The 20 Best Things To Do In San Francisco: From Golden Gate Views To Urban Adventures

March 14, 2024  |  San Francisco, California

Discover the vibrant heart of the West Coast with my guide to the 20 best things to do in San Francisco. From iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge to hidden gems tucked away in its diverse neighborhoods, the city offers a plethora of experiences to suit every traveler's taste. Whether you're seeking breathtaking views, cultural immersion, or culinary delights, San Francisco promises unforgettable urban adventures at every turn. Read on as I'll uncover the essence of this dynamic cityscape, inviting you to explore its rich tapestry of history, innovation, and natural beauty.

Your Tour Guide: I visited San Francisco a few times as a kid during summer family vacations in the 80s and 90s. I had some extended relatives who lived in the city so my parents would drive Highway 1 to Morro Bay, through Big Sur and Monterey before reaching San Francisco where we would spend a few days exploring and visiting with family. That's when I first fell in love with the city. I eventually moved to the city in the early 2000s where I lived for a few years. That's when I got to explore the city in much greater depth, often on foot. After nearly a decade, I returned to the Bay Area where I've lived since. Though I no longer live in the city, I live fairly close and spend the day there a few times per year with my family so I have the benefit of having both been a resident and a tourist during various points in my life.

  1. Explore Alcatraz Island
  2. Discovery the Serenity of Golden Gate Park
  3. Discover the Charms of Fisherman's Wharf
  4. Ride the Iconic San Francisco Cable Cars
  5. Watch the Playful Sea Lions at Pier 39
  6. Immerse Yourself in Art at the de Young Museum
  7. Walk or Bike Across The Golden Gate Bridge
  8. Immerse Yourself in the Colors and Cultures of Chinatown
  9. Admire the Iconic Painted Ladies
  10. Enjoy the Views from Coit Tower
  11. Discover the California Academy of Sciences
  12. Unwind with Iconic Views at Crissy Field
  13. Immerse Yourself in Contemporary Creativity at SFMOMA
  14. Experience the Mission District
  15. Unleash Your Curiosity at the Exploratorium
  16. Conquer the Curves of Lombard Street
  17. Catch the Excitement of a Giants Game at Oracle Park
  18. Unwind at Ocean Beach: San Francisco's Serene Shoreline
  19. Discover Culinary Delights at the Ferry Building Marketplace
  20. Explore Muir Woods
Twin Peaks Scenic View of Downtown, San Francisco, California, photo, northern california
Twin Peaks

Explore Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island holds a rich slice of American history as a former federal prison known for housing some of the most notorious criminals of its time. This infamous island was not only a penitentiary but also a Civil War fortress, a military prison, and the site of a historic Native American occupation. Today, it stands as a captivating museum, drawing visitors who are eager to discover the stories etched into its cell walls.

Getting to Alcatraz

To visit Alcatraz, you'll embark on a short ferry ride from Pier 33, located along San Francisco's northern waterfront. Ferries are operated by Alcatraz Cruises, and it's advisable to book your tickets in advance as tours can sell out quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons. Upon arrival, you can explore the island's grounds and delve into its history with the help of an award-winning audio tour that guides you through the former prison cells and facilities.

What to Expect on the Tour

Alcatraz tours offer more than just a walk through old jail cells. They provide an immersive experience that transports you back in time. Unique stories and anecdotes about life on the island, infamous inmates like Al Capone and the Birdman, and tales of escape attempts make the tour a fascinating journey through the past. You'll learn about the daily lives of prisoners and guards alike, and the harsh realities of incarceration in this isolated fortress set against the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay.

  • Day Tours provide a detailed overview of the prison history during the daylight hours, with the city as a stunning backdrop.
  • Night Tours offer a different perspective with a more intimate, eerie experience of the island in the evening.
  • Behind the Scenes Tours take you to areas not usually open to the public for a more in-depth look at the island's history.

The Alcatraz and Angel Island Combination Tour combines a trip to Alcatraz with a visit to Angel Island, offering a mix of history and natural beauty.

Whether you're a history buff or just looking for a uniquely San Franciscan experience, Alcatraz Island is a must-visit landmark that guarantees a thought-provoking and memorable adventure.

Alcatraz Island Sunrise, San Francisco, California


Discover the Serenity of Golden Gate Park

Amidst the bustling city life, Golden Gate Park offers a sprawling haven of tranquility and natural beauty. This vast city oasis is a treasure trove of lush landscapes and a myriad of attractions waiting for you to explore. With something for everyone, it's the perfect spot to unwind and indulge in the green splendor of San Francisco.

