37 Best Things to Do in San Francisco
Whether you’re a tourist or a local in the Bay Area, there are plenty of fun things to do in San Francisco. This vibrant coastal city is bursting with beautiful natural landscapes, iconic architectural masterpieces, arts and culture, and more!
To help you explore the city to its fullest, we’ve collected some of the best things to do in the city, with options for foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, artists, and beyond. No matter what your interests are, there’s an exciting experience waiting for you to dive in.
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- Foodie Things to Do in San Francisco
- Free Things to Do in San Francisco
- Unique Things to Do in San Francisco
- Romantic Things to Do in San Francisco
- Things to Do in San Francisco at Night
- Artsy Things to Do in San Francisco
- Intellectual Things to Do in San Francisco
- Outdoorsy Things to Do in San Francisco
Foodies Things to Do in San Francisco
1. Cooking Classes
Try something new with one of many cooking classes in San Francisco and learn how to improve your culinary skills. Led by professional, top-rated chefs, these classes are extremely informative, but also extremely fun. With all sorts of cooking classes near you, there’s something for everyone, no matter what your skill level or food preferences may be. There are even plenty of live online cooking classes, too!
2. Private Chef Experience
The city is home to some of the world’s top chefs, which is why hiring one of the private chefs in San Francisco is an unforgettable culinary experience. Your chef will plan, prepare and serve you a personal dinner at the location of your choosing, so all you have to do is focus on enjoying the food, drink and company. They'll even provide cleanup at the end! Experience one of the private chefs near you today for a true gourmet experience.
3. Food Tours
Looking to sample some iconic San Francisco foods? One of the top things to do in San Francisco for foodies is to take a culinary journey throughout the city! Food tours in San Francisco are a fun and delicious way to explore the city’s culture and cuisine either by yourself or with friends. With so many different kinds of food tours near you, there’s something for everyone.
4. Winery Tours & Tastings
California is known for its many vineyards and wineries, so be sure to check out the winery tours and tastings in San Francisco to sip and sample the state’s finest wines. It’s a great way to relax and raise a glass (or two) with your friends, and it’s certainly one of the more sophisticated things to do in San Francisco.
5. Brewery Tours & Tastings
For a fun and laid-back thing to do in San Francisco, sample some pints with brewery tours and tastings. After learning all about how your favorite ales are brewed, you’ll get to kick back in the taproom and sample some delicious new craft beers.
6. Visit the Ferry Building Marketplace
Located at the bottom of Market Street, this marketplace is filled with all sorts of shops, large and small, that specialize in artisanal cheeses, chocolate, freshly caught seafood and more. Additionally, it’s also home to some of the best restaurants in the city. Whether you decide to wander the shops and try their samples or treat yourself to a gourmet dining experience, it’s an experience every foodie will love.
Free Things to Do in San Francisco
7. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge
When you’re in San Francisco, you pretty much have to visit the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and take a picture, of course. Whether you decide to walk the two miles or check it out by car, you’ll quickly understand why it’s one of the top things to do in San Francisco.
8. Check Out the Asian Art Museum
On the first Sunday of the month, admission to the Asian Art Museum is entirely free. The museum’s massive collection houses everything from pottery and calligraphy to unusual artifacts like weapons and snuff bottles. Plus, you can even admire one of the world’s best collections of Chinese bronze sculptures.
9. Stroll Down Lombard Street
Walk (or drive) your way down the twisty, turny Lombard Street for a totally free, classic thing to do in San Francisco. You can admire the lush landscaping full of stunning flowers, trees and shrubs while you get your steps in.
Unique Things to Do in San Francisco
10. Explore Chinatown
San Francisco doesn’t just have one Chinatown, but four, which means there’s plenty of Chinese culture to explore, as well as delicious and authentic cuisine. Not only is the Chinatown on Grant Avenue the biggest outside of Asia, but it’s also the oldest in North America and filled with history. Be sure to stop by the famous fortune cookie factory in San Francisco while you're there.
