Here Are Some Special San Francisco Activities You Just HAVE to Try
Whether you're a local or a tourist, this incredible city has so much to offer! Check out these fun things to do the next time you find yourself downtown.
San Francisco is one of the top destinations in the world for a reason. It offers some of the most interesting activities, beautiful cityscapes, unique atmospheres, friendly people, and delicious food! Considered the cultural center of the great state of California, you'll always discover new things while out and about. This city is more than the average locale. You can truly indulge yourself in the extraordinary here. Even though it’s the smallest county in the state, you won’t believe how much there is to see and do. The foggy, cloudy Bay Area, rich in both cultural history and geographical beauty, will uplift you even more than a sunny day on a SoCal beach.
Visit Alcatraz Island
Historically intriguing and popular, the tale of Alcatraz rings worldwide. Once a high-security prison on an isolated island, this point of interest will not disappoint. This small island is rich in history. Once populated by an indigenous people, it later stood with lighthouses to help beacon the area to passing ships. It then served as a prison, which is what it is most famous for. Alcatraz is now a national park open for tours. You can purchase tickets to the island online and take the ferry to the island. With the popularity of this particular activity, it’s best advised to book in advance.
Admire the Golden Gate Bridge
Arguably the most recognizable landmark in San Francisco, this iconic bridge is a must-do while exploring the Bay. Made entirely of steel, this bridge spans almost 9,000 feet in length and carries six lanes of traffic in addition to bicycle and pedestrian paths. It has even been added to the Modern Wonders of the World list, which makes it even more riveting to see in person. You can view this bridge from multiple points throughout the city and sky, but the view from Marshall’s Beach may be the best place to check it out. If you wish to cross it on foot or by bike, be sure to first check the hours and restrictions. The walkways will close and open for bicycles and pedestrians at different times on certain days of the week, so be sure to check online at www.goldengatebridge.org/visitors for the information.
Walk Around Fisherman's Wharf
Whether you want to visit the famous Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, devour some delicious seafood treats, or shop around this bustling neighborhood, Fisherman’s Wharf is well known for a reason. In the late 1800s, this city was a prime location for Italian fishermen to sell their goods because of the nearby gold rush. It is definitely one of the most crowded places you could visit in San Francisco and will have you feeling at the center of the action. Pier 39 is certainly one of the hottest spots in the region and you’ll see why. Get a bite to eat at the famous floating Forbes Island restaurant or head to Hyde Street Pier and check out the historical submarine that now rests there. Love animals? There is also a sea lion colony that calls this place home. Of course, don’t get too close to these feisty creatures, but admire them from afar and be sure to take some memorable photos.
Enjoy Union Square
Although it technically consists of only one block, Union Square and its surrounding area is a wonderful place to get your shopping done. From department stores to gift shops, you can find everything your heart desires at this historical plaza. Be sure to drop in to some of the art galleries while you explore. Or even better, take a day off and indulge in a spa day here! The possibilities are endless as there is something for everyone here in Union Square.
The Chinese population in San Francisco is known to be very high, and for this reason the Chinatown in the city center is probably the most depicted Chinatown in popular culture and media. And when they say “very high,” it means that this neighborhood is home to the highest Chinese population outside of Asia—which should tell you enough about what to expect when visiting! Established in the mid-1800s, this is the oldest Chinatown in North America so it is as rich in history as San Francisco itself. Get some authentic food and explore the densely populated area that has made a name for itself across the globe. They even have a revered night-life you will surely enjoy. You won’t be sorry!
Discover Murals in Clarion Alley
A favorite stop for locals and tourists alike, Clarion Alley will amaze you with its outstanding murals. Street art is prominent in many cities, but the graffiti you find in this twisting alleyway is unrivaled. You might even be lucky enough to catch an artist at work on their next masterpiece! From political statements to simply outstanding art, you could easily spend an entire afternoon perusing the interesting displays upon these concrete walls. Forced perspective paintings, realistic depictions of political leaders, and eerie drawings not quite recognizable will have your mouth agape as you pass through this hidden gem between Mission and Valencia and 17th and 18th Streets. New murals are consistently being added so you'll never see the same Clarion Alley twice!
