San Francisco offers tourists and locals a wealth of activities and sights unavailable in many other metropolitan areas. Between the beaches, the parks, the forests, the food, the people, the museums, the shopping, there are far too many activities for anyone to complete in just one trip. Focus on the 10 best things to do in San Francisco and then worry about all the other activities the city has to offer.
Take a Nighttime Tour of Alcatraz
Alcatraz is one of the most popular destinations in San Francisco. The island boasts amazing natural beauty and a striking view of the city. But most people visit for the chilling tale of the island's prison. To really enjoy this tour though, try booking a night trip to the island; watch out for ghosts as there are many rumors of the cells being haunted.
Pier 33, Hornblower Alcatraz Landing
San Francisco, CA 94111
Stimulate Your Mind At the California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is a fairly new and fully environmentally sustainable museum in Golden Gate Park. The Academy offers all types of educationally enriching activities, including a planetarium, an aquarium and a natural history museum. Bring the kids and your significant other, because you're all bound to learn something here.
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118
Walk or Bike The Golden Gate Bridge
This world-class landmark gives attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge a run for their money. To best enjoy the bridge, take a walk across to feel the wind rip through your hair. You'll get the best photograph of downtown San Francisco and enjoy the subtle sway of the massive suspension bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge
End of Highway 101 and Highway 1 in San Francisco
Explore The Land's End Trail
The Land's End Trial is one of the most fulfilling outdoor activities in all of San Francisco. Visitors enjoy mountains, forest, beaches and an unrivaled view of the Golden Gate Bridge. For a truly enriching experience, take a trip down the cliffs to the beach and then walk south along the rocks until you hit the ruins of a collapsed bathroom that fell from the rocks decades ago. It now serves as a striking canvas for intrepid graffiti artists and there's always a new mural to be seen on this abandoned concrete formation.
Land's End Trail
East end of Point Lobos Ave.
Window Shop in Union Square
Union Square has a plethora of expensive shops and boutiques offering the finest chocolates, the chicest clothes, the newest beauty treatments and the most stylish house décor available. Even if you can't afford some, or all, of these striking items for sale, it never hurts to look. Take a trip around the square and up Post Street and enjoy the sights and sounds of this bourgeois shopping district.
Between Geary St., Stockton St., Post St. and Powell St.
Buy Clothes and Records on Haight Ashbury
Just because you can't afford to shop in Union Square doesn't mean you can't buy some clothes in San Francisco. Take a trip to the famed Haight Ashbury district for an entirely different shopping experience. Here you will find ample used clothing shops, thrift stores and indie clothing stores. If music is your preferred vice though, no trip to Haight Ashbury is complete without a stop at Amoeba Music, one of the premium independent record stores in the country. Whatever music you like, you're sure to find plenty of it in this massive music store.
1855 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
Grab a Bite in Chinatown
Chinatown is a popular tourist attraction and with good reason. This vibrant community offers visitors a look at Chinese cultural heritage and San Francisco history all at once. Try to find markets, pastry shops, cafes and restaurants frequented by Chinese speaking locals in order to enjoy the best the area has to offer. These are completely intertwined with tourist trap restaurants and shops, so keep your wits about you and you just might stumble upon the best Chinese food you've ever consumed.
The Chinatown Gates
Bush Street and Grant Street
Take Some Time to Appreciate Art at the MOMA
Modern art has an unfortunately bad reputation largely circulating around the artist's exploration of "what is art?" The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art does feature some of these works, including the upside down urinal and the solid black canvas, but it also offers so much more. Even critics of modern art enjoy some of the many pieces exhibited at the MOMA, from such famous artists as Dianne Arbus, Picasso, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz and Salvador Dali.
Museum of Modern Art
151 Third St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Waste Your Change At The Musee Mechanique
Fisherman's Wharf is largely looked down upon as a tourist trap by most San Francisco locals. There is one attraction they tend to take exception to though, and that is the Musee Mechanique. This free museum offers a look at all types of mechanized entertainment throughout the years. Enjoy watching some authentic nickelodeon movies. Play some outdated video games. Feel the rush as you bump the machine while playing pinball. And, marvel at the ingenious design and intricate detail of some of the many tin dancing machines.
Pier 45 Shed A
San Francisco, CA 94133
Shop Like A Pirate on Valencia Street
Valencia Street is one of the most hip urban areas of San Francisco. The street is lined with adorable boutiques, cool thrift stores, hip cafes and inexpensive, yet tasty restaurants. One of the highlights is 826 Valencia Street, which was originally intended to be just a writing workshop, but to comply with the street's retail zoning, it was opened as the city's first and only pirate shop, complete with ropes, jewels and a vat of lard for candle making or cooking.
826 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110