11. Visit Alcatraz Island
For one of the most unique things to do in San Francisco, take a trip to the infamous and notoriously inescapable prison on Alcatraz Island. After a short ferry ride, you’ll be able to walk around and explore the grounds and learn the history behind the penitentiary that even housed the gangster Al Capone.
12. Visit the Oldest Japanese Tea Garden in the U.S.
Created in 1984, the San Fransico Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest in the entire country and also one of the largest. Embrace some zen as you stroll through the gardens and admire the unique bridges, garden designs and elegant koi ponds. It’s one of the most relaxing things to do in San Francisco.
13. Take in the View From Coit Tower
One of the best things to do in San Francisco is to do admire the city from above by visiting the Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill. The elevator runs year-round, so you can enjoy incredible 360-degree views of the city and Bay Area in all four seasons.
14. Visit the Palace of Fine Arts
This famous Greco-Roman-style building is one of the city’s more famous architectural landmarks and has been featured in plenty of films, including Hitchcock’s Vertigo. You’ll definitely want to include this impressive and beautiful building on your list of things to do in San Francisco, and since it’s free to visit, there’s really no reason not to!
15. Explore Angel Island
Enjoy a short ferry ride to Angel Island, the second largest island in the Bay, and spend the day exploring the cafés and shops and admiring the beautiful Bay views. If you’re lucky, you just might be able to catch some live music events, too.
16. Climb the Lyon Street Steps
The Lyon Steet Steps are a hidden gem of the city, tucked between rows of neatly-trimmed hedges. Once you reach the top of this mesmerizing passage, you’ll be treated to an incredibly vibrant view of the city sprawling out below with a hint of the city’s mansions in the distance. It’s one of the more unique things to do in San Francisco, and ascending the staircase feels completely magical.
Romantic Things to Do in San Francisco
17. Picnic at Golden Gate Park
A romantic Golden Gate Park picnic is the perfect date idea in San Francisco, with plenty of beautiful and intimate spots to choose from. It’s especially dreamy at sunset, and if you want to make it extra special, be sure to pack some Champagne!
18. Drive through Marin Headlands
The stunning 10-mile drive to the Marin Headlands winds along one of the most beautiful and scenic stretches of road in the state. After the romantic drive, you’ll be able to enjoy unobstructed views of the ocean and the city, and even take a stroll along one of the hiking trails if you’d like.
19. Romantic Ocean Stroll
What could be more romantic than taking a long walk on the beach hand-in-hand with your date? Whether you go in the early morning or at sunset, taking a stroll along Ocean Beach is one of the most romantic things to do in San Francisco, particularly with all the views of the natural landscape, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge.
Things to Do in San Francisco at Night
20. Virtual Experiences
For a fun night at home, book a virtual experience! If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, learn some bartending skills with online mixology classes, or master the art of lattes with online coffee classes. For something more relaxing, unwind with virtual whiskey tastings or virtual wine tastings. No matter what you choose, you’re sure to have a fun and memorable night without ever stepping outside!
21. Shop at Union Square
Spend the evening shopping at Union Square where you’ll find unique designer boutiques, as well as major department stores, including the country’s second-largest Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. It’s the perfect thing to do in San Francisco in rainy or cold weather, or just anytime you need some retail therapy.
22. Explore Sutro Baths
For an intriguing and slightly spooky activity, spend the evening exploring the sprawling ruins of the Sutro Baths alongside the sea. The combination of ancient ruins, cracked steps and steep cliffs creates an eerily beautiful atmosphere that’s most exciting to experience at night.
Artsy Things to Do in San Francisco
23. Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum
Visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum is something any Disney fan, young or old, will love. You’ll be able to learn all about the life of creator Walt Disney, check out early Disneyland drawings and enjoy screenings of your favorite Disney movies in the Fantasia-inspired theatre.