Must-Visit Attractions Within the Park

As you stroll through the winding paths and expansive meadows, make sure to visit some of the park's most iconic points of interest:

  • Conservatory of Flowers: An elegant Victorian greenhouse that's home to an exquisite collection of rare and exotic plants.
  • The Japanese Tea Garden: Experience tranquility in this beautifully manicured garden, complete with traditional Tea House and arched bridges.
  • The California Academy of Sciences: Engage with science in a fun way, visiting the planetarium, Steinhart Aquarium, and a natural history museum all under one living roof.
  • The de Young Museum: Dive into the world of art with exhibits spanning from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces.

Cultural Events & Seasonal Activities

Golden Gate Park isn't just a feast for the eyes; it's also a hub for cultural events and seasonal happenings. Keep an eye out for:

  • Outdoor music festivals and concerts, such as Outside Lands in the summer.
  • Seasonal flower blooms that transform the park into a colorful delight, particularly at the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden.

Whether you're a local or just visiting, Golden Gate Park is a must-see destination that provides endless opportunities to create lasting memories in the heart of San Francisco.

Discover the Charms of Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf, a bustling hub along the water's edge, is steeped in San Francisco's rich maritime history and culture. This vibrant waterfront community offers visitors an immersive experience filled with sensory delights, iconic scenery, and distinct flavors that you simply can't miss while exploring the City by the Bay.

Must-See Attractions & Dining Experiences

The wharf is home to a variety of attractions sure to captivate your interest and taste buds. Here's a selection of not-to-be-missed experiences:

  • Ghirardelli Square: Indulge in some of the finest chocolate and enjoy shopping in a historic setting.
  • Maritime National Historical Park: Get a glimpse of vintage maritime vessels and learn about San Francisco's seafaring past.
  • Pier 39: Offering dining, shopping, and entertainment, including the famous sea lion docks.
  • The Musée Mécanique: Play with a collection of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines.

When it comes to dining, Fisherman's Wharf boasts a plethora of options, from casual eateries to upscale establishments. Seafood lovers should not miss the chance to sample fresh Dungeness crab or a heartwarming clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.

Explore San Francisco's Maritime History

For history enthusiasts, the opportunity to dive into the city's maritime roots awaits at every corner. You can visit the Hyde Street Pier to view historic ships, take a guided tour, and even set sail on the bay aboard one of these vessels to experience the city from a unique vantage point.

Ride the Iconic San Francisco Cable Cars

Among the many signature experiences in San Francisco, riding one of the city's historic cable cars offers a unique adventure that stands the test of time. The San Francisco cable car system is a true cultural landmark, with the distinction of being the world's last manually operated cable car system.

The Historic Significance of Cable Cars

Cable cars were introduced to San Francisco's hilly streets in the late 19th century and have been an integral part of the city's identity ever since. Not merely a tourist attraction, these cable cars were pivotal in shaping the city's public transportation history. Preserved with care, they are a living monument to San Francisco's innovative spirit and perseverance.

Riding the Cable Car: Routes, Costs, and Times

There are three major cable car lines to choose from: the California Street line, and the two lines that cruise along Hyde and Mason Streets. Each offers distinct views and key stops at famous San Francisco landmarks.

  • California Street Line: runs from the Financial District, through Chinatown, over Nob Hill, and ends at Van Ness Avenue.
  • Hyde Street Line: features stunning views of Alcatraz, and rides over Russian Hill and Nob Hill before ending near Ghirardelli Square.
  • Mason Street Line: passes through North Beach and offers a scenic ride to Fisherman's Wharf.

Riding a cable car costs $8 per trip, or you can purchase a one-day pass that offers unlimited rides for $13. To make the most of your experience, aim to ride early in the morning or in the evening to avoid long lines. Watching the cable cars being turned around at the end of the line is an experience in itself, especially at the Powell and Market turntables.

Pro Tips for the Perfect Cable Car Experience

To snag that iconic San Francisco picture, try standing on the running board if you're feeling brave! Remember, the weather can be quite cool and breezy, especially in the mornings and evenings, so dress accordingly. Catch a ride at the turntables or along the route, be prepared for some waiting during peak times, and don't forget to enjoy every moment of this historic journey through San Francisco's picturesque streets.

