10 Things to Do In San Francisco: San Francisco is one of my favorite cities and one that I keep going back to. I love the vibrant color of the city. We’ve talked about living in San Francisco for a year, but so far it was hard for us to stomach the rent cost. Maybe after a year in New York City - NYC though, it might soften the blow.
With the help of our friends Hsiao (who lived here for 4 years) and Young (who lived here for 10+ years), we put together the ultimate San Francisco bucket list for both first-time visitors and those living in the city who need a little extra inspiration to get out and explore.
There’s so much to see and do within 49 square miles. On my personal list, I still have 300+ things I want to check out, but it does get overwhelming to look at. As we go back to visit, we’ll continue to update and modify this list. We also tried our best to group them not just by category but by location too. There’s a map at the bottom, to help you see what’s nearby.
You can do the audio tour or the night tour to make it spookier (only a few hundred available per night) or try to win the lottery for an Alcatraz sleepover – only 18 overnights per year. Photo Tip: Inside you can get a view of San francisco from a window in a cell block. (map)
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE + MARIN HEADLANDS
Walk across or bike across to Sausalito. It’s not for inexperienced bikers and a lot farther than you think. The Bridge itself is 1.7 miles. They have bike + ferry packages. There is vehicle traffic-free Sat April through Sept where you can run, ride, walk on the bridge.
It’s a nice spot to take photos with cute houseboats and a great view of the skyline
(North Beach/Telegraph Hill) It’s the tourist thing to do to visit Pier 39, see sea lions, and have clam chowder in a bread bowl at Boudin at the Wharf. You gotta do it at least once.
(Russian Hill) According to our local friends, the food isn’t good and this is the dumbest attraction in San francisco (think M&M store in Times Square), but most tourists still do it.
(Russian Hill) Crookedest Street of San francisco with 8 hairpin turns. The best photo opps are from the bottom since you can only see the first two turns from the top.
Go to Peace Plaza and Pagoda for your photo opp, eat ramen and Shabu Shabu, play Japanese arcade games, get your Japanese nail art done, and end the night in a karaoke room.
(Alamo Square, Western Addition) This park is a nice place to picnic and imagine you’re part of the intro in Full House. The houses are often mistaken as the Full House house, but the actual house is down the street (1709 Broderick – purchased by the show creator). Photo Tip: go mid-morning after the sun peeks over the buildings across the street or on a cloudy day.
SAN FRANCISCO CABLE CARS
You can ride the entire 2.1-mile route or portions of it. Bring exact change. The best views are along Hyde between Chestnut and Bay St and California and Drumm is less touristy. Best photos are from the front-left side and on the outside runner. Another option is the Historic Street Cars for $2 you can get on the F-Line and see Civic Center, Downtown and Fisherman’s Wharf instead of paying for Grayline Bus.
The country’s largest Chinatown. The tourist side is Dragon’s Gate and the local side is towards North Beach on Stockton St (San Francisco's “Little Italy”). The local side is mainly made up of small groceries, herb shops, and old-school divey Chinese bars that have strong pours (go at your own risk). Golden Gate bakery has famous egg tarts and China Live has one of the best Sheng Jiang Bao in San Francisco.
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