San Francisco is an open invitation to outdoor plans. Anyone who has visited this diverse city would agree with me that there is no activity where you miss being in contact with nature. Huge places surrounded by green are San Francisco main attractions.
Its streets and parks are full of people enjoying all kind of activities, from a morning jog to an evening bike ride. They are not only for locals, but tourists are also invited to join in. Bike and walk tours are offered to discover the city more deeply.
Here, I will show you the top 10 things to do in San Francisco.
I did most of them walking. However, I decided that next time I’ll rent a car because this is an excellent way to see more places at once and prevent my feet from the pain again haha. Have you seen all the ups and downs? Watch out! For sure… San Francisco keeps you fit.
Top 10 Things to Do in San Francisco
1. Walk around the Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace is a peaceful and quiet place right in the middle of the city. You can enjoy the Roman architecture, the swans in the artificial lakes and beautiful gardens which make the Palace a dreaming place to spend a lovely time.
And… if you’re a photographer or just an affectionate, you should not miss it!
Today, it is used for events and private parties like weddings or conferences. There is also a café and a theater where different types of performances are shown.
Let me tell you that I loved the Palace. So I totally recommend it. You might not believe how many tourists were brought to the place to spend some time taking pictures!
Because you are in the area as the Palace of Fine Arts is in the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, you may want to include it in your itinerary for the day.
2. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge
You’ll recognize this San Francisco emblem for the significant number of photos you might have seen everywhere as it is considered one of the “most-photographed sights” in the world. Can you imagine? Millions of people visiting the bridge every year to get the “typical” pic with it at the back. Do I have mine? haha.. maybe!
You can cross over the Golden Gate Bridge by car or bike, or you can take a walk on it (which I think is the best option) to enjoy the view and to experience the imponent size of it. The ships look so small; you’ll feel like you´re Hulk in the middle of the bridge!
3. Visit Fisherman´s Wharf – Pier 39
Here comes my 2 in 1 (2 places in one day) experience. These places are perfect for visiting together because they´re easy to find and they´re in the same area.
You might want to start by the Fisherman’s Wharf at the corner of Jefferson and Taylor Streets. This is the iconic waterfront community. You can enjoy some delicious food from famous restaurants like Bubba Gump. You’ll also find some stands selling fresh Dungeness crab or some gourmet restaurants selling fresh fish from the day-catch.
Don’t you know Bubba Gump? Really? … “Run Forest” sounds familiar to you? (For more info you should definitely watch “Forest Gump”)
*Tip: Look for tours including Segway, walking, boat and many more to explore a bit more.
What about some shopping now? A few blocks to the east side, you’ll find Pier 39 where you can buy all the souvenirs you can think of and many more things. But that’s not it, here you’ll also find a carousel to ride, an aquarium, some places to eat.
4. Try to Escape from Alcatraz
Along with the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz is one of San Francisco’s most famous sight. It has even been used in many movies and tv series as an impossible place to escape from. Would you dare to enter? Quite a reputation it has!
The only way you have to get to Alcatraz is by ferry. Once on the island, you can walk up the hill to the prison and tour the cell block, exercise yard, and some other areas.
*Tip: make sure you check the days that are available to book in advance- Same months are more visited than others.
5. Ride a Cable Car
If you don’t see a cable car in San Francisco …well, maybe, you are not in San Francisco! As it is known as the “city’s moving landmark,” it should be in your bucket list. It is an iconic, and fun thing to do.
Take the ride patiently, sometimes, you might have to wait a while to get on, and the highly- prized places to stand outside might not always be available.
6. See Lombard Street
One of my favorites! Lombard Street is called the “Crookedest” Street by many visitors. It is always a busy day in Lombard street, full of tourist trying to get their pictures.
It runs all across town, but between Leavenworth and Hyde, you can find a section with eight sharp turns and a roadway lined with colorful flowers.
You can either go down the road by car (which is going to take a long while) or walk. Some people walk to the bottom side to get the picture.
Tip: My recommendation is to go near sunset, even though you can enjoy the beautiful flowers during the day, there is an absolute wonder when it is lighted by cars in the dark.
7. Enjoy Chinatown
Although San Francisco’s Chinatown is just eight blocks long (from Bush to Broadway), it is one of the largest Chinese communities in the US. And it is one of the recommended attractions.
If you are a souvenir fan, here you’ll find a great variety to choose from. Then, you can eat in the area and take some pictures. If you want more than that, there are lots of herbalist shops, tea stores, and markets to check out.
It is always lovely to take some Chinese herbs or tea home!
8. Visit Union Square
One of the most visited neighborhoods in San Francisco where you can find retail outlets, fancy hotels, cafes, art galleries. And, of course, the square itself!
You can enjoy this part of the city if you like shopping or if you want to relax, sit in the square drinking a nice cup of coffee and watch people passing by (I did the last one, plus eating some sandwiches haha)
*Tip: if you are here during Christmas time, you can go ice skating and enjoy the holiday decorations at Union Square.
9. Enjoy the View at Twin Peaks
Here, you’ll be amazed by an incredible view of the Bay Area. And as you go up to the top, you might encounter some animals and locals plants everywhere.
There is a 64-acre park that is frequently used as an example of how San Francisco looked like before its development.
*Fun Fact: The Peaks were called “Los Pechos de la Choca” which means Breasts of the Maiden due to their shape.
10. Relax at Golden Gate Park
Most of the time it is compared to New York City’s Central Park, the Golden Gate Park is even larger, and it extends halfway across the city from the beach to Haight Ashbury.
The park offers many popular attractions like the Japanese Tea Garden, the DeYoung Museum. You can also see the Dutch windmills and a buffalo herb or have a picnic.
At the California Academy of Sciences, you’ll find the albino alligator and some cute penguins. Or a the Conservatory of Flowers, you can see the orchid gardens.
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San Francisco is a fantastic city to visit and explore at any time of the year. With friends, family or alone, it offers all type of activities to enjoy and make the best of your experience.
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