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Best Thing To Do in San Francisco California
Best Thing To Do in San Francisco California
California is a great state for vacationing because the weather is almost always sunny and beautiful and because it is so popular, there are so many things to keep you busy. Although Los Angeles and Hollywood tend to be thought of as the more glamorous and exciting cities in California there are so many great attractions in San Francisco as well. I’m sharing today some of the most popular and can’t-miss top spots in San Francisco. We hope that you love this Best Thing To Do in San Francisco California post.
Best Thing To Do in San Francisco California
Golden Gate Bridge
Whether you’ve seen pictures or maybe you’ve seen it in the Full House theme song, I’m sure you’ve probably seen the Golden Gate Bridge. A lot of people don’t know why this bridge has its name, I can assure you it is not because it is golden… LOL It is actually because the bridge is spanned over the Golden Gate. The bridge is approximately 8,981 feet. Beyond the popular museums, discover lesser-known gems like the de Young Museum's Asian Art Museum and the Japanese Tea Garden's Tea House.
Alcatraz Island hosted a federal prison years ago that hosted some of the most well-known criminals but these days it is open for tours and viewing. You can choose to take a tour of the prison during daylight or night. I recommend the night tour but it may be a little more frightening for younger children. A must-see in San Francisco!
San Francisco Giants Game
If you’re there during baseball season, I would highly recommend seeing a San Francisco Giants game. They play at AT&T Park and I just personally think it’s always interesting to see another city’s love for their sports teams.
San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo is always one of my favorite stops on a family vacation. San Francisco hosts over 2,000 animals of all different species and they are so beautiful to see. The San Francisco Zoo is one of the largest in the United States and I would highly recommend checking it out.
There are several Chinatown locations throughout the United States but I think San Francisco is one of the best to see. You can find so much fun and things to do in Chinatown. Whether it be finding your favorite Dim Sum restaurant or singing karaoke, Chinatown is bound to be a great time.
Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument is a magical place where towering redwood trees, some over 1,000 years old, reach for the sky. Sunlight filters through their lush canopy, casting dappled light on a carpet of ferns and moss. Trails wind through the ancient forest, leading hikers past towering redwoods, hidden waterfalls, and groves of ferns. Cathedral Grove is a particularly awe-inspiring spot, where redwood trees grow so close together that their branches intertwine to form a natural cathedral.
U-Fly SkyTour of San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge
Soar above the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and the charming city of San Francisco on a thrilling U-Fly SkyTour. Take in breathtaking aerial views of the Golden Gate Bridge's fiery orange towers, Alcatraz Island's mysterious silhouette, and the bustling cityscape from 1,500 feet. Feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you pilot a Cessna or Piper aircraft alongside an experienced instructor. Your expert guide will narrate the sights below, pointing out famous landmarks like Chinatown, Coit Tower, and the Palace of Fine Arts. This unique experience is perfect for thrill-seekers and sightseers alike. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see San Francisco from a whole new perspective.
The Exploratorium is a hands-on science museum on San Francisco's waterfront, where you can tinker, experiment, and explore over 650 exhibits that ignite curiosity and inspire wonder. Imagine stepping into a kaleidoscope of light and sound, then feeling your way through a pitch-black tunnel, relying only on your sense of touch. From illusions that bend your mind to machines that make music with your heartbeat, the exhibits at the Exploratorium are designed to spark your imagination and challenge your understanding of the world around you.
Palace of Fine Arts
The San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts is a stunner, a fairytale vision in the heart of the city. Picture a gleaming white rotunda rising from a tranquil lagoon, surrounded by graceful Beaux-Arts colonnades. Sunlight dances on the water, casting shimmering reflections onto the building's pristine surface. Swans paddle serenely, adding to the air of timeless elegance.
de Young Museum
The de Young Museum is a must-see for any art lover visiting San Francisco. Located in the heart of Golden Gate Park, it houses an impressive collection of American and European art, from ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary paintings.
