When you think of the most fun city in California, where do you think of? Los Angeles? Santa Barbara? For me it is always San Francisco. It’s the city of Dungeness crab, sourdough bread and, of course, the breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge. Some people have even left their hearts here. San Francisco is on most travelers Things to Do List and for very good reason. Whether your a first-time visitor or a local, the City has something to offer for everyone and here’s just a little taste of the best things to do in San Francisco and attractions not to be missed.
The Best Things to Do in San Francisco (+ Fun Attractions to See)
1. ✦ Shop at Union Square
Union Square holds one of the largest collections of department stores, boutique shops, beauty salons, art galleries, and so on, in all of the United States. Therefore, you can absolutely rest assured it’ll be among the best of the best spots to shop while in San Francisco. In addition, there are also many live events held at Union Square – it’s really not a spot you’ll run out of things to do in! If you visit during the winter season, there’s even an ice skating rink for visitors’ additional pleasure.
2. ✦ Drink an Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista
Famous bartender Larry Nolan serves up thousands of Irish coffees a day at The Buena Vista, using a recipe that was perfected in 1952. It’s not just the quantity that’s impressive, but the technique too. On a busy night a couple dozen stemmed glasses will be lined up in a row and strategically filled in a low-tech assembly line fashion. Also, if you sit at the bar with Larry, he might possibly blow your mind with fun magic tricks while you drink your Irish coffee. Don’t get worried if you become a little addicted to this drink because you can learn to make Irish Coffee the Buena Vista way at home.
3. ✦ Eat Chinese Food in Chinatown
Not only is San Francisco’s Chinatown the oldest in North America, it also hosts the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. It’s held a highly influential position historically and culturally ever since its establishment, and there are many points of interest for you to spend half a day to a day exploring, with food being one of the main highlights for many. There’s so many different restaurants for you to choose from, but some of the best spots are Good Mong Kok Bakery (if there’s one spot in Chinatown you’ll have everyone recommending you to visit, this is IT), Dim Sum Bistro, Hing Lung Company, Z & Y Restaurant and Sam Wo Restaurant. Whichever restaurant you choose, you can rest assured you’ll be treated to a wonderful and authentic meal.
For a different experience take a 3-hour Chinatown walking tour that will give you a sampling from some of the best restaurants in the area.
4. ✦ Ogle the Architecture at the Palace of Fine Arts
This gorgeous building was built in 1919, and was inspired by ancient Greek and Roman architecture. It is an attraction that needs to be seen from all angles! It stands at the foot of a lagoon that reflects the palace by daylight, so start with a walk of the perimeter. Then head inside to stand amongst of gigantic pillars. There are so many tiny details, statues, and cravings to take in, that you really need to take some time to see appreciate them all. Don’t forget to make your way back to the Palace of Fine Arts at night to get a view of it all lit up.
To make your visit even more bucket list worthy, how about booking an exclusive gourmet picnic at the park. Cheese, charcuterie and wine is provided, plus they clean up afterwards too!
5. ✦ Get Chocolate at Ghirardelli Square
Located on the fisherman wharf, Ghirardelli Square, is home to some of the world’s best chocolate. Ghirardelli Chocolate, the squares namesake, has been manufacturing at the heart of the square for ages. There is a legendary story to be heard on site, about how the Italian founder, back in the 1800’s, made his way to San Francisco by way of Peru. And although Ghirardelli moved their main plant away ages ago, they still produce on the small-scale here and the storefront remains an iconic symbol of the area.
Get a chocolate sundae or just a simple bar. It doesn’t’ matter, they’re all good. Neighboring alongside the chocolate company is an eccentric mix of shops, and restaurants that will appeal to all palates, even if you don’t have a sweet tooth.
6. ✦ Spot the Wild Parrots
There is no specific address where you can spot a flock of wild cherry-headed conure parrots roaming around San Francisco. But, your best bet would be to start at Coit Tower and then walk down the 400 Telegraph Hill steps scoping out the trees along the way. This area is where I had my first sighting and was also the inspiration for the documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.
