There’s so much to see and do in San Francisco that it would be impossible to do it all in one weekend trip. Start by choosing from top 25 places to visit in San Francisco.
- Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge isn’t golden in color at all; it’s more of a vibrant red color and is an iconic image of San Francisco. Take advantage of the views from the bridge by crossing it on foot, biking it or riding a bus, cab or ride share.
- Lands End
Hike Lands End with a cliff view of the bay. The trail winds around the bluffs with a natural path and some steep steps heading to Lands End Point. You can take different routes depending on your hiking interests and abilities. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the view for free.
- Ferry Building Marketplace
Check out what local fishermen, farmers and artisans have to offer at the Ferry Building Marketplace. This building along the water is your one-stop-shop for some San Francisco staples. There are many delightful places to eat in the Ferry Building such as Gott’s Roadside Burgers, Cowgirl Creamery Cheese, Hog Island Oyster Company, Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, and more!
Alcatraz served as a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963, housing some of the most dangerous criminals. The prison rests on an island with a rocky shore and rough waters that made it more secure. Most of the attempted escapes failed, but a few prisoners were never found, adding to the mystery. Alcatraz is a popular tourist attraction and has audio walking tours for visitors to learn about the prison’s history. Convenient ferries shuttle visitors back and forth.
- Lombard Street
Lombard Street, also known as the “crooked street,” is made up of eight sharp turns in a short space. Drive down the windy road with incredible views of San Francisco on your way down.
Enjoy a hike, picnic, or leisurely walk at this national park that used to be a military post. At Presidio, you’ll also find a golf course, and a wide variety of food trucks on the fourth Sunday of each month.
- Twin Peaks
As the highest hills in the city, Twin Peaks is one of the top places to visit in San Francisco for a stunning view. Don’t forget to bring a jacket so the cold doesn’t stop you from admiring the fantastic view of the city!
Experience the culture, enjoy the food and shop for souvenirs in Chinatown. Get authentic Chinese food at America’s first ever dim sum house, Hang Ah Tea Room.
Situated along The Embarcadero with views of the Bay Bridge right outside, The Exploratorium is a fun hands-on museum meant for both kids and adults. With over 600 hands-on exhibits, this massive museum is a fun and educational experience for the entire family. On Thursdays, they host Exploratorium After Dark for adults ages 18 and over, where visitors can get lost in the interactive exhibits without the kids.
- Mission District
This artsy neighborhood is one of the most popular in the city. Check out the beautiful murals along Clarion Alley, great boutiques along Valencia Street, and top restaurants like Gracias Madre, Lolinda, and Lazy Bear. If you have some time, spend an afternoon in Dolores Park where you’ll get the full San Francisco experience and meet all kinds of interesting characters.
- Union Square
Check out some of San Francisco’s best shopping in Union Square. In the winter, there’s a massive tree lighting ceremony in the middle of the square, in addition to an ice skating rink. The best public place to catch a bird’s eye view of Union Square is at the Cheesecake Factory on the top floor of Macy’s.
- North Beach
North Beach is heavily influenced by European culture, with cute cafes and boutiques very close to downtown. Get lost and spend hours at City Lights Bookstore, then stay for dinner and have an amazing authentic Italian meal at E Tutto Qua right across the street.
- Golden Gate Park
The 1,000-acre park has wide-open spaces, playgrounds for the kids, waterfalls, and a herd of buffalo. Rent a bike to explore the entire property, you’ll be surprised by everything to offer. You’ll find the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the deYoung Museum here too. Depending what time of year you visit, you may even be able to catch a free concert in the park.
- California Academy of Sciences
Also located within Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Science has a planetarium, rainforest exhibit, aquarium, and earthquake room, simulating two of San Francisco’s hardest hitting earthquakes. Similar to the Exploratorium, Cal Academy also hosts an adults-only event on Thursday nights called Nightlife. The event is for adults ages 21 and over only, because they serve alcohol and allow you to roam through the exhibits with a refreshing drink in hand.
- Pier 39
Pier 39 is a gathering spot for locals and tourists to eat, shop or play. It offers views of the bay and the sea lions sunbathing below. It’s also near the Aquarium of the Bay. A great location of tourist attractions, restaurants, and gorgeous views. You can smell the food cooking and the chocolate baking in the restaurants, which is all the advertising they need. A large carousel provides entertainment for the kids. Street performers and bike taxis keep the area hopping and moving.
- Fisherman’s Wharf
Just a ten minute stroll along the water from Pier 39, you’ll find Fisherman’s Wharf. Hang out and watch the fishing boats heading out to catch the day’s supply of seafood. Have a world-famous Irish Coffee at Buena Vista Cafe. Watch the cable cars carrying visitors to and from this bustling area. Many afternoons you’ll find local artisans set up along the sidewalk peddling their wares.
- Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is an architectural marvel. It serves as an entertainment venue at times, but you can tour it for free. There’s a rotunda, tall detailed columns, garden areas and a lake.
- San Francisco Zoo and Gardens
Located right outside Golden Gate Park and near Ocean Beach, the 100-acre zoo houses over 2,000 endangered and rescued animals. There are “Free Days” for San Francisco Residents with proof of residency, but tourists can visit for only $23 for adults and $17 for children ages 4 to 14.
Haight-Ashbury still has a hippie vibe reminiscent of the 1960s era. Grateful Dead memorabilia can easily be found. You can shop in cool clothing stores and grab a beer in one of the laid-back bars. Just the window-shopping in this district can be entertaining.
- Angel Island
Hop on a ferry across the bay to spend the day, hiking, picnicking and soaking up the sun on Angel Island. You’ll be blessed with a view of the San Francisco skyline, as long as the fog isn’t blocking your view.