There are few cities in the world like San Francisco. With its winding streets, Golden Gate Bridge views, and Victorian houses, a trip to this quirky city will inspire your inner explorer. And lucky for you – getting to know this city doesn’t require much more than a couple of days and a willingness to explore. San Francisco is full of fun activities and attractions. From the famous Painted Ladies’ to hidden gardens with secret staircases (and tunnels). So whether you want to spend your time sightseeing or exploring something more unique, here are the top travel attractions in San Francisco that won’t cost you an arm and a leg!
Catch a Ride From Union Square and Explore
Union Square is the heart of downtown San Francisco and is home to shops, restaurants, and hotels. Visitors can start their day by hopping on a trolley or bus tour that starts and ends at Union Square. You can also walk around the city and visit the many attractions within walking distance. If you’re staying in the summer, you’ll want to head over to the Public Library’s Central Branch and explore some free public art. First, pop into the free exhibition, “Journeys,” and get inspiration from the city’s rich cultural history. Next, visit Coit Tower, an accessible landmark that offers incredible views of the city. You can also explore the nearby Golden Gate Park and walk among the lush green lawns, duck ponds, and other attractions. Consider finishing off your day’s sightseeing by hitting up the San Francisco Civic Center and seeing the Asian Art Museum and SF MOMA.
Go on a Food Tour
San Francisco is a food town. Why not go on a food tour to learn more about its rich history? You can sign up for various food-themed walking tours in the city, including a Chinatown food tour, a Mission District walking food tour, and a culinary walking food tour. Tours generally last between two and three hours and cost between $30 and $60 per person. One of the cool ways to get to know the city while indulging in your favourite foods is food tours that are very popular amongst visitors of all ages and a fantastic choice for families. A food tour is an excellent gift for a friend or family member who loves to travel and will allow them to experience the city in a way that they can’t get simply by visiting a restaurant.
See the Painted Ladies
The Painted Ladies are a series of colourful houses that reflect the uniqueness of San Francisco. These homes are in the Alamo Square neighbourhood and are a must-see for any visitor to the city. Hop in a Lyft or public bus to Alamo Square, and you can see them from the street. If you’d like to see the inside of one of the houses, you can do that. And although it is a tourist trap and most likely over-priced, you can also rent one of the houses for a night. Another must-see attraction in the city is Coit Tower. This iconic tower offers 360-degree views of the city, making it an ideal spot to take pictures. And if you’re visiting in July, you can also attend the Mermaid Festival, where you can enjoy live music, a sandcastle building competition, and more.
Stroll Through Golden Gate Park
This expansive park is a must-see attraction for any visitor to San Francisco. Golden Gate Park has beautiful flower gardens, ornate conservatories, and wide selection of museums. You can easily spend a day exploring the park, but if you don’t have enough time to see everything, you can quickly prioritize your visit based on what sounds most interesting. The park is home to the California Academy of Sciences, an interactive science museum that appeals to adults and kids. You can also take a walk through the stunning Japanese Tea Garden, which is filled with waterfalls, cherry blossoms, and a peaceful atmosphere. And if you have kids in tow, don’t miss out on the California Screamin’ roller coaster at the adjacent amusement park, the Golden Gate Park.
Visit the San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo is home to more than 800 animals, making it a great place to visit with family or friends. The zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and offers free admission on select days each month. If you arrive before 11:30 a.m., you will also get into the zoo for free. Zoo tickets cost between $18 and $34, but you can save a little bit on admission if you purchase them online. Don’t miss out on the Kids’ Zone, which offers interactive and educational experiences for children if you have any. You can also purchase a pass that gets you into both the zoo and the adjacent aquarium.
Visit the Conservatories
If botanical gardens are more your speed, you can’t miss out on the Conservatories in Golden Gate Park. Each greenhouse is filled with a different plant, making the conservatories a unique and exciting attraction that appeals to everyone. You can easily spend a couple of hours exploring each greenhouse and taking in the different environments. For example, if you visit in the summer, you can check out the vibrant Chinese Sacred Garden, which will be filled with colourful and beautiful flowers and plants. Another great greenhouse to visit is the Tropical Conservatory, which is home to a wide array of plants and flowers from around the world. And if you’re staying in the fall, you can also check out the New Exhibits Showcase, which features stunning plants.
See The view from Coit Tower
If you want to get a 360-degree view of San Francisco, you can head to Coit Tower, a historic landmark perched atop a hill in the city’s Telegraph Hill neighbourhood. You can easily visit Coit Tower as part of a day trip around the city. Visiting Coit Tower is free, so you don’t have to worry about spending any money to see this unique, citywide view. You can also easily walk to the tower from anywhere in the city, making it an excellent option for families with older kids and anyone who isn’t interested in spending a ton of time in a car.
Check Out The Choco-lore Museum
If you love all things chocolate, there’s no better place to visit in San Francisco than the Choco-lore Museum. This interactive chocolate museum is a great place to take kids, with fun activities and a sweet gift shop. The Choco-lore Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Choco-lore Museum costs $18 per person, but it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with the family and learn more about chocolate. In addition, you can easily walk to the museum from most of the city’s main attractions, making it an entertaining choice for families who want to save on transportation costs.
San Francisco is a city that can leave you feeling both inspired and overwhelmed, so make the most of your time by planning your trip. San Francisco is filled with so much to see, do, and experience that it can feel overwhelming. However, with some preparation and research, you can make the most of this big city and see every corner of its fantastic scenery. And don’t forget that you don’t need to fight high prices in SF – there are plenty of free things to do in San Francisco that are just as fun and offer just as much culture and excitement!
What say you?
Thoughts on the Best Guide to San Francisco?
Let’s hear it!