See a Concert... Anywhere
Theater and music are the fabric of this magical city. There is not one single show or musician that won’t have you on your feet in ovation. The artists and talent here are beyond explanation. From backyard shows to open-mics to grand concert halls, pull up a seat and enjoy the sounds and theatrical treats this artistic city is happy to share with you. Some ideas of places to catch a concert: The Independent, Great American Music Hall, and the Fillmore—just to name a few.
Play on Slides at Seward Mini Park
What better way to nourish your inner child than to have a good, old-fashioned time at the park? Making for either a fun day out with friends or even a unique date, the slides at Seward Mini Park will have you in fits of laughter and the fun will never end. This little gem in the middle of the city is actually a community garden, so come to simply admire the beauty too. The two giant, concrete slides are the main attraction here and offer hours of fun—just remember to wear sturdy pants! Locals can be seen riding down on pieces of cardboard and spraying cooking oil for a fast descent! However, don’t let your inner child get too much of the best of you and remember that safety is always first.
Eat, Eat, Eat
It probably comes to no surprise to you that San Francisco offers some of the most delicious food in the entire country and arguably the world. You can find any cuisine that you fancy from Asian to European to the best cinnamon roll on the planet to unique ice cream sandwiches and more. Having this range of choice is sure to make decisions difficult. Two distinct suggestions are Burma Superstar, which is home to some of the most scrumptious Burmese food available, and CREAM (Cookies Rule Everything Around Me), offering the best fresh ice cream cookies around. Of course, you really can’t go wrong with cuisine in San Francisco so go ahead and take your pick. Your taste buds will thank you for it!
Ride in a Famed Cable Car
It doesn’t get much better than taking a quaint cable car up and down the steep hills of San Francisco! Of course, this iconic mode of transportation has more to offer than simply a ride. You can also stop by the Cable Car Museum to learn more about the history and manufacturing of the cable cars. Oh, and the best part about the museum itself? It’s free! Head to Nob Hill and explore this interesting piece of San Francisco’s culture. On the cable cars themselves, travel from downtown to the Fisherman’s Wharf or Union Square and enjoy being a part of history, as this is the last manually operated cable car system in the world!
Take Majestic Photos at Lands End
It’s difficult to recommend a single place to take a picture in this overly photogenic city, but if given only one option, go to Lands End! It is situated inside the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and offers trails to hike down to the shoreline. Numerous cliffs and a rocky shore make this area quite windy, so do be sure to wear proper shoes and good clothes for cold weather! However, the unpredictable weather is definitely worth the view: You can see the Golden Gate Bridge, spot dolphins and sea lions, and at low tide you could also view numerous shipwrecks from the Coastal Trail. If you’re not sure which trail suits you, not to fear. There is a visitor center for your information and convenience. Tip: Bring snacks, food, and plenty of water for your outing. There is only one place to eat and it’s a bit pricey!
Catch a Game at AT&T Park
Home to the San Francisco Giants, it doesn’t take a baseball fan to appreciate this stadium with a view. With its ability to house over 40,000 people, this landmark will surely have you feeling the energy of the electric excitement at a game. The park sits right on the Bay, giving spectators a feel for that central-California vibe people travel incredible distances for. Even if you don’t want to actually watch a game in comfort and style—no problem! Opt for a tour of the stadium and enjoy learning about the construction and history of this landmark. Fun fact: The stadium even has its own vegetable garden and was named “Most Vegetarian-Friendly MLB Stadium” by PETA a couple years ago!
Simply Take a City Tour
Is this all just too much to take in? That is totally understandable. If you don’t have much time to explore this city, opt for a city tour. The organization will help you explore on foot or via bus to see as much as you possibly can in a short amount of time! You can opt for a walking tour, bus tour, bike tour, and more. A quick Google search will show you your plethora of options! Get your iconic photos and visit the key landmarks to get your fill of San Francisco with the structured plan of a city tour.
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