18 Awesome Things to do in San Francisco, California

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

San Francisco is home to a little bit of everything. A place that's known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and famous landmarks. There's a little bit of a "rivalry" between us SoCal residents and the NorCal residents over which part of California is best- but in all honesty it is an awesome place to visit. You can't even compare it to LA because of how different it is. Check out these awesome 18 things when you visit SF:

1. Golden Gate Bridge

Duh! The icon of San Francisco. This vibrant red bridge is a landmark that people come to see from all over the world. You can walk or drive across to have the full experience. You won't have to pay a toll if you're in the city and taking the bridge outside of SF, but if you're out and coming into the city, the toll is $8.

2. Fisherman's Wharf

This is one of the city's busiest tourist areas. There are souvenir shops and stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls all around you. There’s also a colony of sea lions to see and historic ships to tour.

Image from Visit California ©

3. Ghiradelli Square

This is right next to Fisherman's Wharf, filled with boutiques and eateries that reside in the famed former chocolate factory. You can shop, eat, go wine tasting, and of course, over indulge in Ghiradelli treats.

Image from Ghiradelli Square.com ©

4. Golden Gate Park

This is a huge park (over 1,000 acres) filled with so many beautiful sights. There are various gardens (Japanase tea, botanical, rose, etc.), museums, and obviously lots of green space for you to enjoy yourself on a nice, sunny day.

Image from Golden Gate Park.com ©

5. Alcatraz Island

Besides the Golden Gate Bridge, this is probably the next most famous landmark in SF. Alcatraz island was built 1.24 miles from shore and served as a federal prison from 1934-1963. It's famous because it's known for being extremely difficult to escape from due to the "shark-infested waters," low water temperatures, and strong currents. You'd need some outside help with a plane or boat, otherwise, it's likely you'd drown trying to swim out.

Image from Bay City Guide ©

6. Ferry Building

This is a terminal for ferries that also has a food hall. You can enjoy the various farmers markets, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy the water views.

Images from Ferry Building Marketplace ©

7. Mission Dolores Park

This is another park that offers great views of the city. There are also tennis courts, a basketball court, a soccer field, and other spots to keep yourself entertained. Otherwise, just grab a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch to enjoy the views and relax.

8. Union Square

This is basically the central shopping, hotel, and theater district. It also has an impressive equestrian statue of U.S. President George Washington.

Image from Christopher Chan / Getty Images ©

9. Chinatown

This is one of the oldest and most established Chinatowns in the U.S. Here you can find ornate temples, traditional eateries, herbalists, souvenir shops, bakeries, and karaoke bars!

Image from Andrew Llyod / Alamy Stock Photo ©

10. Ride a Cable Car

The San Francisco cable car system is the world's last manually operated cable car system. I recommend taking the Powell-Hyde cable car line- it has some of the best views in the city. When the cable car goes down the north side of Russian Hill, you'll get a view of the San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz.

Image from Wonwoo Lee / Getty Images ©

11. Baker Beach

This beach offers great views of the Golden Gate Bridge! Although, I must warn you that it is a NUDE beach. Although most people will be fully clothed enjoying family time at the beach, you will definitely still see a handful of naked bodies. Last time I was there, I even saw a naked guy doing Zumba by himself. It was hilarious.

12. Lands End

This is a gorgeous hike along the coast with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. There are two main parking lots to access the start of the hike: one near the Sutro Baths and one by the memorial. If you are looking to make the full trail and see the baths, then choose the one near the Sutro Baths.

Length: 4 miles

Elevation: around 300 – 500 feet

Location: 680 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

Image from Parks Conservancy ©

13. Painted Ladies

These pastel colored houses were featured in the opening of the old show Full House and since then they have become a must visit for many people visiting San Francisco. And there is a really nice park right across the street, so pack a picnic and enjoy the views.

14. Lombard Street

This street is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight sharp turns, which is said to make it the most crooked street in the world. I recommend walking by and seeing it, rather than trying to drive through because there is usually a lot of tourists doing the same thing and the traffic is REAL.

Image from SF Curbed ©

15. Watch a ball game

Are you a baseball, basketball or football fan? Catch a game. You can watch the SF Giants at Oracle Stadium, the SF 49ers at Levi's Stadium, or even the Golden State Warriors at the Chase Center.

Image from Seat Geek ©

16. Rincon Park

Go to this park to view Cupid's Span, one of SF's most well-known art pieces. There's not much else to do at this park, but just stop by!

Image from The Olin Studio ©

17. Twin Peaks

This is a great spot to drive up to and to get a view of the city down below. There are also a couple different hikes that offer slightly different views, all starting from the parking lot.

Image from SF Travel ©

18. Mosaic Stairway

This is just a cool photo-op! Because why not!

Location: Moraga St &, Moraga Steps, San Francisco, CA 94122

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