Its not easy coming up with just 10 things to see in San Francisco given the wealth of iconic structures and fun neighborhoods to explore but check out the list below to see what we feel are the Top 10 Things To See in San Francisco
#1 Things to Do in San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s most famous landmark. Built in 1937, linking San Francisco to Sausalito, the Golden Gate bridge is 1.7 miles long and a San Francisco attraction not to be missed.
You can catch our Hop On Hop Off tour across the bridge, with incredible views from the Open-Top bus. Rated one of the best things to do in San Francisco by our customers, you may stay on the bus, or Hop Off at the south side of the bridge, and walk over to catch a later bus on the north side at Vista Point. The bus will continue down to Sausalito after crossing the bridge. Also very popular is to ride a bike across the bridge, or to take a Boat Tour (Bay Cruise), which passes under the bridge.
#2 Things to Do in San Francisco – Chinatown
San Francisco has the largest Chinatown outside Asia. This fascinating area covers around 30 city blocks in central San Francisco. Its a great place just to wander around for a few hours. Don’t miss the Fortune Cookie Factory, the markets on Stockton St, and dozens of great restaurants.
Chinatown is located very centrally in San Francisco. Its a short walk from Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf, where most of the hotels are located. Stockton St is the most authentic street, and Grant Avenue has the most shops. We recommend spending a few hours here. The area is very safe, so check out all of the cross streets and interesting alleys. Daytime is the best, as there is very little activity here in the evening.
#3 Things To Do in San Francisco – Alcatraz
Alcatraz Island, was home to the most famous prison in the world. and today is San Francisco’s most popular tourist attraction. The Island is located 1 mile off the San Francisco waterfront, in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Prison tours are available daily and include an award winning audio tour of the prison cellblock.
Tickets sell out very early, especially in the summer or holidays. City Sightseeing offers a popular package of a tour to Alcatraz, combined with our All Loops bus tour of San Francisco.
#4 Things to Do in San Francisco – North Beach
San Francisco’s Italian District is home to many of the best restaurants in the city, as well as excellent coffee shops and shopping. Located centrally in San Francisco, its a short walk from the Financial District, Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower and Chinatown.
The main street in North Beach is Columbus Avenue, one of the few diagonal streets in San Francisco. Its an excellent place to go during the evening, and enjoy an excellent restaurant with sidewalk seating. Washington Square, in the heart of North Beach is home to the Church of St peter and St Paul. Just up the hill is Telegraph Hill, with Coit Tower at the top, which has some of the best views in San Francisco, looking down to Downtown San Francisco and Fisherman’s Wharf, and out to San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, and both the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge.
#5 Things to Do in San Francisco – Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Park is an excellent place to spend a day. Attractions include the Academy of Sciences, De Young Museum, Conservatory of Flowers, Botanical Gardens, Japanese Tea Gardens, and miles of hiking and biking trails. There are lakes to rent boats, a buffalo (bison) paddock, bike and skate rentals and much more. Golden Gate Park is 3 miles long and 1/2 mile wide, and extends from Haight St (Haight Ashbury District) down to Ocean Beach, at the Pacific Ocean.
#6 Things to Do in San Francisco – Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is the most popular area in San Francisco for visitors. It has a reputation for being very touristy, so expect large crowds, especially during the summer. There are many attractions, and Fisherman’s Wharf is located right on the Bay, at the northern edge of San Francisco.
The area spans from Ghirardelli Square on the west, to Pier 39 on the east, and includes The Cannery, San Francisco Wax Museum, Ripleys Believe it or Not, Hyde St Pier Maritime Museum, Aquarium of the Bay, Boudin Bakery Museum and much more.
Pier 39 is the 3rd most visited place in the country, and is home to the famous San Francisco Sea Lions, excellent San Francisco Bay views, and dozens of shops and restaurants.
In the Center of Fisherman’s Wharf at Taylor Street, you can enjoy the world famous Dungeness Crab, at one of the many outdoor food stands, and view the last of San Francisco’s Fishing fleet. Alcatraz tours depart from Pier 33, a very short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf.
#7 Things to Do in San Francisco – Presidio
The Presidio of San Francisco is the oldest portion of San Francisco. Established on June 29, 1776, which is recognized as San Francisco’s birthday. It was created at the request of the King of Spain as the then northernmost outpost of his New World Empire. He was concerned about the Russians and English establishing colonies from the north. California remained under Spanish rule until 1821, when it became the property of the Republic of Mexico. That lasted approximately 25 years, until California became independent in 1846, and then became the 31st state in 1850.
There are many trails through the Presidio and along the coastline. Explore old military batteries, Marshall Beach and Baker Beach. The main parade ground in The Presidio is home to the Off The Grid food truck event on Sundays from Spring till fall. Here you can try food and drink from dozens of local vendors each with their own unique take on the cuisines of the world.
#8 Things to Do in San Francisco – Marina District
Prior to 1906, the Marina District did not exist as it does today. It was made up of bay shallows, sand dunes, tide pools, and swamp land, and was partially filled with debris from the 1906 earthquake. The area suffered extensive damage during the last major earthquake in 1989.Today, the Marina District is one of the most desirable areas to live in San Francisco, with it’s bay setting, central location, nightlife, and abundance of shops and restaurants.
San Francisco’s Marina District is also home to The Palace of Fine Arts (pictured above). Built for the 1915 Worlds Fair know as the Panama Pacific International Exposition. It celebrated both the opening of the Panama Canal as well as the rebirth of San Francisco following the great disaster of 1906.It is This is a popular place in San Francisco for wedding photos, and was also featured on the movie “The Rock” with Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery.
#9 Things to Do in San Francisco – Union Square
Union Square is San Francisco’s premiere shopping and hotel district. This plaza received its name from the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865. It was here the city saw daily rallies in support of the Union Army.
The 95-foot high column in the center of the square is the Dewy Monument. It which was modeled after the young artist’s model, Alma de Bretteville. She eventually married one of San Francisco’s richest citizens, Adolf Spreckels. He owned sugar plantations and their relationship coned the phrase “Sugar Daddy”. The statue survived both, the 1906 earthquake and fire.
#10 Things to Do in San Francisco – Ferry Building
The Ferry building was built in 1896. It survived the 1906 earthquake, but was severely damaged. Notice that the clock face on the right side of the clock tower is partially visible. Originally it was built to directly face Market Street, but the earthquake turned it clockwise a few degrees. You can now see the clock on its side if you are facing it from Market Street. The Ferry Building not only acts as a Ferry Terminal but it is home to many restaurants and bars. There is a farmers market on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.