San Francisco's Mission District is a fusion of Latino roots and hipster vibes. Think colorful murals adorning buildings alongside trendy cafes and taquerias serving up steaming burritos. The soul of the neighborhood lies in Mission Dolores, the oldest intact building in San Francisco, dating back to 1776. Its adobe walls whisper tales of Spanish missionaries and Ohlone people. From the aroma of sizzling carnitas wafting from taquerias to the clinking glasses in craft cocktail bars, the Mission District is a sensory adventure. Grab a paleta (Mexican popsicle) on Valencia Street and savor the sweet escape. Murals explode with color, street performers captivate crowds, and independent boutiques showcase unique finds. The Mission District is a canvas for artistic expression, where individuality thrives. Beyond the trendy and touristy, the Mission District is a close-knit community. Families gather in Dolores Park for picnics, neighbors chat on stoops, and a sense of belonging permeates the air.
Ferry Building Marketplace
The Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco is a bustling hub of artisanal food purveyors and upscale restaurants, housed in a stunning, Beaux-Arts landmark building dating back to 1898. Think fresh, seasonal produce piled high at the renowned Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, alongside stands overflowing with locally made cheeses, breads, and gourmet chocolates. Foodies won't want to miss upscale eateries like A16 (named after the Italian highway) for burrata and prosciutto, or Acme Bread Company for crusty sourdough loaves still warm from the oven. Beyond the bounty of food, the marketplace also boasts independent shops like Book Passage, a charming bookstore overlooking the bay, and Benedetta, a Sonoma County skincare line made from farm-fresh botanicals.
Step into a delightful blend of history and indulgence at Ghirardelli Square, a San Francisco landmark transformed from a 19th-century chocolate factory into a vibrant hub. Imagine towering brick buildings, remnants of the Ghirardelli chocolate empire, now housing an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and even a luxurious hotel. The aroma of chocolate hangs in the air, tempting you with Ghirardelli's world-famous treats, while charming squares and plazas lined with cafes and boutiques invite you to linger. A bustling farmers' market adds a touch of local flavor, and street performers entertain the crowds. It's a place to savor the rich past and indulge in the sweet present, all in the heart of San Francisco's waterfront.
North Beach is San Francisco's Little Italy, a vibrant neighborhood with a rich history of Italian immigration. Its streets are lined with cozy trattorias serving up delicious pasta and pizza, alongside cafes brewing strong espresso and lively bars buzzing with conversation. Coit Tower, perched atop Telegraph Hill, offers stunning views of the city and a glimpse into the area's past with its Depression-era murals. The spirit of the Beat Generation lives on in City Lights bookstore, where literary giants like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg once gathered. And for a touch of bohemian flair, wander down Grant Avenue, where vintage shops and quirky boutiques line the street. Whether you're seeking a romantic dinner overlooking the bay, a lively night out with friends, or a walk through history, North Beach has something for everyone.
The Richmond District in San Francisco is a vibrant tapestry of nature, culture, and cool vibes. Imagine foggy mornings spent strolling along Ocean Beach, the roar of the Pacific a constant companion. Deeper inland, Clement Street brims with the sights and scents of San Francisco's second Chinatown, a delicious assault on the senses with steaming dim sum and vibrant storefronts. But the Richmond District is more than just beaches and dumplings. Head to Golden Gate Park's hidden gem, the Japanese Tea Garden, for a serene escape, or explore the rugged beauty of Lands End, where the Golden Gate Bridge paints the sky. Whether you're seeking urban adventures or coastal tranquility, the Richmond District has something for everyone. It's a place where San Francisco's soul truly shines.
Mission Dolores, nestled in the heart of San Francisco, is a vibrant tapestry of history, culture, and community. Its crown jewel, the Mission San Francisco de Asís, stands as the city's oldest building, its adobe walls whispering tales of Spanish missionaries and Ohlone tribes. Just steps away, Dolores Park basks in the California sun, a verdant haven where locals picnic, play frisbee and soak in panoramic cityscapes. Murals splash vivid colors across brick facades, while taquerias tempt with the aroma of sizzling carne asada. Around every corner, a new beat pulses – salsa dancers twirling in a sun-drenched plaza, indie bands rocking underground clubs, and street performers weaving magic with paint and song. This is Mission Dolores, a place where past and present collide, fueled by an irresistible zest for life.
