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Things to do in San Francisco

Things to do in  San Francisco

Welcome to San Francisco

San Francisco is seven square miles of fog-shrouded magic. Travelers come for cable-car rides and the Golden Gate Bridge—and stay for edgy neighborhoods, cultural diversity, and beautiful open-air spaces.

Top attractions in San Francisco for Spring

#1
Alcatraz

Alcatraz

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A former federal prison that held notorious criminals Al “Scarface” Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Alcatraz is now a national historic landmark and one of the most sought-out (and sold-out) attractions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Highlights include touring what’s left of the maximum-security facility, hearing stories from former inmates, and sailing past the Golden Gate Bridge to reach the craggy isle.More
#2
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

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The red-orange Golden Gate Bridge is a San Francisco icon, which spans 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) across and connects the city’s northernmost point to Marin County. While the suspension bridge is a major route for Bay Area commuters, the famous landmark also attracts visitors from around the world with its panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the Marin headlands, Alcatraz, and San Francisco.More
#3
Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

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The 1,000-plus acres (412 hectares) of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park are home to museums, picnic sites, lakes, golf, hiking and biking paths, concerts, and more. From the attraction-laden east end to the wilder west side where bison roam, the park offers plenty of ways to relax, get a culture fix, exercise, or gather with friends.More
#4
San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay

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A natural harbor spanned by the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the picturesque San Francisco Bay is the defining feature of California’s Bay Area. Get out on the chilly, choppy water—or just savor the views from the shoreline as the fog rolls in.More
#5
Muir Woods

Muir Woods

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Home to one of the world's last remaining coastal redwood forests, Muir Woods National Monument allows travelers to hike, relax, or picnic among giant Northern California trees only minutes from the city. This protected nature reserve is also part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, home to Stinson Beach—the park's only lifeguarded beach—and Fort Baker.More
#6
Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

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Once the stomping ground of Italian fishermen, Fisherman’s Wharf is now one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist destinations. The bustling waterfront strip is filled with souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, and a wealth of family-friendly attractions—most notably a colony of sea lions that sunbathes and poses for photos on Pier 39.More
#7
San Francisco Chinatown

San Francisco Chinatown

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San Francisco’s Chinatown, one of North America’s oldest and largest, has long been one of the city’s top attractions. Highlights of this bustling neighborhood that dates back to the California Gold Rush include shops, dim sum restaurants, temples, and markets.More
#8
Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts

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San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts dates to the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition. One of the only remaining buildings from the World’s Fair, the Greco-Roman–inspired ruin is a favorite Bay Area venue. Walk under the picturesque rotunda, wander the grounds, and visit lagoons that are home to ducks, swans, and geese.More
#9
Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge

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Though the San Francisco Bay Bridge doesn't share the fame of the Golden Gate, the beauty of its recently reconstructed east span is beyond debate. Locals know it as the best way to cross between Oakland and San Francisco, while travelers enjoy its storied history, Yerba Buena Island connection, and stunning light displays.More
#10
Union Square

Union Square

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Union Square is the city’s main dining, entertainment, and shopping district. Visitors can shop at department stores and designer boutiques; stop into various art galleries; grab a bite to eat at any of a number of restaurants; and see a live performance at a nearby theater.More

Trip ideas

An Exploratorium Exhibit Developer's Guide to San Francisco

An Exploratorium Exhibit Developer's Guide to San Francisco

Know Before You Go: Tips for Visiting Alcatraz

Know Before You Go: Tips for Visiting Alcatraz

Top activities in San Francisco

Muir Woods & Sausalito Half-Day Tour (Return by Bus or Ferry from Sausalito)
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Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bay Twilight or Sunset Cruise
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GoCar San Francisco Tour

GoCar San Francisco Tour

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570
From
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per group
Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco
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Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
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Yosemite National Park - Full Day Tour from San Francisco
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San Francisco Bay Sunset Catamaran Cruise
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Small Group Yosemite and Giant Sequioas Day Trip from San Francisco
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The One Day in San Francisco Tour with Alcatraz
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Small Group Half Day Sonoma Wine Country Tour
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Small Group Half Day Muir Woods and Sausalito Morning Tour
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Alcatraz with Muir Woods and Sausalito Tour
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Things to do in San Francisco this...