Watch the Playful Sea Lions at Pier 39

Experience one of San Francisco's most delightful spectacles at Pier 39, where the barking chorus of wild sea lions awaits you. Observing these charming animals as they sunbathe, frolic, and jostle for space provides a glimpse into their fascinating, carefree lives in a natural setting right in the heart of the city.

Why Pier 39 Attracts Sea Lions

The sea lions started frequenting the K-dock shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and have since become beloved permanent residents. Their choice to lounge so close to the pier is in part due to the abundance of food in the nearby waters, giving you the unique opportunity to watch their behavior up close without disrupting their natural habitat.

Nearby Attractions and Dining

After enjoying the antics of the sea lions, embrace the spirit of adventure with a walk around Fisherman's Wharf, integral to the fabric of San Francisco's history. Don't miss out on the exquisite seafood that the area is famed for. Whether it's clam chowder served in a sourdough bowl or fresh Dungeness crab, the local eateries nearby offer the perfect treat to complement your Pier 39 visit.

  • Explore the Aquarium of the Bay for an undersea adventure just moments away.
  • Shop for unique keepsakes and witness the bustling energy of Fisherman's Wharf.
  • Indulge in sumptuous desserts at Ghirardelli Square, an iconic chocolate haven.

Immerse Yourself in Art at the de Young Museum

San Francisco, a city brimming with cultural exuberance, boasts an array of attractions that cater to the curiosity of art aficionados and history enthusiasts alike. Among these, the de Young Museum stands as a central piece of the city's vibrant cultural landscape. Located in the heart of the picturesque Golden Gate Park, this museum is not just a gateway to a world of visual wonders but also an architectural marvel that merits exploration.

Explore World-Class Collections

Inside the walls of the de Young, you'll discover an impressive assortment of collections that span the globe and traverse time. From American art from the 17th through 21st centuries, to indigenous works from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, there's a narrative woven into every gallery. The museum also hosts an eclectic mix of temporary exhibitions, which means no two visits are ever the same.

A Testament to Modern Architecture

The museum's structure is a conversation piece in its own right, showcasing the innovation that San Francisco embodies. Designed by the renowned architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, the de Young's facade is clad in textured copper plates that naturally patina over time, echoing the eucalyptus and pine trees surrounding it. This iconic architecture ensures the museum itself is a part of the art on display.

Don't Miss the Panoramic Views

  • No visit to the de Young is complete without ascending to the Hamon Observation Tower. Here, visitors are treated to breathtaking 360-degree views of San Francisco, including landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the downtown skyline. Free to the public, this vantage point is a must for capturing the city's beauty from above.

Walk or Bike Across The Golden Gate Bridge

Spanning across the strait of the Golden Gate from San Francisco to Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic symbol of the city and a marvel of modern engineering. Its towering red-orange spires and sweeping cables have been captivating visitors and locals alike since its completion in 1937. Whether you're crossing on foot or by bike, experiencing this magnificent structure up close is truly unforgettable.

Best Time to Experience the Golden Gate Bridge

While San Francisco's weather can be quite unpredictable, the best time of year to walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge is typically during the late spring or early fall when the skies are clearer and the temperatures are more comfortable. As for the time of day, aim for early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heavy tourist traffic and catch the golden hues of sunlight casting over the bridge.

Nearby Attractions for Outdoor Enthusiasts

The Golden Gate Bridge serves as a gateway to outdoor adventures. Nearby parks and hiking trails like the Marin Headlands and the Presidio offer breathtaking views and a chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty surrounding the bay. Grab your walking shoes or rent a bike, and make a day of exploring all the scenic vistas and green spaces the area has to offer.

  • Marin Headlands: Stunning vistas and historic sites.
  • Presidio: Over 24 miles of trails and 25 miles of bikeways.
  • Crissy Field: A lush waterfront green space with direct views of the bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge Foggy Sunset From Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands, California

Golden Gate Bridge

Immerse Yourself in the Colors and Cultures of Chinatown

Step into the vibrant streets of Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in North America, and an essential piece of San Francisco's diverse tapestry. A walk through these historic streets is like crossing the globe to Asia without ever leaving the city. Marvel at the ornate pagoda-style architecture and the bustling markets that line the sidewalks, transporting you to another world.

