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Top Activities in San Francisco

See all 463 things to do in San Francisco


What to Do in San Francisco: Must See Attractions

San Francisco Attractions

From ocean views and iconic bridges to shopping districts still bearing a hint of their hippie origins‚, San Francisco serves up a wide range of things to do in the Bay Area of California. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting Golden Gate Park with your family or kayaking from Pier 40 with friends‚, you won’t be at a loss for fun things to do in San Francisco. People may come here for the sea breeze and Golden Gate Bridge photo opportunities‚, but they stay for the food‚, culture, and quiet beauty that abounds.

Areas & Neighborhoods in San Francisco

This thriving community in Northern California has a diverse array of neighborhoods, each with its own personality. When you’re trying to cram all the things to do in San Francisco into one trip, the many San Francisco tours and network of cable cars come in handy. Visit at least a few of the dynamic neighborhoods here and really sink your teeth into the local fare and attractions.

Union Square — Union Square is a must-see neighborhood in San Francisco. The area is stuffed to the brim with flagship hotels, boutique shopping, and restaurants surrounding a huge city park.

Castro District — The vibrant, gay-friendly Castro District is welcoming to all travelers. Take a stroll in Kite Hill Park where you can enjoy a scenic view of the city, or grab a piece of cardboard and take a ride down the concrete Seward Street Slides.

Haight District — This eccentric district is divided into two sections: Upper Haight and Lower Haight. The Upper Haight portion of the neighborhood, also called Haight-Ashbury, is characterized by a marriage of mainstream stores, Victorian houses, and funky independent boutiques. Lower Haight is full of punk and in no shortage of gritty bars, though during the day you will also find small coffee shops and organic food stores.

Fisherman’s Wharf — Historic Fisherman’s Wharf can be explored by land or sea. Take a dinner cruise , rent a bike , or just walk around and indulge in some of the best chowder on the planet.

The Mission — Despite being one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, this San Francisco district also has many trendy restaurants and new art. Shop at street markets or visit a taqueria.

What to See in San Francisco

Visit Twin Peaks to take in unparalleled views of the city; this is perhaps the best spot for photo opportunities. Of course, Chinatown is also full of sights and sounds. Check out the entrance, called “Dragon’s Gate.” Head to Pier 39 to watch the sea lions on the floating docks, or catch a show at one of the many local theaters.

ightseeing in San Francisco

Sightseeing in San Francisco is an exciting affair. Take a boat out to Alcatraz to tour one of the most famous former-prisons in the country, where you can even stand in one of the notorious cells. One of the best things to do in San Francisco for the foodie at heart is visit Ferry Building Marketplace, where artisan cheese and fresh produce is at the ready from local vendors. It’s also easy to get an adrenaline rush in San Francisco. Things to do for adventurers in The Bay include hang gliding, surfing, kite boarding, and rock climbing.

Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids

San Francisco is a great destination for a family escape. Take the youngsters along and try these popular family friendly experiences together:

Free Things to Do in San Francisco

Touring on a budget in San Francisco? Spend time instead of cash on great experiences.

Cartoon Art Museum - Talk to the staff or curator and find out about the unique collections on display at this museum.

Intersection for the Arts - Spend a bit of time here and discover the cultural and artistic side of the region.

Academy of Art University - Architecture lovers will certainly enjoy marveling at the modern design of this local landmark.

450 Sutter Building - Soak up some of the interesting history of the area through this attraction.

St. Mary Square - Hang out for a while in this thriving area and imagine life as a local resident.

Yerba Buena Island - Simply being beside the water is certain to leave you feeling rejuvenated and calm.

Westin St Francis Hotel Glass Elevators - Strike up a conversation with a few locals and learn why many travelers swing by this place.

Glide Memorial United Methodist Church - Stop for some quiet contemplation and learn a few things about this site's spiritual significance.

Baker Beach - Keep a lookout for exotic shells and other seaside treasures peppered along the shoreline here.

Ecology Trail - You'll be treated to vistas that'll inspire awe at this natural wonder.

Yerba Buena Gardens - Develop your green thumb and marvel at the glorious plants on show.

Explore The Neighborhoods of San Francisco

Fisherman's Wharf

This waterfront neighborhood dates back to the gold rush era and is a hub for tourist activities, sea lions and seafood restaurants.


Downtown San Francisco

For all the features of a sophisticated downtown urban stay, this neighborhood in the bustling heart of the city can’t be beat.


Union Square

Fashion puts on its finest face in one of the country’s largest shopping plazas.


Foster City

Travelers come to Foster City for its abundant dining options, and you can see top attractions like Leo J. Ryan Park and Edgewater Park while you're in town.


Civic Center

See historic San Francisco government buildings, study ancient artifacts and visit renowned performing arts institutions in this cultural district.


Marina District

Visit the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre and marvel at views of the Golden Gate Bridge at this popular waterfront neighborhood.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What to do in San Francisco on a sunny day?

When the forecast is full of sunshine, these activities promise a great time:

What to do in San Francisco on a rainy day?

Throw yourself into a couple of these indoor activities and turn a rainy day into an adventure:

What is San Francisco famous for?

Bring comfy shoes because there are lots of iconic attractions you just have to see:

  • Pier 39
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Alcatraz Island
  • Lombard Street

What should I not miss in San Francisco?

If you want to experience the best of this place, pencil these attractions into your schedule:

  • Golden Gate Park
  • Oracle Park
  • Ghirardelli Square
  • San Francisco Zoo

Are there cheap things to do in San Francisco?

If you're vacationing on a shoestring budget, think about adding these cheap and cheerful tours and activities to your agenda:

What can you do in San Francisco for free?

You could leave your money in the hotel safe for the day, because these excellent attractions can be seen for nothing:

  • Pier 39
  • Lombard Street
  • Palace of Fine Arts
  • San Francisco State University