24. Browse Tunes at Amoeba Music
If you’re looking for an artsy and cool thing to do in San Francisco, you’ll definitely want to check out the city’s thriving independent music store, Amoeba Music. Filled with band posters, band merch and all kinds of music, it’s got a fun indie-punk vibe, as well as some pretty impressive deejaying by the staff members.
25. Attend the Opera
For one of the more cultured things to do in San Francisco, head to the historic War Memorial Opera House for an evening filled with classical music, elegant costumes and theatrical drama. After attending one of these stunning performances, you’ll understand why the opera company has received international praise for their artistic ability and musical talent!
26. Mission District Street Art Tour
The Mission District is famous for its street art, and after you spend an afternoon walking among the colorful murals and vibrant corridors in the neighborhood, you’ll understand all the hype. While it’s pretty easy to plan your own self-guided tour, you can also join a street art tour led by the nonprofit organization Precita Eyes Muralists.
27. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
For an artsy and fun thing to do in San Francisco, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which currently has over 29,000 pieces of art on display. From paintings and sculptures to photographs and architecture, the diverse collection has something for every lover of art.
Intellectual Things to Do in San Francisco
28. California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is more than your average museum, containing an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest and natural history museum all under one-roof. With so much to explore, you definitely won’t be bored here!
29. Wells Fargo History Museum
For an engaging and educational thing to do in San Franciso, learn all about vintage bank machines and telegraphs at the Wells Fargo History Museum. Plus, you can even take a ride in a replica stagecoach while you’re there!
30. San Francisco Railway Museum
At this museum, you’ll be able to learn all about the city’s rail transit history and explore a life-size replica of a 1911 streetcar motorman’s platform. You can even try out the controls yourself!
31. The Contemporary Jewish Museum
Unlike other museums, the Contemporary Jewish Museum is a non-collecting institution, meaning it only features rotating art exhibitions. There’s always something new and exciting to explore here.
32. Visit the Aquarium
A trip to the Aquarium of the Bay is one of the most fun things to do in San Francisco, no matter how old you are. Inside, you’ll be able to walk through over 300 feet of clear tunnels to get an up-close and personal view of thousands of marine species, including electrifying jellyfish and leopard sharks.
33. Go to the Zoo
One of the top thing to do in San Francisco for families is to spend the day exploring the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. The grounds themselves are beautiful, as are the many animals. It’s a great way to learn something new about wildlife while also getting some light exercise walking around.
Outdoorsy Things to Do in San Franciso
34. Kayak Around the Bay
San Francisco is, after all, a city on the water, so why not explore the coastline and take in the views than from a kayak? It’s not only a unique way to sightsee, but it’s also a great workout. If you’re feeling super adventurous, you can even kayak out to Alcatraz Island.
35. Summit Twin Peaks
If you’re looking for one of the best views of the city, then you’ll want to take a hike to the top of Twin Peaks. The views from the summit are incredible, whether you going during the day or at night. It’s a great free thing to do in San Francisco, especially for those who love being active outdoors.
36. Explore Muir Woods National Monument
Within the 554 acres of the Muir Woods National Monument you’ll find tons of towering redwood trees, as well as plenty of picnic areas and hiking trails. Even if you’re not a super outdoorsy person, you’ll be amazed by the redwood forests. It’s one of those super cool things to do in San Francisco that everyone needs to do at least once.
37. Lands End Trail
If you’re looking for one of the most adventurous things to do in San Francisco, consider tackling the Lands End trail. This exciting 1.7-mile hiking path winds along rocky clifftops, over hills and through trees. While it may be a bit of a challenge, the stunning ocean views make it absolutely worth it.
Whether you’re a local or just visiting, there’s plenty of fun and exciting things to do in San Francisco, with everything from art and history museums to iconic landmarks and breathtaking views. Now that you’ve got so many great ideas, you’re ready to pick your favorites and to start exploring the Bay Area!
For even more ways to explore San Francisco and beyond, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.