Are you looking for the 10 Best things to do in San Francisco before you go? If yes, then you have come to the right place. I’m super excited to share an amazing guide for your tour. I recently explored this incredible city and trust me, it is like a dream come true!
10 Best Things To Do In San Francisco
From famous landmarks to hidden secrets, San Francisco has stolen my heart. Visiting the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge is an experience like no other. You will say awe at its beauty when you see it for the very first time.
You might even get a little touch of excitement in your legs as you walk across it, looking down at the sea. Plus, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your time at this historic attraction.
So, let’s just find several different places to visit in San Francisco with some fun facts, a little history, what’s nearby and some coffee shops for having tasty sips!
Here is List of Best Things to do in San Francisco
Top-Rated Tourist Attractions In San Francisco
As you know San Francisco is an amazing place to visit. Some spots are famous, like the big red Golden Gate Bridge while others are secret spots, not everyone knows about them. So here we’re going to discover the best 10 places that make San Francisco extra special!
1. Golden Gate Bridge – Best For Golden Gate Bike Ride
Just imagine standing in front of the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a huge red bridge that looks as if touching the sky. Plus, walking or biking on it and feeling the cool breeze from ocean are amazing Golden Bridge facts. It is just like stepping into a dreamy painting come to life!
Perhaps, Did you know before that you can bike on the Golden Gate Bridge? This bridge is almost two miles long. It makes it a super fun ride. You can rent a bike from places like Golden Gate Bridge Electric Bike Rentals or Blazing Saddles etc.
However, Wheel Fun Rentals even offers an audio-guided bike tour using GPS technology. In this way, you can learn the top things to do near Golden Gate Bridge about where you are. And, of course, don’t forget to stop at Fort Point for the perfect bridge selfie!
Many people have questions about why is the Golden Gate Bridge famous. Actually, there’s a special path for walkers and bikers on the side, with no cars allowed. So, you can start walking from either the north or south side. The bridge also gets crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. But you can beat the crowds by going early in the morning!
Besides, the walkways are open every day at 5 am but from March to November, they’re open until 8 pm and from November to March, they close at 6:30 pm. During the closing time, big gates come down, and you can’t enter anymore. So, make sure to experience the Golden Gate Bridge whether biking or walking, it’s a really amazing thing waiting for you!
2. Alcatraz Island – Best Spots For Shopping
If I talk about my next way, it took me on a boat to Alcatraz Island. It is a small island but with a really big story. They used to keep some not-so-nice folks there a long time ago. You’ll be happy to know that the boat ride is super fun. When you explore the prison, it feels as if you were a detective finding secret passages. It is almost like being in a movie!
And guess what? The most unique facts about Alcatraz’s history aren’t just about the prison stuff, but also it has some cool gardens! Even though people kind of forgot about them for over four decades. But know they have fixed them up and everyone can enjoy them.
In Alcatraz Island, there are so many roses, bush daisies, geraniums and more beautiful California gardens. It is a happy place that helps you forget about the island’s dark history. That’s not even enough, there’s still more to know about it!
You can Alcatraz a bird paradise! Because there’s a special place for you to rest called a seabird sanctuary. Here you can see hundreds of birds at once! The common ones are western gulls, cormorants, snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons.
However, Alcatraz is a hotspot for birdwatchers! They carefully count and watch the birds as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. So, if you like these Alcatraz Island surprising things, must grab a Birds on the Rock brochure when you get there. And the best time to go is Late winter or early spring for this coolest bird-watching experience!
3. Fisherman’s Wharf – Famous Place For Visitors
Fisherman’s Wharf is like a big amazing party by the sea! It smells salty but the seafood tastes so good. The best part of it is watching the street performers. It makes everyone’s heart feel happy. And when the sun goes down, it becomes a magical place with lights and laughter!
There are also old buildings, boats and fishermen’s wharf hotels that make it easy to love. Some parts might seem crowded but if you go past the souvenir shops, you’ll find some outstanding special spots.
Also, at Pier 39, you can see almost 300-900 sea lions enjoying the sun. However, they came after an earthquake in 1990 and more came over time. If it’s your first or 100th time, it’s really an amazing sight!
Do you know the most unique things about Fisherman’s Wharf? The Cable Car! It’s like a special train going up and down the hills in San Francisco. In fact, you can ride to Union Square for fun to the top of Lombard Street.
There are some wonderful things to do for swimming fans too. There’s a Dolphin Club at Fisherman’s Wharf in which you can have fun swimming. They’ve been around for 150 years having a private beach, showers and even a sauna. Another club is just next the door. The South End Rowing Club, it offers similar things to the public on certain days.
