27 Top Tourist Attractions in San Francisco
Famous for its summer fogs and cable cars, San Francisco has long been a popular place to visit in California. Perched on a peninsula between the sparkling San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean, its many hills are home to delightfully diverse neighborhoods and stunning streetscapes.
Alcatraz Island and Golden Gate Bridge, are the two most well known tourist attractions in San Francisco, but it also has an array of museums, fascinating Victorian architecture and wonderful waterfront areas to explore.
Add in its unique culture, panoramic vistas, and fabulous food scene and it is no wonder that San Francisco is one of the most visited cities in the USA. Just don’t forget to bring warm clothing. The famous quote “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” isn’t from Mark Twain but it is a pretty accurate statement of San Francisco’s weather.
27. Ferry Building Marketplace [SEE MAP]
As San Francisco is such a ‘foodie’ city, no visit can be complete without stopping by the lively Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero. Inside its Beaux Arts building are around fifty food vendors, local farmers, and small restaurants that offer tasty treats and delicious dishes.
Since opening in 2003, the market has been a firm favorite with locals and tourists due to its wide variety of coffee shops, snack stands, and grocery stores selling artisan products from around the world.
It also hosts a fantastic farmers market three times a week which sells fresh produce and street food.
26. Angel Island State Park [SEE MAP]
From Pier 41 visitors can hop on a ferry and find themselves immersed in the stunning scenery and nature of Angel Island State Park in no time at all. On the half-hour boat ride you can enjoy divine views over the bay, and hiking, biking or rollerblading around the island.
Now protected as a park, the bay’s second-largest island has been used as everything, from a military base and missile site to immigration station and internment camp. As such, there are some interesting old forts and bunkers to explore with picnic areas and viewpoints.
25. Exploratorium [SEE MAP]
Also located alongside the Embarcadero is the Exploratorium, which offers a fun and fascinating look at how the world works. Popular with adults and children alike, the unique museum has over 600 interactive installations and hands-on exhibits that can keep you entertained for days.
Founded in 1969, it has expanded considerably and now has huge galleries dedicated to everything from light and sound to biology, engineering, and psychology. Thanks to all its activities, laboratories, and workshops, guests can engage with the fields of science and technology. In addition, the Exploratorium regularly hosts talks and cultural events.
24. Presidio [SEE MAP]
Another massive military base that was turned into a scenic park is the Presidio which occupies the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it boasts attractive architecture, excellent outdoor activities, and epic views.
Once out-of-bounds to the public, it now has pockets of woods, rolling hills, and coastal bluffs that offer phenomenal views over Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. Visitor centres house interesting exhibits on its history and ecosystems, and you can also check out the old fort, batteries, and art projects.
23. Musee Mecanique [SEE MAP]
Karlis Dambrans / Flickr
One of the most unique and unusual tourist attractions on the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf is the Musee Mecanique. Here you’ll find a huge collection of coin-operated arcade games—remarkably there are over 300 mechanical machines for you to play on.
Wandering around the museum is a nostalgic affair as you see antique slot machines and music boxes, alongside fortune tellers, peep shows and pinball machines. As well as testing your strength and having your fortune told, you can also watch historic moving dioramas, and try your luck at some classic carnival games.
22. Japanese Tea Garden [SEE MAP]
The gorgeous Japanese Tea Garden can be found within Golden Gate Park. Lovingly landscaped, its grounds are home to pretty ponds, a traditional tea house, and a towering pagoda.
The first Japanese garden established in the States, since 1894 it has delighted countless generations with its serene scenery, fantastic flowers, and soothing water features. While strolling its winding paths you’ll come across stone lanterns and sculptures with charming koi ponds, cherry blossoms, and a lovely Zen garden.
21. de Young Museum [SEE MAP]
© Maislam / Dreamstime
Also located in Golden Gate Park is the marvelous de Young Museum with an incredible collection of artworks from all around the world. Its innumerable paintings, sculptures and photos are a treat to peruse, but the building itself is just as impressive due to its distinctive design and large observation tower.
Founded in 1895, the fine arts museum encompasses over 27,000 anthropological artifacts and art pieces from Africa, Asia, and Oceania. While some of its galleries display colorful textiles and costumes, others focus on European paintings or American decorative art objects. The museum also regularly hosts temporary exhibits and concerts.
