Planning a vacation? If so, you’ll find plenty of things to do in San Francisco making it an excellent place to visit for those of all ages. One-of-a-kind sights? Unique culture? Entertaining attractions? Check, check and check! San Francisco truly has it all. Want to learn more about ways to play in San Francisco? Read on.
When you visit San Francisco, activities range from must-see attractions to sightseeing tours and cultural outings like museums and art galleries. And that’s just the beginning! Other popular San Francisco attractions include neighborhoods like Chinatown and The Mission as well as destinations like Fisherman’s Wharf. In search of the best ways to see the sights? You can’t go wrong with an Alcatraz Island or Harbor Cruise. The double-decker sightseeing buses and guided walking tours are also surefire bets. In addition, day trips from San Francisco make it easy to explore charming towns like Sausalito, the giant redwoods of Muir Woods, the award-winning wineries of Napa and Sonoma. You can also reach Yosemite National Park from San Francisco as well as the mesmerizing sights of the Pacific Coast Highway.
If you’re a foodie (like me!), you’ll love visiting San Francisco. At every turn, there is a delicious place to dine. From high-end restaurants to affordable cafes, the food scene here features cuisines from around the globe. Chefs here are able to source premium produce and seafood year-round. Combine that with their raw talent, and they’re able to create some of the best restaurants—anywhere. For top foodie neighborhoods and restaurant recommendations, see the list below:
The Mission: La Taqueria, Foreign Cinema, Delfina
Fisherman’s Wharf: Franciscan Crag, Alioto’s, Gary Danko
Chinatown: Z & Y Restaurant, Begoni Bistro, Capital Restaurant
Union Square: John’s Grill, Del Popolo, Scala’s Bistro
Of course, you can’t talk about dining in San Francisco without mentioning the Ferry Building Marketplace. Throughout the week, vendors serve a variety of foods and during the weekend a farmer’s market pops up offering even more selections. It’s a top place to go for an eclectic yet budget-friendly lunch.
Leave some room in your luggage when you visit San Francisco. This bayside city has some of the best shopping on the west coast. As a result, whether you’re a serious shopper or just someone looking for a kitschy souvenir you’re sure to leave with at least a few things. To give you a head start on shopping in San Francisco, I’ve compiled a list of the go-to places for both tourists and shop-’til-you-drop pros.
- Union Square
- Hayes Valley
- The Fillmore
- Sacramento Street
- Downtown’s San Francisco Shopping Center
Even when you’ve had a full day of fun in San Francisco, there’s always time for nightlife, right? When the sun goes down the scene really heats up in San Francisco. Each neighborhood offers a unique niche, too.
The Mission: Go for small but upscale bars and dance clubs.
Union Square: Hot spot for jazz clubs and music halls.
Hayes Valley: Good pick for bar and grills and cabarets.
North Beach: Welcome to club heaven.
Fillmore Strip/Pacific Heights: Offers open-air pubs and bars.
Castro Street: Features gay-friendly bars and clubs.
The San Francisco nightlife scene is always changing. With this in mind, be sure to check out what’s new before you visit.
Arts & Culture
In San Francisco, the arts and cultural institutions are thriving. There are a myriad of museums (over 50!) to explore, and that doesn’t even count the museums in the surrounding communities. Carve out a segment of time during your San Francisco vacation to experience these cultural offerings.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: With a growing collection of more than 30,000 masterpieces, this is a must-see San Francisco museum.
De Young Museum: The de Young showcases American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries.
Exploratorium: Features hands-on science exhibits perfect for families.
Legion of Honor: Impressive collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art.
Cable Car Museum: Learn about San Francisco’s history of cable cars.
The Beat Museum: Features memorabilia from The Beat Generation.
The arts scene doesn’t stop there, though. Head to Union Square for the city’s theater district, offering everything from Broadway-style shows to concerts. This is a city that loves to celebrate, too, which is why it has a thriving festival scene. A few favorites include the Latin American Carnival, Pride Parade, Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day.
As you can see there is an endless array of things to do in San Francisco. No matter if it’s your first time visiting or you’re an old friend of the city, you can always find a way to discover more.