7. ✦ Climb the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps are a neighborhood project to create beautiful mosaic artwork on a set of 163 stairs. The steps are a colorful display featuring waves of turquoise, bright birds and vibrant sea animals of all kinds. Make your way to the top, stopping to marvel at the fascinating artwork along the way and to catch your breath because the stairs are pretty steep!
This flashy Things to do in San Francisco attraction is situated in a quiet residential area, with limited tourists and plenty of parking. There were only six other people when we went for a visit!
8. ✦ Eat an It’s It
It’s It is an ice cream brand in San Francisco, having been founded more than 90 years ago, specializing in unique ice cream sandwiches. It’s deemed so iconic that it’s even claimed to be among San Francisco’s attractions – which obviously means you can’t go to San Francisco and not try out It’s It! Currently they have around 9 different flavors for you to choose from, with its newest addition to their roster a large scoop of vanilla ice cream placed between two chocolate chip cookies. Especially on a hot summer’s day, there’s nothing better than a taste of delicious and cooling ice cream like this.
9. ✧ Eat a Molecular Gastronomy Meal
What is molecular gastronomy? It is a study of scientific principles where chefs explore the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients. Think powdered food, deconstructed dishes and delectable foams. Atelier Crenn restaurant in San Francisco is a master at creating a bucket list worthy “cutting-edge” tasting menu. It will be pricy, $335 for the multi-course tasting menu, but it will also be one meal that your taste buds and eyes will never forget. A meal fit for your Couple’s Bucket List.
Bonus: If “eating at a Michelin starred restaurant” is on your bucket list, this one has two.
Learn more: Watch Atelier Crenn’s Tasting Menu in Only 60 Seconds
10. ✦ Take in the View from Twin Peaks
The best view of San Francisco is from Twin Peaks, which is geographically located at the center of the city. It’s hard to believe that the first time I went here was just a few months ago and now I am in love taking in the 360-degree view from the hilltop. Here you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the Mission District, the famous Haight Ashbury suburb and the gorgeous modern houses surrounding the hill.
If you are lucky you may also get a glimpse of the endangered mission butterfly while you are there, or one of the cheeky raccoons or opossums that call the hill their home.
If you want to make sure to “get your steps in” while on vacation, then book the Twin Peaks urban hiking tour that will give you epic views with every step.
11. ✦ Shop Oddities at Paxton Gate
Paxton Gate is a shop that sells a variety of different kinds of things, much of which you won’t see on sale in many other places. Just to enter and browse around the shop is an intriguing experience on its own! Some of the oddities to browse and shop at Paxton Gate are the octopus wall mount, knitted frog dissection, coyote baculum and diaphonized iguana specimen. Do you dare to surprise a loved one with a quirky souvenir like this? Or will you perhaps be interested in buying yourself one?
12. ✦ Bicycle (or Walk) Across the Golden Gate
Even though it happens often for me, driving over the Golden Gate bridge still is impressive. But, what is even more thrilling is taking a bike or walk across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. You can bring your own bike or easily rent one nearby. Blazing Saddles is a reputable company that will take you on an 8-mile guided bike tour that includes a ride across the bridge or choose to do a self-guided trip (booking information here). Just be sure to abide by the laws of the bridge for bikes and pedestrians.
Book a Tour: Cycle The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Ticket
13. ✦ Hike Sutro Baths
The eerie ruins at Sutro Baths are a reminder of yesteryear. They were created by the former mayor of San Francisco, as part of an entertainment complex but unfortunately the building mysteriously burnt down shortly after the center was closed in the 60’s. The Sutro Baths were famous for their tide-fed, salt water pools. At the time, the millionaire was dedicated to providing low-cost entertainment to the city’s residents. Today, the ruins sit upon a stony hill overlooking the beautiful Pacific Coast.
