Hello! I am so excited to share this post with you today! I just got back from a fantastic vacation to beautiful San Francisco. We spent 5 days there and never ran out of fun things to do. In fact, there are so many things to do there that I thought I would share the things we did and the lessons we learned so you won’t have to research and make the same mistakes we did. You’re welcome!:)
Here is a list is 20 things to do that are all amazingly fun. Most of them are free or very inexpensive which is also an A+! Pick and choose a few, or do them all. Whatever you choose, you are sure to have a GREAT TIME!!
- Amtrak Coast Starlight Train
- Muir Woods
- Walk across Golden Gate Bridge
- Fort Point National Monument
- Walking Tour (includes #7-12),
- Ferry Terminal
- Cable Car Ride
- China Town
- Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factoey
- Coit Tower
- Pier 39
- Lombard Street
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Boudin Sourdough Bread Factory
- Ghirardelli’s Square
- Giants Baseball Game
- Haight and Ashbury Streets
- Japanese Tea Gardens
- Oakland Latter-day Saint Temple and Bridges
1. Amtrack Coast Starlight-
Instead of flying, if you have time and can take the train up or down the coast, I highly recommend it. We boarded at Union Station in Los Angeles. We relaxed and visited as we went up the coast. What a way to travel!
The push of a button opened the doors between the cars. The ground is extra shaky here! Watch that step!:)
There was a water station on the wall of our car. There was also a snack bar available for munchies. We weren’t completely happy with the food, so we called ahead for a pizza to be delivered to one of our stops along the way. Woo hoo! Hot gourmet pizza on the train! We felt so smart:)!
We arrived at Jack London Square in Oakland and hired an Uber to take us to a car rental company.
2. Muir Woods-
Muir Woods is a Redwood Forest National Monument. It is like walking in a Faerie Land. The trees are majestic and the greenery is soft and enchanting.
You don’t need hiking shoes, but a nice walking shoe is a good idea. The paths are flat and paved. There are hiking paths, but the walking trails were plenty for us.
The hardest part about Muir Woods is the parking. Unless you get there before 9:00am or earlier, don’t even plan on parking there. The lots fill up quickly and the parking lines on the side of the road literally can be MILES long!
Take the public transit shuttle. It is FREE with your receipt for entering the park:). How slick is that?! They drive you right to the front entrance and drive you back. Easy! Donahue and Pohono are the two pick up points. Check online for more info of times and directions.
3. Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge
Walking across the bridge is a “bucket list” must. It is 1.2 miles from edge to edge. The roaring sound of the traffic, the slight movement of the bridge, and the spectacular views make this a favorite activity. There is a walking and bike riding path on the edges making it very safe. This is a FREE adventure!
- If you are with a group, it is a good idea to have a “designated driver” here.
- Park on the North side of the bridge. (We did this right after Muir Woods and took the exit right before the bridge and parked in the parking area there)
- Walk across. Have your designated driver only walk halfway and walk back. He or she can drive to the other side and park there to pick you up:)
- The south side has the visitors center and lots of pretty photo taking places.
4. Fort Point National Monument–
Right below the Golden Gate Bridge on the South side is Fort Point National Monument. It is a good idea to combine this with walking over the Golden Gate Bridge.
If you can only do one thing in San Francisco, this is the must see attraction. It costs about $40.00 and you need to book your reservations in advance. You may need to book your reservations months and months in advance if you are going over a holiday.
The ferry ride over takes about 10 minutes. Once you are there, the National Parks Service gives you a headset with a WONDERFUL audio tour of the old prison. The voices and sounds of the prison make the place come to life. You can go at your own pace and linger, take pictures, and visit all you want. Don’t miss it!!
22.214.171.124.10.11.12.- Walking Tour–
If you don’t like to walk, you can just check out the locations on that post and drive to the ones that interest you:). But, if you like walking and really seeing, and feeling the pulse of the city, definitely give this tour a try. It is about 5 miles long with A LOT of stairs!
13. Lombard Street-
Lombard Street is claimed as “the most crooked street in the world”. It is located on Presidio Blvd. and ends on the Embarcadero.
You can walk down the street, but I recommend driving. The walkers don’t get to enjoy the fun of the eight hairpin turns, and isn’t that what it’s all about? But if you are with a group, you may want to send one walker down a bit before you start the drive to get your picture 🙂
14. Fishermans Wharf-
There is a lot of shopping and fun hustle and bustle here. There are street entertainers and lots of good food. Yum! I recommend eating at the Boudin Bakery. They have the best sourdough bread in the city:)
15. The Boudin Bakery-
This is the place to get your clam chowder in a bread bowl. Believe me, we tried other places, and the bread was tough. The bread here, tastes like it was almost hot out of the oven! That’s probably because it was.
The factory is right there with a little museum and views of the actual Bakery below. The smell is amazing!
If you like fish tacos, they make their own sourdough tortillas. Amazing!! The fish and chips were fantastic as well. Give this place a try, you won’t be sorry:)
16. Ghirardelli Square-
If you like chocolate, and really, who doesn’t, this is the place for you! It is located just west of Fishermans Wharf on Beach Street. There are lots of shops in the square, but the best is of course Ghirardellis!
They don’t offer tours of the actual factory, but they have a demonstration in the back of the shop. The sundaes are so delicious and the give free chocolate samples to everyone who enters.
17. Giants Baseball Game –
If you are visiting the area during baseball season, be sure to pick up a game at the beautiful AT&T Park. They have tickets ranging from cheap to expensive. We spent $17.00 and were in the top tier. We could still see great though.
The food at the stadium wasn’t that good. We all wished we would have just tried the classic sausage hot dog offered in the hallway. Oh well, next time:)
I bought a hat outside of the stadium from a vendor for 10.00 and felt quite smart because my hubby bought his at Target for 17.00!
18. Haight and Ashbury Streets
And of course, I would never let my fabric loving friends down by not finding a fabric store on my trips:) I went to Mendels fabric store on Haight Street. While most of the store was more of a craft store, there was a fabric section in the back. I think it geared more toward fur and fabric on rolls, but there was some cute cotton by the yard in the back.
19. Japanese Tea Gardens-
If you have never been to a tea garden before, you are in for a zen like treat. The oldest public Japanese Tea Garden in the United States is inside the Golden Gate Park located between John F. Kennedy Dr. and Martin Luther King Dr.
And, if you get here before 10:00am it is FREE! Even more serene for your pocketbook:)!
20. The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints Temple and Bridges –
Up on the hill on the Oakland side of the Bay, you will see the Latter-day Saint temple. It is a beautiful building with spectacular views of the city and Bay Area. It is especially stunning at night. There is a free visitors center there as well.
It is fun to take a drive over the Bay bridge to get to the temple. Enjoy the temple and views, and then complete the tour around the Bay by driving over the San Rafael Bridge and finishing with the Golden Gate Bridge.
There you have it. I hope this list is helpful to any of you who are thinking of taking a trip to San Francisco. Enjoy your trip!