Top Spots to Discover in Chinatown

  • Dragon's Gate: The iconic entrance to Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street.
  • Chinese Historical Society of America Museum: Explore this museum to learn about the rich history of the Chinese in America.
  • Portsmouth Square: Often considered the heart of Chinatown, this square buzzes with activity and street performances.
  • Chinatown Alleys: Venture down the narrow passageways such as Ross Alley, to find hidden gems like the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.

Authentic Dim Sum

No visit to Chinatown would be complete without indulging in the authentic Chinese cuisine. From dim sum to Peking duck, the culinary offerings reflect the rich traditions of Chinese cooking. Check out these local favorites:

  • Yank Sing: Many people say they make some of the best dim sum in the city, though I have not dined there personally.
  • City View Restaurant: I personally really like the dim sum here. Some of the best in the city.
  • Golden Gate Bakery: Try their famous egg tarts, certain to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Whether you're exploring for food, history, or just the sheer experience, Chinatown is a San Francisco adventure that's not to be missed. Let your curiosity guide you, and you're sure to discover why this neighborhood remains a celebrated San Francisco landmark.

I should also note that while The Sunset District is not on the tourist circuit, there is a significant Chinese population there and many of the locals shop & dine there these days rather than the historic Chinatown.

Admire the Iconic Painted Ladies

San Francisco is home to a delightful tapestry of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, with none quite so famous or photographed as the Painted Ladies. These vibrant, historical homes are quintessential to San Francisco's aesthetic charm, sitting prettily in a row, against the backdrop of the city's modern skyline. They are an absolute must-see when you're considering things to do in San Francisco.

These grand dames of Victorian architecture have stood the test of time, showcasing significant San Francisco history. Located on Steiner Street, across from Alamo Square Park, the Painted Ladies, also known as "Postcard Row," create a stunning visual contrast with the lush greenery of the park and the urban cityscape.

For the best experience, consider visiting during the late afternoon when the sun bathes the façades in golden hues - this is the perfect time for photographers aiming to capture the houses' full splendor. As the sun sets and the sky changes colors, you'll enjoy a breathtaking scene that has captured the hearts of many. Yet, a morning visit has its charm, with soft light and fewer crowds, which can give your photographs a peaceful ambiance.

  • Photography Tip: Visit during the magic hour - either just after sunrise or before sunset - when the lighting is soft and diffused, perfect for that memorable shot of the Painted Ladies against San Francisco's famous undulating landscape.
  • Architecture Enthusiasts: Take the time to appreciate the fine details that characterize each home, from intricate woodwork to the carefully selected color palettes that earn them the 'Painted' title.

As you explore, remember that the Painted Ladies are emblematic of the broader tapestry of San Francisco's architectural heritage - a city that has beautifully married its historical roots with modern-day vibrancy. A stroll through the streets, admiring the diverse structures, is to walk through the storybook of the city's past and present.

Enjoy the Views from Coit Tower

Standing tall and proud as a beacon of San Francisco's vibrant history, Coit Tower is a must-visit landmark for an unrivaled view of the cityscape. Erected in 1933, this exquisite tower was built as a tribute to the city's firefighters and has since become an integral part of San Francisco's iconic skyline.

To make the most of your visit to Coit Tower, aim to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon. These times are not just perfect for avoiding the crowds, but they also offer the chance to capture the city bathed in the gentle hues of sunrise or sunset.

  • Tip: The best view is obtained from the tower's observation deck, which provides a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Transamerica Pyramid.
  • Remember to bring a camera and be ready for some wind - it can get quite breezy at the top!

Located in the storied neighborhood of Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower is also a stone's throw away from other attractions. After soaking in the grandeur from above, explore the historic Filbert Steps or the enchanting Greenwich Steps for a leisurely stroll surrounded by lush gardens and local charm.

Coit Tower not only offers a splendid view and rich history, but it's also an invitation to delve deeper into the eclectic spirit of San Francisco.

Discover the California Academy of Sciences

For those who marvel at the mysteries of both the natural world and the latest scientific discoveries, the California Academy of Sciences is an essential visit during your stay in San Francisco. Nestled in the heart of Golden Gate Park, this world-renowned scientific and educational institution captivates visitors of all ages with its innovative exhibits and dedication to conservation and research.

Engaging Exhibits and Experiences

  • Steinhart Aquarium: Dive into the underwater world of coral reefs, colorful fish, and touch tide pools.
  • Kimball Natural History Museum: Travel through time as you encounter dinosaur skeletons and learn about the evolution of life on Earth.
  • Morrison Planetarium: Gaze upon the stars and journey across the universe in one of the most advanced digital planetariums in the world.
  • Osher Rainforest: Explore a living four-story rainforest, home to free-flying birds, butterflies, and exotic reptiles.
  • Living Roof: Walk atop this sustainable architectural wonder and enjoy native plantings and panoramic city views.

