Top 25 Things to Do in San Francisco on the Weekend
San Francisco is one of the most liberal cities in America. It has many attractions and amazing accommodation options, including hotels with rooftop bars.
The City also has a rich history, yet it is now one of the most progressive cities in the United States, with Silicon Valley’s reputation as a global technology and innovation powerhouse.
Being the second most densely populated City in the United States, San Francisco is home to liberals, immigrants, hippies, techies, and yuppies. Diversity is embedded in the DNA of the City.
With such a mix of diverse and creative personalities, it’s no wonder there’s always something new and exciting happening.
Walk or Cycle the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a 2.7-kilometer (1.7 mi) long suspension bridge that serves as the only road connection between the City of San Francisco and Marin County.
The bridge is arguably the most internationally famous symbol of California and has also been called one of the most photographed things on Earth.
This orange structure is also considered a piece of engineering art and was declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Travelers can choose to walk across the bridge along a walkway or cycle on the western side. Both options guarantee great views of the San Francisco skyline and waterfront.
For the curious, visit the Visitor Center to learn more about the history of the park and interesting facts about the bridge’s construction.
Go to a Giants game at AT&T Park
If you’re in San Francisco during baseball season (April to October), you will be satisfied with a visit to AT&T Park.
Cheering on the Giants, a popular baseball team is an uplifting experience that should not be missed. You can also check out the many family-friendly features within the park, such as the Wall of Fame, various eateries, and behind-the-scenes tours.
Rent a bike and ride around the City
Even though San Francisco is covered in impossibly-steep hills, it’s still a bike-friendly city. Several bike-rental companies are available for commuters to choose from, and it’s relatively easy to navigate around the City, especially with Google Maps. It is recommended to explore this City on two wheels.
The Golden Gate Park route from Fisherman’s Wharf is recommended; Travelers can see all the City has to offer in a day.
This route is approximately 3-4 hours long and takes you along San Francisco’s scenic waterfront path to the Golden Gate Bridge and Land’s End, then lets you enjoy the sights and sounds of the iconic Golden Gate Park.
Drive down winding Lombard Street
San Francisco is famous for its steep hills, so it’s natural for commuters to flock to Lombard Street, one of the curviest streets in the world.
Visitors can only hike around eight sharp hairpin turns, but driving on the one-way road from the top is more thrilling.
Lombard Street is considered one of San Francisco’s prettiest streets, lined with Victorian mansions and neatly landscaped lawns.
It’s a popular spot for photographers, as you can capture the entire winding road from below and the spectacular view from above. Additionally, you can view the City’s landscape, including the Bay Bridge and Coit Tower.
Stroll Around Chinatown
The oldest and second largest Chinatown in North America, San Francisco’s Chinatown is a must-visit. Littered with lanterns and dotted with pagoda rooftops, San Francisco’s Chinatown does transport you somewhere in China.
Take an early morning walk through this densely packed neighborhood, and you may see street vendors setting up their stalls along the sidewalks and butchers displaying their exotic array of meats. While you’re there, remember to grab some great Egg Custard Tarts from Golden Gate Bakery.
Tour Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz is the famous former federal prison located on an island of the same name, 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) from downtown San Francisco.
It housed some of America’s toughest and most dangerous criminals from 1934 to 1963. The prison earned itself the nickname “The Rock” because no inmates could break free from it, despite attempts to do so.
Since its closure, Alcatraz has become a national landmark, welcoming over 1 million visitors annually.
The informative pre-recorded audio tours are strongly recommended, as they allow you to learn about the prison while you wander the grounds at your own pace. This one-of-a-kind experience is one to be noticed in San Francisco.
Explore Fisherman’s Wharf
If you’re in San Francisco for the first time, set aside some time to visit the famous Fisherman’s Wharf. There are many things to experience here.
You can sign up for a bay cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, walk the decks of tall ships on Hyde Street Pier, and spot sea lions near Pier 39. It is recommended to visit the pier after taking the Alcatraz tour.