There are several trails leading in and around the ruins, and there is even one that will lead you to a brilliant view of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
14. ✧ Get Fresh Crab at a Fisherman’s Wharf Sidewalk Stand
Fisherman’s Wharf has 8 sidewalk stands spread across San Francisco, so it’ll be super easy to fit into your schedule. They have a wonderful selection of seafood on sale, beyond just crab and shrimp. If you’re visiting San Francisco during the crab season, which is in November, it’ll be the best time possible to have your fix of fresh crab at one of their stands! Fisherman’s Wharf itself is San Francisco’s most famous waterfront spot, so you really have no excuses for not visiting and grabbing a fresh meal there. Think of the sea lions who’ve come all that way to greet you!
15. ✦ Attempt to Escape From a Trapped Room
One of the most mind challenging thing to do in San Francisco-the Real Escape Game is a live puzzle where the idea is to solve puzzles and riddles in order to find your way out of a locked room in a limited amount of time. This challenging game was brought to San Francisco from Japan, which is not at all surprising since the Japanese are experts at creating quirky experiences, like Tokyo’s Cat Cafe or the Alcatraz ER themed restaurant.
Read More: Play the Real Escape Logic Game. San Francisco.
16. ✧ Visit the Antique Vibrator Museum
Yes, it’s a museum exactly for the type of vibrators that may have already crossed your mind! It’s by far one of the most unique things to do in San Francisco, and could be a lot of fun for you to sightsee. Some of the oldest antique vibrators in the museum date all the way back to the late 1800s! The Antique Vibrator Museum is open from 12:30 to 6:30 every day, and every 3rd Sunday at 3pm you can join on a free docent tour.
17. ✧ Play Trampoline Dodge Ball
With over 8,000 square feet of trampoline space, House of Air provides the perfect space for a jumpy game of dodgeball. You can join one of their weekly leagues or hop into the hourly dodgeball sessions during Open Jump.
18. ✧ Drink at a Tiki Bar
While Tiki Bars, an aesthetic style formed based on real facts and imagined styles of Pacific Islands, have faded from popularity in many other areas in the States, there’s still many popular ones you can find in San Francisco. And as far as food and drinks go, this is among the top things to do in San Francisco. To find a top notch quality Tiki Bar in San Francisco, visit a spot like Bamboo Hut, Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, Pagan Idol or Smuggler’s Cove, all of whom have a different kind of charm – or quirky detail – to bring to the table. Especially Tonga Room is known to be found on many travelers’ bucket lists, there’s simply something irresistible in how over the top they go to provide their clientele an entertaining stay. I mean, there are tropical storms dripping off the wall and a band playing on a floating island in the middle of a pool!
19. ✧ Pose with the Haight Ashbury Sign
San Francisco is as much about technology these days as it once was about the Summer of Love and the Haight Ashbury neighborhood was at the epi-center of it all. Today, the suburb still embodies the vibrancy and color of its hay-days. There are a number of great walking tours, to hear stories of the stars, leaders of movements, and runaways that once occupied the area. Otherwise, don a pair of circle sunglasses, and throw up a peace sign for an iconic photo at the intersection of these two classic streets that became synonymous with the counter-culture movement.
20. ✧ Eat at a Food Truck
San Francisco has a growing food truck scene which is very evident by the bustle of people who go Off the Grid every Friday night at Fort Mason. This trendy thing to do is a weekly Northern California food party, that draws 6-9,000 eaters, has over 32 vendors featuring food and drink from around the world. Not only can you get a sensory overload of smells, but also partake in fun games like tabletop shuffleboard and Whack-a-Mole.
21. ✧ Take a Free Swing Dance Lesson in the Park
Swing dancing is a lively group of dances that originated in the “swing era”, from the 1920s-1950s. This couples dance often features dancers spinning, flipping and lifting their partners through the air. Every Sunday at noon in Golden Gate Park you can be a part of the action by learning basic swing dance moves at the appropriately named event “Lindy in the Park“.
22. ✦ See a Beautiful Bride at the City Hall
Another unique one of San Francisco’s attractions, thanks to its gorgeous interior and long history, the City Hall is a popular spot in San Francisco for getting married and snapping some stunning wedding photos in. Unlike in many other places where City Hall may be seen as a wedding spot for those hoping to skip out on big ceremonies, this historic landmark is among San Francisco’s most elegant places to get wed. And for you that means the possibility of seeing a gorgeous bride or two as you pass by!
