced and the hill’s slope went from 27% to 16%. You can now watch the cars and bikers navigate the sharp turns as tourists gawk at them.

10. Visit Coit Tower

Perched atop Telegraph Hill, this art deco tower was built-in 1933. Standing 180-feet tall (55m), it’s home to over 25 murals and will be offering a panoramic view of the town. The murals here were painted in 1934 by local artists and depict life in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA through the Depression. The tower became a SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Designated Landmark in 1984 and was put into the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, +1 315-249-0995,sfrecpark.org/destination/telegraph-hill-pioneer-park/coit-tower. Open daily from 10am-5pm (6pm in the summertime). Admission is $6 USD for city residents and $9 USD for visitors.

11. Eat in Chinatown

It is the biggest Chinatown in america (and it’s the next most famous, after NEW YORK. Chinese immigrants first found the West Coast in the 1850s and setup shop in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA. Because of racial segregation, this neighborhood became predominantly Chinese and remained so even after segregation ended.

It’s among the best places in the town to eat and you may find some incredible dim sum here. Additionally, there are plenty of great teahouses, bars, souvenir stalls, and fortune cookie makers.

To essentially learn about the region, its history, and its own people, have a walking tour with Take Walks. They’re my go-to walking tour company because they use expert local guides and their tours are always fun and educational.

12. Ride the Cable Cars

No visit to SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA is complete without riding on a cable car. The cable car system in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA may be the last manually-operated system in the whole planet. Of the 22 lines which were originally created in the 19th century, only three remain functioning. Since there is bound seating (and being that they are one of the primary tourist attractions in the town) waits could be long. Be sure to plan ahead (make an effort to go throughout a weekday whenever there are fewer visitors). Tickets are $7 USD.

13. Embark on a Harbor Tour

For a totally different consider the city, take a day cruise of SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Bay. You’ll reach see some wildlife, snap some very nice photos, and find out about the bay and its own place in San Francisco’s history. Around 40% of California, drains in to the bay and the region is home to all types of snakes, rays, otters, sharks, whales, sea lions, and more. A budget-friendly way to start to see the bay is to take the general public ferries for $7.30 USD.

You will find prices and routes at sanfranciscobayferry.com.

14. Go out in the Castro

San Fransico has been the de facto gay capital of the united states because the 60s and 70s. The gay hub in the town may be the Castro, San Francisco’s famous gay neighborhood (Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, had his office here). A nearby includes a number of ethnic and modern restaurants in addition to a bunch that serve locally-sourced organic food. In addition, there are always a plethora of wild and fun clubs that focus on both gay and straight crowds. If you’re searching for a fun nightlife, it is the neighborhood for you personally.

15. Explore Haight-Ashbury

The birthplace of America’s counterculture, the Haight was ground zero through the summer of 1967, a.k.a. THE SUMMERTIME of Love. Hippies used to live here but, eventually, all of the colorful Victorian homes were bought up by more well-off residents as the region gentrified. It’s now home to high-end boutiques, hip cages, and chic restaurants. Having said that, you can still find some record stores, dive bars, and vintage clothing stores here.

In the event that you really want to find out about the area’s hippy past, take the Flower Power Walking Tour. It’s just $20 USD and can walk you through the neighborhood’s vibrant and eclectic past.

16. Rollerskate in Church

The Church of 8 Wheels is a former church that is converted to a vintage school rollerskating arena. They have DJs and live music so it’s essentially a celebration on wheels. Admission is $10 USD and you will rent skates for $5 USD. It’s an inexpensive (and unique) way to have a great time and meet people. There are occasions for both kids and adults too plus they even organize lessons for those who haven’t roller-skated before.

554 Fillmore St., +1 415-752-1967, churchof8wheels.com. Open Friday-Sunday. Check the web site for times as there are both all-ages and adult-only events.

17. See Muir Woods

Named after famed naturalist John Muir, it’s located just 16 miles from downtown so its a straightforward place to visit. The area houses over 240 acres of towering old-growth redwood trees. As the trees here are much less big as the sequoia trees in nearby Sequoia National Park, it’s nevertheless a soothing place to visit. There are several walking trails and it’s family/kid-friendly too.

18. Go to the Beat Museum

Focused on the Beat Generation (the 1950s counter-culture), here you’ll find original manuscripts, rare books, letters, and more from authors like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Founded in 2003, the museums has over 1,000 bits of memorabilia including Ginsber’s typewriter and an initial edition copy of Kerouac’s novel THE CITY and the City. In addition they hold regular events so check the web site to see if anything is going on throughout your visit.

540 Broadway, +1 800-537-6822, kerouac.com. Open daily from 10am-7pm. Admission is $8 USD.

19. Learn at the Exploratorium

This interactive science museum has lots of exhibitions covering biology, gravity, light, animation, plus much more. It’s very hands-on so it’s an ideal stop for anybody traveling with kids (though additionally, there are adult-specific exhibitions too).

Pier 15, +1 415-528-4444, exploratorium.edu. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm. Admission is $29.95 USD.

20. GO OUT in Golden Gate Park

This massive park covers over 1,000 acres, rendering it 20% bigger than Central Park in NYC. Inside, you’ll look for a Japanese garden, an arboretum, a museum, and a lot of hiking and walking trails. Walking from end to get rid of takes the spouse a day. In the summertime, it’s a favorite spot to picnic, get a stroll, and absorb sunlight. Though it sees over 24 million visitors every year, it’s never too much to locate a secluded spot for yourself.

