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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 10 attractions in San Francisco

#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
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
#4
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

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One of the United States’ most popular national parks, Yosemite National Park is packed with natural beauty and views that never cease to amaze. From the majestic mountain peaks to the green meadows on the valley floor (plus all the waterfalls and groves of tall Sequoia trees in between), there’s no shortage of outdoor and leisure activities set against the park’s epic views. And whether you spend a single day or stay for a multi-day camping trip, you’ll feel a deeper appreciation for the nature at this national treasure.More
#5
Pier 39

Pier 39

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One of the most visited sights in San Francisco, the multilevel Pier 39 complex is home to shops, restaurants, street performers, and a video arcade. Its waterfront setting on the San Francisco Bay means visitors can take in panoramic bay views, breathe fresh sea air, and watch sunbathing California sea lions.More
#6
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
#7
Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies

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Made famous by the opening credits of the late-’80s TV showFull House, San Francisco’s Painted Ladies are a prime example of the city’s candy-colored Victorian architecture. Also known as Postcard Row, the houses stretch uphill, boasting a view of the downtown skyline beyond.More
#8
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
#9
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
#10
Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge

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Though it doesn’t often get the attention of its famous sibling, the Golden Gate, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is spectacular in its own right. Once the largest and most expensive bridge of its time, in 75 years the Bay Bridge has proved critics wrong – the dream of connecting San Francisco to Oakland would not be stopped by anything. Logistics, cost, and politics couldn’t stop the expansion, and now the Bay Bridge has made history yet again my becoming the world’s largest self -anchored suspension bridge. Safely transporting the 280,000 automobiles that transverse its roads every day, the Bay Bridge connects San Francisco to Oakland, with a little stop at Yerba Buena Island along the way.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

GoCar San Francisco Tour

GoCar San Francisco Tour

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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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Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco
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Recent reviews from experiences in San Francisco

star-5
First time to San...
Connie_J, Feb 2022
Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour
Really enjoyed this tour to see different parts of the city.
star-5
OUR 45/ty ANNIVERSARY !
Ionel_G, Nov 2021
San Francisco Airport (SFO) Private Roundtrip Transfer
a city that everyone should take time to visit.
star-5
Loved that the tour hit...
Donna_U, Nov 2021
GoCar San Francisco Tour
Loved that the tour hit on a majority of tourist attractions.
star-5
Go for it! You won't be disappointed.
Kim_R, Nov 2021
Painted Ladies San Francisco City Tour
What a great way to see San Francisco!
star-5
Serendipity
Karen_C, Nov 2021
Painted Ladies San Francisco City Tour
The reason I came to San Francisco was to visit the City Lights Bookstore.
star-5
HIGHLY RECOMMEND
Rachel_H, Nov 2021
Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Full-Day Tour from San Francisco
Three wineries and lunch in Sonoma was the perfect way to see the wine country in one day, and they were all very beautiful.
star-5
Grove San Fran tour with Chad and Harvey
Elizabeth_R, Oct 2021
Vantigo San Francisco City Tour
The tour was everything I thought it would be great way to see the city of San Francisco!
star-5
Tour
Teresa_B, Oct 2021
Full-Day Guided Tour of San Francisco with Alcatraz
Happy for all the tours 😎👍🛳⚓️⛩Experience was very nice to see San Francisco California.
star-5
Best way to see San Francisco
Lisa_J, Oct 2021
GoCar San Francisco Tour
This is the best way to see San Francisco at your own pace.
star-5
First visit to California
Teresa_S, Oct 2021
Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
It was my dream to come to San Francisco and see the Golden Gate bridge and other activities.
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Fun times hopping
Lucille_P, Oct 2021
San Francisco Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour | 1 Day Pass, Unlimited Use (Classic)
It was wonderful and truly a good way to see the sights of San francisco
star-5
Being able to see the...
Chris_M, Oct 2021
San Francisco Super Saver: Muir Woods & Wine Country w/ optional Gourmet Lunch
Being able to see the Golden State bridge at the end of the tour was great.
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Tour de Fun!
Steve_J, Oct 2021
Skip The Bus: San Francisco By Luxury Van Tour
Having not been here before this was a great way to see and get around S.
star-4
Great tour
LMekka_E, Sep 2021
Ultimate Night Tour of San Francisco with Sightseeing Shuttle
Got to see The San Francisco skyline, Golden Gate Bridge at night, Chinatown, Full House, Curvy road, Cathedral, Japanese area.
star-5
Upbeat and Enjoyable
Kyle_S, Sep 2021
Vantigo San Francisco City Tour
It's a pleasure to see the city with Chad, who's so knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
star-5
Must See
Maureen_A, Sep 2021
Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
Amazing experience and awesome views to see the city, Golden gate and the Rock from the San Francisco Bay !
star-5
Absolutely a Must
Roxana_S, Sep 2021
Small Group Yosemite and Giant Sequioas Day Trip from San Francisco
We learned so much about the park and got to see rock climbers.
star-5
AMAZING SAN FRANCISCO EXPERIENCE
Breanna_M, Feb 2022
Alcatraz Muir Woods Express Deluxe Van with Golden Gate Bridge Visit
We actually learned so much and got a ton of the main attractions a tourist comes to San Francisco for.
star-5
Michaela the Great!
Michelle_T, Feb 2022
San Francisco Ghost Tour
Got some exercise walking up and down the hills of SF, all while listening to Ghost Stories regarding local hotels and attractions.
star-5
Incredible Experience
Zach_E, Feb 2022
San Francisco Super Saver: Muir Woods & Wine Country w/ optional Gourmet Lunch
I would recommend this tour to anyone vacationing in San Francisco and wanting to see as much as possible with limited time.

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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What are the top things to do in San Francisco?
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What are the top activities in San Francisco?
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What are the top things to do near San Francisco?
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What do I need to know before visiting San Francisco?