You’ll need to grab the clam chowder and secure a spot along the pier. Enjoy your clam chowder while people are watching, or be entertained by the many street performers.
Visit the San Francisco Cable Car Museum
Taking a ride on a cable car in San Francisco is a rite of passage, so you should add the San Francisco Cable Car Museum to your list.
Not only is it free, but it will only take about 30 minutes to walk. This informative museum will be worth your time, as you will discover how cable cars work and how they were invented. You can even see the real cables underground!
Stroll Clarion Alley and Check Out the Street Murals
Located between Valencia Street and Mission Street in the Mission District, Clarion Alley is a place to be noticed. Stroll the alleyways and stop to appreciate the beautifully painted murals by local artists.
The walls on both sides of the street are covered with paint, displaying thought-provoking quotes and political statements. This colorful place is the perfect place for photo ops.
Attend a concert at the Fillmore
You will be satisfied with any show you take to The Fillmore. Music lovers should check out this grand auditorium.
With impressive acoustics and a capacity of just over a thousand seats, it promises an intimate experience with the artist.
The best part about this concert venue is that it also doubles as a museum. The Fillmore has been home to shows of every genre since its opening in 1965, with former performers including Metallica, Prince, and B.B. King.
Be Cultured at the Opera
If rock or pop music isn’t your forte, have an enthralling night at the San Francisco Opera. It is one of America’s oldest and finest opera companies and hosts world-class singers.
If you have a special occasion, enjoy an evening at the Opera. Dress well, sit comfortably, and be impressed by the fabulous costumes and extravagant voices.
Buy a Book on City Lights
Poets and book lovers have surely heard of this cozy little San Francisco institution, often compared to other famous bookstores like The Strand and Shakespeare & Co. City Lights, also the first all-paperback bookstore in America, Where the Beat Movement Was Born.
However, people were very drawn to the place because of its powerful influence on American poetry when it published Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and also for fighting censorship. You could easily spend your afternoon hours in the charming poetry room upstairs.
Climb the Stairs of Lyon Street
Active travelers or fitness junkies will certainly appreciate the steps at Lyon Street. It offers a beautiful bay view overlooking the Presidio Forest and the Palace of Fine Arts.
With almost 300 stairs from bottom to top, it’s a great place to exercise if you’re visiting the City. The view at the top will undoubtedly be worth the climb.
Enjoy the Hippie Scene in Haight-Ashbury
Every trip to San Francisco is complete with a visit to the Haight-Ashbury district. People from across the country flocked to the City in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the area was a meeting point for free love, drugs, and rock and roll. It became the home of the hippie generation.
Even though the district’s colorful Victorian homes have been commercialized and turned into boutiques, vintage shops, restaurants, and cafes, colorful Haight-Ashbury is still a fun site to stroll through and re-live the old days.
Have afternoon tea at The Palace Hotel
If you have a special occasion to celebrate, treat yourself by booking a spot at The Palace Hotel’s highly talked about afternoon tea.
The experience of sipping tea and indulging in delicate desserts in the historic and extravagant interiors of Garden Court will transport you back to the Victorian era.
This area, which boasts a high ceiling, glass atrium, and crystal chandeliers, will make you feel like royalty.
Find a Way Out in The Escape Game
A weekend in San Francisco will never be boring in The Escape Game. This family-friendly spot has over 28,000 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor and is the top-ranked escape room in the US, according to TripAdvisor’s national rankings.
Choose your immersive set, watch a quick video explaining the game’s rules, gather all your wits, communicate clearly, and go on an adventure as one.
You will constantly work your brains with your team as you come together to find clues and overcome challenges to complete a mission. You have 60 minutes, and the timer starts as soon as you enter. Are you excited? Cause we are!
Experience cinema glam at the Castro Theater
If you are a theater-lover, you must include the Castro Theater in your itinerary. Take your movie-watching experience to a new level at this old classical theater.
Complete with the bright neon lights of the marquee and built in the Roaring Twenties, the Castro Theater is one of the few movie palaces in the country.