Don’t miss the chocolate store at Ghirardelli Square,! They give free samples on weekends. Sometimes chocolate squares or hot fudge to drink. And you better know that free stuff is awesome, especially when it’s chocolate!
Lastly, I’ll guide you about the Buena Vista Cafe! It is famous for Irish coffee. If you want no crowd then it better to go on a weekday. You can just sit at the bar and can watch the bartender make lots of Irish coffee. However, on asking from him you’ll come to know that he makes about 2,000 coffees in a day. That’s a whole lot!
4. Lombard Street – The Most Crookedest Street In The World
Lombard Street in San Francisco is known as the second most crooked street in the world. However, the first most crooked street is also in San Francisco! Everybody around the world knows about Lombard Street because it looks so pretty on postcards.
You’ll love to watch cars carefully drive down its eight turns just like hairpin bends with some beautiful flowers everywhere. But the fact is that it only became famous in the late 1950s. That’s when it showed up in a news article. And the first postcard of Lombard Street came out in 1961.
Now, when it comes to Lombard Street’s beautiful things, you have some choice! Either you want to drive or walk down it? Driving down is actually cool! It’s not that hard because the speed limit is only 5 miles per hour. But at the same time, it feels a bit odd due to the slippery paving bricks and the turns are tight.
Besides, going down a steep hill with blooming hydrangeas is much more fun! You get a great view of Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge and the bay. But, if you drive there and park nearby, just be careful. Cars get broken a lot of times in that area. So don’t leave anything valuable in your car.
Now, walking down Lombard Street is the other option. Most people do this because it’s pretty easy, though it’s a full block down. Whereas, walking up would be great exercise, but most visitors start at the top! Walking down lets you check out the street and houses, attracts the view and take lots of pictures easily.
And guess what? Lombard Street SF has some famous buildings! There is one on the Real World San Francisco reality show and another one called the Haunted Montandon House. It belonged to a famous party hostess in the 1960s.
So,the Lombard Street is not just about its crooked turns but also it’s surrounded by cool things to explore, like cafes, shops, and even a haunted house! If you ever plan to visit, like in the morning or on weekdays, you can enjoy Lombard Street without big crowds. That’s why, you can have a more peaceful and fun time exploring the famous crooked street in San Francisco!
5. Chinatown – Best Spots For Street Food
Chinatown feels like entering a magical world with lanterns in the sky! Its streets are like a fun maze. The shops are like hidden treasures and the yummy smell of food makes your tummy feel hungry. It’s like a delicious treasure hunt in a neighborhood full of surprises!
The specialty of Chinatown San Francisco is that it’s one of the oldest in the United States. It’s not just a place though, it’s a part of history showing the spirit of immigrants and the mix of people that make the city awesome.
Let me tell you the most exciting part of it, which is eating your way through Chinatown! There are so many cool places, from family-run spots to fancy new restaurants. You can Imagine trying authentic dim sum. It’s like small bites of joy.
And after you’re full, walk around the lively streets with their red lanterns. Maybe you have a question about what to do in Chinatown sf? You can visit markets, tea shops and art galleries, it’s like a food and adventure combo!
Here are some cool things to check out in Chinatown:
It’s this amazing gate that looks as if it is from a fairy tale. With dragons, pagodas and stone lions, it’s like stepping into a magical world.
There’s a teahouse run by a family in Chinatown. They travel to China and Taiwan to get the best teas. You can even taste them and and can also learn about where they come from. It is like a journey with tea!
You can explore places like Sing Chong, the first building after the Dragon’s Gate and a church that’s been here since 1854, in Chinatown. It is like going back in time in a Chinese world.
Far East Cafe:
If you want to eat at a really old spot, you must try the Far East Cafe. It’s been here since the 1920s, serving yummy food with a side of history.
When the sun goes down, Chinatown comes alive. There are some cool bars like The Buddha Lounge and Li Po Lounge. You can try some special drinks there. Plus, Chinatown isn’t just a place to visit but also it’s a whole adventure waiting for you! So, if you plan to go there, you’ll feel like having your own tasty and exciting playground in San Francisco!
6. Painted Ladies – Famous For Historic Victorian Homes SF
Think of a row of houses dressed up in the most beautiful colors, standing side by side! Yes, absolutely, that’s the Painted Ladies Full House! Here you can sit in a park and as the sun says goodbye, it paints the sky and these houses in warm and magical colors. It feels as if you stepped into a fairy tale! You can make Painted Ladies’ photos as well.
