Most Famous Places In San Francisco – Unforgettable San Francisco experiences run the gamut from iconic views to historic neighborhoods and delicious restaurants to must-see museums.
San Francisco is small but mighty. While the city is “big” in terms of attractions and services, it is small geographically – only 49 square kilometers. It makes it very easy to see and do a lot of things in a short amount of time.
Most Famous Places In San Francisco
Here is a suggested list of 28 things not to miss in San Francisco on your next visit.
Sanfrancisco: Top 15 Most Instagrammable Places In San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world, manages to impress even the most seasoned hikers with its incredible 1.7 mile span. About 120,000 cars drive through it every day. A pedestrian path also allows crossing on foot, and bicycles are allowed on the west side. The Golden Gate Bridge is said to be one of the most photographed things on Earth, so get your camera ready and be sure to share with #AlwaysSF.
Stagecoaches have been transporting people around San Francisco since the late 19th century. The cars run on tracks and are moved by an underground cable along three tracks. Their familiar bells can be heard ringing from streets away. Each one-way trip ($8) will provide spectacular views of the city’s famous hills and a smooth ride.
Alcatraz, the infamous former prison, is located on an island of the same name in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Some of the most notorious criminals of the United States were imprisoned there. Although several have tried, no prisoner has ever managed to escape from “The Rock”.
The prison was closed in the 1960s and the stories about Alcatraz are legendary. A visit to Alcatraz today is fascinating. Recorded cell house tours are available, allowing visitors to learn about the prison as they explore the buildings and grounds.
Pier 39 — Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco
To get to the island, take an Alcatraz Cruises ferry from Pier 33. Advance reservations are recommended. If you don’t feel like visiting and just want to see the mother from the outside, you can take a cruise around the island.
Fisherman’s Wharf is home to PIER 39, a festive waterfront market that is one of the city’s most popular attractions. A community of California sea lions has taken up residence on the docks at PIER 39 and visitors stand on the nearby railing to watch their antics.
From there, it’s a short walk to favorite area attractions such as Madame Tussauds, Museum of 3D Illusions, Museum of Cartoon Art, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! A museum, the historic Bowden Bakery and many favorite dining options, including crabbers selling crab and shrimp cocktails.
It’s always a great idea to have a picnic in the park before the foggy Carl rolls in. Dolores Park is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny afternoon. With nearly 16 acres of grass, you can play, lounge, and people-watch, all with amazing views of the city. The Presidio is another favorite in San Francisco. There are so many places within its more than two square miles to lay down a blanket and enjoy a meal. You can also picnic in the iconic Golden Gate Park, where you’ll find vantage points at the Conservatory of Flowers and outside the California Academy of Sciences. Here are some other best places to have a picnic in San Francisco.
San Francisco Travel Guide & Tips
Outdoor festivals are a popular activity in San Francisco for people of all ages. The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival takes place during the summer months, and hosts restaurants, shopping and cultural activities for the whole family. A San Francisco tradition since 1938, the Stern Grove Festival is a free outdoor music festival that has welcomed artists such as the Doobie Brothers, Talib Kwali and more. Visit Golden Gate Park for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music Festival held every October.
The best way to see and experience San Francisco is on foot. Wild SF Walking Tours offers a Food Tour, Castro and Mission District Tour, and San Francisco Ghost Tour. Go behind the scenes at Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. You’ll have access to the player’s dig, the luxury suites and more. There are also walking tours for foodies! Make stops along the way to taste unique foods that originate from different cultures.
San Francisco is a center for every genre of music, from rock and pop to hip hop and jazz. Venues like The Fillmore, The Warfield Theater and The Masonic are some of San Francisco’s most legendary music venues, welcoming musicians from all over the world. Past musical acts at these historic venues include MGMT, Jimi Hendrix, Prince and many more.
There are also many performing arts companies, from the San Francisco Opera to ODC/Dance, that invite you to see some of the world’s best talent on San Francisco stages. The American Conservatory Theater and The Curran are where some future Broadway hits premiere to rapt audiences. And intimate places like Feinstein in Nico allow you to see some of your favorite specials up close.
