There’s so much to see and do in San Francisco that it can be hard to know where to start. If you’re looking for some ideas on what to add to your bucket list, you’ve come to the right place! From iconic attractions like Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge to hidden gems off the beaten path, here are some must-see spots in SF. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a local looking for something new, these 21 items will help you get the most out of your trip. Get ready to explore one of America’s most beautiful cities!
1 Alcatraz Island:
No trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to Alcatraz, one of the most famous prisons in the world. This historic island was once home to a notorious federal prison, which housed some of America’s most famous criminals. These days, it’s a popular destinations and has some great views of the city. Take a guided tour of the island and learn about its fascinating history, then explore the cell blocks and soak up the incredible views.
2 Golden Gate Bridge:
Another can’t-miss SF landmark is the Golden Gate Bridge. For the best views, walk or bike across the bridge, then stop at one of the lookout points to snap some photos. You can also take a tour on one of the bridge’s iconic red buses.
3 Muir Woods:
Just a short drive from San Francisco, Muir Woods is a must-see for nature lovers. This beautiful forest is home to towering redwoods, which make for a stunning setting for a hike or picnic lunch. Don’t forget your camera!
4 Fisherman’s Wharf:
Fisherman’s Wharf is one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s easy to see why. This historic district is home to a number of restaurants, shops, and attractions, including the world-famous Pier 39. Be sure to check out the sea lions at Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square for some delicious chocolate.
5 Lombard Street:
Lombard Street is one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist attractions. This crooked street is located in the Russian Hill neighborhood and is known for its eight sharp turns. Be sure to walk or drive down this street- it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest in the United States and is well worth exploring. There’s a lot to see and do, from traditional Chinese restaurants to herbal shops in this vibrant neighborhood. You can dip in and out of delis, bakeries, taquerías, dim sum spots, and more with our Ultimate San Francisco Food Tour: North Beach, Chinatown & Beyond.
7 Japanese Tea Garden:
The Japanese Tea Garden is a serene oasis in the middle of the city in Golden Gate Park. This garden is home to a number of traditional Japanese features, including a tea house, koi ponds, and stone bridges. Be sure to take a stroll through this tranquil setting.
8 Cable Cars:
San Francisco’s legendary cable cars are more than just a mode of transportation- they’re also a great way to see the city! Hop on board one of these iconic cars and hold on tight as you make your way up and down the hills of SF.
9 Union Square:
Union Square is the perfect place to do some people watching or window shopping. This central plaza is home to high-end shops, hotels, and restaurants, as well as a number of art galleries. Be sure to check out the giant Tiffany & Co. store on Post Street.
10 Ghirardelli Square:
Ghirardelli Square is another great spot for shopping, eating, and people-watching. This historic district is home to Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, as well as a number of cute cafes and shops. Be sure to try one of their delicious chocolate treats! Don’t forget to grab a box of chocolates to take home with you!
11 Twin Peaks:
For the best views of San Francisco, head to Twin Peaks. These two hills offer panoramic views of the city, Golden Gate Bridge, and beyond. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to Oakland!
12 The Castro:
The Castro is one of San Francisco’s most vibrant and colorful neighborhoods. This historic district is known for its LGBT population and lively nightlife scene. Be sure to check out the world-famous Castro Theatre while you’re here.
13 Coit Tower:
Coit Tower is a great spot for panoramic views of San Francisco and the Bay Area. This Art Deco tower is located in Telegraph Hill and can be reached by taking a short hike or riding one of the city’s iconic cable cars.
14 Golden Gate Park:
Golden Gate Park is San Francisco’s version of Central Park and is well worth a visit. This massive urban park is home to a number of museums, gardens, and lakes. Be sure to check out the Japanese Tea Garden and the California Academy of Sciences.
15 The Presidio:
The Presidio is a large park located in San Francisco’s northern district. This former military base is now a great spot for hiking, picnicking and enjoying the stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
16 Sutro Baths:
Located in the Cliff House complex, Sutro Baths was once a public bathhouse that was destroyed in a fire in 1966. These days, it’s a popular spot for hiking and photography and offers some great views of the city.
17 Mission Dolores Park:
Mission Dolores Park is one of San Francisco’s most popular parks. This urban oasis is home to a number of events and festivals throughout the year, as well as a great view of the city.
18 The Painted Ladies:
The Painted Ladies are a row of Victorian houses located in San Francisco’s Alamo Square. These colorful houses are some of the most photographed buildings in the city and make for a great photo op.
19 The Wave Organ:
The Wave Organ is a unique musical instrument located in San Francisco’s Marina district. This outdoor sculpture uses the waves of the Bay to create sounds that are truly unique. Be sure to visit at high tide for the best experience.
20 The Palace of Fine Arts:
The Palace of Fine Arts is a beautiful structure located in San Francisco’s Marina district. This elegant building was constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and now houses a number of art galleries. Be sure to stroll through the grounds and enjoy the stunning architecture.
21 Fort Point:
Fort Point is a 19th-century fort located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This fort was built to protect San Francisco Bay from enemy ships and now serves as a popular spot for fishing, picnicking, and photography.
San Francisco is a truly unique city with plenty to see and do. Whether you’re looking for great views, shopping, or just a fun night out, you’ll find it all here. Be sure to add these spots to your San Francisco bucket list!
Original Posted on August 10, 2022