Conservation and Education

The California Academy of Sciences is not only a hub of scientific wonder but also a leader in conservation and education efforts. With a strong commitment to biodiversity, the Academy conducts pioneering research and fosters educational programs that inspire future generations to protect and cherish our planet's precious resources. Your visit supports these vital initiatives, helping to ensure that the wonders of science and nature will continue to intrigue and delight far into the future.

Don't miss the chance to immerse yourself in the wonders of the California Academy of Sciences; it's an awe-inspiring experience that leaves a lasting impression on all who cherish the natural world and the science that helps us to understand it.

Unwind with Iconic Views at Crissy Field

After a bustling day exploring the vibrant city, Crissy Field offers a serene respite where the grandeur of the Golden Gate provides an unforgettable backdrop. This picturesque parkland is a favorite for both locals and visitors looking to recharge amidst nature's beauty.

Engage in Leisurely Activities

Whether you're spreading out a blanket for a leisurely picnic, flying a kite in the gentle sea breeze, or engaging in some peaceful bird-watching, Crissy Field is the perfect place to relax. The area is well-known for its wide-open spaces that seem tailor-made for these simple yet joyful activities. The West Bluff Picnic Area is one of the most scenic picnics that I have ever been to, with the Golden Gate Bridge directly in the background. Go there early to grab a table though.

Immerse Yourself in Contemporary Creativity at SFMOMA

San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) stands as a dynamic hub in the vibrant tapestry of the city's cultural attractions. As you meander through the sleek and innovative halls of SFMOMA, prepare to be captivated by the enthralling collection of modern and contemporary artworks that paint a vivid portrayal of artistic evolution.

Discover Diverse Collections and Notable Masterpieces

Home to an astonishing assortment of over 33,000 works, SFMOMA celebrates a plethora of media including paintings, sculptures, photography, architecture, design, and media arts. Distinguished pieces by artists such as Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock are some of the prized highlights. Moreover, you will find yourself enthralled by the thought-provoking visiting exhibitions that frequently grace the museum, offering fresh perspectives and unique experiences with each visit.

Planning Your Visit to SFMOMA

To ensure a seamless experience, here's some useful information for planning your visit:

  • Ticket Prices: General admission tickets for adults are $30, with discounts available for seniors, young adults, and children. Members and children 18 and under enjoy free entry.
  • Best Times to Visit: Beat the crowds by coming on weekdays or during the early hours on weekends. The museum is less visited in the mornings, offering a more tranquil atmosphere to appreciate the art.

Immersing yourself in the serene ambiance of SFMOMA isn't just a leisurely pursuit but an invigorating encounter with the heart of modern creativity. Whether you're an art aficionado or simply seeking a touch of inspiration, this illustrious museum promises a memorable exploration of the wonders of modern art.

Immerse Yourself In Mission District

The vibrant heart of San Francisco's cultural mosaic - the Mission District. This neighborhood invites you to immerse yourself in an area that's as rich in history as it is in the diversity of its community and the creativity of its residents.

Your list of things to do in San Francisco would not be complete without a mention of the iconic Mission District, where each street corner tells a story and every alleyway bursts with color.

A Walk Through History and Culture

Stroll down the bustling streets to witness famous murals that paint the narratives of the community. These elaborate artworks provide a visual journey through the myriad influences that have shaped the neighborhood and continue to tell the evolving story of the Mission's past and present. Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley are the best areas to view murals.

Balmy Alley Murals / Mission District, San Francisco, California
Balmy Alley Murals / Mission District, San Francisco, California

The Best Mexican Food

When it comes to Mexican food in Northern California, the Mission has no rival. The most popular type of burrito in this part of the state is known as a "Mission burrito". At the most basic level, this burrito consists of rice, beans and meat. I would recommend going to El Farolito, which has amazing tacos and burritos.

The Pulse of Art and Music

After an afternoon of mural-gazing and treasure hunting, dive deeper into the local art scene by visiting galleries that spotlight both emerging and established artists. As the sun sets, the Mission's music venues come to life with performances that range from indie bands to traditional Latin rhythms. There's no better way to experience the Mission's soul than through its live music scene - the heartbeat of this eclectic neighborhood.

