Things To Do
From art-house movie theaters to sandy beaches, San Francisco is a city that won’t fail to keep you entertained. Whether you’re more interested in exploring the sciences or exploring the bottom of a pint of local ale, this city has you covered.
Outdoor Activities in San Francisco: The San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club offers free lessons on Wednesdays at noon. Other popular outdoor spots include Dolores Park, a hilly, grassy idyll in the Mission District offering sweeping views of the city, and Land’s End, a trail on the northwest edge of San Francisco. Close to the water at Pier 39 you can watch the sea lions snooze purchase some live seafood.
And perhaps no day outdoors could be better spent than at AT&T Park, one of the nation’s most beautiful baseball stadiums – unless, that is, you head to the areas around San Francisco for world class hiking or to Lake Tahoe to ski or swim.
Sights in San Francisco: While almost nothing compares to San Francisco’s natural beauty, we can’t forget about San Francisco’s own man-made charm. The Golden Gate Bridge is an obvious must-see. While it can feel a bit touristy, a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge is an unforgettable experience you’ll want to do again and again (but maybe after a few days of rest).
Another one of San Francisco’s manmade masterpieces is City Hall. Golden Gate Bridge Engineer, Joseph Strauss, said of San Francisco’s City Hall: “You have in San Francisco this magnificent Civic Center crowned by a City Hall which I have never seen anywhere equaled.” City Hall is open to the public and worth a visit—don’t be surprised if you get to see at least one wedding taking place too.
A visit to Coit Tower provides both a lovely (uphill) walk on the stairs of Telegraph Hill (look out for the parrots!) and murals commissioned by the Works Progress Administration. On New Year’s Eve, check out the fireworks from Tank Hill or Twin Peaks.
Museums and Galleries in San Francisco: For 20-somethings, California Academy of Science’s NightLife provides after-hours discount tickets, a chance to wander the museum’s exhibits at night, and, of course, drinks. Be sure to see the albino alligator while you’re there. The de Young Museum hosts a fabulous collection of fine art, and the Conservatory of Flowers is the oldest public conservatory in the Western Hemisphere, besides a great spot to watch the wacky, deeply loved Bay to Breakers race each May.
Between the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the De Young Museum of Fine Arts, the Asian Art Museum, and the Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco offers a collection of exhibits for any artistic taste. Science lovers can explore the Academy of Sciences or the Aquarium of the Bay. In addition, San Francisco is home to a number of more eccentric museums dedicated to an array of topics including LGBT movements and Walt Disney. For more see Bay City’s SF Museum Guide.
San Francisco History: If you’re really into San Francisco history, a brief overview will get you started, but walking tours from the SF Museum and Historical Society, or a bike tour for the adventurous, will help complete your portfolio. Alcatraz Island boasts its own fascinating history and tours. A more general travel guide, provided by the city, can be accessed here.
Neighborhood Hot Spots: San Francisco’s unique neighborhoods are destinations in themselves. A day in the Haight may include a visit to famous Amoeba Records or Golden Gate Park’s “Hippie Hill.” In the Mission, wander through gorgeous murals on a guided tour, or swing through the Presidio, visiting Lucas Arts and the Yoda Fountain.
San Fran Music and Nightlife: At night San Francisco’s music scene comes alive. Check out indie artists at the Fillmore, Bottom of the Hill, or Rickshaw Stop. Mainstream headliners on the other hand play sold-out shows at the Great American Music Hall (constructed in 1907) or the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. No matter what your style—from raging dance clubs to comedy clubs—San Francisco has you covered. If you’re looking for a different kind of nightlife experience, check out one of San Francisco’s number of speakeasies, which harken back to secret Prohibition Era social clubs. To get your fill of the roaring twenties try Bourbon and Branch, Slide, or the House of Shields.
SFWeekly publishes a list of Best Bars by Category, so if you’re looking for a place to drown your sorrows or take your mom out to dinner now that you have a great job in SF, this list will point you in the right direction. You might also want to check out San Francisco Travel’s Editor’s Pick: Bars and Club and SanFrancisco.com’s Best Bars and Clubs.
Festivals: Two of the biggest weekends in San Francisco occur over the summer: the San Francisco Pride Parade, which proceeds down Market Street each June, and Outside Lands, an annual music festival held in Golden Gate Park in August. These are only two of many annual San Francisco Festivals that range from Jazz Festivals to Jewish Film Festivals.