20. Legion of Honor Museum [SEE MAP]
© Blackghost600 / Dreamstime
Nestled in the northwest of the peninsula is the magnificent Legion of Honor Museum, which lies amidst the nature of Lincoln Park. Housed within its beautiful neo-classical building is an eclectic collection of artworks that spans over 6,000 years of art history.
While strolling about its grand galleries you’ll come across everything, from influential comics and soundscapes to masterpieces by Rembrandt, Rodin, and Monet among others. Founded in 1924, it contains more than 90,000 works, with the museum offering spectacular views over the city’s skyline, and the Golden Gate Bridge from its grounds.
19. San Francisco Botanical Garden [SEE MAP]
Lying alongside both the Japanese Tea Garden and de Young Museum is the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Boasting a collection of colorful flowers, plants and trees, its tranquil paths are a delight to walk along and have different areas and ecosystems for you to explore.
Since opening in 1940, the garden’s grounds have expanded considerably and now contain nearly 9,000 kinds of plants from all around the world. As such, you can be strolling amidst savanna and succulents one minute, and then suddenly find yourself surrounded by tropical trees and cloud rainforest the next.
18. SFMOMA [SEE MAP]
© Chon Kit Leong / Dreamstime
The superb San Francisco Museum of Modern Art occupies a striking modern building, not far from Union Square. While its unique architecture makes for a stunning sight, its interior is equally rewarding with impressive exhibits and artworks wherever you look.
In total, the SFMOMA displays over 33,000 art pieces across seven floors with its main focus being modern and contemporary art. As well as paintings and photos, its galleries contain digital art, industrial designs, and interactive media installations. Artists such as Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Henri Matisse count among its biggest names.
17. Lands End [SEE MAP]
Occupying the northwest corner of the peninsula are the windswept coastal cliffs of Lands End. Aside from its outstanding views over Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean, the park also has numerous hiking trails and historic sights.
Dotted about its bleak shores you can spy the sites of various shipwrecks and the ruins of the Sutro Baths. The Hidden Labyrinth art installation is also well worth stopping by. After exploring its delightful beaches, coves, and cliffs, visitors can enjoy a coffee at its cafe while watching the sun set spectacularly over the ocean.
16. Coit Tower [SEE MAP]
Another attraction in San Francisco that boasts some of the best views in town is the incredible Coit Tower, which is perched atop Telegraph Hill. From the top of the slender white tower you can enjoy breathtaking panoramas over the bay, city, and sites such as Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Built in 1933, it boasts exquisite Art Deco architecture with colorful frescoes in the American Social Realism style coating its interior. Located in Pioneer Park, the 210 foot-high tower is now a National Historic Landmark and iconic part of the city’s skyline, having been depicted in countless films and TV shows.
15. Cable Car Museum [SEE MAP]
© Cory Quigley / Dreamstime
One of San Francisco’s most famous features is its charming old cable cars that lend the city such a distinctive look and feel. Aside from simply riding up and down its steep streets in one, visitors can learn all about the history and technology behind the streetcar system at this magnificent museum.
In addition to interesting exhibits, old photos and mechanical displays, the Cable Car Museum also showcases vintage streetcars that date to the 1870s. As it offers such a fascinating look into the inner workings of the transport system, the museum has long been a popular tourist drawcard and can be found in the affluent Nob Hill neighborhood.
14. Walt Disney Family Museum [SEE MAP]
© Michele Kemper / Dreamstime
Yet another of the Presidio’s many enticing attractions is the delightful Walt Disney Family Museum that delves into the life and legacy of the famous filmmaker. Here you’ll learn about Disney’s achievements and genre-defining animations with amazing memorabilia, film clips, and even awards, on show.
Opened in 2009, the museum and its large collection of early drawings and designs, music clips, and models sprawls over three historic buildings in the center of the park. As it looks at everything, from his early childhood and career to his iconic creations and the construction of Disneyland, it is a must-visit for any Disney aficionado.
13. California Academy of Sciences [SEE MAP]
© Stanescu / Dreamstime
One of the biggest and best museums in the States, the California Academy of Sciences contains a staggering 46 million specimens with incredible artifacts, animals and exhibits. Located in Golden Gate Park, the massive natural history museum boasts an aquarium and planetarium, as well as its own indoor rainforest.