23. ✧ Have Afternoon Tea at the Palace Hotel
The Palace Hotel is nothing short of grand! You will feel like royalty sipping on tea, and snacking the afternoon away here. Their Grand Court Tearoom is set in an admirable glass atrium, and decorated with rich furniture, chandeliers, and greenery. Tea is served on China, and the menu consists of English classics such as scones with Devonshire cream, finger sandwiches, and an assortment of pastries. A pianist is usually tinkling away on the grand piano that sits in the center of the Court. The hotel itself has a rich history, and has been serving San Francisco since the early 1900’s.
24. ✦ Eat Italian Food in North Beach
There’s good food all over the city of SF, but if you are looking for an authentic Italian meal head to North Beach. The neighborhood is known as “little Italy”, and you be hard-pressed to find a bad pasta dish there!
You can get a sampling from some of the best restaurants in North Beach on the 3-Hour Walking Food tour.
25. ✦ Stroll Through the Japanese Tea Garden
I feel as if I have been transported back to my favorite tiny Asian country whenever I explore the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco. This sprawling complex is part of the Golden Gate Park, and has everything you could expect from a Tea Garden. Pagodas, ponds of koi, stone bridges, exotic plants, and of course an authentic tea house. The peaceful atmosphere is also reflective of some of Japans most popular religions, Buddhism and Shino. So there are various carvings, and sculptures dotted throughout the garden to reflect this.
26. ✦ Visit the Pet Cemetery
This Pet Cemetery, located in Presidio, was once a U.S. army fort, at one point in time housing several military families who eventually grew to have the need of burying their deeply loved pets. However, while it’s known to be a sanctuary for deceased pets since at least the 1950s, it’s somewhat unclear where the actual beginnings of the area start from. Nevertheless, it’s a haunting and heartbreaking spot to visit today, the surrounding Presidio a paranormal hot spot by and of itself.
27. ✧ See an Opera at the Opera House
I think everyone should go to the Opera at least once in their lives. So, look no further than the San Francisco Opera House. They feature both innovative and classical operas for a total of nine different operas annually. The building itself is rich in heritage, and has been dedicated to American war heroes, as the War Memorial Opera House. For decades legendary figures in the world of Opera have donned the stage here. Come and see why opera has never gone out of style!
28. ✦ Marvel at the Outrageously Huge Beach Blanket Babylon Hats
Beach Blanket Babylon is the longest running musical revue and has rightfully been called “the real San Francisco treat”. It has been seen by over 6 million people, with more than 15,000 performances. Why? Because its spoofs on pop culture are hilarious, the headdresses are outrageously huge and the costume colorfully elaborate. I’ve seen it twice!
29. ✦ See the Dutch Windmill
This is a great place to spend the afternoon with family, friends, or a lover. Surrounding the windmill are fields of green, and the lovely Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden. Although the pretty Dutch windmill, and its sibling the Murphy Windmill only exist for aesthetic these days. They were once an important mechanism to irrigate the sandy park by pumping water from wells deep below. By the 50’s the windmills were in a state of extreme disrepair, but the state has since taken efforts to preserve the history of these stunning Golden Gate Park landmarks.
30. ✦ Drive (& Walk) Down The “Crookedest Street”
Lombard Street has eight hairpin turns that has made it famously known as the “Crookedest Street in San Francisco”, though there is some debate that it isn’t actually the most ziggedy-zaggedy. But, with up to 350 cars an hour driving down, it’s definitely the most well-known and iconic thing to do. Traditionally, tourists will slowly drive down the short switchbacks, but what is even better is walking down this steep 600 foot long road. On foot you are able to fully see not only the red bricked road, but also the beautiful homes that line it.
To make your drive down this street more interesting (& unique!) jump in a GPS-guided GoCar that will not only zip you down Lombard, but also to many other top attractions. Book here.