21. Catch a casino game

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA locals love their sports teams, especially the Giants (their baseball team). If you’re around during a game, make sure you check out Oracle Arena and ingest the spectacle – it doesn’t get more American than this! The team is probably the longest-established & most successful in the league and you will get tickets at under $10 USD.

22. Go to the Cable Car Museum

When the cable cars launched in 1873, these were hugely popular plus they changed the facial skin of the town. For more information and see an array of photos and relics from a bygone era, including a number of the original cars, check out this museum. It’s not huge but it’s fun and insightful.

1201 Mason Street, +1 415-474-1887, cablecarmuseum.org. Admission is free.

23. Tour Wine Country

If you value wine and also have time to leave the town, go to the world-famous Napa and Sonoma wine regions. Napa is probably the world’s leading wine-producing area and each year over 3 million people come to taste their way around the spot. Located just over one hour from the town by car, there are many companies that organize day trips to Napa Valley (usually for between $99-150 USD per person). However, day tours generally are a bit rushed. In case you have the time, rent an automobile and stay overnight.

24. Benefit from the View from Twin Peaks

For another panoramic view of the town, drive or hike up to the most notable of Twin Peaks. Standing 925 feet high, you’ll get yourself a sweeping 360-degree view of the town. Come for sunset and revel in the view. Additionally, there are plenty of trails weaving around the mountains in order to hike for two hours here in the event that you wanted.

25. Have a Food Tour

This city is well known because of its food. If you wish to cast a broad culinary net and get one of these large amount of different foods, consider going for a food tour. Here are some companies worth looking into if you’re considering:

  • Wild SF Tours – A very tasty food crawl of Chinatown and Little Italy where one can try dim sum, pizza, craft cocktail-inspired boba milk tea, and cannoli. Tickets from $69.
  • Secret Food Tours – Sample the very best of the Mission District, including burritos, oysters, ice cream, and more! Tickets from $79 USD.
  • TasteBud Tours – A culinary exploration of Little Italy that stops off at 7 different local restaurants. Tickets from $68.50.

26. EXCURSION to Oakland

Just over the Bay Bridge from SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA is Oakland. It’s considered the “Brooklyn” to San Francisco’s “Manhattan.” Recently, Oakland has developed a distinct segment for and craft beer and specialty restaurants. You will find loads of bars and breweries, plus they have even their own “Ale Trail” if you would like to wander the town and sample its best drinks.

You may also visit Oakland Redwood Regional Park, Lake Merritt, or catch a baseball game at Oakland Coliseum. There’s a whole lot that you can do in Oakland and you may easily spend a day or even more here!

27. Go to the Asian Art Museum

That is probably the most comprehensive collections of Asian art on earth. The museum houses almost 20,000 items in its collection and you could get yourself a free guided tour to walk you through all of the highlights and special exhibits that the museum provides. There are both modern art exhibitions along with historical artifacts and artwork. Check the web site to see what temporary exhibitions can be found throughout your visit.

200 Larkin St., +1 415-581-3500, asianart.org. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm (9pm on Thursdays). Admission is $15 USD.

28. Have a Quirky Tour or Go to a Weird Museum

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA can be an eclectic city to state minimal so that it should come as no real surprise that there are various tours and museums here. A few of the more pleasurable and interesting tours options are:

  • SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Love Tours – Explore the town in a hand-painted VW bus and find out about San Francisco’s counter-culture icons while hearing hippie music from the summertime of Love. Tours from $45 USD.
  • GoCar Tours – Whip around the town in a chance kart and start to see the sights as you bomb down hills (like the winding Lombard Street). Tours from $120 USD.

And, for weird / offbeat museums, visit:

  • The Antique Vibrator Museum – See what adult toys from the 1800s appears like!
  • The Gregangelo Museum – This “museum” is bursting with a myriad of weird decorations, themed rooms, secret passageways, hidden rooms, and a variety of weird art and home design.
  • The Peephole Cinema – Watch short silent films through a little public peephole in the Mission District.
  • Musée Mécanique – A assortment of over 300 old arcade games from the 20th century.


While SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA may be known because of its high cost of living, you will find loads of fun what to see and do in the town that won’t break your budget. With just a little planning and creativity, you can enjoy your time and effort in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA without exceeding budget.

And whether you’re looking for museums, nature, food, or nightlife, this city won’t disappoint.

Book Your Visit to SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA: Logistical Guidelines

Book Your Flight Look for a cheap flight through the use of Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite se’s because they search websites and airlines around the world which means you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to remain elsewhere, use Booking.com because they consistently return the least expensive rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I take advantage of them all enough time. My suggested place may be the The Green Tortoise. It’s the very best hostel in the town. It has free breakfast, pub crawls, and dinners 3 x weekly.

Looking to discover the best Companies to save lots of Money With? Have a look at my resource page to get the best companies to use when you travel! I list all of the ones I use to save lots of money when I travel – and I believe can help you too!

Need helpful information? SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA has some excellent tours available. For an in-depth walking tour, have a look at Take Walks. They use expert local guides and also have a brilliant insightful (and fun) tour through Chinatown.

For something more hands-on just like a segway tour, use Fat Tire Tours. They have a few different tours around the town and are an excellent alternative to a typical walking tour.

Looking to find out more on Visiting SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA? Have a look at my in-depth destination guide to SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA with more

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