Established in 1853, the academy’s captivating collection now resides within a majestic modern building that even has its own living green roof. Inside is a treat to explore as you wander past shark lagoons and coral reefs, before emerging in galleries full of fossils and minerals. One of its main highlights is the enormous rainforest exhibit which houses over 1,600 live animals, plants, and amphibians.
12. Twin Peaks [SEE MAP]
If you’re after yet more awe-inspiring views over San Francisco then it is well worth heading to the two towering Twin Peaks that lie near the geographic center of the city. The bare and uninhabited hills offer breathtaking panoramas with sunset a particularly special time of day to visit.
Reaching around 925 feet in height, the Twin Peaks are protected as part of a park with lovely nature and wildlife coating their slopes. While you can just simply drive to their summit, there are also some nice hiking trails to wander along that again offer some epic views.
11. Oracle Park [SEE MAP]
Home to Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants, the atmospheric Oracle Park can be found in the city’s South Beach neighborhood. While watching a game is an exciting and unforgettable affair, the ballpark is also widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in the States due to its picture-perfect setting.
Opened in 2000, the stadium exhibits some fine architecture with most seats offering divine views out over the bay. Discover famous features, such as the giant glove sculpture and coca-cola bottle slide, while there is also a wall of fame, cafe, and gift shop to stop by. Thanks to its exhilarating atmosphere and great games, visiting Oracle Park is one of the most popular things to do in San Francisco.
10. Palace of Fine Arts [SEE MAP]
CallMeWhatEver / Flickr
The only structure remaining from the 1915 World’s Fair, the Palace of Fine Arts features a classical Roman rotunda with curved colonnades situated in an idyllic park setting with a classical European-Style lagoon.
It’s a great place to unwind, have a picnic, and watch the swans float elegantly by. It also has a theater offering a variety of shows, musical and cultural events.
9. Chinatown [SEE MAP]
Established in 1840s, San Francisco’s Chinatown is reputed to be the oldest and one of the largest and most famous of all Chinatowns outside of Asia. Many of the Chinese who settled here were merchants or immigrant workers, working on either the transcontinental railroad or as mine workers during the Gold Rush. The tourist section of Chinatown is mainly along Grant Avenue, from Bush to Broadway.
8. Alamo Square [SEE MAP]
The Alamo Square is a is a residential neighborhood and park that is best known for the famous Painted Ladies row of Victorian houses on its east side along Steiner Street. It is often the subject of many a San Francisco postcard. There are also many other pretty Victorians encircling the lovely park.
The park includes a playground and a tennis court, and is frequented by neighbors, tourists, and dog owners. On a clear day, the Transamerica Pyramid building and the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge can be seen from the park’s center.
7. Transamerica Pyramid [SEE MAP]
Located in the heart of the Financial District., the Transamerica Pyramid is San Francisco’s other famous icon besides the Golden Gate. According to its architect, William L. Pereira, a pyramid is the ideal shape for skyscrapers, offering the advantage of letting more air and light in the streets below.
Finished in 1972, the Transamerica Pyramid has a height of 260 meters (853 feet) and is still the tallest building in the San Francisco skyline.
6. Lombard Street [SEE MAP]
Phil Whitehouse / Flickr
Located between Hyde and Leavenworth streets, Lombard Street is famously known as the “crookedest street in the world” although it is neither the crookedest street in San Francisco (Vermont Street is) nor the steepest.
The one-block portion of Lombard Street that contains eight hairpin turns was created to reduce the hill’s natural steep slope. The speed limit in this section is a mere 5 mph (8 km/h).
5. Golden Gate Park [SEE MAP]
Ken Walton / Flickr
Once an area of sand dunes, Golden Gate Park is a large urban park with windmills, bison, museums, lakes and a carousel among its many attractions. At 1,017 acres, it is about 20% larger than New York’s Central Park, so unless you have a bike, you’ll want to plan which area you want to visit.
A popular tourist attraction is the Japanese Tea Garden with beautiful plants, ponds, bridges, and Japanese-style structures including a tea house.
4. Cable Cars [SEE MAP]
The world-famous Cable Cars run on three lines in the steep streets of San Francisco between Market Street and Fisherman’s Wharf. These cars are a fun ride, especially if you get to stand on the running board, if a bit impractical for everyday use though residents do, in fact, use them on a regular basis.