31. ✦ Go Inside Coit Tower
Go into Coit Tower for the fantastic artwork, and then take an elevator to the top for an utterly impressive 360 degree views of the city below. This attraction was built on Lillian Hitchhook Coit’s request, the towers namesake. She was a wealthy woman and eccentric socialite who left a large sum of her fortune to the City of San Francisco with a parting note. She requested the money be used “for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved.” How beautiful.
32. ✧ Eat Your Way Through the Ferry Building Marketplace
Originally, the Ferry Building was a central point in transportation for those arriving to San Francisco, and especially during the Gold Rush its importance as an arrival point for the ferryboat was integral. By 1950s, Ferry Building was barely used for transportation, however, and in early 2000s it went through a restoration and reopened as a food market. There’s plenty to discover as you eat your way through the marketplace, but here are some stops you got to take during your food tour: Vive La Tarte, Hog Island Oyster Bar, Boulette’s Larder, Out the Door, Fort Point Beer Co. and Cowgirl Creamery. And don’t let the exterior of the former ferry building fool you–this marketplace houses some of the tastiest restaurants with the most talented chefs in all of San Francisco.
FYI: The Farmers’ Market & Ferry Building Food Tour will give you a sampling of the best artisanal foods.
33. ✦ See the Balmy Alley Murals
Balmy Alley is located in the Mission district of San Francisco and has the most concentrated selection of murals in the city. The artwork on this block long alley began in the mid-80’s to voice outrage over political injustices and human rights issues in Central America. Today, it is a colorful collection of murals that depicts the artists’ interpretation of world issues.
The Mission Food and Street Art Tour will not only take you to Balmy Alley, but also through the trendy Mission district, San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood.
34. ✧ Go to the Exploratorium After Dark
The Exploratorium After Dark 18+ event is so fun for a night out! It’s almost like a circus funhouse, with drinks! The exhibit is based on science, art, and perception. It features over 600 interactive exhibits consisting of dazzling kaleidoscopes, distorting mirrors, and pitch black rooms. There is great music, guest speakers, and unique films and clips that keep me coming back time and time again.
35. ✦ Find Your Favorite View of the Golden Gate
It’s no secret that Golden Gate is perhaps San Francisco’s most iconic sight to see today. Thanks to its location and massive size, it’s possible to view and admire the Golden Gate Bridge from several different locations, so perhaps you might want to see it from an alternative view each day of your trip, or even make a day out of discovering your favorite view of the Golden Gate. If you go in the morning, the South Vista Point casts a beautiful hue of early morning’s sunshine over the bridge and its surroundings, whereas in the afternoons it’ll be covered by shadows.
Fort Point also offers spectacular views of the Golden Gate reaching into the horizon; the north side’s Marin Headlands has several perspectives from which to view the gate through, with it being the best spot for evening photography on a clear night; Fort Baker offers some of the most stunning and unique views of Golden Gate you may have seen yet; the views from St. Francis Yacht Club during sunset will have your jaw dropping; and my personal favorites are Golden Gate Overlook, Crissy Field, Presidio’s Marshall Beach, Battery Spencer and also Alcatraz, at least for the views themselves even if they don’t always provide the the best photograph. If you’ve got the time to spare, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is also among the top things to do in San Francisco – and it’s another perspective of the bridge you’ll get to view.
For the ultimate epic (and daring!) view see the Golden Gate Bridge from the air on a Seaplane Tour.
36. ✧ See What’s in Bloom at the Conservatory of Flowers
This green house and botanical garden is a must thing to do for all ages. I love, as they say, smelling the roses… when they’re in bloom. Flowers blossom year-round here and the onsite greenhouse beautifully compliments the flowers it protects with its glass paneling, and Victorian architecture. Both exotic, and domestic flowers reside within the conservatory. It is part of the grand Golden Gate Park.
37. ✧ Do a Tea Tasting
Yet another fun activity to do in San Francisco that you may not immediately think of is to do tea tasting! As the city holds an ample amount of high quality tea shops, it’s an excellent place for sampling tea. Some of the spots you’ll want to check out for tea in San Francisco are Tea Time, Red Blossom and San Francisco Herb Co. As for the absolute best tea tasting experiences, you’ll need to find yourself inside Vital Tea Leaf, Song Tea & Ceramics and Aroma Tea Shop.