Nestled across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Sausalito charms visitors with its Mediterranean vibes and postcard-perfect views. Imagine colorful houseboats lining the bay, their masts swaying gently against the backdrop of the iconic bridge. Quaint shops and art galleries dot the main street, while fresh seafood restaurants tempt with aromas of cioppino and Dungeness crab. Take a ferry ride for a unique perspective of the city skyline, or rent a kayak and paddle amidst the bobbing boats. Hike the Marin Headlands for panoramic vistas, then reward yourself with an ice cream cone at Lappert's, a local favorite. Sausalito's a delightful escape from the urban bustle, offering a taste of seaside serenity just minutes from San Francisco's heart.
Japanese Tea Garden
The Japanese Tea Garden is a 5-acre haven of tranquility in the heart of Golden Gate Park. Built in 1894 for the California Midwinter International Exposition, it's one of the oldest Japanese gardens in North America. Winding paths meander past koi ponds, stone lanterns, and pagodas, all amidst a lush oasis of native Japanese plants. In spring, the garden comes alive with a vibrant display of cherry blossoms. Visitors can enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at the charming Tea House, overlooking the serene ponds.
Lands End Trail
Lands End Trail in San Francisco is a stunning coastal hike that offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands. The trail winds its way through wind-swept cypress trees, past rocky cliffs, and secluded beaches. Breathe in the salty air and feel the wind whip through your hair as you hike along the rugged cliffs of Lands End. Watch the waves crash against the rocks and spot playful sea lions basking on the shore. Take in the panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, a majestic symbol of San Francisco. Explore the ruins of the Sutro Baths, a once-grand bathhouse complex that now stands as a reminder of San Francisco's history. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach or watch the sunset paint the sky in vibrant hues.
SoMa (South of Market) is a vibrant neighborhood in San Francisco that has transformed from an industrial district to a hub for tech, arts, and entertainment. Home to Oracle Park, the ballpark of the San Francisco Giants, SoMa is a great place to catch a game and soak up the city's energy. Yerba Buena Gardens is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, offering a green oasis in the heart of the city. The Moscone Center is a major convention center that attracts visitors from around the world, contributing to the neighborhood's lively atmosphere. With its trendy restaurants, bars, and shops, SoMa is a great place to spend a day or night exploring.
Union Square is a bustling hub in the heart of San Francisco, known for its upscale shopping, elegant hotels, and vibrant atmosphere. The 2.6-acre plaza at its core is a popular spot for locals and tourists to relax, soak up the sun, and people-watch. Surrounding the square are blocks of grand department stores like Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus, as well as trendy boutiques and art galleries. The area is also home to several Michelin-starred restaurants and lively bars, making it a great destination for a night out on the town.
The Painted Ladies are a row of seven Victorian houses located at 710–720 Steiner Street in San Francisco, California known for their vibrant colors and charming architecture. They stand proudly across from Alamo Square Park, offering a delightful contrast to the city's modern skyline. They were built between 1892 and 1896 and are known for their bright colors and ornate architectural details. The houses have been featured in many films and television shows, including “Full House” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” They are a popular tourist destination and one of the most photographed landmarks in San Francisco.
Fort Point is a massive brick fort located at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, offering stunning views of the bridge and the San Francisco Bay. Built in the mid-19th century, it was designed to defend the bay from enemy ships but never fired a shot in anger. Today, it's a popular tourist destination with self-guided tours, ranger talks, and even candlelight ghost tours. Visitors can explore the fort's four levels, including the casemates (arched brick rooms that housed cannons), the bombproof rooms, and the roof with its breathtaking views.
If you are making a trip to California, I would highly recommend checking out San Francisco. Maybe you can even spend a couple of days in San Francisco and then travel to another beautiful city in California for another couple of days. We hope that you are inspired by this Top Attractions in San Francisco California post. Happy travels!