Top Tours & Activities in San Francisco
Once known as the "Paris of the West," the gold-rush population boom made San Francisco a polycultural hub long before its Summer of Love. Here are some of the top attractions of this iconic west coast metropolis.
Alcatraz has had a colorful history but is most famous for being the prison that once held some of the US' most notorious gangsters, from Al Capone to Whitey Bulger.
The once-neglected Washington Square has evolved into an incredibly vibrant pocket of culture. It's now home to some of San Francisco's best restaurants and cafes.
San Francisco Bay actually consists of several bays, and its windy urban beaches make it a popular destination for sailors and windsurfers, as well as those just there for the scenery!
Standing proud between the Bay and the Pacific, the Golden Gate Bridge is considered by many to be the most beautiful bridge of the industrial age...
...But the San Francisco Bay Bridge is a strong contender for that accolade when lit up at night!
Inspired by New York's Central Park, the Golden Gate Park provides a leafy respite from the city, as well as attractions like the Academy of Sciences and Japanese Tea Garden.
Fisherman's Wharf is the touristic center of San Francisco. It boasts seafood restaurants that go back generations, as well as museums, parks, and its own sea lion colony!
Stow Lake is the largest and most scenic of the manmade lakes at Golden Gate Park. Its island, Strawberry Hill, offers spectacular downtown views over the treetops.
Explore San Francisco's more affluent side with a jaunt around Alamo Square. The neighborhood's hilltop park looks over much of the city, and don't forget its "painted ladies!"
The Painted Ladies are extravagant Victorian rowhouses which survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. It's astonishing to think so much of the city once looked this way!
Some would say for as long as you can, so bear in mind that it's a big and busy city with plenty to see and do. First-timers should consider spending at least a week there if possible, though even that might not be enough!
Which of San Francisco's neighborhoods is best for you depends on the nature of your trip. Fisherman's Wharf will meet all the immediate needs of a fleeting visit, though Union Square is a more neutral and relaxed jumping-off point for tourists. Other neighborhoods each have their own personality so it's worth putting in the research, but high-crime areas to avoid include Bayview, Hunter's Point, Sunnydale, and Visitation Valley.
"San Francisco has one of the world's most unique public transport systems. As well as buses and trains, the city is mostly mobilized by its historic cable-car network. Although newer trams do operate, visitors may want to ride one of the older ones for the novelty. Be warned though, notable routes such as the F-Market & Wharves line tend to get very crowded! The city is also very bike-friendly,with extensive bicycle lanes and even bike lockers!"
- CurrencyUSD ($)
- Time ZoneUTC (-08:00)
- Country Code+1
- Best time to visitSummer, Fall
Things to Do in San Francisco
Top Attractions in San Francisco
- 1Golden Gate Bridge
- 2San Francisco Bay
- 4Fisherman's Wharf
- 5Pier 39
- 6North Beach, San Francisco
- 7San Francisco Bay Bridge
- 8Crissy Field Center
- 9Palace of Fine Arts Theater
- 10Aquatic Park
- 11Presidio of San Francisco
- 12Inspiration Point at the Presidio
- 13Union Square, San Francisco
- 14Golden Gate Park
- 15Civic Center Plaza
- 16Washington Square
- 17Alamo Square
- 19Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
- 20Marin Headlands
Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco
Want to discover all there is to do in San Francisco? Click here for a full list.
What People Are Saying About San Francisco
Chris was a great tour guide. Started on time and got a full 3 hrs. This was my first time on a Segway and in San Francisco, was a great teacher and tour guide. Learned how to ride quickly and have a really detailed and interesting tour. We saw the hot spots. I would have liked to have seen Lombard street.
Everything went well, good organization, great explications during the tour. Safety was a priority.
California Academy of Sciences is a great place if you are interested in nature, you can experience the rainforest, visit the aquarium, experience an earthquake, and so much more, this activity will take you at least 3 hours, good idea to take breaks between exhibits. This place is always busy, so parking can be a challenge unless you are prepared to pay $24 for parking at the cal Academy garage. Buying the tickets was easy and hassle free, tried printing the ticket but the printer was out of order so I thought I could use the mobile app to enter the activity, not the case, I had to email calacademy.org the PDF version of the ticket to have our tickets issued to us, we still were able to skip the line and the staff at the Academy of Sciences was very helpful and accommodating. In short, you are better off printing the PDF version of your voucher/ticket, since Academy of Sciences does not seem equipped to scan the app from your phone.
Great day out, fantastic tour guide who made the drive there and back to San Francisco enjoyable.
Sunset bike tour was excellent, very well organised and conducted by well informed friendly guide. Took in all of the Bay sights from Fishermans Wharf to across the Golden Gate Bridge. Alcatraz was just amazing a wonderful step back in time to how the island was ran, firstly as a military prison and then as a state prison. Excellent trip which you could conduct at your own pace along with the cell block audio tour which was very informative. The views from the island of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge were truly memorable. All round a fantastic, value for money excursion.