12 Best Things to Do In San Francisco, California

Please note that some posts may contain affiliate links. We may earn a commission should you choose to purchase using these links but at absolutely no extra cost to you.

San Francisco is filled with a variety of fun, meaningful activities that are sure to delight and excite all ages. The sparkling city is renowned for its hikes, beaches, food, landmarks, shopping, hotels and so much more. There are plenty of things to do in San Francisco.

These are some of the best places to visit in San Francisco, including romantic things to do, outdoorsy adventures, spooky tours, scenic routes, and chatty sea lions.

Whether you are new to the city or a long-time resident of the vibrant metropolitan, San Francisco has a little something to offer you.

Most Popular Things To Do In San Francisco


Take A Breezy Bike Ride Across Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the country’s most notable landmarks in California, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world every year to take in this unique sensory experience of vivid color, sound, and light.

There is a toll fee to get across the Golden Gate Bridge. The good news is it is all electronic, meaning you can fulfill your dues conveniently online—no more hassle at the bridge to scrounge up the spare change from between the seat cushions.

Depending on the number of axels of your preferred method of transportation and which payment method chosen, pricing can vary between $7.70 to $60.90. The best time of year to visit this iconic structure is in September or October when there is less fog, and the weather is just perfect from experience and local-recommended.

The Alcatraz

Visit The Infamous Alcatraz Island

Formerly a military prison, Alcatraz was home to some of the world’s most legendary criminals from Al Capone, Robert Stroud, and Roy Gardner, to name a few. The list of felonious residents is scary in itself.

It comes as no surprise that this is one of the destinations and things that California is known for.

Expect to spend at least 3 to 4 hours taking in the scenery through audio and visual presentations. Looking to get spooked? Go on a thrill-seeking adventure by taking a night tour of this daunting destination. I promise it will be one to remember. I suggest bundling up with a thin jacket or sweater as the weather is unpredictable.

A visit to Alcatraz is arguably one of the most chilling, yet exciting things to do in San Francisco at night. Spots do fill up quickly, so book your tour in advance to reserve your place.

Outdoor Things To Do In San Francisco


Picnic At Golden Gate Park

The Golden Gate Park may be considered one of the country’s top 3 most favorite parks, alongside New York’s Central Park. This significant urban park is home to over 6,000 plant species and is famous for its exciting recreational activities.

It is entirely free to visit the park. However, some of the specific attractions, such as museums and gardens, charge an admission fee. I find these interesting endeavors worth every penny.

With a little over 3 miles in length, there is more than enough room to take a break from the busy day, have a picnic, and embrace the colorful and inviting surroundings that make up one of San Francisco’s most fascinating locations.

Catch Scenic Views At Twin Peaks 

A hike up to Twin Peaks offers some of the city’s most breathtaking views. Catching the stunning sunrise or sunset at this beautiful location is undoubtedly one of the most romantic things to do in San Francisco.

It’s good to bring a thin jacket or sweater in the event the wind picks up, which is likely to happen at the very top of the hike. Open from 5 am to midnight for free, Twin Peaks has become one of my ultimate favorite places to visit on the regular.

Due to its flourishing popularity, expect to park at the bottom and make the hike up top. This scenic nature spot is a must-visit amongst the famous San Francisco landmarks.

Take In The View From Coit Tower

Since 1933, the Coit Tower is a 210-foot-tall monument that rests on Telegraph Hill’s peak. Take a trip using the elevator up to the observation deck for a steller view. Honestly, there might not be a better place to visit with a full 360˚ view of the picturesque city.

Visitors suggest visiting the tower during the early part of the day to skip the crowds and provide the opportunity to take in every bit of the charming view.

Admission to the observation deck is on the lower spectrum, starting at just $7 for locals and $9 for travelers. The average length of the tour is roughly 30-40 minutes in groups of at least 4, so I encourage bringing friends to enjoy the experience and take some impressive Instagram photos.

The Coit Tower in San Francisco

Fun Things to Do In San Francsico

Picture-Perfect Views At Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, & Pier 7 

Since 1990, chirpy and cheerful sea lions have made their home at this prime entertainment destination, barking up conversations with all alike. Folks from all over are eager to get a close-up of these adorable creatures. Pier 39 includes two levels of over a dozen full-service restaurants, shops, and enlightening events and attractions.

A few local favorites include Aunt Fanny’s Hot Pretzels, Fog Harbor Fish House, and Wipeout Br & Grill. Fog Harbor Fish House serves the best oysters and lobster tails. Paired with a lovely white wine, it is quite a delicious experience with a perfect view. There is no price for admission to enter, and any time is an excellent time to visit and check out the picture-perfect views.

