Looking for things to add to your San Francisco bucket list? This epic list has all the best things to see and do in San Francisco.
One of the top USA bucket list destinations, you won’t want to miss this city or even the great state of California. If you have time, think of adding more things to your California bucket list and rounding out your trip.
Whether you find yourself out exploring Alcatraz, cruising Lombard Street, walking the coast of Baker Beach, or eating to your hearts content – these are the best things to do in San Francisco.
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San Francisco Bucket List
1. Sutro Baths
Opened in the the late 1800’s, the Sutro Baths used to be a privately owned large pool but closed in the 1960’s. Now you can visit (no swimming) and see the Cliff House with it as it is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation area.
2. Walk around Chinatown
Head to Chinatown for some traditional Chinese food in San Francisco. This area of the city is filled with life, and there are always fun things going on. Head to one of the karaoke bars for a truly unforgettable experience in the city.
3. Explore the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
If you’re an art fan, add the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to your San Francisco bucket list. This museum opened in 1935 and is filled with modern art that will truly take your breath away. Expect to spend at least a few hours here.
4. Go shopping at Union Square
Union Square is one of the most popular places to visit in San Francisco. It’s located right downtown and is filled with lots of shops and restaurants. This area of the city comes alive at night!
5. Visit the Palace of Fine Arts
Considered to be one of the most romantic places in the city, grab your camera and come see this outdoor structure. This is a popular place to get engaged if you are thinking about it.
6. Catch a show at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
For great free music, head to Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. This is seasonal and also has other cultural events. It’s said to be one of the best places to visit during the middle of the day when visiting San Francisco.
7. Visit Ghirardelli Square
If you’re a fan of chocolate, then add Ghirardelli Square to your San Francisco bucket list. It’s home to the original ice cream, and chocolate shop opened by Ghirardelli and is tons of fun to visit. Plus, you may even get to try some samples when you visit!
8. Walk around the Japanese Tea Garden
For a tranquil place to visit, check out the Japanese Tea Garden. It’s the oldest garden of its kind in the entire United States of America! It’s part of Golden Gate Park and was built back in 1894. You’ll forget you’re in a city while visiting here, so add it to your San Francisco bucket list.
9. Learn at the Walt Disney Museum
Calling all Disney fans! Make sure to visit the Walt Disney Museum when traveling to San Francisco. The museum is all about Walt Disney himself and his life, as well as the world that he left behind after his death. This is a great place to visit when traveling with children too.
10. Drive the 49-mile scenic drive
The 49-mile scenic drive is the perfect way to visit all of the highlights within San Francisco. You can easily drive it yourself and just look up a map online. Plus, there are markers throughout the city that show you that you’re on part of the drive!
11. Walk around and see the Victorian Style homes
One of the best things to do when in San Francisco is to walk around and see all the colorful Victorian Style homes! you might just find one in every color and they are so beautiful.
12. See the sea lions near Pier 39
Pier 39 is a popular place to visit in San Francisco. It’s right in Fisherman’s Wharf that’s filled with great places to eat, shopping, and even a theme park. You could easily spend a few hours here. Be sure to visit at night for an epic view of the sunset over the marina.
13. Visit the Cartoon Art Museum
This is one of the most unique museums in all of San Francisco! It opened in 1984 and is dedicated to comics and cartoon art. Throughout the museum, there are tons of exhibits and even sculptures that you’ll want to explore.
14. Take a photo at the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
One of the most picturesque places in all of San Francisco is the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps. They have 163 stairs and are covered in mosaics. If you stand at the foot of the staircase, you’ll be able to see the piece of art that all of the mosaics make together!
15. Have fun at the Seward Street Slides
Add these fun public street slides to your San Francisco bucket list! You could try to go down the slides without anything underneath you, but most locals recommend that you bring a piece of cardboard to make the ride a little smoother.
16. Learn at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Did you know that there is a factory you can visit all about fortune cookies? It’s located in Chinatown in San Francisco and offers free tours to visitors who want to learn more about the cookie-making process.
17. See the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is easily one of the most iconic attractions in all of San Francisco. If it’s not on your San Francisco bucket list, then you’re missing out. This suspension bridge is 8,981 feet long and is truly picturesque.