Recent reviews from experiences in San Francisco

star-5
BEST TOUR of Sa. FRANCISCO DAY TOUR
Mehtap_B, May 2022
Alcatraz with Muir Woods and Sausalito Tour
This tour was very good& we were able to see w Quite a bit of all the must sees!!
star-5
TennAnder
Abbe_A, May 2022
1.5-hour San Francisco Bay Sailing Tour
How wonderful to see San Francisco this way.
star-5
Best Views of the Bay
Cameron_S, May 2022
Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bridge-to-Bridge Cruise
I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to see the Bay from a new angle!
star-5
Recommend this 90 minute cruise
Lorraine_L, Apr 2022
Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bay Twilight or Sunset Cruise
Great way to see San Francisco in the evening.
star-4
A great time
MariaAngelica_F, Apr 2022
GoCar San Francisco Tour
A great adventure of adults and kids who want to see more of San Francisco!
star-5
Great
Andrew_H, Apr 2022
San Francisco Vista Helicopter Tour
I’d recommend taking this experience as it offers a whole new way to see San Francisco.
star-5
Great experience
Alma_L, Apr 2022
GoCar San Francisco Tour
The guided tour was a great way to see San Francisco landmarks with minimal time on our hands.
star-5
Great tour!!
Sara_M, Apr 2022
Muir Woods & Sausalito Half-Day Tour (Return by Bus or Ferry from Sausalito)
There was plenty of time to see the Muir Woods and Sausalito was nice as well.
star-5
Great Site Seeing Option
Estella_H, Apr 2022
Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour
Great way to see San Francisco with option of getting off and back on bus at different sites during the tour!
star-5
This trip was magical. ...
Janine_F, Apr 2022
Small Group Yosemite and Giant Sequioas Day Trip from San Francisco
We were able to see giant sequoias, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Half dome.
star-5
Best 2 Days!
Debra_H, Apr 2022
San Francisco Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour | 1 Day Pass, Unlimited Use (Classic)
To visit downtown just an hour away was great.
star-5
Great tour!
Sheri_B, Apr 2022
Painted Ladies San Francisco City Tour
Great way to see all of the city in a short time.
star-5
A Must Do!
Marlene_B, Mar 2022
Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour
We did not have a lot of time in San Francisco and this was the BEST way to see the beautiful city in approx.
star-5
Must Do!
Catherine_A, Mar 2022
Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
If you want to see & hear some history about the Bay Area, this cruise is definitely your best choice.
star-5
Explore The Hoods
Malizy_S, Mar 2022
Painted Ladies San Francisco City Tour
Wish we would have completed the tour and explored all of the "hoods" on our first day, but she and Rosie made our last day of spring break special.
star-5
Wonderful experience!
Lori_B, Mar 2022
Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
In about an hour we were able to take in many of the main attractions and learn a lot about the history of a beautiful city.
star-5
A glimpse of the northern coast of California.
Patricia_B, Mar 2022
Muir Woods & Sausalito Half-Day Tour (Return by Bus or Ferry from Sausalito)
The ferry from Sausalito was worth it, to see the Golden Gate Bridge and the skyline of San Francisco.
star-5
OUR 45/ty ANNIVERSARY !
Ionel_G, Nov 2021
San Francisco Airport (SFO) Private Round trip Transfer
a city that everyone should take time to visit.
star-4
Not top of my bucket list of things to do from San Francisco
Julie_H, May 2022
Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco
Monterey was disappointing rather like Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco, there really isn’t enough time there to see the aquarium.
star-5
Book Rolano for Day tour
Glen_B, May 2022
The One Day in San Francisco Tour with Alcatraz
Being a native of SF he gave recommendations for restaurants and other activities.

All about San Francisco

When to visit

Mark Twain famously said the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. In truth, the fog is unpredictable but you can expect a relatively seasonless climate year-round.

Cool summers are perfect for bike rides across the Golden Gate Bridge, or row boat rentals at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park.

Fall brings Indian summers and the warmest weather, ideal for checking out the produce harvest at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market.

Winter is the heart of whale watching season, and the best time to try Dungeness crab served whole at Fisherman’s Wharf.

