Ultimate San Francisco Travel Guide – Top 30 Things To Do
San Francisco is a bustling city full of hidden gems and attractions to discover. From the vibrant food culture, the natural beauty of the landscape and its most iconic San Francisco tourist spots, we’ve put together an ultimate San Francisco travel guide to help you plan your trip. So if you’ve been searching for cool things to do in San Francisco we’ve got you covered! Let’s take a closer look at this beautiful city.
Here are the top 30 tourist attractions in San Francisco that you wouldn’t want to miss! You can thank us later!
1: Golden Gate Bridge
Kickstart your trip to San Francisco by visiting the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. This has got to be one of the most iconic and must-see tourist attractions in San Francisco. With its distinctive International Orange color, it was once dubbed “the bridge that couldn’t be constructed,” and yet it remains one of the seven wonders of the modern world. After a four-year battle against strong winds, fog, rock, and even dangerous tides, San Francisco’s most iconic landmark, opened in 1937. Now visitors flock from across the country to walk or even cycle across the bridge. Just make sure to stay caffeinated and admire the views at your own leisure, by popping into the Round House, which is now Equator Coffee.
Address: Lincoln Boulevard, near Doyle Drive and Fort Point, San Francisco, CA 94129
Want to know more about the Golden Gate Bridge? Check out more Golden Gate Bridge info to plan your perfect visit.
- Golden Gate Bridge – Information on access, parking, weather, photo locations and more
- Top 7 Spots for Photos of the Golden Gate Bridge
- 12 Movies Featuring the Golden Gate Bridge
- 10 Cool Ways to Visit the Golden Gate Bridge
- History of the Golden Gate Bridge
- 25 Fun and Interesting Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge
2: Alcatraz Island
Right in the center of San Francisco Bay, you can view this former maximum-security prison. It is one of the most popular San Francisco tourist spots, and quite frankly that’s justified! The small island of Alcatraz, often known as The Rock, functioned as a lighthouse, a military construction, and of course a maximum-security prison. In fact, some of the most infamous criminals of the time once called this bleak place home. And unfortunately for those behind bars, Alcatraz was thought to be inescapable since it was surrounded by the icy waters of San Francisco Bay.
A ferry ride to the island kicks off the adventure. The cruise is fantastic, and it provides a stunning view of the city. Your ticket will also include a self-guided audio tour of the main prison building, and a chance to explore several other buildings nearby.
Address: Alcatraz Ferry departs from Bay Street and Embarcadero, Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing, San Francisco, CA 94133
3: Fisherman’s Wharf
Another iconic tourist spot is this little beauty known as Fisherman’s Wharf. So if you’re wondering what to do in San Francisco, then this is a must! From Pier 39 to the Municipal Pier at the end of Aquatic Park, it spans the whole length of the park.
If you’re a seafood lover then you’re in luck, because Fisherman’s Wharf is also a fishing port. So it’s probably the best place to enjoy some fresh, delicious, mouth-watering crab and lobster!
If you go around the back of PIER 39 you’ll get to see hundreds of sea lions who have built their home there. It’s very amusing to watch some of them “battle” over a sunspot. Museums, souvenir shops, historical buildings, and picturesque views are among the other tourist attractions along the wharf.
Address: Jefferson Street, Between Hyde and Powell Streets, San Francisco, CA 94133
4: Cable Cars
If you’re fortunate enough to visit San Francisco, then undoubtedly, the cable cars are a greatest classic, but also, in our opinion, a must-see! They are an incredible part of the San Francisco experience. Going up Powell Street and down to Fisherman’s Wharf on the opposite side is an attraction on its own.
Since the late 1800s, people have been using cable cars to get around San Francisco. The cars go over three routes on tracks, propelled by an underground cable. From blocks away, you can hear their iconic bells ringing.
Each one-way ride will provide breathtaking views of the city’s famous hills as well as a thrilling ride.
Address: Powell-Hyde Cable Car, San Francisco, CA 94109
Learn More about the Cable Cars:
If you’re looking for authentic Chinese food while in San Francisco, then go no further. This Chinatown is in a league of its own! Most major cities have a Chinatown, but San Francisco boasts four, including the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in North America on Grant Avenue.
This city inside city is best explored on foot; it has extraordinary stores, renowned restaurants, food markets, temples, and small museums. There are herb stores that provide traditional cures, and visitors can relax and enjoy a dim sum meal or watch fortune cookies being crafted.
