20+ BEST things to do in San Francisco

See the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, and more in San Francisco!

 

Citybop has the coolest things to do in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the world's most spectacular cities, with an incredible location on the Bay, anchored by the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.   

Discover a broad array of cultural attractions, a vibrant restaurant scene, and dramatic coastal scenery that will take your breath away.  Find the best things to do in San Francisco on citybop.

Fishermans Wharf

The Fishermans Wharf attracts 15 million visitors a year.  It's one of the most popular things to do in San Francisco, and extends for a mile along the northern waterfront. 

Start at Pier 39 for a delicious seafood meal, then observe the boisterous resident seal colony at Pier 39.  Visit the Aquarium of the Bay, climb the Piano Steps, and soar over the city at the San Francisco Flyer 7D theater. 

Pier 45 is short walk west of Pier 39.  It has the fun Musee Mecanique, and a WWII submarine and warship to tour. 

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Continue west along the waterfront from the Fishermans Wharf, to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.  It has a FREE visitor center and maritime museum, and a fleet of historic ships to tour. 

The free maritime museum overlooks sandy Aquatic Park.

Walk to the end of Aquatic Pier, for breathtaking Bay views and a closer look at Alcatraz Island.

Explore the beautiful shops and restaurants at Ghirardelli Square, and load up on sweet treats at the Ghirardelli store. 

North Presidio at Crissy Field

The Presidio is a former army post at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Picturesque Crissy Field is in the northeast corner of the Presidio.

Crissy Field has a waterfront path that leads to the Fort Point army barracks, and the cosy Warming Hut Bookstore and Cafe. 

A path extends from behind Crissy Field up the bluff to to Battery East, the Roundhouse Cafe, and the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor Center (or you can drive up there).  The views of the Golden Gate Bridge are glorious from here. 

The Palace of Fine Arts is outside the eastern border of the Presidio.  It's a greco-roman palace constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, and one of the most stunning things to do in San Francisco.

Central Presidio

Drive to the heart of the Presidio at the Main Post, to see two museums, a restaurant and visitor center.  The Presidio was established as a military outpost by the Spanish in 1776, then later a U.S. military fort in 1848.  It was handed over to the National Park Service in 1994.

These stunning Colonial Revival Buildings along Montgomery Street at the Presidio, were constructed in the 1890s. They served as enlisted soldiers' barracks.  Today they are home to the Walt Disney Family Museum, and the Lodge at the Presidio.

This is one of the exhibits at the Walt Disney Family Museum.

The Presidio Officers Club is nearby, with a restaurant, public sitting area, museum and event space. The original part of the building dates back to the 1790s, when Spanish Colonists constructed it from adobe brick.

Embarcadero

The Embarcadero is on the north-eastern tip of San Francisco, with fun shops and restaurants at the Ferry Terminal Marketplace.

It also features the excellent Exploratorium science museum, popular with kids and adults alike.

Little Italy at North Beach

North Beach Restaurants

The vibrant North Beach neighborhood is south of Fishermans Wharf.  It was once settled by Italian fisherman and their families. It's most famous residents were Joe DiMaggio, and writer Jack Kerouac from the Beatnik movement.  

St Peter and Paul Church

Eat at an Italian restaurant then stroll down to Saints Peter and Paul Church where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had their wedding photos taken on the steps.  Kids will love the fabulous Joe DiMaggio Playground.  

City Lights Bookstore

Check out some of the historic Beatnik hangouts at North Beach, like City Light Booksellers, and the Vesuvio Cafe. 

Beat Museum

Stop by the Beat Museum to see memorabilia.  Include North Beach on your list of things to do in San Francisco.

China Town

China Town San Francisco

China Town borders Little Italy.  Stroll along the main tourist street at Grant Avenue and savor the vibrant atmosphere.  Don't forget to visit the Fortune Cookie factory.  

Russian Hill

Driving down Lombard Street San Francisco

Russian Hill flanks both Little Italy and China Town.  It's most famous attraction is Lombard Street, otherwise known as Crooked Street. Navigate eight hairpin turns down a steep road.  This iconic attraction is on everyones list of things to do in San Francisco.

Alamo Square

Painted Ladies

Take a photo in-front of the gorgeous Painted Ladies at Alamo Square in the Fillmore District. It's one of San Francisco's most picturesque landmarks.

Downtown San Francisco

Union Square

Downtown San Francisco is home to the newly renovated San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and bustling Union Square with shopping, restaurants and live entertainment. 

Take a cable car from Union Square to China Town, Little Italy, Lombard Street or the Fishermans Wharf.

Land's End

Sutro Baths

Lands End is a rugged, windswept coastal area on San Francisco's northwest shoreline.  The views are simply breathtaking.  Visit the Sutro Baths, historic Cliff House, and Lands End Lookout.  They are all within walking distance of each other.  Take the Lands End Trail for incredible views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. 

Drive to Baker Beach or nearby China Beach, and experience complete solitude.

Legion of Honor

Visit the stunning Legion of Honor art museum atop a bluff at Lands End. It's a three quarter version of the Palais de La Legion d’Honneur in Paris. 

Golden Gate Park

The Golden Gate Park is on the western shore of San Francisco.  This huge greenspace is bigger than NY's Central Park! 

Popular attractions at the Golden Gate Park include the De Young MuseumJapanese Tea Garden, and San Francisco Botanic Garden.  

The Japanese Tea Garden has a five-story pagoda, and a tea house.

Don't forget to climb the Hamon Tower for incredible views over Golden Gate Park.

The California Academy of Sciences is great for kids. It has an indoor rainforest, planetarium, and aquarium in a stunning building.

Alcatraz Island

Ride the 15-minute ferry to Alcatraz Island, and tour the eerie interior of this federal penitentiary.  Learn about some of its most famous inmates, like Al Capone.  

Sausalito

Sausalito Ferry

Enjoy a breathtaking ferry ride from the Embarcadero's Ferry Terminal to the charming township of Sausalito, passing Angel Island and Alcatraz Island on the way.

Sausalito

Enjoy gift shops, restaurants and galleries along Bridgeway Road in Sausalito.

Cathedral Grove at Muir Woods

Take the shuttle from Sausalito, to see one of the last old growth stands of redwoods at Muir Woods.

Marin Headlands

The lighthouse at Point Bonita.

Drive north over the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands to see some of San Francisco's most breathtaking coastal vistas, from windswept cliffs and rolling hills.  West of the Golden Gate Bridge is a cluster of fascinating attractions.  These include the Marin Headlands Visitor Center, Point Bonita Lighthouse, Nike Missile Site, and a network of trails traversing military batteries. 

Fort Baker Officers Quarters

Fort Baker is on the eastern side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 19th century Fort Baker has military buildings, a restaurant, and the Bay Area Discovery Museum for kids.