You shouldn’t have to struggle to find fun things to do in San Francisco. This Northern Californian city offers so much more than the Golden Gate Bridge (though it is a pretty amazing sight). Really, if you’re figuring out what to do in San Francisco while you’re there, the only issue you’re going to struggle with is trying to fit everything in.
If you’re planning on checking out a number of San Francisco attractions while you’re in town, consider an all-inclusive pass like the Go San Francisco® Card, which can save you up to 55% on combined admission to tours, cruises, museums, and more. Or, build your own and save a guaranteed 20%.
Spend Time in Golden Gate Park
It is worth devoting a full day to Golden Gate Park, 1,017 acres of meadows and lakes with stuff for the whole family to enjoy. The park includes rose gardens, an arboretum, a music concourse, a children’s playground with a wonderfully restored carousel, and a buffalo paddock. Make sure you check out the tallest artificial waterfall in the West, at Strawberry Hill.
Don’t forget your camera, and remember to take a picnic spread or packed lunch. The de Young Museum houses thousands of artifacts and art works from all over the world, while the Barbra Osher Sculpture Garden displaying a collection of contemporary pieces. Love nature, too? Check out the gorgeous Conservatory of Flowers while you’re in the area.
If science is your thing, you absolutely can’t miss a visit to the California Academy of Sciences. This phenomenal scientific institution is actually four awesome things rolled into one: an aquarium, a natural history museum, a four story rainforest, and all-digital planetarium.
Speaking of Museums in San Francisco…
San Francisco has several other museums throughout the city. Particularly worth a visit are the Cartoon Art Museum on Mission Street, the Exploratorium inside the Marina District’s Palace of Fine Arts, and the Wells Fargo History Museum within the city’s Financial District (free!)
Art lovers will also enjoy a visit to the rich collections of the Asian Art Museum, or a tour of the historic Legion of Honor. And while it’s not really a museum, there’s certainly plenty of history to be found on an AT&T Park tour!
If you only have time to visit one museum, the San Francisco Cable Car Museum will not disappoint. The cable car museum is the only moving national historic landmark in America; it costs $5 to ride a cable car to the museum, where you can view antique cable cars, including the first one ever made from 1873.
How About Those San Francisco Beaches?
Although Northern Californian weather is much cooler than in Southern California, the beaches of San Francisco still attract both locals and tourists. Swimming and wading are discouraged due to the dangerous undertow of the Pacific’s waves.
Visit Ocean Beach, on the western edge of the city, and explore its four miles of shoreline until you reach the Cliff House, which gives magnificent views of the Pacific. The smaller China Beach is perfect for a game of volleyball or simply admiring the million-dollar homes of the Seacliff district.
Baker Beach, running along the western shore of the Presidio, has an amazing view of the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. Avoid the northern end of the beach if you are easily offended; it is a popular spot for nude sunbathers.
Why Not Hop Aboard a Cruise?
Despite the often chilly temperatures, some of our favorite things to do in San Francisco revolve around the water. So why not try out a great cruise or two? They’re an ideal way to sightsee without the stress and energy of walking, and they provide stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the city skyline.
Some of the most popular cruises and boat tours in the city include the fun Bridge to Bridge Cruise, the exciting Escape from the Rock Cruise, and the classic Golden Gate Bay Cruise. All of these options are available at a discount through the Go San Francisco Card.
You Can’t Go Wrong with Wild Life in San Francisco
The Presido National Park, once the most important military post on the West Coast, offers miles of hiking trails, signed bike routes and scenic picnic spots within its 1,491 acres. Open all day, every day, and free to enter, the park provides many opportunities to explore and look out for wild animal species. Walking tours, history tours and other events are held regularly in the park.
The world-famous San Francisco Zoo is the largest zoological park in Northern California and home to over 225 species of animals, including Sumatran tigers, penguins, lemurs, meerkats, eagles, gorillas and koalas. If you are visiting with children, take them to the Children’s Zoo, where they can meet, feed and pet a variety of barnyard animals. The Little Puffer Zoo Train is a great way for little ones to see the whole zoo without getting tired.
Don’t forget to check out the Aquarium of the Bay where you will get to see, touch, discover, and learn about all the fascinating marine life of the San Francisco Bay and its surrounding waters. There are even special activities presented for kids, such as Jellyfish mazes, sea life word searches, coloring books, and scavenger hunts.
Save on Admission
Whether your priority is culture, history, sightseeing or just relaxing on the beach, San Francisco has something to keep everyone happy. If you’ve visited San Francisco, or even if you live out there, let us know what some of your favorite things to do are in the comments!
Remember, if you want to save big on your visit to top San Francisco attractions, pick up a Go San Francisco®Card today!