It’s hard to argue San Francisco’s reputation as one of the happiest city in America. The City by the Bay has lots of fun outdoor activities, unique landscape, iconic architecture, a world-class museum culture, and more.
Whether you’re traveling with kids, planning a romantic getaway, meeting up with friends, or going solo, our travel guides have all the information you need, right here in one place.
Things to do in San Francisco when you’re not taking pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge:
What are some popular attractions to visit?
- Hop On Hop Off Big Bus San Francisco Tour – A must for first time visitors, this sightseeing tour is one of the best ways to get to know the city and see all the top sights.
- California Academy of Sciences – a renowed San Francisco science museum, it’s the only place in the world to house an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum all under one living roof.
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) – With more than three times its previous gallery size, the new SFMOMA is full of iconic and inspiring works of art from Paul Klee to Alexander Calder and beyond.
- Madame Tussauds San Francisco – Get up close and personal with your favorite celebrity, sporting and historical wax figures.
- Escape from the Rock Cruise – a 90-minute cruise that sails under the Golden Gate Bridge and circles Alcatraz Island.
These are just a few. Want more fun ideas for things to do in San Francisco? Head over here for more San Francisco attractions to see during your trip.
How long are you visiting?
Whether you’re visiting San Francisco for 24-hours or an entire week, we’ve put together sample itineraries with some of the most popular things to do in the city.
From an all-around-town-tour and top attractions, to iconic landmarks in the city, these itineraries give you the best San Francisco experience based on the time you have.
- One Day in San Francisco – sample itinerary
- 2 Days in San Francisco – sample itinerary
- 3 Days in San Francisco – sample itinerary
- A Week in San Francisco – sample itinerary
- San Diego to San Francisco Road Trip – sample itinerary
Who are you visiting with?
No matter who you’re traveling with, there are a ton of fun things to do in San Francisco, particularly for families.
We’ve put together a list of top attractions and activities geared towards young kids and teens to help you plan your trip.
What type of activities interest you?
Whether you’re envisioning yourself checking off all the top museums or sampling some of the state’s best wines, our San Francisco insiders have put together a few ‘best of’ lists to help you streamline your itinerary.
- Top Museums in San Francisco
- 5 Reasons to Visit California Wine Country
- Visiting San Francisco on a budget
- more coming soon!
What parts of San Francisco are you visiting?
Explore San Francisco by neighborhood to maximize your time sightseeing.
We’ve highlighted a handful of top attractions and places to see by neighborhood in the city so you can make the most of your time and check off everything on your list.
- San Francisco Neighborhoods Guide
- Things to Do in Golden Gate Park
- Things to Do at Fisherman’s Wharf
- Things to Do in Union Square & SoMa
- more coming soon!
When are you visiting?
San Francisco offers a different experience with each season and type of weather.
Check out our lists of things to do in the city throughout the year to make the most of your itinerary and experience unique, calendar-based events.
- Things to Do in San Francisco in the Spring
- Things to Do in San Francisco in the Summer
- Things to Do in San Francisco in the Fall
- Things to Do in San Francisco in the Winter
- Things to Do in San Francisco When it Rains
What’s the best way to get around?
San Francisco is large and spread out and has lots of easy options for getting around. Depending on how far out of the city you plan to go, you might want to consider renting a car.
Hop-on, hop-off tours: A hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus tour (an included attraction option) is a great way to get acquainted with the city and visit popular attractions. Tours follow a specific route and time schedule, so plan accordingly if you have timed tickets or reservations.
Car: if you plan to get around to attractions by car, be sure to leave time to find parking downtown.
Public transportation: San Francisco’s Muni Transit consists of Muni buses, historic streetcars, the Muni Metro light rail, and cable cars which are easy to use and service popular destinations throughout the city.
Beyond San Francisco, the Amtrak California services points of interest north and south of San Francisco and BART connects the SF Peninsula with Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton, and other cities in the East Bay.
Tip: download the MuniMobile app to purchase and save and for point-to-point trip planning.
Taxis: taxis are typically available at most hotels and shared ride services such as Uber and Lyft are widely available and easy to use.
Looking for more info? Check out our post on getting around San Francisco for tourists.
Where should you stay?
There are plenty of great places to stay in the area. Below are a handful of hotel suggestions located near popular tourist attractions and fun things to do.
- Pier 2620 Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf
- The Washington Square Inn
- Hotel Boheme
- Omni San Francisco Hotel
- Loews Regency San Francisco
Where should you shop?
In between sightseeing, try and find time to pick up some souvenirs. Here are a few popular areas to get some shopping in.
- Gift Center and Jewelry Mart
- Petaluma Village Premium Outlets
- Napa Premium Outlets
- Union Square
Make sure to check out all of the extra discounts and savings available on the Go San Francisco Card.
Where to Eat?
Go on a tour of San Francisco’ foodie scene with our top picks for family-friendly places to eat in San Francisco. We’ve included top picks for every appetite and attractions nearby so you can sightsee while you taste your way through San Francisco’s culinary destinations. No judgement.
Fun Info from a Local
- San Francisco was part of Mexico until the end of the Mexican-American war in 1848.
- The California grizzly on California’s state flag was modeled after Monarch, a former resident of Golden Gate Park.
- You can’t see the Golden Gate Bridge from Golden Gate Park. For the best views, head to Crissy Field, Battery Spencer, or Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point.
- San Francisco’s cable cars hold the title of a National Historical Monument – and they’re the only one that can move.
- The official name of the paint used on the Golden Gate Bridge is “International Orange.”
Share your adventure with us!
Tag us when you upload photos from your trip to Instagram: @SmartDestinations or #GoCityCard.