The cable car is such an attraction that, especially on weekends, it takes longer to wait in line to ride up Powell Street than it does to walk the short but sloping distance.
3. Alcatraz [SEE MAP]
Often referred to as The Rock, the small island of Alcatraz served as a lighthouse, a military fortification, and as a prison. It was home to some of the most notorious criminals of the time including Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Surrounded by the freezing water of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz was believed to be inescapable.
The most famous attempt was carried out by Frank Morris, and brothers John and Clarence Anglin using an inflatable raft made from several stolen raincoats. Today, the island is a popular San Francisco tourist attraction and a historic site. It is operated by the National Park Service and is open to tours.
2. Fisherman’s Wharf [SEE MAP]
veneman / Flickr
One of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco and even the US, Fisherman’s Wharf runs all the way from Pier 39 through to Municipal Pier at the end of Aquatic Park. For over a century its historic waterfront was the hub of San Francisco’s fishing fleet and is still famous for having some of the best seafood restaurants in the city.
Other tourist attractions at the wharf include museums, souvenir stores, historical buildings, scenic vistas over the Bay and the famous sea lions at Pier 39.
1. Golden Gate Bridge [SEE MAP]
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north. The bridge took four years to build, and was completed in 1937.
The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California. The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.
Map of San Francisco
© OpenStreetMap © MapTiler © Touropia
The 20 Best Things to Do in San Francisco
Jillian Dara is a freelance journalist and fact-checker. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Michelin Guides, Hemispheres, DuJour, and Forbes.
San Francisco packs an incredible variety of must-see attractions and cultural landmarks into its 49 square miles. Each district has a distinct character and many things to do, whether it’s restaurants, museums, art, music, and pretty much everything in between. Best of all, the small size of the “City by the Bay” allows visitors to catch many different sights on a single trip, even if it’s just a couple of days. Nearby natural parks also offer a chance to plan some enticing day trips around Northern California.
Visit the Palace of Fine Arts
Robert Mackinlay / Getty Images
A shining gem of the city’s Marina District, the Palace of Fine Arts was initially built in 1915 to exhibit artworks for the World’s Fair. Today, it is one of the most picturesque places in San Francisco and a perfect destination for taking photos or attending a performance in the theatre. The most striking building is the open dome on an artificial lake decorated with 26 large sculptures. Initially designed by Bernard Maybeck, the rotunda has appeared in many films, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.” Its design takes its inspiration from classical European architecture.
Take a Day Trip to Muir Woods
If it’s your first time in Northern California, a short day trip to a nearby Redwood grove is a must-have experience. Redwoods are the tallest trees on the planet, and from San Francisco, it’s an hour’s drive to Muir Woods National Monument, a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The park has 6 miles of hiking trails, and the Main Trail, which starts at the visitor center, is wheelchair accessible for one mile. The park can get particularly crowded on the weekends, so a weekday visit would be best.
Cruise the Bay
Photodisc / Getty Images
One of the easiest ways to see the city from every angle is to hop aboard a sightseeing cruise. You can take many different types of cruises, from Hornblower’s dinner cruises to standard sightseeing cruises and excursions to Angel Island, which is home to the city’s historic Immigration Station and a few picturesque campsites and hiking trails. For the best views and photographs, try to time your cruise for sunset. Don’t forget your jacket and motion sickness medication, as this famously foggy city can produce some rough and cold conditions on bad weather days.
Catch a Game at Oracle Park
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
Home of the San Francisco Giants, Oracle Park is a beloved baseball stadium. Many design aspects of the stadium pay tribute to the team’s history, such as the 24-foot high right-field wall, which pays homage to the number of Willie Mays, the most famous Giants player, and outside the park statues are dedicated to some of the team’s best players. The stadium sometimes hosts football and soccer games if baseball isn’t your thing.
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge
Katrin Engel / EyeEm / Getty Images
One of the most recognizable bridges in the United States—and arguably the rest of the world—the Golden Gate Bridge stretched for nearly 2 miles over the Golden Gate Strait connecting the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco. While most people get their first impressions of this stunning bridge while driving across to enter the city, the Golden Gate is something you’ll want to experience without any distractions. There’s a pedestrian walkway available to cross the bridge by foot, a bike path, or you can head to one of the bridge’s popular vista points to get some incredible views of the famous bay.