The Mission District awaits with its stories, flavors, and sounds. Be prepared to leave a piece of your heart in San Francisco's beloved Mission.

Unleash Your Curiosity at the Exploratorium

The Exploratorium in San Francisco isn't just a museum; it's an interactive sensation that provides hands-on learning experiences for visitors of all ages. Prepare to be intrigued and inspired as you dive into the wonders of the world around us.

Engage with Unique Exhibits

Imagine touching a tornado, exploring how your mind processes illusions, or playing with light and shadow to understand physics better. The Exploratorium is brimming with unique exhibits that make complex concepts accessible and engaging. Every visit promises new insights into the natural phenomena and a chance to see science in action.

Conquer the Curves of Lombard Street

Known as the "crookedest street in the world", Lombard Street offers a peculiarly picturesque experience that is unmistakably San Franciscan. This one-block stretch with its tight turns and beautiful landscaping demands to be conquered by any visitor seeking the full flavor of the city.

How to Experience Lombard Street

There are several ways to appreciate the unique charm of this serpentine boulevard:

  • Driving: Navigate the eight hairpin turns behind the wheel for a memorable thrill. Driving down is pretty scary to be honest though. If you're going to do this then please be very careful. I've done this twice and probably wouldn't do it again.
  • Walking: Tackle the twists and turns on foot to fully appreciate the street's intricate flowerbeds and stunning urban vistas at your own pace. Certainly a lot safer to walk than try driving here!
  • Viewing from Below: Enjoy a less exerting experience by observing the winding wonder from the safety of the flat ground at the bottom, a perfect spot for people-watching and street performer sightings.

Snapshot Spots on Lombard Street

To capture the essence of Lombard Street for posterity, consider these prime photo opportunities:

  • From the top, looking down the hill to frame the stunning zigzag with the Bay in the background.
  • Halfway down from a mid-street landing, to get a close-up of the brick road and its verdant gardens.
  • From Leavenworth Street, catching the cars as they navigate the legendary curves with Russian Hill's beautiful houses as a backdrop.

Whether you dare to drive, opt to observe, or choose to climb, Lombard Street's iconic hairpins are an unforgettable part of any San Francisco adventure.

Catch the Excitement of a Giants Game at Oracle Park

For sports enthusiasts and those looking to soak up the quintessential American pastime, a visit to Oracle Park to watch the San Francisco Giants is a must-do. While I am a lifelong Dodgers fan, I have to admit that Oracle Park is an incredibly beautiful stadium to watch a game. Located in the SOMA District and right on the waterfront, this is a prime location.

Savor the Flavors of Oracle Park

Enhance your game day experience with classic ballpark food. Oracle Park is famous for its wide array of delicious treats, from gourmet hot dogs and garlic fries to local favorites like clam chowder in a bread bowl. The Gilroy Garlic Fries are a must, as they're arguably the most popular item sold at the park.

Beware Dodgers Fans

I went to watch the final game of the season in 2023, where the Dodgers played against the Giants. There were a lot more Dodgers fans in attendance than I expected maybe up to 40%, but the Giants fans can be really hostile if you're sitting near the home team dugout. One guy a few rows in front of us was wearing a Clayton Kershaw jersey, and was constantly getting cussed out by some fans several rows back. I think the angry fans were eventually escorted out after several innings. That was not really appropriate considering how many kids were around including my own son. The game was exciting (the Dodgers won) but I'll plan to sit near the visiting team dugout next time.

Unwind at Ocean Beach: San Francisco's Serene Shoreline

For those seeking a tranquil escape from urban bustle or an invigorating dose of nature, Ocean Beach offers a perfect blend of peace and outdoor pleasures. Stretching along the westernmost border of San Francisco, this expansive shoreline invites you to immerse yourself in the soothing sounds of rolling waves and the soft texture of golden sand beneath your toes.

Best Times to Visit Ocean Beach

Some of the most delightful times to take a stroll on Ocean Beach is during the late spring and early fall, when the coastal fog lifts and the warm sun graces the coast. Mornings can be crisp, so a light jacket is recommended, while afternoons often reveal a sunny paradise perfect for picnics and play. Nonetheless, there's a unique charm to the beach's mistier days, which offer a mystical ambiance unmatched by any other local attraction.