38. ✦ Eat the California State Bird
Eating the California State bird? Isn’t that illegal? You’re not even allowed to pick the state’s poppy flower, are you? Technically, neither action is against the law, but there is something so wrong about consuming your home state bird. Yet, at San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions, there is also something so deliciously right.
State Bird Provisions is a dim sum style restaurant that each evening serves 12-15 creative plates that servers peddle on push carts and trays. Though the menu may rotate, the CA State Bird (the quail) with Provisions is a permanent fixture on their list. As well as it should be.
Read More: Eat the California State Bird in San Francisco
39. ✦ Take a Cable Car Ride
Would a Things to Do in San Francisco list be complete without having take a cable car ride on it? The cable car is a San Francisco icon, carrying countless tourists up and down the steep hills. Though it is one of the cities most popular attractions, it is also a handy form of transportation taking folks to many sites around town. You can even follow up your ride with with a visit to the Cable Car Museum.
40. ✦ Giggle at the Sea Lions at Pier 39
This massive group of sea lions moved onto Pier 39 some years ago, outnumbering the boaters who once docked there. After some discussion with the Marine Mammal Centre, they collectively decided to let them stay and move the boaters to another pier. And they have now become quite an attraction! Apparently, they love this dock so much for the quantity of food in the area, the distance from open water predators, and comfortability of the docks themselves. When I look out onto the hundreds of sea lions that call Pier 39 home, it is not hard to see why they are often likened to water dogs for their playful nature. When they are not lazing around, they are dipping, diving, and barking at each other simply for the fun of it.
41. ✧ Drink at a Rooftop Bar
Wherever you go in the world, it’s always good to check out a rooftop bar or two for some of the best views and atmosphere any city has to offer. And the bustling scene in San Francisco is no different! I warmly recommend you check out Everdene, El Techo de Lolinda (where you can combine amazing margaritas with delicious Mexican bites), Jones and Charmaine’s (for that hotel rooftop bar atmosphere). These rooftop bars don’t just serve you with killer view, they’re also known to be serving some of San Francisco’s yummiest drinks!
42. ✦ Take a Selfie With the Painted Ladies
The Painted Ladies are the set of Victorian row houses that are located across from Alamo Park. Also known as “Postcard Row”, they frequently appear in the media and are most well-known for being a part of the sitcom “Full House”.
43. ✧ Take a Ride on the Seward Street Slides
This adult playground is not a well-known attraction in the City of San Francisco but it is one of the best things to do! Bring your own toboggan of cardboard for a faster ride and some durable pants. The pair of slides the park is famous for, are side by side and very steep! Perfect for racing. Surprisingly, the Seward Street slides were designed by a 14-year girl in the 70’s when she won a Parks and Rec competition.
44. ✧ Get a Sushi Burrito at Sushirrito
Have you yet had the chance to try out a sushi burrito? Well, while you’re in San Francisco, you’ll be able to try one out in the place where it was born! At Sushirrito here are quite a few different options to choose from, often with an intriguing combination of ingredients, and especially the Sumo Crunch seems to be popular among locals.
45. ✧ Explore Alcatraz at Night
Alcatraz is a former military prison located on an island one and a half miles from the mainland. With approximately 1.5 million visitors a year, a visit to “The Rock” is a must for your San Francisco bucket list. But, add more excitement to your adventure by taking an evening tour of Alcatraz. If visiting this jail isn’t spooky enough during the day, by night it will send a chill down your spine. Make sure to book a couple months early, spots fill up fast.
You can make an entire day of it with the Alcatraz Night Tour + Napa & Sonoma Tour from San Francisco.
46. ✧ Find a Gold Painted Fire Hydrant
Somewhere hidden within the historic Mission Distinct of San Francisco is this little hero that saved much of the city. Most of the main water mains were broken or dry following the devastating 1906 earthquake, and fires were breaking out all over the city. They threatened to eat up the Mission District too until someone discovered this “little giant”, the fire hydrant who after two-days managed to put out the riotous fires plaguing the area. A plaque on the sidewalk beside the hydrant honors the firefighters who fought the fires, and each year the hydrant is re-painted in gold to commemorate the event.