If you happen to be in town during the Autumn Moon Festival, you can attend the Chinese festival for free.
Visiting Chinatown is no doubt one of the many great tourist attractions in San Francisco!
Address: Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108
6: Union Square
Union Square is the district that boasts plentiful retail therapy in a neighborhood full of fantastic shopping, not to mention magnificent hotels, great dining, and open places to relax outside and enjoy San Francisco’s pleasant climate.
The 2.6-acre square, a famous park in the middle of the downtown retail and hotel sector, is home to virtually every major fashion brand.
There are several live events to attend in the neighborhood, and there is always something to keep you intrigued. To really get an experience of partying with the locals this should be on the top of your San Francisco travel guide on any tour of the city.
Address: 333 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94108
7: Ferry Building Marketplace
Because San Francisco is such a food paradise, no trip to the Embarcadero is complete without a stop at the bustling Ferry Building Marketplace. The 65,000-square-foot Marketplace is built around a central nave and serves as a unique gathering place for the Bay Area’s agricultural wealth and famous specialty food stalls.
Around fifty food vendors, local farmers, and small eateries serve tempting delights and delectable cuisine inside its Beaux Arts building.
Due to its vast selection of coffee shops, snack booths, and grocery stores offering artisan products from across the world, the market has been a solid favorite with residents and tourists since its opening in 2003.
Address: 1 Ferry Building, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105
8: Lombard Street
Have you heard of San Francisco’s “crookedest street”? The wildly cornered Lombard Street is next on our list of top San Francisco tourist spots!
It used to be a two-way street, but in 1939 it was converted to a one-way street going down. The hill was planted with hydrangea bushes, which bloom almost all year, before Lombard Street became the stunning beauty it is now.
Between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, this street has eight hairpin turns in a one-block span. You can either stroll down its sidewalks admiring the beautiful flowers or take a turn slowly driving down it.
Address: 1070 Lombard Street between Jones St and Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109
The Exploratorium is one of San Francisco’s most intriguing attractions. Various exhibitions linked to art, science, and human perception are featured at the museum. It used to be a component of the Palace of Fine Arts, but in 2013 it moved to its own premises.
Sound waves, superstitions, electricity, optical illusions, centrifugal motion, and other subjects are included at the Exploratorium learning laboratory. Over 600 interactive displays, spanning geography, engineering, biology, and psychology, are housed in six primary galleries.
The Tactile Dome is particularly popular, as it allows you to travel through utter darkness using just your sense of touch! How cool is that?!
Address: Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
10. Golden Gate Park
This park is even bigger than Central Park in New York, with its 450 hectares. The walk through this park will take you through various “attractions” that should not be missed under any circumstances! The stunning green landscape that spans from the city center to the Pacific Ocean’s coastlines will captivate you, whether it’s the Japanese tea garden or the flower conservatory – it’s the perfect spot for picnics.
A 10 km cycling trail runs through the park, so cycling is a wonderful way to enjoy a pleasant ride. Why not take advantage of the opportunity to cross the bridge?
Address: 501 Stanyan St, San Francisco, CA 94117
11. Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens is located in the heart of the downtown cultural district. Restaurants, cafés, museums, and theaters can all be found here. In addition, there is a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that is well worth visiting.
There is always something going on, and hundreds of free outdoor events are held each year for locals and tourists. Bowling, ice skating, and a ride on the famous carousel are all exciting activities. The park has been named one of the best 30 urban parks in the country, and there are certainly many reasons for that.
Address: 750 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103
12. Coit Tower
Since its construction in 1933, Coit Tower has been an emblem of San Francisco’s skyline, serving as an iconic symbol for both visitors and locals. Its observation deck, accessible by elevator, offers 360-degree views of the city and harbor, including the Golden Gate and Bay bridges – San Francisco sightseeing at its best!
Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy and eccentric woman, was the inspiration for the tower’s name. She donated a large quantity of money to the city when she passed away, thus this tower was built in her honor.
Address: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133
13. Twin Peaks
If you’re looking for even more breathtaking views of San Francisco, the two towering Twin Peaks at the city’s geographic center are well worth a visit. Twin Peaks are a world-famous tourist destination once known as “Los Pechos de la Choca,” meaning Breasts of the Maiden.