What to Expect Weather-Wise

Ocean Beach is renowned for its natural beauty, but it can also be unpredictable in terms of weather. The Pacific Ocean regulates the temperature, so it rarely gets too hot, but the breeze can be brisk and the evenings cool. During the middle of summer it might even be downright cold. Always dress in layers when visiting and be prepared for the possibility of a spontaneous fog bank rolling in, a regular yet mesmerizing phenomenon in this coastal haven.

Familiarize Yourself with Local Beach Regulations

  • Beach Fires: While they are a beloved tradition, fires at Ocean Beach must be contained within provided fire rings. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis, highlighting the importance of an early arrival to secure one.
  • Dog Policies: Dog owners will be delighted to learn that their furry friends are welcome on Ocean Beach, albeit with some areas requiring leashes. Always double-check the latest regulations before you visit to ensure a fun and hassle-free experience with your pet. Always be sure to pick up after yourselves. No one likes to step or sit on a surprise.

Whether you're seeking solace in a peaceful stroll, chasing the thrill of surf and sand, or simply yearning for a picturesque sunset, Ocean Beach provides an idyllic backdrop for all. Don't forget your camera - the natural beauty of this place, from the rhythmic ocean to the far-off cliffs, calls for everlasting memories captured in photo form. Make sure to embrace every serene or spirited moment at this coastal gem in the heart of San Francisco.

Seal Rocks at Sunset, San Francisco, California, Photo

Seal Rocks

Discover Culinary Delights at the Ferry Building Marketplace

San Francisco is a city that delights the senses, and nowhere is this truer than at the iconic Ferry Building Marketplace. Gracing the waterfront, this historic landmark is a haven for food lovers and a showcase of the Bay Area's rich artisanal food scene. Inside, a bustling corridor of fragrances, flavors, and vibrant colors awaits you, each stall and shop telling a story of local cuisine and dedication to craft.

Time Your Visit with the Farmer's Market

To fully experience the bounty of Northern California, plan your visit to coincide with the renowned Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, this farmer's market is where the city's top chefs and home cooks alike come for the freshest local produce. From just-picked fruits and vegetables to gourmet staples and flowers, it's a vivid reminder of why San Francisco's food scene is celebrated around the world.

Whether you're a gourmand or simply looking to delve into the tastes of San Francisco, a trip to the Ferry Building Marketplace is an essential experience. Enjoy the camaraderie of shared food love as you navigate this culinary landmark, and leave with new favorite flavors and a true appreciation for artisan craft.

Ferry Building Clock Tower, San Francisco, California

Ferry Building Clock Tower

Explore Muir Woods

When visiting San Francisco, a must-see destination is the beautiful Muir Woods National Monument. Named after conservationist John Muir, this peaceful retreat is home to towering old-growth redwood trees that have been standing for thousands of years.

  • Take a leisurely hike along one of the many trails, such as the popular Fern Creek Trail, and marvel at the ancient giants surrounding you.
  • Join a guided nature walk to learn more about the flora and fauna of the area, including the unique ecosystem that exists within the redwood forest.
  • Don't forget to visit the Muir Woods Visitor Center to learn about the history of the area and discover the efforts to preserve this natural wonder for future generations.

Note: Due to its popularity, Muir Woods has been requiring advance parking and shuttle reservations since 2018. I wouldn't want you to make that twisting drive up the mountain only to be turned away.

Sunbeam in Old-Growth Redwood Forest, Muir Woods National Monument, California, photo

Muir Woods

Make the Most of Your San Francisco Adventure

From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the historic cells of Alcatraz Island, San Francisco is a city brimming with landmarks and cultural touchstones. Each corner of this vibrant city tells a story, offering visitors an eclectic tapestry of experiences. Whether it's taking a leisurely stroll through Golden Gate Park, experiencing the thrills of a cable car ride, or savoring the bustling atmosphere of Fisherman's Wharf, there's something unforgettable for every kind of traveler in San Francisco.

San Francisco's attractions showcase the city's rich history, diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty, making it a truly unique destination. I would encourage you to plan a trip that allows you to dive into the wide array of experiences, from the contemplative quiet of the de Young Museum to the lively streets of the Mission District. San Francisco is a city that invites exploration and rewards curiosity.

Note on personal safety: If you're the only person on the street it's probably best not to have a camera present since thieves have been known to rob tourists of their cameras in recent years. Also, be sure to keep all valuable items out of the car.

Read: When Is The Best Time To Visit San Francisco?

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Posted in travel guides and tagged travel guide, things to do.