With spring come cherry blossoms at the Japanese Tea Garden, and offseason wine country trips—with fewer tourists.

Getting around

Walking: San Franciscans take pride in walking (or biking) instead of driving, and for good reason: they live in one of the most compact and traffic-congested cities in the US. Thankfully, most neighborhoods are perfect for exploring on foot, with lively street life, public spaces, and restaurants and cafes to explore.

Bus and rail: It’s reasonably easy to get around the city on MUNI buses and streetcars, though many lines run infrequently depending on the time of day and stop after midnight. Cable cars take limited scenic routes, while BART rapid rail is the fastest connection from downtown to the Mission, airport, and surrounding Bay Area.

Rideshare: Uber and Lyft services are most widely used, and will save you the trouble of driving and parking. Taxis can be hard to flag down—but they don’t charge surge pricing during peak travel times. Bike shares are common and growing in popularity, especially downtown and along the waterfront.

Traveler tips

San Francisco is known today for being the home of techies rather than hippies; it’s a city in flux, but with time-tested attractions that easily show why it’s a special place. Alcatraz Island, Muir Woods, and Golden Gate Park are worth visiting for their natural beauty alone. Chinatown and North Beach have blissfully held on to their cultural roots, while the Castro, the heart of the city's LGBTQIA+ community, is walkable, sunny, and anchored by the lovely Castro Theater. To see a truly classic side of the city, we recommend visiting the Beach Chalet, Cliff House, and Sutro Baths ruins near Ocean Beach.

A local’s pocket guide to San Francisco

Gianmaria Franchini

A San Francisco native, Gianmaria is a writer making his life between Northern California and Italy.

The first thing you should do in San Francisco is...

take a cable car—you’ll ride a mobile National Monument through some of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.

A perfect Saturday in San Francisco...

starts with coffee from Cafe Trieste, includes a break for a picnic in front of the Conservatory of Flowers, and finishes with a sunset at Lands End.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is … ...

the Golden Gate Bridge and its surrounds, including Crissy Field, the Presidio, and Fort Point (where parts of Hitchcock’s Vertigo were shot).

To discover the "real" San Francisco...

try walking some of the original seven hills, starting with Nob Hill, Russian Hill, or Telegraph Hill.

For the best view of the city...

Twin Peaks is legendary, and the De Young Museum’s Hamon Observation Tower is one of a kind.

One thing people get wrong...

is packing for Santa Monica or Malibu. San Francisco is often cold, windy, and foggy during summer.

People Also Ask

What is San Francisco city known for?

California’s 4th-largest city, San Francisco is known for its steep hills and photogenic attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and Alcatraz Island. The city also has a thriving gourmet food scene and is an urban hub for innovative tech companies.

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What is the best thing about San Francisco?

Depending on who you ask, the best thing about San Francisco may be its diverse cultural attractions, miles of scenic shoreline, farm-to-table food scene, or walkable neighborhoods. Others love the urban parks and proximity to nature havens like Muir Woods, beaches, and the Marin Headlands.

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Is San Francisco worth visiting?

Yes. San Francisco is popular with tourists thanks to its scenic location on the San Francisco Bay, array of cultural attractions, and diverse food scene. Its compact size is easy to get around, and visitors can experience museums, beaches, urban hikes, and world-class dining all in one day.

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What is the most visited place in San Francisco?

Pier 39 is the most-visited place in San Francisco. This family-friendly pier on Fisherman’s Wharf features souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, and the Aquarium of the Bay. It’s also a departure point for boat tours to Alcatraz Island and home to a noisy colony of California sea lions.

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Is it safe in San Francisco?

Vehicle break-ins and property theft are the most commonly reported crimes in San Francisco, though drug use, traffic accidents, and violent crime are also concerns. Visitors can help keep themselves safe by crossing streets carefully, remaining aware of their surroundings, and never leaving valuables inside a car.

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What can you do in San Francisco?

The most popular things to do in San Francisco include a tour of Alcatraz Island, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, taking a San Francisco Bay cruise, and exploring the waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf. Walking around neighborhoods like Chinatown, North Beach, and the Mission is also a great way to explore San Francisco.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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