Take a Tour of Alcatraz
Caroline Purser / Getty Images
A former federal prison placed on a rocky island about 1.5 miles offshore from the city, Alcatraz has remained one of San Francisco’s top tourist highlights since it opened to the public in the early 1970s. Currently, visitors can reach the island through the ferry from Pier 33 (the trip takes less than 15 minutes) and tour the prison and surrounding grounds. Along with the infamous prison that housed notorious names like Al Capone in its heyday, Alcatraz was also the site of an 18-month long protest that helped spark the Native American civil rights movement.
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
Established around 1848 during the California Gold Rush era, San Francisco’s Chinatown is older than any other Chinese community in North America. Take your very own self-guided walking tour starting at the much-photographed Dragon Gate at the intersection of Bush Street and Grant Avenue, and explore the vibrant neighborhood as it takes you past unique souvenirs, local temples, Chinese herbal shops and authentic dim sum restaurants.
Stroll Through Golden Gate Park
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
Brimming with lush gardens, museums, lakes, and meadows, Golden Gate Park is on the northwest end of San Francisco. It was initially built in 1871, converting a vast stretch of unincorporated dunes known as Outside Lands (a name that later inspired the music and arts festival held annually within the park’s boundaries). Horticulture fans will have plenty to see at the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers, two important landmarks protecting rare tropical plants and flowers from around the world.
Buy Local at the Ferry Building
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
Some of Northern California’s best culinary delights, such as cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, coffee from Blue Bottle, and oysters from Hog Island Oyster Company, can be found at the edge of the water in the city’s historic Ferry Building. It isn’t just food, but also crafts and souvenirs ranging from books and clothing to candles and ceramics, so one can easily spend several hours perusing the shops and enjoying lunch. Each Saturday, the restored structure opens up to local vendors for the Ferry Plaza farmers market and tons of seasonal, fresh produce.
Visit One of the City’s Many Museums
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
There’s truly something for everyone when it comes to San Francisco’s great museums. The California Academy of Sciences celebrates the world of natural science. The Exploratorium offers hands-on learning for children and adults alike. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art holds one of the largest collections of modern art in the United States. The city also provides opportunities to learn about San Francisco’s rich history at the San Francisco Railway Museum and the Cable Car Museum, and individual cultures at the Museum of African Diaspora and the Contemporary Jewish Museum.
Walk Along Pier 39
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf are tourist hotspots for a reason. The area is famous for shopping and souvenir hunting, along with the population of local sea lions who’ve been hanging out on the K dock next to the pier since the 1990s. Take a walk along Pier 39, and you’ll likely find yourself staring at various street performers, a vintage carousel, and a whole host of specialty shops selling unique souvenirs and gag gifts—all surrounded by gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay.
Ride a Cable Car
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
San Francisco’s cable cars were built in the late 19th century to respond to the city’s notoriously steep hills, and they’re still transporting people today as the only working system of cable cars left in the world. Three separate cable car lines run through the city streets: the Powell-Mason Line, the Powell-Hyde Line, and the California Line. Both Powell lines take off from the same hub at Union Square and continue to the Fisherman’s Wharf area, while the California line starts at California and Market and climbs up to Van Ness Avenue.
Take in the View at Twin Peaks
Alexander Spatari / Getty Images
Named for the pair of towering peaks located near the city’s center less than 4 miles from downtown San Francisco, Twin Peaks boasts a stunning 360-degree view of the Bay Area. On clear days, it’s even possible to spot the Santa Clara Valley to the south and Mount Diablo to the east. Most visitors drive the winding road to the top and choose from the selection of natural trails to access the best viewpoints from there.
Celebrate the LGBTQ+ Community in the Castro
JasonDoiy / Getty Images
San Francisco’s Castro district isn’t just the heart of the city’s LGBTQ+ community—it is also a thriving neighborhood full of colorful nightlife, restaurants, shops, museums, and landmarks. The Castro Theatre, built in 1922, is one of the only theaters left in the country with an authentic pipe organ player, while the Anchor Oyster Bar has some of the best seafood in the city. The former home of Harvey Milk, internationally recognized human rights leader and the first openly gay elected official in California’s history, the Castro is an invaluable piece of San Francisco’s character and the perfect place to explore the history of the LGBTQ+ movement.