18. Take a trip to Alcatraz
Alcatraz used to be a prison for years up until 1963. It also served other purposes over the year, including as a military fortress. It was first built in 1847, and now guests can take a ferry with a local tour guide from San Francisco to the island to take a tour of it.
19. Explore the street art at Balmy Alley
The best street art in all of San Francisco can be seen at Balmy Alley. It’s located in Mission District and is filled with murals. Almost every building here is completely covered. This is an enjoyable place to visit if you’re looking for a fun background for a photo!
20. See a San Francisco Giants game
The Giants are the MLB team located in San Francisco. They play at Oracle Park right in the city near the water. You can even see the ocean from many seats if you sit to the right of home base! Purchase tickets ahead of time to get a better deal and experience the city’s sports culture.
21. Ride the cable car
For a historic ride, check out the San Francisco cable car. It will bring you around downtown San Francisco, and it’s a super fun way to get around. The first cable car was introduced in 1873 here and has been around ever since.
22. Have a pint at Anchor Public Taps
Anchor Public Taps is one of the top-rated pubs in San Francisco. They have different types of beer throughout the year, depending on the season. Sometimes they even have food trucks to accompany their flavors!
23. See the beautiful views from Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks is a set of hills in San Francisco that overlook the entire city and nearby neighborhoods. There are hiking trails that will lead you to the top of the mountain, and the views are well worth it.
24. Visit Mission Dolores Park
Mission Dolores Park is an excellent park inside San Francisco filled with green space for you to relax. It’s right near the Mission District and covers about 16 acres. This is the perfect place to go for a fun picnic on a beautiful day.
25. Head to Telegraph Hill to see parrots
Yes, you can see wild parrots in San Francisco! Head to Telegraph Hill, which is by Sue Bierman Park. Try not to visit at night to see the parrots because they’re a bit harder to see once it starts to get dark.
26. Catch the Blue Angels flying
If you’re lucky enough to visit San Francisco during Fleet Week, then you might be able to catch the Blue Angels flying! It’s an air show that’s super fun to catch in the Bay Area. This is especially enjoyable if you’re traveling with kids.
27. Snap a photo at the Painted Ladies
The Painted Ladies are a set of Victorian houses that should be added as an attraction to your San Francisco bucket list. They were made famous because of the show Full House and are a stark contrast against the modern backdrop of the city skyline!
28. Soak up the views at Sausalito
Sausalito is a city right next to San Francisco that has fantastic views. It’s right across the water from San Francisco and has impeccable views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Be sure to stop by and walk along the coast for a great time.
29. Try Irish Coffee from Buena Vista Cafe
Buena Vista Cafe, also known as The Buena Vista, is a restaurant in San Francisco that is most well-known for its Irish Coffee. Yes, people travel from all over to try it here! If you love coffee, you won’t want to miss this.
30. See the most crooked street in the world
Lombard Street is known for being one of the steepest and most crooked streets in the entire world! It was built in 1922 and is pretty unique. You can either walk along the road to experience it or hop in a car to drive along it! Be careful, though; you want to drive slow.
31. Find a new book at City Lights Bookstore
City Lights Bookstore is a staple among locals. It’s one of the best places to shop for books in the city! It also doubles as a publishing house, making it one of the more unique bookstores to visit in the United States.
32. Have a blast at the Pacific Pinball Museum
You’ll want to add the Pacific Pinball Museum to your San Francisco bucket list! While it’s located in Alameda, it’s not that far from San Francisco. At this museum, you can pay a flat fee to play all of the vintage pinball machines inside the museum.
33. Visit San Francisco City Hall
San Francisco City Hall is breathtaking! It was built in 1915 and has impeccable architecture. There’s also a huge park right in front of the hall where you can relax and even have a picnic if you feel like it.
34. Explore the Stanford University campus
Stanford University is one of the most popular universities in the United States. It was opened back in 1885 and is worth exploring if you have the time. This is a beautiful campus filled with lots of green space and great architecture.
35. Eat traditional sourdough at Boudin Bakery
Did you know that San Francisco is known for its sourdough? It’s true! One of the best places to try it is at Boudin Bakery. It opened in 1849, and in addition to sourdough, they sell tons of bowls, salads, and more. Try the sourdough pizza for a fun twist!
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