San Francisco is a lively city with endless things to do and see! Although Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most talked about attractions in SF… it is extremely overrated! The crowds of tourists and overpriced gift shops are not a true representation of this spectacular city and (in my opinion) are worth about 15 minutes of your entire trip. Keep reading for a list of my favourite places to go in order to experience the real San Francisco.
Learn About The Murals of Mission
Mission is one of the most trendy neighbourhoods in San Francisco. If you enjoy browsing around streets full of hip coffee shops, fantastic restaurants, and a ton of street art.. you will never want to leave! You can either take a guided mural walk (there are tons offered online) or just cruise around and enjoy the artwork at your own pace.
Bike Across the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is the iconic symbol of the city. You can rent bikes at a number of shops throughout the city to get you there and across to Sausalito! All in all, this journey is between 7-10 kilometres and the pathways are kept in excellent shape.
Take a Day Trip to Sausalito
Sausalito is a charming little town in California that could easily be mistaken for a seaside Mediterranean village. Even though it is located just across the bay from San Francisco, the vibe is completely different. Sausalito is a great place to come for a relaxing day of art galleries, food and wine. You can either get there by passing over the Golden Gate Bridge (on a bike or in a vehicle) or via the Golden Gate Ferry which departs from the waterfront of SF.
Related Post: 7 Awesome Things to do in Sausalito
Walk Up The Mosaic Tile Steps
The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps project was a neighbourhood collaboration to create a sea to stars theme flowing up a 163 step stairway located in Golden Gate Heights. These steps are gorgeous and definitely worth a stop while exploring the city! For more information about the stairway, click here.
Soar Above The City on The Bernal Heights Swing
Perhaps one of San Francisco’s best kept secrets, this dreamy hilltop swing is located at the top of Bernal Heights Park. It’s a 10-minute hike to get to the top, but once there you are rewarded with sweeping views of the city skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. The best part? It’s never too crowded with tourists!
Take a Night Tour of Alcatraz
Going to San Francisco without visiting Alcatraz would be like going on a hike and eating lunch in the car… sort of pointless. This small island was once a fort, a military prison, and a maximum security federal penitentiary. The tour is extremely well done and the different talks you can attend are interesting and insightful. If you get the chance, I recommend taking the night tour! They offer more talks and demonstrations and the sunset over the water is stunning on your way there.
TIP: Book tickets at least a few months in advance, they sell out fast!
Grab a Beer (or a Glass of Frosé) at a Ball Game
Experiencing a baseball game at Oracle Park is worth it for the views and the atmosphere alone! This beautiful stadium looks out over the bay offering a stunning panoramic sunset. The energy of the crowd is always contagious and the Frosé packs a punch that will last until the 9th inning 😉
Stop in at The Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is a beautiful structure located on the edge of Presido Park. The architecture mixed with nature makes it a relaxing place to stroll around on your way to the Golden Gate Bridge!
Walk Among The Giants in Muir Woods
Muir Woods is a 558-acre park preserving one of the last remaining ancient redwood forests in the Bay Area. Some of the redwoods are nearly 1000 years old and reach heights of more than 250 feet!
If you would like to explore it on your own; you can rent a car and drive to Muir Woods or book a seat on the Muir Woods Shuttle from Sausalito for only a few dollars each way. Another Option is to take a Bike the Bridge & Shuttle to Muir Woods Tour where everything is included and arranged for you.
Stuff Your Face in North Beach (Little Italy)
Little Italy is one of my favourite neighbourhoods to experience in all of SF. The atmosphere can’t be beaten and they have some of the best restaurants in the entire city! If you get a chance, check out Tony`s Pizza Napoletana… You can thank me later.
Get a Taste of Wine Country
A tour to Napa Valley is a great way to escape city life and immerse yourself in beautiful scenery and a ton of wine! There are several tours that depart right from the city including our favourite; Grey Line Tours. This full day tour includes 3 vineyards, a stop for lunch, and a stop at the golden gate bridge while riding in an air conditioned coach with a bathroom and water included.
Shop at The Ferry Building Marketplace
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a unique waterfront building packed full of fun little shops and restaurants. Open 7 days a week, it’s worth a visit if you’re in a shopping mood! For hours and vendors, click here.
Hike to The Top of Twin Peaks
Want a spectacular 360 degree view of San Francisco? Head to the top of these 922-foot-high peaks! You can drive, take a bus, or hike to these incredible viewpoints.The peak furthest from the parking lot (the southern one) probably has the best view, make sure to climb the stairs all the way to the top!
Have a Drink at a Prohibition Bar
Bourbon & Branch brings you back to the 1920s when the sale and consumption of alcohol were prohibited. The entire experience is extremely unique! You’ll receive a secret code to whisper through the unmarked door and be treated with handcrafted drinks and dimly lit, speakeasy booths.