Eat Pasta in North Beach
Gerald French / Getty Images
The city’s own “Little Italy,” North Beach is nestled near Washington Square and Columbus and Grant Avenues. The district is known for its classic Italian restaurants, bakeries, delis, and European-style cafes. Still, it’s also a great neighborhood for simply walking around to people-watch and window shop. Don’t leave without browsing the aisles at City Lights Books, and consider making the trek to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill for a fantastic view of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.
Relax at the Japanese Tea Garden
John Elk III / Getty Images
Located inside Golden Gate Park, the Japanese Tea Garden is North America’s oldest continuously operating public Japanese garden. With its perfectly manicured trees, soft water features, and classic Japanese structures, it’s difficult not to feel relaxed inside this three-acre garden in the middle of a bustling city. The tea house serves hot tea all year round, but the landscape is breathtaking in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom or the fall when the leaves change.
Have a Picnic at the Presidio
Sundry Photography / Getty Images
Now a national park and historical site, the Presidio was once a thriving military base that officials converted into scenic grounds with a natural vibe in the 1990s. Today, the space spans nearly 1,500 acres, home to miles of hiking trails, restaurants, bars, and museums. Located along the main Presidio promenade is Crissy Field, a sprawling grass field popular for picnics, recreation, and lounging.
Go Thrifting at Haight and Ashbury
Westend61 / Getty Images
The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco—named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets—was the epicenter of the city’s hippie movement in the 1960s. Venture down upper Haight Street for an incredible selection of vintage clothing shops, bookstores, dive bars, and record shops. Don’t leave without visiting the music lover’s paradise at Amoeba Records, or just explore and marvel at the neighborhood’s Victorian homes, murals, and colorful sights.
Watch the Sunset at Baker Beach
Thomas Dunworth / EyeEm / Getty Images
One of the undisputed best beaches in San Francisco, Baker Beach is as stunning in the evenings as it is during the day. With views that combine a rocky shoreline with rolling hills and the famous Golden Gate Bridge, the beach here puts on an excellent display once the sun begins to set in the early evening, providing some genuinely breathtaking photo opportunities along the way. You’ll find Baker Beach on the city’s northwest side in the Presidio district.
Admire the Murals in the Mission
TripSavvy / Melissa Zink
Come for the vibrant murals that line the streets of the Mission District, and stay for the trendy boutiques, eclectic stores, and incredible Mexican restaurants. This historic neighborhood is home to Dolores Park, a popular hillside hangout centered around a rich Latino heritage. A walk around Clarion and Balmy alleys will show off the bulk of the Mission’s murals, but there are also plenty of art galleries around the neighborhood to experience as well.
15 Best Places To Visit In San Francisco
Nestled next to the ocean, with its rolling hills and famous Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is a beautiful American city and is often referred to as the jewel of Northern California. There are many places to visit in San Francisco, from museums to beaches and parks to cafes. One can always hop on a cable car for one of the most fascinating San Francisco tours that will take them around most of the below-mentioned tourist attractions.
15 Popular Places To Visit In San Francisco
San Francisco offers some of California’s most captivating scenery. Miles’s long coastlines, multicultural restaurants, and immersive night scenes are abundant, and lucky for adventure travellers, some of the best places to visit in San Francisco are near or amidst nature. Here’s our guide to the best ones:
1. The Golden Gate Bridge
It is the most photographed bridge in the world and is known for its tall orange towers that stand at a height of 746 feet. You can take a view from it from many points such as the Crissy Field, Fort Point, and Baker Beach or the Marin Headlands. Bikes and cars are permitted across the bridge 24-hours a day, and walkers can cross using the east sidewalk between 5 AM to 6:30 PM. This is the first and most popular stop in all San Francisco tours.
Location: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Timings: Open entire day
2. Alcatraz Island
Image Credit: ID 272447 for Pixabay The prison located on this island is one of the most famous prisons in America and was operational for 30 years till 1963. In 1973, it was opened as a tourist attraction owing to some well-known inmates that were kept in the prison such as Al Capone and the Birdman. One can take a ferry over to the island and tour the site while listening to an exceptional audio recording that offers a glimpse into the prison life. It is one of the most famous San Francisco tourist places.
