12 Must-Do Things In San Francisco, California
Updated: Mar 24
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities I have ever been to. Here is my list of 12 things that you must do while visiting!
Hello there! I can’t believe it is daylight savings time this weekend and that spring is almost here!! It has been so nice here this week and it feels so good to get out for walks. We have been ramping up our wedding planning too, so that has been really exciting for us! Can’t wait to have a day picked so it can feel so much more real! Anyways.. A few years back I went to San Francisco with my parents and I fell in love with the city! It is so beautiful and there are so many fun things to do!
1. Golden Gate Bridge
This one is an obvious first for me due to how iconic of a thing it is in San Francisco. I feel whenever someone thinks of San Francisco, this is the first thing they think of. It really is such a beautiful thing and is truly something I hope everyone can see atleast once in their lives. For us, it was cloudy for a few days and was hard to see the bridge, but eventually we got lucky and were able to see the whole thing. We really enjoyed walking across it, although a fear of mine is heights.. but only over water, so it was a bit scary for me! But the views were still amazing and seeing how big it is up close is really incredible! We saw people biking on it and there were some hiking trails around it for people to enjoy as well. Our favorite spot to see it however was from where this picture above is. It is known as Buena Vista Point and is so incredible! Check out my whole blog here about the Golden Gate Bridge :)
2. The Painted Ladies
This was another one of my favorite things in San Francisco. Growing up, I loved watching the show Full House and saw these colorful, fun house every episode. It definitely took me back to my childhood! The house is also there where they “called home” on the show. It is just a normal house and someone lives in it, but of course I had to get a picture by it!! Even if you aren’t a fan of the show, these houses are worth seeing. They are so unique and all different colors. It really is so beautiful to see! You can find out more about the Painted ladies here and the address of the Full House, house here :)
3. Drive On Lombard Street
Driving on Lombard Street is another one of those iconic San Francisco things to do. It isn’t a long drive or anything, but you do have to go slow! It is really cool that the entire thing is made of brick, and it has so many turns (Eight to be exact!) A fun fact I learned while looking this up is that it is the world’s most crooked road! There were so many cars on it and I wonder if this a street some people have to make a normal drive on everyday, ha! As you can see from the picture as well is That it gives you some amazing views of the city. I definitely recommend this short, but really fun drive.
4. Alcatraz Island
You may have already seen my prior blog post about Alcatraz, but if you haven’t and want more information about the deeper details, you can check out my blog post here! Alcatraz Istand is home to the infamous high security prison that is now closed down. They offer tours of the island and it really is such a unique experience! You are able to get an eerie audio tour my former inmates of what it was like to live in the prison. Make sure to book tickets far in advanced, they sell out quick!
5. Fisherman’s Wharf
The Fisherman’s Wharf is an area that is full of history of San Francisco. First opening in the 1800’s for local fisherman, it has been a staple for San Francisco fishing ever since. There are plenty of restaurants and activities to do in this area. If you like seafood, this area offers so much of that. Another thing I really loved, was the sea lions at Pier 39 in this area. On this long pier, there we 20-30 sea lions at a time that would come and sit there. They really were the center of attention and so many people ooed and awed over them! A fun fact is the only fast food restaurant allowed in Fisherman’s Wharf is In-N-Out due to it’s family feel. Other fun activities to do in this area include Ghirardelli Square (talking about next), visiting an old WWII submarine, and going to a wax museum. This area is definitely a tourist area, but is so fun to see!
6. Ghirardelli Shop
Ghirardelli is a San Francisco based chocolate company (Since 1852!). Being one of my favorite types of chocolate, I was definitely excited to visit this original store. The shop is so cute and smells so good due to the ice cream shop inside. Something nice that they do is they hand out a free chocolate when you go in. We went a couple different days to shop, so that meant a few pieces of free chocolate for us :P I loved that they had San Francisco themed items in store and it really was just so fun to see inside and experience a well-known San Francisco brand.
7. Check Out A Baseball Game (If In Season)
Oracle Park, the baseball stadium for the San Francisco giants, is known as one of The most beautiful stadiums in all of baseball, and for good reason. Sitting right on the bay, it offers so many great views. Even if you aren’t totally into baseball, you will still have so much fun just taking in the breathtaking views from the stadium. You are able to see the Oakland bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge in distance. A fun thing about this stadium, as you can see behind me in the picture is that people in kayaks come up to the stadium in hopes of getting a home run ball! It was such a fun day!
8. Coit Tower
While in San Francisco, you will most likely see a white, tall tower that seems completely out of place. This is Coit Tower. We had to look it up, because we had no idea what it was, but it is actually something you can pay to go up into and get beautiful 360 views of San Francisco (Including the Golden Gate Bride and Alcatraz). It costs $9 per person, but I think it is really worth it. I do warn though, there was a bit of a line we had to wait in to go inside. Also, on a cloudy or foggy day, it might be not the best idea to go up into because you won’t be able to see a whole lot. We actually got lucky because it was clear when we first got up top, but about 10 minutes in, the clouds rolled in and it was really hard to see. You are allowed to stay up there as long as you want, and it really is just a great place to take in the amazing views of San Francisco.
9. Palace Of Fine Arts Theatre
I thought visiting the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre was really so fun. It was a whole area of beautiful water and architecture. I honestly felt like it was so peaceful and quiet. It was a nice change from the busy city area of San Francisco. When looking up the theatre online, it looks like they offer a lot of great shows that you can see as well! We didn’t do any of this while we were there, but if you are into that, the reviews look amazing. It is also a really great spot to take photos and we saw a couple wedding and engagement photo shoots going on while we were there! I think just sitting here for an hour or so is just the perfect time to relax :)
Another fun thing we stumbled upon while exploring the city by foot was Chinatown. The Chinatown in San Francisco is the largest outside of Asia and the oldest one in North America. It was so fun to explore this area. And the picture on the right shows the lanterns that were hung on one of the streets. It was such a beautiful area and great to experience a different culture right inside San Francisco. We didn’t try any of the restaurants while there, but from looking online, it looks like there are some really great restaurants. There were also little markets that would be great to get fresh veggies and fruit from! If you have the time, I recommend visiting.
11. Rent A Bike And Ride Around The City
My dad and I decided we wanted a little more of the San Francisco experience, so we decided to rent bikes and went exploring the city. As I mentioned earlier, I am afraid of heights over water, but a lot of people had bikes out on the Golden Gate Bridge, and this would be a great way to see the bridge. We also liked being able to go further than we could by foot. It was a really great way to see the city!
12. Ride On A Cable Car
Okay, riding on a cable car has to be one of the most typical San Francisco things to do.. And of course, we had to do it! This is the other major thing I think of when I think of San Francisco! A one way ticket costs $8 a person and takes you through the whole city. We really enjoyed the steep climbs that the cable cars took, and it was a little bit of a thrill riding in it because of going down the huge hills of San Francisco. I do want to warn the lines are long for these tours as well and they also pack the cars pretty full of people due to the popularity. I do think it is a must do item while in San Francisco because it is so iconic, and just an overall great experience!
As you can see, there is SO much to do in San Francisco. Even if you are only there for a few days, a lot of these things can be done in that time frame. Most importantly enjoy the views and as my mom would say, “Have a ’frantastic’ time”!! :D