The theater offers a unique program, ranging from classic Hollywood films to arthouse films and independent film festivals. There are also special sing-alongs from time to time, so check out their website and keep your eyes out for them.
Walk to the Highest Point in the City
If you need to get away from the City for a bit, head to Mount Davidson to get your quick fix of the outdoors. At an elevation of 938 feet (286 m), it is the highest point in San Francisco.
It’s only a 10-minute walk, but it rewards you with a stunning view of Sutro Tower and Twin Peaks and a panoramic view of East San Francisco.
Bring a camera because there are great photo opportunities at the summit with the massive 103-foot (31.4-meter) cross and the famous fallen tree.
Hike in Muir Woods
Have time to spend a weekend afternoon and would love to be in touch with nature? Muir Woods is the place to go! Muir Woods is easily accessible from the City, and it’s worth a trip here to catch a glimpse of the spectacular coastal redwood trees.
A walk in the forest is a breathtaking and spiritual experience. If you have free time, there are a few different hiking trails of varying difficulty levels and duration, and they are all well-maintained.
Appreciate European Ruins at the Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is easily one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco, and it’s not hard to see why. Visit here for a look at the French-inspired domed structure surrounded by an artificial lagoon—Marvel at the details of the pillars and ceilings.
The best thing about this park? Admission is free, making it the perfect place for a casual stroll, people-watching, or even a photo shoot.
Browse the huge selection of records at Amoeba Music
Music lovers will surely love Amoeba Music. This independent store on the corner of Haight Street offers a huge collection of new and used vinyl, cassettes, and CDs.
Things are well organized here, and you can find anything from $1 vinyl to rare limited-edition items within your budget. Even if you are not an audiophile or music collector, you can easily have a great time browsing through their huge selection of music.
Walk to Land’s End
If you have the time and are up for a hike, Land’s End will not disappoint. The location is amazing, as you can see San Francisco’s beach, Golden Gate Bridge, and Oakland Bridge.
The walking here is fairly easy, with stairs on all trails, making it a simple hike up the hills. The Sutro Baths and the Labyrinth are worth visiting while you’re here. Make sure to stay here long enough for the spectacular sunset.
Enjoy Cocktails at San Francisco’s Oldest Bar
While in San Francisco, visit some of its oldest bars and relax with cocktails. After all, the City isn’t just famous for its bar culture. Visit Buena Vista Cafe for Irish Coffee, or head to The Homestead to enjoy some historic cocktails.
Eat Burrito at the Mission
If you’re a foodie, you’ve probably heard of the famous Mission Burritos. They say you need more Mexican food in San Francisco’s Mission District.
So when you go on a mission, be on an empty stomach and go to one of the many taverns in the neighborhood. You might even spot mariachi bands as they enter eateries and entertain you with Mexican tunes if you’re lucky.
Hit up the best museums in San Francisco
You can only leave a city without getting to know some of its art and culture, and it will be difficult for any traveler to choose as San Francisco has so many museums to choose from.
Suppose you need more time, head to the California Academy of Sciences, which houses an aquarium, a planetarium, and a national history museum.
Art lovers will be satisfied at the de Young Museum, which houses an impressive permanent collection of classic paintings and sculptures.
Expand Your Senses at the Exploratorium
Whether you are traveling alone, with friends, or with family, the Exploratorium is one museum you should visit. It serves as a public learning laboratory, providing visitors with a full hands-on experience to explore science, art, and human perception.
The Exploratorium has been hailed by the New York Times as “the most important science museum opened since the mid-20th century”, an achievement attributed to ‘the nature of its exhibits, its wide-ranging influence and its sophisticated teacher training program.’,
This is a museum for kids and adults alike. You’ll undoubtedly get a lot out of spending an afternoon here.
Spend a Quality Weekend, and Have Fun in San Francisco
San Francisco is a vibrant city recognized for its foggy, hilly landscape and mixed styles of architecture.
Even if you’re short on time and are only in town for a weekend, exploring different neighborhoods and seeing the sights can be very rewarding for any traveler and leave you wanting more. I will leave wanting to go back.
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