Location: San Francisco, CA 94133
Timings: Open all day
Entry fee: INR 3000 (adults) | INR 2000 (children)
3. Ferry Building Marketplace
This is where the largest tri-weekly farmer’s market is hosted in the city and provides a permanent home for some of the region’s most beloved artisans. There are many merchants inside such as the Cowgirl Creamery, Dandelion Chocolate, and Fort Point Beer Company. This is one of the most interesting San Francisco attractions.
Location: One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111
Timings: 10 AM – 7 PM
Image Source Chinatown in San Francisco is known to provide an altogether unique experience when compared to the Chinatown in other cities. It is the largest one outside Asia and the oldest in North America. It was built completely in the Chinese style and has various temples, theaters, workshops, small businesses, stores, antique and souvenir shops, tea houses, and more, making it one of the best places to visit in San Francisco.
Location: Grant Avenue, San Francisco
5. Legion of Honor
This is a magnificent Neoclassical Beaux-Arts building in an amazing setting, and is one of the most exquisite museums in San Francisco. It was a gift by the famous socialite, philanthropist, and patron of arts – Alma de Bretteville Spreckels. Her museum was a replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris and an important part of everyone’s San Francisco sightseeing list.
Location: 100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
Timings: 9:30 AM – 5:15 PM
Entry fee: Approx. INR 1,000
6. Alamo Square
The colorful Victorian and Edwardian houses constructed magnificently are set here in an iconic row referred to as “the Painted Ladies”. These houses have found their way into more than 70 movies, ads, and television shows. While one cannot enter these Painted Ladies since these are actual houses, one can get a very good view from the east-facing hillside of Alamo Square across the street. This is one of the most unique San Francisco points of interest.
Location: Alamo Square, San Francisco
Planning your holiday but confused about where to go? These travel stories help you find your best trip ever!
Real travel stories. Real stays. Handy tips to help you make the right choice.
Ramya Narrates The Story Of 6 Girls On An Extraordinary Trip To Thailand
Bangkok. Phi Phi. Krabi. Why should guys have all the fun?
Sandeep Illustrates On The Best Activities For A Family Trip To Mauritius
Water sports. Cocktail parties. And unlimited fun at Casela.
Nisarg Can’t Stop Praising His Honeymoon Trip To Maldives
There was snorkeling, sightseeing, luxury, comfort, & much more!
Sabyacsachi’s Romantic Trip Proves Europe To Be The Mother Of All Vacations
For Art, Culture, Luxury, & more.
Srishti Talks Of Her Amazing Trip To Singapore With Her Mother & Niece
A fun-filled destination for ages indeed!
67-Year Old Sridhar Tells How He Beat The Odds & Took A Solo Trip To Dubai
Desert safari. Burj Khalifa. Welcoming locals. Tell me more!
Not Adventure Lovers? Saurabh’s Family Trip Proves Hong Kong To Still Be Full Of Fun
Your kids will love Disney Land & Ocean Park!
Ravi’s Tale Of A Sri Lanka Family Tour Is All You Need To Know About Ramayana Tour
For the love of Ramayana & Travel!
See more at TRAVELTRIANGLE.COM
7. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Popularly known as the SFMOMA, it reopened in the spring of 2016 and is one of the best places to visit in San Francisco. With 10 floors and 45,000 feet of ground floor gallery space, it is open to the public at no cost.
Location: 151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Timings: 10 AM – 5 PM, Closed on Wednesdays
8. Twin Peaks
Image Source These unique and uninhabited hills stand at more than 900 feet and have one of the finest views of the city and bay. Even though they’re undeveloped, they’re easily accessible. One can drive to the north peak parking area to get fine views and hike along the trails over the north and south peaks.
Location: 501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco
Timings: 5 AM – 12 Midnight
9. Fisherman’s Wharf
One of the most famous San Francisco tourist attractions, it caters to all the visitors in the city and there are reasons aplenty for tourists and locals to visit the wharf. Some of these reasons include charming vintage arcade Musée Mécanique, the National Maritime Historical Park’s fleet of restored vintage sailing ships, and the USS Pampanito submarine.