While Pier 39 is notably San Francisco’s most popular pier, it is not the only pier to bring pure enjoyment to the bay area. The historic Fisherman’s Wharf is a must on the San Francisco travel checklist. This pier is filled with endless entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.

Take a stroll to the end of Pier 7 and take in the incredible panoramic views of the bay and the city skyline. A visit to Pier 7 makes for a peaceful and fulfilling glimpse of what San Francisco has to offer. Basking in the bay is one of the most relaxing things to do in San Francisco.

Photo credit: pxhidalgo/Depositphotos.com

Batter Up At Oracle Park

Oracle Park is home to the celebrated baseball team, the San Francisco Giants. Known for its spectacular scenic views, Oracle Park has become one of the top places to visit in San Francisco.

While the baseball season is on for a couple of months, the stadium remains open year-round to guided tours of the stadium’s most exclusive and intriguing parts that are specifically reserved for the teams and faculty.

The cost for adult admission is $22, kids admission is $12, and seniors get to enjoy it for $17. Except for blackout dates, tours are only available in four brackets daily: 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 1:30 pm.

The most exciting time to see the stadium is right before a game starts. These pre-game tours are exclusive and start at $35 Adult General Admission. Consider getting a private tour if you’re looking for a less crowded and more intimate experience.

On game day, there may be folks lingering outside the gates of the stadium offering up game tickets for entry at a reduced price. We would urge caution around these private sellers as it is not always a guarantee you are buying genuine tickets.

To be safe and avoid any potential scams, buy from a credible online source compliant with local laws.

Relaxing Things To Do In San Francisco


Take A Stroll On Lombard Street

Lombard Street is iconic for its steep, sharp and twisty turns. It’s one of the funky things and facts about San Francisco. Exquisite Victorian-style mansions occupy either side of the one-block section.

Claimed to be “the most crooked street in the world,” this famous one-block section has been featured in box office feature films including George of the Jungle and Dr. Dolittle 2, among many others, in addition to a couple of TV shows such as Full House and The Real World.

Completely free to visit, this hotspot is a must-have on the San Francisco itinerary.

Treat Your Tastebuds In Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown is host to the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Quite impressive if you ask me! Spend a half-day or whole discovering tasty and authentic foods from many different restaurants to choose from.

The best way to get the most out of this insightful experience is to take the time to explore and roam the neighborhood. Be sure to wear stretchy pants because you’re going to need a pair after this flavor-packed escapade. As foodies, we find this to be one of the most fun things to do in San Francisco.

>Check Chinatown Walking Tour


Take A Ride On Powell-Hyde

Powell-Hyde is a fun-filled cable car ride that takes you to several different neighborhoods in the city, such as Chinatown, Downtown, Financial District, and South of Market, to name a few. While taking a ride on this chill coaster sounds breezy, it can take a couple of hours to complete a full ride.

This is one of the things San Francisco is known for as it is not just for tourists. The local community use this transport regularly to get to their destinations.

I had the best time chatting with locals and travelers all there for the same purpose: to get a little bit of everything that San Francisco has to offer without having to walk. The Powell-Hyde cable car is also a premiere activity for romantic evenings with a special someone. All aboard!

Indoor Things To Do in San Francisco

Shop Until You Drop At Union Square

Union Square is undoubtedly one of the best places to shop in the city. Located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, this thriving destination is notable for its vibrant energy and is adored by both tourists and locals.

It can be quite a stimulating experience to sit back and enjoy the hustle and bustle that comes with a busy city lifestyle. Prepare to shop, dine, and drink to your heart’s content.

At the end of the day, get away from the hustle and bustle in one of Union Square’s lavish hotels. It is said that the best times to visit this lively community are between September to November.

california -academy-of-sciences
Photo credit: canyalcin/Depositphotos.com

Learn From The California Academy Of Sciences

The California Academy of Science is equipped with immersive attractions. Some of the highlights include an aquarium housing up to 40,000 different species of animals and a mesmerizing planetarium. There is even a museum paired with a rainforest.

Each attraction features its own set of custom activities and presentations catered to those curious minds interested in the subjects. The institution is open from Monday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm.

For my friendly creatures of the night, the academy hosts free evening NightSchool activities that shed light on a mix of sciences and culture. 

>Check Skip-The-Line Tickets To Academy Of Sciences

Discovering The Best Things To Do In San Francisco

San Francisco is the leading hub for outdoorsy types, diverse and savory foods, shopping, and spectacular views. This grand city is home to people of all backgrounds and cultures, creating a unique and eclectic population.

Here are just some of the popular things to do in San Francisco, sharing the very best of what the city has to offer. Start adding these novelty ventures to the bucket list and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey.



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

More Adventures


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


other stories