The bare, desolate hills provide spectacular views, with sunset being an especially beautiful time to visit. The Twin Peaks, which rise to a height of roughly 925 feet, are preserved as part of a park, with beautiful nature and wildlife gracing their slopes. While you could drive to the top, if you fancy working up a sweat instead, there are some good hiking routes to explore that provide some amazing views.
Address: 501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94114
14. Legion of Honor Museum
The Legion of Honor Museum is a lovely, outstanding institution located in a spectacular Neoclassical Beaux-Arts building. Located in Lincoln Park, it houses a diverse collection of European art.
Paintings, ornamental arts, and sculptures, as well as artifacts from the Near East and the Mediterranean, are included. Within those extraordinary walls, there lies more than 4,000 years of history.
Paintings by Picasso, Rembrandt, and Monet, as well as over 90 Rodin sculptures can be seen.
Address: 100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
15. Oracle Park home of the Giants
The San Francisco Giants have called this stadium home since 2000. While watching a game is an exciting and memorable experience, the park is also one of the most aesthetically pleasing baseball grounds in the country, thanks to its location along the bay.
There’s a wall of fame, a cafe, and a gift store to visit, as well as iconic features like the gigantic glove sculpture and Coca-Cola bottle slide. Oracle Park is one of the most exciting things to do in San Francisco, because of its thrilling atmosphere and exciting sports.
Address: 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107
Interested in more stuff to do in San Francisco?
Keep reading because we are only halfway through our list!
6. The Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts, the sole existing structure from the 1915 World’s Fair, has a classical Roman rotunda with curving colonnades placed in an exquisite park setting with a traditional European-style lagoon.
It’s a lovely spot to relax, have a picnic, and watch the swans swim by gracefully. It also features a theater that hosts a number of plays, musical performances, and cultural events.
Address: 3601 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123
17. Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies
Alamo Square is a residential area and park most known for the Painted Ladies row of Victorian homes on Steiner Street. Many San Francisco postcards include Alamo Square as an exclusive feature!
Neighbors, visitors, and dog owners enjoy the park, which features a playground and a tennis court. The summits of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge can be seen from the park’s center on a beautiful clear day, as can the Transamerica Pyramid structure.
Address: Hayes and Steiner, San Francisco, CA 94117
18. Angel Island
If you’re interested in things to do in San Francisco that aren’t too touristy, then Angel Island is certainly worth a visit. The island, which is only accessible by boat, is a lovely respite from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The bay’s second-largest island, now preserved as a park, has served as everything from a military base and missile site to an immigration station and detention camp. As a result, there are a number of intriguing ancient forts and bunkers to visit, as well as picnic spots and scenic views.
Address: Ferry Departs from Tiburon, CA 94920
19. Aquarium of the Bay
The Aquarium of the Bay is one of the most memorable San Francisco attractions, especially for families with children and those who enjoy marine life.
Get up close and personal with local marine life while supporting the aquarium’s effort to safeguard the bay area’s wildlife. At this fantastic institution, you can stroll through more than 300 feet of transparent glass tunnels. As you walk around the aquarium, you’ll witness a variety of species, including jellyfish and leopard sharks.
Address: Pier 39 The Embarcadero &, Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133
San Francisco’s Presidio was formerly a military base. But today, over two square miles of breathtaking sights, seaside air, and luscious swinging eucalyptus trees can be found here.
For the outdoor enthusiasts, it has twelve hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. There are also several areas in the park where you can stand and look out over the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. The site has justifiably been designated as a California Historical Landmark.
Address: 1750 Lincoln. Blvd. San Francisco, CA 94129
21. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is located near Union Square in a spectacular building. While the exterior of the building is gorgeous, the interior is equally so, with breathtaking exhibitions and artworks wherever you turn.
A great attraction for art enthusiasts, over 33,000 works of art are on exhibit across seven levels, with a focus on modern and contemporary art.
The vibrant, spacious attraction has a lot to offer. Even its gift store and two cafés are each fantastic!
Address: 151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103
22. California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences, one of USA’s leading scientific and natural history museums, houses a stunning collection of 38,000 natural wonders. The academy is a highlight for many visitors to San Francisco, with its Morrison Planetarium, Steinhart Aquarium, four-story rain forest dome, and open-air, green “living roof.”
There’s so much to discover and explore, including preserved reptiles and amphibians in the Herpetology Department. So if you’re torn for what to see in San Francisco, do make sure this is on your list!