What To See At San Francisco’s Splendid Palace Of Fine Arts
Want to know “what’s hot” in San Francisco? Illuminate SF is an ongoing festival of light art that features more than 40 installations scattered throughout the neighborhoods of San Francisco. Admire light art on buildings, sidewalks, restaurants, cars and more.
While some of these displays are permanent, other temporary site-specific installations illuminate San Francisco’s winter nights during the annual Illuminate SF of Light festival. The festival starts the day after Thanksgiving and lasts until January.
What was once a former military base is now a national park, known for its natural beauty, art and culture and much more. If you’re visiting with kids, don’t pass up a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum, filled with interactive exhibits and Disney artifacts, or the amazing playground and open spaces at The Tunnel Tops.
Known as the epicenter of San Francisco’s hip counterculture, the Haight-Ashbury is a haven for vintage finds and 1960s nostalgia. You can follow in the footsteps of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead on a Flower Power Walking Tour, while learning about how music shaped the Haight’s vibrant history.
What Is San Francisco Famous For?
Founded in 1776, Mission is San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood, but has some of its newest restaurants and galleries. Latin culture and Dolores Park are among the most popular attractions. Many visitors come to the mission to admire the murals that adorn the walls of the buildings.
Although driving around San Francisco is not encouraged, cycling certainly is! This is an easy way to get to different attractions that are close to each other. The best part is that you won’t have to worry about parking.
If you’re looking for goodies made exclusively in San Francisco, there are plenty of local places to shop. SFMade proudly works with local manufacturers who make everything from clothing to coffee blends. At the Ferry Building Marketplace, you’ll find goodies from our neighboring cities like Sausalito and Guerneville. Take home unique finds while supporting small businesses in the Bay Area.
Since we’re the city that basically invented gay, it’s no surprise that the Castro is a popular place to explore. Its vibrant and lively atmosphere makes it a great destination to visit day or night. If you’re in San Francisco in October, be sure to check out the annual Castro Street Fair.
Hidden Treasures Within The Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
You don’t have to go all the way to wine country to enjoy exceptional vintages in California. San Francisco has a handful of excellent local tasting rooms. As for the best breweries in the Bay Area, San Francisco is practically the home of American craft beer, with institutions like Anchor Brewing still operating within the city limits.
San Francisco is known for its popular brunch spots, like Mama’s on Washington Square (1701 Stockton St.), which has been serving up its famous fluffy omelets and homemade confections for more than 50 years. In the Castro, Kitchen Story will satisfy your deepest needs with Millionare’s Bacon, and Piccino in Dogpatch is a delight for locals and visitors alike.
Take a nice boat ride around Stow Lake where you can spot different species of birds and turtles. Attractions like the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens and the Aquarium of the Bay are perfect for families with children who want to see and interact with wildlife. The California Academy of Sciences will thrill kids of all ages with birds, snakes, spiders and lots of fish. Don’t miss the green roof!
San Francisco is one of the greenest cities in the country, in more ways than one. No matter what neighborhood you find yourself in, you’ll never be far from a park. Some are hidden gems, while others are marvels of urban engineering.
Mission San Francisco De Asis
If you’re into hiking, the Presidio has many art trails that are worth the stunning views. Urban Hiker SF offers group hiking trails through popular urban destinations such as the Castro, Twin Peaks, Coit Tower, and many others.
There are several museums dedicated to San Francisco’s rich history. The Wells Fargo History Museum invites visitors to use antique bank machines, send telegraphs and even ride a replica stagecoach train! If you want to learn about San Francisco’s public transportation history, the San Francisco Railroad Museum and Cable Car Museum give visitors a chance to see and learn about San Francisco’s living landmarks. Learn about California’s diverse past at the California Historical Society.
Want a different perspective on San Francisco? Kayak the bay to see amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline. Have a romantic dinner on a Hornblower cruise. Or take a ferry to visit Alcatraz. Seeing the city from these marine vantage points will have you leaving your San Francisco heart in no time.
These places in San Francisco are a must on your itinerary if you’re a movie buff. From classic comedies (“Full