Location: 505 Beach Street, Suite 126 SF CA 94133
The Exploratorium is one of the most popular San Francisco tourist places and is an interesting science museum for both children and adults to enjoy. There are many exhibits here, including hands-on learning experiences. Children absolutely adore all the experiments and activities that they partake in here.
Location: Pier 15 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
Timings: 10 AM – 5 PM
11. Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods is one of San Francisco’s most popular natural enclaves for local people and sightseers who want to experience some quiet moments away from the city during their travel. The area has shrouded in a cover of Redwood Trees and is home to approximately 6 miles of trails.
Location: Mill Valley, CA 94941, United States
Timings: 8 AM – 8 PM
12. Coit Tower
The panoramic display from atop Coit Tower makes it one of the most popular places to visit in San Francisco. From the deck, you can take in views of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Fisherman’s Wharf, and spend some minutes gazing at the city beneath.
Location: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States
Timings: 10 AM – 5 PM
13. Walt Disney Family Museum
Situated in the Presidio of San Francisco, The Walt Disney Family Museum invites guests to a memorable experience during their travels where they can explore 40,000 square feet of everything Walt Disney. From early drawings to 200 video screens and a 14-foot model of Disneyland, this is a perfect place to spend time with your family when you are in the city.
Location: 104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States
Timings: 10 AM – 5 PM
14. Fairmont San Francisco
This historic hotel located in the heart of San Francisco was built in 1907. Also known as The lodging is arranged close to some of the major attractions in and around the city such as Chinatown, Union Square, the Wharf, and some popular food districts as well. Don’t forget to visit the Laurel Court for afternoon tea with some Victoria-era vibes.
Location: 950 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108, United States
15. Ghirardelli Square
Just a stone’s throw away from Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square is the best place to hang out after sundown. From 5-star hotels to shopping malls, there’s so much to do here that you can spend most evenings during your trip exploring this bustling city centre.
Location: 900 North Point St Ste F301, San Francisco, CA 94109, United States
Timings: 9 AM – 10 PM
There are plenty of interesting places to visit in San Francisco that you may never want to leave! To explore all that it has to offer, book your trip right away and head for the best trip of your life.
For our editorial codes of conduct and copyright disclaimer, please click here .
Frequently Asked Questions About Places To Visit In San Francisco
What is unique about San Francisco?
Nestled between rolling mountains and blue oceans, serene landscapes, and stunning architecture, San Francisco is an amazing place to enjoy a family vacation or a honeymoon. There are numerous attractions for travellers of all age groups to experience a fun-filled vacation.
What is the most visited place in San Francisco?
Golden Gate Bridge is touted as the most famous tourist attraction in San Francisco. The bridge is 1.7-miles-long and connects San Francisco to Marin County, California. Notably, this iconic spot is the longest main suspension bridge span in the world.
Is it safe to visit San franscisco during the current Covid situation?
Yes, San Franscisco is now open for travellers from India. To ensure a safe trip, adhere to the Government protocols, maintain required social distance, keep wearing a mask when in public, and keep sanitizing your hands at certain intervals.
What is the best time of year to visit San Francisco?
The best time of the year to visit San Francisco is between September to November. Fall offers some of the city’s warmest temperatures year-round, not to mention fewer crowds than summer. Spring is another good time to visit thanks to its mild temperatures and lack of rain.
Where should I visit in San Francisco?
Some of the most stunning places to visit in San Francisco are: 1. The Golden Gate Bridge 2. Alcatraz Island 3. Legion of Honor 4. Twin Peaks 5. Exploratorium
What should I not miss in San Francisco?
A few things to do in San Francisco that you can’t afford to miss on your vacation are: 1. Walk Over the Golden Gate Bridge 2. Ride a Cable Car 3. Visit the Rock 4. Watch the Sea Lions 5. Shop in Union Square 6. Explore North Beach
How many days do you need to see San Francisco?
At least 3-4 days is required to explore the beautiful city of San Francisco and its alluring neighbourhood such as Union Square, Fisherman Wharf, North Beach, Japantown, and so forth.
What is the coldest month in San Francisco?
January is the coldest month of San Francisco and the average temperature is around 8°C. You can plan a visit during this time if you wish to see the cold delights of the destination.
Looking To Book A Holiday Package?
Book memorable holidays on TravelTriangle with 650+ verified travel agents for 65+ domestic and international destinations.