Address: 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118
23. Mission District
Over 200 murals decorate the Mission District’s alleys and buildings, many of which represent the neighborhood’s Latino roots and social justice themes. It is the city’s youthful, bohemian crowd’s sanctuary.
It’s a buzzing, exciting neighborhood that’s popular for walking tours and laid-back enough to provide a nice break from the city’s more touristic areas. Countless murals serve as the backdrop to a variety of festivals and exhibitions.
Visiting Mission District is definitely one of the many cool things to do in San Francisco!
Address: Mission District, San Francisco, CA
24. Asian Art Museum
The Asian Art Museum is a prominent institution. It opened in 1966 and was based on Avery Brundage’s donated former private collection. Brundage thought that the museum would assist to bridge the divide between the West and the East, and he was successful in doing that.
The Asian Art Museum houses paintings from Iran, Korea, India, Japan, China, and other Asian nations that date back over 6,000 years. Jade carvings, sculptures, ceramics, architectural works, pottery, bronzes, metalwork, paintings, and more are among the items on display.
Address: 200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102
25. Lands End
The windswept coastal cliffs of Lands End occupy the peninsula’s northwest corner. The park features various hiking paths and historic sites in addition to its spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.
Various shipwrecks and the remnants of the Sutro Baths can be found scattered along its desolate beaches. It’s also worth seeing the Hidden Labyrinth art piece. Visitors can enjoy a coffee at the café after exploring the area’s beautiful beaches, coves, and cliffs while watching the sun set beautifully over the ocean.
Address: 680 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
26. Walt Disney Family Museum
The fascinating Walt Disney Family Museum, which digs into the life and legacy of the iconic filmmaker, is another of Presidio’s many appealing attractions.
With spectacular memorabilia, film clips, and even awards on display, you can learn about Disney’s successes and genre-defining animations.
The museum, which opened in 2009 and houses a huge collection of early sketches and designs, music clips, and models, is housed in three historic buildings at the heart of the park. It is a must for any Disney fan, since it covers everything from his early youth and career through his legendary creations and the development of Disneyland.
Address: 104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129
27. San Francisco Botanical Garden
Seasonal blooms give this lovely garden fresh energy and color.
Golden Gate Park is home to this 75-year-old treasure, which spans 55 acres. While local plants are abundant, it’s noted for its diverse collection of flora from all over the world, including Central American, South American, and Southeast Asian forests.
The garden is home to the fourth-largest collection of magnolia trees in the entire world. There’s also a Garden of Fragrance with sweet-smelling flora that you shouldn’t miss out on!
Address: 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
28. San Francisco Zoo
For animal enthusiasts, the San Francisco Zoo is one of the top San Francisco tourist attractions. It is located in the southwest portion of the city, covered by cypress trees, and has 99 acres of land – impressive right?
It’s made up of many habitats, each of which is meant to be a close replica of the natural habitats of the creatures it houses.
Between each section, you’ll find mini gardens and tunnels, with something intriguing around every corner – even two life-size dinosaur statues!
Address: Sloat Blvd &, Upper Great Hwy, San Francisco, CA 94132
29. Transamerica Pyramid
The Transamerica Pyramid Center, which spans a whole city block in San Francisco’s Financial District, is one of the world’s most sought-after global gateway cities. It is a symbol of the city’s strength and resilience.
It was designed by renowned architect William Pereira and finished in 1972, reaching a height of nearly 850 feet. The building is San Francisco’s second tallest structure, and its illuminated spire is the most identifiable sight in the city’s skyline.
Address: 600 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111
30. Musée Mécanique
The Musée Mécanique is one of the most interesting and unique tourist attractions on the renowned Fisherman’s Wharf. You’ll discover a collection of over 300 items ranging from orchestrions, coin-operated pianos, antique slot machines, and animations, down to small bird boxes.
It’s a nostalgic experience wandering around the museum, which features old slot machines and music boxes, as well as fortune tellers, peep shows, and pinball games. You can also view historic moving dioramas and try your luck at classic carnival games in addition to demonstrating your strength and getting your fortune told.
Address: Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133
No matter what your interests are, San Francisco really does have something for everyone! It’s so versatile and engaging that you can be sure to connect with each of the landmarks. With 30 magnificent and remarkable attractions listed out for you, now you truly know what to see in San Francisco, and what you won’t want to miss!
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Check out the San Francisco Jeep Tours website for more information on exploring the City by the Bay.