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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
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
#4
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
#5
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
#6
Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

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Once the stomping ground of Italian fishermen, Fisherman’s Wharf is now one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist destinations. The bustling waterfront strip is filled with souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, and a wealth of family-friendly attractions—most notably a colony of sea lions that sunbathes and poses for photos on Pier 39.More
#7
North Beach

North Beach

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Despite its name, San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood does not border the water and has no sandy spots. But its position between Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and the Embarcadero makes it one of the city’s most popular areas for visitors and locals, all of whom enjoy its Italian eateries, Beat history, quiet park, and nightlife scene.More
#8
Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts

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San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts dates to the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition. One of the only remaining buildings from the World’s Fair, the Greco-Roman–inspired ruin is a favorite Bay Area venue. Walk under the picturesque rotunda, wander the grounds, and visit lagoons that are home to ducks, swans, and geese.More
#9
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
#10
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

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

Combo Tour: Alcatraz Island and San Francisco Grand City Tour
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Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco
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Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bay Twilight or Sunset Cruise
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Yosemite National Park - Full Day Tour from San Francisco
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Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
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The One Day in San Francisco Tour with Alcatraz
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Small Group Yosemite and Giant Sequioas Day Trip from San Francisco
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San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise
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GoCar San Francisco Tour

GoCar San Francisco Tour

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506
From
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per group

Recent reviews from experiences in San Francisco

star-5
Awesome
Ana_R, Jul 2021
San Francisco Love Tour
Good way to see San Francisco and its history.
star-5
Unique way to see the town.
Dean_D, Jul 2021
San Francisco Love Tour
Fun way to see San Francisco.
star-5
A must see and do!
LDouglas_J, Jul 2021
Skip-the-Line California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket
This is a “must” on the list of things to do in San Francisco.
star-5
Reeds top down Mini Cooper tour
Dean_F, Jul 2021
Custom Private Tour in Convertible MINI Cooper
Reed was a great ambassador for San Francisco lots of cool facts and insights he asked what we wanted to see and delivered a wonderful sight seeing experience.
star-5
Amazing experience
Gina_K, Jul 2021
Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
We went in July and DEFINITELY needed thick coats and winter hats.
star-5
Highly recommend this tour ! Great way to see San Francisco in a day.
Kelly_C, Jul 2021
The One Day in San Francisco Tour with Alcatraz
Thanks to this tour we were able to see it all and then some.
star-5
Amazing trip
Carrie_D, Jul 2021
Straight to the Gate Access: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
The whole ride is memoriable because it is not often someone gets to see the ocean and the beautiful bridges San Francisco has to offer the way we saw them.
star-5
A must do in San Fran
Daniela_M, Jul 2021
Big Bus San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Tour
Great option to see everything you have available Chinatown walking tour was great with Stacie a must if you don’t have a lot of days in San Francisco.
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Five stars
Linda_P, Jul 2021
2.5 Hour San Francisco Wharf and Waterfront Segway Tour
Definitely the best way to see San Francisco
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FANTASTIC!
Katherine_P, Jun 2021
Painted Ladies San Francisco City Tour
I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone looking to see the sights here in my favorite city!
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Friendly and Professional
Samkleinschmidt, Jun 2021
Small Group San Francisco Half-Day City Tour
San Francisco is an amazing city and I’m happy we were able to see all of it.
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San Francisco day trip.
MichelleAlldredge, Jun 2021
Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Escape from the Rock Cruise
I like being able to see San Francisco waterfront.
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Fun, informative, and safe way to see the sites
Kimberly_M, Jun 2021
2.5 Hour San Francisco Wharf and Waterfront Segway Tour
What a great way to see the San Francisco sites and neighborhoods!
star-5
Enjoyable!
Steve_F, Jun 2021
Muir Woods and Sausalito Small-Group Tour
He gave us suggestions of what to do in the city for the next few days.
star-5
Highly recommend this!
Jennifer_S, Jun 2021
GoCar San Francisco Tour
We used the cars for 4 hours and got to see it ALL.
star-5
Very nice!
Behnam_N, May 2021
Straight to the Gate Access: San Francisco Bridge-to-Bridge Cruise
Although I expected a little more and up close experience of Sausalito and Tiburon, but there were plenty of other sights to see that We really enjoyed.
star-5
1 day fun.
Glenda_F, May 2021
Big Bus San Francisco Hop-On-Hop-Off Open Top Tour and Alcatraz Combo
Got to see much of the city without worrying about driving and parking.
star-5
Must do tour!
Karrie_D, May 2021
Skip The Bus: San Francisco By Luxury Van Tour
This is the only way to see San Francisco!
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Our favorite part of the trip- by far!!!
michelle_l, May 2021
Muir Woods Tour of California Coastal Redwoods (Entrance fee included)
Our driver told us stories and fun facts about San Francisco and it’s various attractions.
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Book it! Great tour!!
Martha_B, May 2021
Alcatraz with Muir Woods and Sausalito Tour
He kept it entertaining the whole time and even took us to see some of San Francisco’s sites on the way to the attractions listed in this tour.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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