47. ✦ Drink Cocktails at a Secret Speakeasy
When you make an ‘appointment’ (not a reservation) at Wilson & Wilson, you are given a password with your confirmation. This password gets you into the secret speakeasy, located behind a nondescript door of the 1920s style bar Bourbon & Branch. Once inside the dimly lit drinking establishment, you can do a 3 cocktail coursing that includes an apertif, main and digestif. An expert mixologist will guide you with the perfect selections for your palate.
48. ✧ Get Happy at the Walt Disney Museum
This remarkable museum walks you through the life of Walt Disney himself, the creator of the iconic brand, onto the early workings of Mickey Mouse as an animated character. The Walt Disney Museum has lots of interactive exhibits, and year-round exhibits. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger kids, but adults and teens will be absorbed in reading about the inspiration behind each character and the cultural implications of them. But beware, you might feel like bingeing on Disney films after your visit, or up and driving to Disneyland itself!
49. ✧ Attend the Folsom Street Fair
Try not to be intimidated by this event, it is nothing but fun and a true testimony to San Francisco’s inclusiveness and laid back attitude. The Folsom Street Fair is dubbed “the world’s largest leather and fetish event”, and “leather pride week”. The scandalous X-rated parade, is what the fair has become famous for, and it is coupled with some great music, and tasty food. It is a San Francisco rite of passage!
50. ✦ See the Jellyfish at the Aquarium of the Bay
It is so fun getting up close and personal with the jellyfish at Aquarium of the Bay. They have great Japanese Sea-nettle, and moon jellyfish exhibits. If you didn’t know, these underwater creatures are made up of 95% water. So they don’t have any organs, bones, a brain or a heart. This makes them look otherworldly as they float just few inches away from eye level! Thousands of other marine life also call the aquarium home including a number of sharks, star fish, eels, rays, and colorful fish. Prebook General Admission tickets here.
51. ✧ Sail Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Just Google that and you’ll immediately get offered a dozen different companies you can do this with–that’s how popular of an experience it is! And, why wouldn’t it be? Like I mentioned before, Golden Gate Bridge is pretty much the quintessential San Francisco attraction, and sailing underneath it allows you to see it from another, unique angle. These sailing trips usually go near Alcatraz, so if you don’t happen to have time to fully visit the island, this way you’ll get to see it a little bit closer, too!
Here’s some top-rated boat tours:
52. ✦ Visit a Fortune Cookie Factory
The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory is a tiny hidden treasure located in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown. The small shop barely fits a handful of people, but it’s worth cramming your body inside just to get a whiff of the enticing aroma and a free sample of a hot off the press fortune cookie. Photos of the production facility will cost you a mere 50 cents, which seems beyond reasonable when you see these ladies working so hard.
This will probably be the quickest stop on this Things to Do in San Francisco list (tens minutes max), but it is a tasty experience.
53. ✦ Root for the SF Giants at AT&T Park
Take me out to the ballgame! Like most cities in America, we are deeply dedicated to our baseball team. And there is no better way to see our beloved San Francisco Giants kick butt then at home at AT&T Park. Located downtown, the atmosphere is absolutely buzzing come game day! There are loads of restaurants, and bars just outside the park for a bite or drink, before or after the game, if you don’t want to pay stadium prices. Baseball is so popular in San Fransisco so if you’re visiting the area, you should definitely go and watch a game.
54. ✦ Eat the Famous San Francisco Sourdough
Sourdough bread has been a part of the San Francisco culture since the California Gold Rush when French bakers brought over expert baking techniques. There are plenty of places around the city to buy a loaf of this sour-style bread; Try the Pain au Levain at Acme, Sourdough Long Loaf at Boudin or the Organic Sourdough Batard at Noe Valley Bakery. But, if eating a plain loaf of bread isn’t on your carb agenda head over to Tartine to indulge in one of their delicious sandwiches made with their housemade Sourdough Country Levain.
