San Francisco may extend just 7 miles, but it is packed with a variety of activities that are sure to entertain indoor and outdoor species, foodies and travelers of all ages.
One of the most incredible places to go is the Gold Gate Bridge, and the island of Alcatraz.
Discover San Francisco by catching a bite in the Ferry Building Marketplace or on a wall through the living Casto, and don’t forget to visit Fisherman’s Wharf!
Oh, and whether you’re climbing to the top of the Twin Peaks or wandering through Golden Gate Park, active species and nature lovers will find much to love about San Francisco.
Find below 15 great things that you can do while staying in San Francisco!
1. California Academy of Sciences
Visitors have said this is one of the most perfect place to bring kids. The California Academy of Sciences is full of things to see, including a museum of natural history, rain forest, an incredible aquarium and a planetarium.
The aquarium comprises more than 40,000 animals, representing more than 900 different species. Have you ever seen a penguin, shark lagoon or an albino crocodile swamp? Then, the Steinhart Aquarium is your must-go destination.
Meanwhile, the rainforest has more than 1,600 species of animals, including flying birds, reptiles, aquatic animals and more.
In conclusion, this place is family-friendly and perfect for kids.
2. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate. This bridge connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
It is probably one of the most famous landscapes in San Francisco. Everyone knows this bridge, and it’s very common to see people taking incredible selfies to post on their Instagram.
3. Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Bridge, the orange arches in the middle of the rocky San Francisco Bay Area have made the Golden Gate Park one of the West Coast’s most enduring landmarks and the city’s most popular tourist attraction.
The Golden Gate Park has plenty of places for you to take a great photo, and if you’re for the right shot for a postcard, head to Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point.
4. Yerba Buena Gardens
Yearb Buena Gardens is perfect for travelers that want to get fresh air and enjoy San Francisco’s climate and culture.
You will love the Cho-En butterfly Garden, which attracts native butterflies with plants that promote that butterflies growth.
Meanwhile, the Reflection Garden serves as a tribute to the Oriental Indians and a workplace of various oral cultures.
However, is in the Upper Terrace Garden and Silver City Gardens that the visitors will (finally) find cafes and accommodations.
Alcatraz is located on a small, rocky island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. It’s rich in history as it’s known as the state prison home inhabited by major public criminals, like Al Capone. Prior to that, Alcatraz also housed prisoners from the Spanish-American War and Civil War.
However, the prison has been closed nowadays, and its history attracts thousands of visitors per year.
Travelers were thrilled to be able to get closer to the cells and said that the audio tour expressed by the inmates and prison guards made the tour very interesting and educational. In addition, travelers say that the view of the harbor from Alcatraz is impressive.
6. Cable Cars
Cable Cars are very famous, and you may have seen it in a movie or postcard. So, to fully experience San Francisco, you have to get on a boat!
San Francisco Cable Car History
This cable car system is one of the last of its kind in the United States. The name, cable car, was given by Andre Smith Hallidie, that saw an accident involving a horse rider in the late 1800’s. Basically, the cart tried to climb the hill of San Francisco with no success. So that, as his father owned a telephone line at that time, he used it to create a transportation system that relied on that, the Cable Car.
Although cable cars are rarely used by locals, tourists flock to them in large numbers.
Get the most of your cable car experience in San Francisco hanging on to the car! However, we recommend you to enjoy it in the morning to not spend too much time at long lines.
Where to catch cable cars?
You can catch them in a few places around San Francisco. However, one of them – that is also which we recommend you – is the famous Powell-Hyde Line on Powell Street and Market.
7. Twin Peaks
If you’re looking for great views of San Francisco, take a trip to Twin Peaks!
From the top of the Twin Peaks, it’s possible to see different local landmarks of San Francisco, including the famous Bay Bridge.
Don’t worry about the time. If you go in the morning or at night, you will see stunning views of the city.
Twin Peaks is open from 5 a.m. to midnight and there is free (or limited) parking on the top of the Twin Peaks Boulevard.
8. The Castro
The Casto is the perfect place for those who want to explore the rich gay culture of San Francisco. Castro is also considered to be the gay capital of the world, and not only of San Francisco.
As soon as you read Castro’s history, you will realize why the city is considered the gay capital of the world.
Accordingly to Wikipedia, in the 1970s, Castro was the home of Harvey Milk, California’s first gay public figure who was one of the first in the USA. His efforts to strengthen the gay rights movement not only won him the title of “Mayor of Castro Street,” but his political efforts helped put San Francisco at the forefront of the gay rights movement.
It’s unanimity; travelers that have been in Castro say the city is fun and above all colorful.
9. Baker Beach
Everyone knows San Francisco isn’t know for being a beach town. However, the city’s Baker Beach is considered one of the best in California.
This beach is located in the northwestern area of San Francisco, and it’s know for its sweeping views of the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge.
Enjoy its picnic areas with stunning views of the Bridge in the day or night.
A lot of people go there to take photos of the bridge. However, if you’re looking to get a tan, this beach is not for you.
Swimming at Baker Beach is also dangerous thanks to large waves, undertow and rip currents, and the city’s fickle weather means it’s not always warm enough for sunbathing. But, on the other hand, it’s perfect for surfing.
Baker Beach is free to visit and can be reached by public transportation.
10. Ferry Building Marketplace
Beware of all food lovers: this delicious attraction needs to be at the top of your list of things to do in San Francisco.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a public food market that includes a variety of grocery stores that serve as small restaurants, snacks and grocery stores.
Here you can find everything from basic, such as:
- Mexican food,
- Japanese restaurants,
- Empanada stands,
- Mil Bars and more.
Visitors are impressed by the variety and high quality of the food available on this marketplace. Although there are official restaurants available, some tourists suggest the best way to grab a bite to eat and enjoy it near a beautiful beach. And if you’re not into lines, don’t come on weekends.
11. San Francisco’s Chinatown
Although New York City’s Chinatown tends to take center stage in the USA, San Francisco’s Chinatown is not far behind.
San Francisco’s Chinatown hosts one of the largest Asian communities outside of Asia, and is considered to be the oldest in North America.
Go there if you love the history behind Chinatown.