San Francisco is a beautiful and picturesque city that is home to so many fun and fascinating attractions, here are our top things to do in San Francisco. Planning a 3 day trip to San Francisco just got easier!
1. Alcatraz Island
The world famous federal prison is top of the list of things to do whilst in San Francisco. The audio tour is fascinating and wandering around the prison is eerie and at times emotional. We recommend you book tickets 3-4 weeks in advance of your trip (especially during the summer) and get the first boat out in the morning to beat the crowds. Buy your tickets directly from alcatrazcruises.com to avoid over charging, tickets cost $31 for an adult entrance.
2. Golden Gate Bridge
Jump on a boat or head to one of the many view points around San Fran to get that perfect Golden Gate Bridge Picture. Nothing beats a walk across the bridge to appreciate the sheer elevation and structure of the bridge. We enjoyed the Blue and Gold fleet included in the City Pass that takes you around the bay and under the bridge.
3. Fishermans Wharf and Pier 39
Home to some delicious seafood restaurants and stalls along with the famous sea-lions and a selection of unique boutique shops, Fishermans Wharf and Pier 39 is an ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon. Fog Harbor Fish House is a favourite of ours with delicious food (try the crab!) and a superb view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Aquarium can also be found on the Pier with entrance included in the City Pass.
4. Lombard Street
A steep road with 8 ‘hairpin’ turns that challenge drivers to slowly move down this winding road. Catch a cable car, taxi or sightseeing bus to the top and make your way down the side pathways. We wrote a full blog about this street and how to get to it >> here!
5. Union Square
Home to Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Saks fifth avenue, Union Square is the place to shop, dine and drink. Most tours and sightseeing buses leave from the Square so hotels within walking distance to Union Square are ideal. The square offers some fun and lively Irish bars along with a vast variety of restaurants and eateries to suit every taste.
6. Golden Gate Park
Just next to Golden Gate Bridge is Golden Gate Park; where you can explore the Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences, De Young Museum and the Japanese Tea Garden to name a few.
7. Grab a cable car
San Francisco’s famous transport choice, at some point in your trip jump on a cable car. They aren’t always that direct and can be over grounded during peak ties of the day, we headed on one early evening to enjoy a quieter journey.
8. Coit Tower
A 210ft tower that overlooks the city, Coit Tower offers spectacular 360 degree views, open 10am to 6pm and costing $8 for non residents.
9. Try some Clam Chowder and Sourdough Bread Bowl
Whilst in San Francisco, take advantage of the delicious sea food dishes on offer; particularly the delicious clam chowder available from Pier 49. You can get the Chowder served in a Sourdough Bread Bowl which is just perfect.
10. Painted Ladies
Get your shot of the idealistic San Francisco homes at the Painted ladies. Opposite this famous row of houses is a nice little park, great for a picnic in the summer.
It can be tricky to get public transport to all of these attractions unless travelling via taxi. We found it helpful to get a city sightseeing bus that includes stops at all major attractions. Either way, we love San Francisco!
TIP: San Francisco is a great place to start a California road trip along the West coast but there are also lots of weekend and day trips from San Francisco that you can take – we love driving along Big Sur or a weekend in a rustic cabin in Lake Tahoe.
These are 10 things to do in San Francisco that WE love – what is YOUR favourite thing to do in San Fran?! Let us know in the comments below 🙂