Read More: Taste Test: The Best Sourdough Bread in San Francisco
55. ✧ Soak in an Onsen
This off-beat activity is one of the top ways to relax in busy San Francisco. Onsen is a restaurant, bath house and spa. They offer great health-conscious bites, and authentic Japanese bathing experiences. As they state on their website, “The bathing ritual in Japan is deeply ingrained in their society, with the idea that a daily soak with cleanse and restore body a soul.” So take some time for yourself, or bring and friend and have a fun day with this unique bucket list experience.
56. ✦ Play an Antique Arcade Game
Musee Mecanique is a private collection of coin-operated, antique arcade games and mechanical musical instruments. Walking through will take you on a trip down memory lane, before home video and smart phone app games became so popular. Bring a roll of quarters to take a pony ride, battle with an arm wrestler or hear the Barbershop Quartet belt out a tune.
57. ✧ Take a Brewery Tour
Get a taste of San Francisco history with a peak into America’s first and oldest craft brewery, Anchor Brewing. Though their Steam beer is what they seem to be most known for, you will also get a glimpse into their other tasty selections and their centuries-old craft brewing techniques. Of course the best part of the tour is the samples at the end.
Beer lover? Then take the private Beer Brewery Tour that will have you drinking at 3-4 San Francisco breweries.
58. ✧ Play Frisbee Golf at Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Park is a popular place to play Frisbee golf in San Francisco, for all levels of Frisbee golf lovers. So find a group of friends or other people to play with. It’s a ton of fun and a great way to stay fit on your trip! After you’ve worked up a sweat, the park is also perfect for relaxing and having a picnic. Oh, and did you know that the Golden Gate Park is actually bigger than New York City’s Central Park? Now that you do know that, it probably won’t surprise you as much when you go and, on top of space to play a couple of rounds of Frisbee golf in, you’ll find your eyes gawking at Dutch windmills, Japanese Tea Garden, and possibly even an albino alligator.
59. ✧ Navigate the Infinite Mirror Maze
Located by Pier 39, where you can also hop on a boat that sails from underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, is this absolutely magnificent Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze. The colorfulness of the maze creates a near psychedelic experience, with the black lights ensuring you won’t find your way through the maze too easily. There is no time limit so for that 5 dollars you spend on it, you can even spend half a day there! Children aged 5 or under are admitted for free.
60. ✦ Eat an Egg Custard Tart
An egg custard tart features a silky egg yolk custard in a crunchy pastry shell that is traditionally found in various Asian countries. The Golden Gate Bakery in Chinatown is know to have one of the best recipes in the city, maybe the world. If you can act actually get one, you might agree. It is well known that the shop randomly closes. In fact, a “on vacation” sign is in their window so often that there is a website called “Is the Golden Gate Bakery Open Today?” dedicated to letting the consumers know when they can and can not get their beloved tart. Even if they are open, you will most likely have a long line to contend with. This all adds to the bucket list challenge.
. . .
Start ticking these activities off your San Francisco Bucket List, and you will soon see why San Francisco is the funnest city in California, and one of the best cities in the world.
Essential Tips for Visiting San Francisco
Getting There: SFO is a major hub and most airlines will fly into it, with United being the leading carrier. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner. You can also use choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination.
Where to Stay in San Francisco: It’s almost always best to stay near the city center or at least public transportation. In the shopping district of Union Square Staypineapple at The Alise or choose the centrally located Omni Hotel on California Street. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to Airbnb that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: Driving in San Francisco can be a bit of a challenge and parking fees can be expensive, but if you choose to rent a car, RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of options. Both Lyft and Uber are available all over the city, plus most of the major attractions can be accessed with the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. Or do a GoCar 3-Hour Tour of San Francisco’s Parks and Beaches.
Special Note: With the purchase of a Go San Francisco Card of the San Francisco City Pass you can pay one nominal fee and get entry to dozens of the Bay Area’s best attractions and tours!
Top San Francisco Tours:
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if you make a purchase using that link. You can read my disclosure here.