San Francisco is the place for people who like vacationing outdoors, have a taste for the most delectable cuisines, and are adventure seekers. San Francisco is packed to the brim with an assortment of things to do that will make you want to visit the place again and again.
The Golden Gate City is a gorgeous, expensive American city with diversity around every corner, delicious food you will dream of when you’re back home, and unforgettable experiences you will talk about with your loved ones over a cup of coffee one fine day in the future.
We have compiled a list of 11 things to do in San Francisco, so you don’t have to worry about it.
- Pier 39
- Cable Car
- Magowan’s Mirror Maze
- Golden Gate Park
- Twin Peaks
- Ferry Building Marketplace
- Union Square
If you want to get to know the real San Francisco, you better explore the city on foot, walking through its neighborhoods, climbing up its hills, exploring its streets, and sharing-friendly conversation with the locals.
Although covering the whole city is next to impossible, you can taste the various flavors of this stunning city if you visit these 11 places while you are here.
Best Things to do in San Francisco
San Francisco means something different to every other person. Each neighborhood here has its own climate and personality. They have even named the fog Karl who has its own Twitter account. And everything here is insanely expensive, yet there are few places that you can visit for free.
And a tip for first-time travelers? Never call San Francisco “San Fran” or “Frisco” ever. The only acceptable nicknames are either “SF” or “The City.”
Let’s explore this tiny yet humongous city together.
Meet the Sea Lions at Pier 39
One of the fun things to do in San Francisco is to book a date with a Sea Lion. They made their first appearance in 1989 and have become one of the reasons tourists love visiting the city. The ideal time to visit SF in order to see these giant mammals is between January and July when they ‘haul out’ for some sunbathing.
Make sure to plan your San Francisco vacation, so you don’t miss out on meeting the city’s favorite mascots. You can even hop into some of the restaurants and shops in the area or take a casual stroll while taking in the beautiful views.
Pro Tip: Don’t get too close to the seals. They have smelly breaths, which you probably want to avoid.
Eat all the Gelato at Ghirardelli
Create your own ice cream, indulge in irresistible chocolate chip cookies, dipped strawberries, marvel at the flowing chocolate, chocolate bars in every flavor, and so much more.
If you are a true chocolate lover at heart, then this is the best thing to do while you are visiting San Francisco.
Girardelli makes some of the best-baked brownies and homemade ice cream to satiate your sweet tooth.
Timings: Open every day from 11 AM to 10 PM
Go to the Prison at Alcatraz
The prison was famous for being one of the most impregnable prisons in the world with maximum security. It claims that no prisoner had successfully escaped until one day when 3 did.
There is something about the place that attracts around 4000 tourists every day. Some of America’s most notorious criminals inhabited the prison.
The place is a boat ride away from the city, ideally during the night, to get an eerie experience of the place.
Zip Around the City in a Cable Car
The city is connected by a manually operated cable car system that you should definitely add to your list of top things to do in San Francisco. The cable car lines are over 100 years old and have become a ‘right of passage.’
Get a ticket and ride around the city in style and experience the history while you are on it.
It is the only public transport to be declared a historical monument.
Magowan’s Mind Boggling Mirror Maze
Lose yourself in one of the most psychedelic places in the city, which is located on Pier 39. Due to COVID restrictions, they allow only 20 people at once, making your experience more exclusive.
The place is lit with black lights making the mirrors glow. Here you will lose track of where you are and where you are going. The place is ideal for all ages and probably the best $10 spent in SF.
Timings: Open every day from 11 AM to 8 PM
Price: $10 (for children aged 5 years and younger it is FREE)
Take a Day Trip to Golden Gate Park
The park is home to gardens and museums, considered the “lungs of the city,” and located in the heart of SF. The place once used to be an area of arid dunes now has 5000+ types of plants, several lakes, walking trails, and cycling paths.
Tourists can visit the de Young Museum, Japanese Tea Garden, the San Francisco Botanical Garden, and more.
You can either explore the park via 2.5 hours guided tours or on a bike. (Bike rentals are available on the ground.)
Transport Yourself to the Beautiful Realm of Chinatown
You might have visited Chinatown in other cities, but the one in San Francisco hits different. Once destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, the place was rebuilt into a much more attractive version.
The place is seen bustling with temples, workshops, theatres, teahouses, souvenir shops, etc., making it one of the things people like to do when visiting San Francisco, California.
Take a Hike to Twin Peaks
The second highest point in San Francisco is one of the best things to do in San Francisco for free if you want to marvel at some of the best views of the city. Tourists can take a look at various San Francisco landmarks, including the downtown skyscrapers and the Bay Bridge.
The stunning views make the trek worth it. The famous grassy pounds can get windy and chilly, so it is recommended to bring a jacket to enjoy the hike to the fullest.
Explore Rich Gay and Lesbian Culture
The Castro neighborhood is the beating heart of SF’s LGBTQ community and is considered the gay capital of the world by many. The neighborhood is home to the registered city landmark,i.e, Castro Theatre, and is known for its lively nightlife and dining scenes.
There are loads of gay bars, 24-hours open eateries, and sex shops. The place is praised for its safety, friendly residents, and striking aesthetics.
Visiting Castro is one of the cool things to do in San Francisco whenever you plan on flying to the city.
Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for sex stores if you are exploring the neighborhood with your kids.
Ferry Building Marketplace—Heaven for Foodies
This foodie heaven should be on your list of things to do in San Francisco this weekend. The marketplace has a multitude of snack stops, small restaurants, and grocery stores. From seafood to Mexican food, from Japanese delicacies to nut shops, there is so much to explore here.
This is one place visitors visit multiple times during their stay in San Francisco.
Pro-Tip: Although there are many dine-in options available, many tourists suggest getting a take-away to munch on while you explore the place.
Hustle and Bustle of Union Square
The Financial District of San Francisco is situated at the heart of downtown. Loved by locals and tourists alike for its incredible energy, tall buildings, and busy streets. The place offers a unique opportunity to sit in, the middle of all the hard-to-keep-up-with activities minus the risk of getting run over.
There are plenty of hotels left, right and center, however, the place is well-known for its shopping.
The square is open all day and all night and can be visited for free and should be on your list of things to do in San Francisco, California.
Pro Tip: It’s better to reach the place on public transportation and not by your own conveyance as the traffic here is not for the faint-hearted.
San Francisco is a city you must visit once in a lifetime. The city welcomes everyone with open arms. For a small city, San Francisco has a lot of ground to cover. Even localities have something new to explore; imagine what all a tourist can explore and visit when visiting this stunning gem of a city.
Once someone gets a taste of this American city, they are bound to visit again for a second serving of the delectable flavors this city has to offer. Plan a memorable trip and book your flights to San Francisco right away for an adventure of a lifetime.