The Painted Ladies are basically on Steiner Street. Take a bus to the Hayes Street and Steiner Street intersection, and you will be dropped off near the colorful houses. But here’s a tip, these houses are people’s homes, so you can’t go inside them. There are also guided tours available if you want to learn more about them.
Usually, houses of regular people don’t become famous, but these did because of their look! These Victorian houses, all lined up next to each other near Alamo Square, are special because of their different styles and fancy colors.
People love stopping there and they even have a nickname, the Seven Sisters. Just like other famous things in San Francisco, these houses get their pictures taken a lot.
Now are you ready to visit and take a picture for yourself? The best spot for photos is from the side of the park looking at Hayes Street. The park is on a hill, so if you go up a bit, you can see the houses with the city behind them. Plus, some people say the best time for pictures is around midday because the lighting is just right!
One famous group of Painted Ladies is on 710–720 Steiner Street. It is right across from Alamo Square Park. People sometimes call them “Postcard Row.” These houses were built in the late 1800s and they’ve been in a lot of TV shows too. The pink one was sold for $3.5 million in 2020! Imagine living in such a famous house!
7. Exploratorium – Best Science and Art Museum
The Exploratorium is like a vast playground for your brain. Here you can have fun and learn cool stuff! It actually opened in 1969 and is not just a museum! It’s a place where science, art and human perception come together.
Just imagine a mad scientist’s penny arcade, a scientific funhouse and an experimental laboratory all rolled into one. That’s the Exploratorium! You can explore it during the day or, if you’re feeling adventurous.
Visit on Thursday nights for After Dark, a special time just for adults from 6 to 10 p.m. No kids are allowed there because there’s a full bar, live music and exciting programs from creators and thinkers in the Bay Area.
The Seaglass Restaurant offers a stunning view of the San Francisco Bay if you get hungry. They serve easy family-friendly meals made with local ingredients. There’s also the Seismic Joint Cafe near the entrance. It offers take-out and family-friendly food including baked goods and natural sodas.
Now, inside the Exploratorium you can do the following awesome things:
- Make your hair stand on end using static electricity!
- See your shadows in seven different colors on the Colored Shadows Wall.
- Experience the world in just one color in the eerie Monochromatic Room.
- Sit under a bubble of color and find out how it influences your mood.
- Dance in front of an infrared camera that shows your movements on a screen.
- Explore the moon up close beneath a 16-foot photo-realistic sculpture.
- Learn about gravity on an incline.
- Test your skills at building a tower on the Unstable Table.
- See if you can keep your balance while moving.
- Don’t forget to visit the awesome gift shop for STEM-inspired gifts, books, and toys!
Remember, the Exploratorium is always changing its exhibit. So there’s always something new and exciting to explore!
8. Palace of Fine Arts – Famous For Exhibit Works of Art
This Beautiful Architecture Landmark is like a huge, calm garden with a fancy building! You can stroll around feeling relaxed with the beautiful views. It’s like being in a castle but with lots of trees and a big pond. An outstanding place for a quiet adventure!
Usually. this free attraction has a beautiful dome and curved columns. It is in a colorful park on the northern side of San Francisco in the Marina District. You’ll find it a favorite spot to sit back, relax and enjoy the city’s beauty.
It was built in 1915 for the World’s Fair, but people loved it so much that the city decided to keep it. It is now the largest remaining structure from the expo.
As you walk around, you’ll see some stunning architecture and a special art on the walls. There are four weeping women built into one of the colonnades to remember the past and what was lost after the 1906 earthquake.
Originally, it was meant to be knocked down after the World’s Fair. But luckily, the city worked with the U.S. government to keep it. However, from the Palace of Fine Arts, you can have a quick walk to Chestnut Street and Union Street. These are lined up with shops and restaurants.
Here are some fun things you can do in the Palace of Fine Arts:
- Run around: The Palace of Fine Arts has paths and gardens for kids to play away from traffic.
- Picnic Spots: The grassy lawns are perfect for picnics with an amazing view.
- Family photos: The palace is a beautiful backdrop for family pictures.
- Theater: The Palace of Fine Arts Theater has child-friendly programs like the Nutcracker ballet.
- Lunch spots: Walk a bit to find restaurants; Chestnut Street has a great ice cream spot called Over the Moon.
9. Muir Woods National Monument – Best For Magical Forest Experience
You can walk in a magical forest with super tall trees, that’s Muir Woods! The trees are so tall that you’ll feel like a tiny ant. It is very quiet and looks like nature talks to you through the leaves. You can even see a cute chipmunk there!
Muir Woods is special because it has some of the last old-growth coastal redwoods in the world. It’s just 10 miles north of San Francisco and you can get there by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.
Named after a famous tree lover, John Muir, Muir Woods became a National Monument in 1908. For visiting, you need to reserve a parking space or shuttle before you go. There’s no phone signal or Wi-Fi there!
The main nature hiking trail at Muir Woods is where you’ll see ancient redwoods. It starts at the Visitor Center and goes along both sides of Redwood Creek. While walking, keep an eye out for wildlife! You might see deer, bats, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks.
And remember to look for wildflowers like the Pacific rhododendron and redwood sorrel. If feel hungry after exploring? There’s a Muir Woods Local Ingredients Cafe that is famous for its grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. They use local ingredients and even appeared on the Food Network!
If you want some more food options, then you can also visit the Muir Woods Trading Co Cafe, Joe’s Taco Lounge and Piazza D’Angelo Restaurant nearby. So, if you love nature, trees or even yummy food, Muir Woods is the perfect place for a fun day!
10. Haight-Ashbury – Best Known For Summer Of Love
Now let’s go to Haight-Ashbury! A place that feels like a time machine to the ’60s! These are the streets that are full of colorful art. It is all about feeling free and happy!
Let me tell you that, in 1967, something super amazing happened at Haight street sf and Ashbury. It was the Summer of Love! People came together, spreading good vibes and starting the hippie movement. Just don’t forget to take a picture of these famous street signs whenever you go!
After that, simply wander around Haight Street between Stanyan Street and Divisadero for a wonderful trip. There are awesome shops there with tie-dye clothes, posters and some cool stuff. There is also a popular site for music enthusiasts, Amoeba Music, and Love On Haight, which is like a tie-dye heaven.
Remember not to miss the Piedmont Boutique. It’s the one with legs hanging out the window, and it looks cool! If you get thirst, check out Ritual Coffee for yummy coffee. For a classic coffee house experience, visit the Coffee to the People.
Plus, for a great view of Golden Gate Park, visit Flywheel Coffee. It’s a great spot to get work done with free Wi-Fi. But at the same time, Haight-Ashbury is not just about shopping or drinking coffee. It is a place where you can find cool boutiques, vintage and thrift shops.
Just start walking down Haight Street to find unique clothing stores. Besides, if you are interested in books, The Booksmith is a classic bookstore there! You can also visit a historic Zam Zam Bar, they’re famous for making awesome martinis!
After checking out the amazing places, take a break at Coffee To The People on Masonic Ave. Sip some delicious organic coffee in a quiet area, ideal for completing work without distractions. In this way, you can feel the awesome vibes of this special neighborhood!
San Francisco is a city full of wonders! As you have learned the 10 Best Things To Do In San Francisco, I hope you enjoyed reading the whole article. If you ever think of a place for a trip, San Francisco should be at the top of your list.
What is San Francisco best known for?
San Francisco is best known for the Golden Gate Bridge! A big red bridge that many people visit for fun. It’s also known for Alcatraz Island, where a famous prison used to be. This city is super hilly and you can ride on cable cars to go up and down the steep streets.
Why is San Francisco worth visiting?
San Francisco is worth visiting because it offers a wide range of delicious food. From fancy Michelin-starred restaurants to fun and unique food trucks. It is also best known for its world-famous performances in symphony, ballet, theater and opera. Additionally, this city provides endless outdoor activities, making it a must-visit place for any traveler.
What food is popular in San Francisco?
In San Francisco, popular foods include clam chowder served in sourdough bread bowls. It is super yummy and famous at Fisherman’s Wharf. People also love trying delicious Chinese food in Chinatown, like fortune cookies. When visiting this city, don’t forget to try the Ghirardelli chocolate delicacies, a tasty treat there!
Is San Francisco a romantic city?
Yes, San Francisco is considered a romantic city because of its beautiful views like the Golden Gate Bridge. Couples can take romantic walks along the waterfront and even ride in charming cable cars together. This city’s lovely parks and cheerful restaurants make it a great place for love-filled adventures!
What’s the famous street in San Francisco?
The famous street in San Francisco is Lombard Street. It is known as the “crookedest street” because it has many zigzag turns. It is fun to see cars winding down this steep, curvy road. Lots of people visit Lombard Street for its special and interesting design. To learn more, read the above-mentioned article “10 Best Things To Do In San Francisco.”