San Francisco, CA - 2020 - Yelp

San Francisco, California

Known for its many hills and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco radiates with laid-back vibes. The city boasts green parks, sandy beaches, and mouthwatering food. Whether you venture to the artisanal Mission District or decide to try delicious dim sum in Chinatown, you’re in for a treat. Its penchant for both craft cocktails and dark dive bars is indicative of what the city has to offer: something for everyone.

San Francisco Top Attractions

Golden Gate Park

4.5 star rating
1196 reviews

The Presidio

4.5 star rating
239 reviews

Golden Gate Bridge

4.5 star rating
1885 reviews

San Francisco is the kind of place where you can spend weeks and still not get to see all of the once-in-a-lifetime sights scattered throughout the city. Alcatraz is unmissable, but you’ll need to pre-purchase tickets to the island—they can sell out months in advance. There are plenty of other activities at Fisherman’s Wharf to make a trip to the neighborhood worthwhile, or you can walk just a little farther west to reach Ghirardelli Square.

The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood was home to the Summer of Love in 1967, but these days it’s a bit of a tourist district, with crowded streets and modern shops and restaurants. Still, it’s worth stopping by on your way to Golden Gate Park. This huge swath of public land has attractions for everyone, from museums to the Japanese Tea Garden to secluded redwood groves to the city’s botanical gardens. But don’t be fooled by the name: the park is located more than two miles away from the Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, it’s not even the closest park to the historic landmark; that would be the Presidio, a former military base turned gorgeous national park with spectacular views of the “International Orange” bridge.

The Presidio is also home to Baker Beach, a beautiful stretch of Pacific coastline. Of course, going to the beach in San Francisco is a much chillier experience than many are used to—be sure to bring a sweater, and maybe a blanket too.

Back on land, if you crave a cannoli after your dim sum, you’re in luck: San Francisco’s iconic Chinatown directly borders North Beach, the historic Italian neighborhood. The two quarters are separated by Broadway Street, where neon signs beckon visitors into the various shops of this red light district. For a more family-friendly activity, stop by the legendary City Lights Bookstore, home to the city’s Beat scene in the 1950s.

Things to do in San Francisco

See all things to do in San Francisco

We searched high and low to find the things you simply MUST do in San Francisco. Whether you live here or are just visiting, these are the things you won't want to miss!

  • Enjoy a meal at Cielito Lindo

    “Pambazo & Quesabirria Ok so I tried both the pambazo which has chorizo in it and it was fire.”

  • Meet your spirit animal at San Francisco Zoo

    “Covid visit review: When I was younger, I would have said that the SF Zoo is too expensive and not that great.”

  • Enjoy an edible experience at Krispy Krunchy Chicken

    “The dark meat fried chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside, moist inside and salted all around.”

  • Check out Golden Gate Bridge

    “SF often gets very foggy so just be aware that if the fog is in, you may not be able to see the entire bridge.”

  • Window shop at Pier 39

    “There's a whole section right next to the shopping center where a bunch of sea lions are just lounging around.”

  • Enjoy a culinary masterpiece at Sushi Urashima

    “Overall this place is solid and the $30 omakase is a great deal.”

  • Get it while it’s hot (or cold) at Japanese Tea Garden

    “It's in Golden Gate Park and not only does it have great food but the sites in the tea garden are amazing.”

  • Learn a thing or two at Alcatraz Island

    “We bought tickets online for a certain time slot, met at the dock, and took a boat ride over to the prison.”

San Francisco Itineraries

Whether you’re traveling with kids, searching for culture, or counting your pennies—or a combination of the three—you’ll find plenty of places to visit in San Francisco. Here are three custom itineraries to help you find your way.

The Family Traveler

With its massive millennial population, it can sometimes seem like San Francisco is really just a giant playground for 20-somethings. But there are also tons of fun things to do in San Francisco for travelers of all ages.

Insider Tips:

Koret Children’s Quarter Playground is the go-to spot for families in Golden Gate Park, but the paddleboats on Stow Lake and the bison paddock will delight children as well. Don’t miss the park’s carousel, which is over 100 years old.

Packed with classic arcade games, including some that date back to the early 20th century, the Musée Mécanique is one of the most popular destinations for families at Fisherman’s Wharf, even if the infamous Laughing Sal display may give everyone nightmares. Entry is free, but you’ll need to load up on quarters for all the games.

Many of the city’s museums offer youth-oriented exhibits, but the Children’s Creativity Museum was made with kids ages 2-12 in mind. It’s the perfect indoor activity on San Francisco’s rainier days.

Though San Diego usually gets all the attention, San Francisco is home to its own impressive zoo—and it’s just a block from the beach.

The Culture-Seeking Traveler

San Francisco has a ballet, a symphony, an opera house, a jazz center, comedy clubs, multiple theaters, tons of concert venues, and far too many museums to list here. It’s no surprise that it’s a world-class cultural destination.

Insider Tips:

With about a dozen art museums within city limits, it can be hard to pick the perfect destination for visual art. One big highlight is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), which underwent a major renovation in 2016. The new space is a stunning set piece for rotating exhibits and an impressive permanent collection featuring Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko among many others. Avoid the crowds on Thursday nights, when the museum extends its hours into the evening.

If you’re willing to venture off the beaten path, head to the Dogpatch neighborhood, where the Minnesota Street Project has recently become a hot addition to the local art scene. It’s home to a number of contemporary art galleries that share a beautifully revamped space. Keep an eye on their calendar for lectures, performances, and other special events.

Comedy fans should plan winter trips in time for the SF Sketchfest. For a few weeks in January, all of the country’s best comedians converge on San Francisco to perform improv, standup, sketch shows, and more. Tickets go fast, especially for the bigger performances.

San Francisco is home to numerous live music festivals. Treasure Island, Outside Lands, and Noise Pop all draw huge acts to the Bay Area, but the free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival offers an impressive bill every year without a hefty ticket fee; you just have to be willing to brave the huge crowds.

And don’t forget food! San Francisco has some of the best restaurants in the country. Whether you can shell out three figures at a Michelin-starred restaurant or stumble upon an unforgettable hole-in-the-wall, you’re not going to go hungry.

Twin Peaks

4.5 star rating
1164 reviews

The Budget Traveler

Thanks to the tech boom, in recent years San Francisco has become one of the most notoriously expensive cities in the United States. Luckily, it’s easy to dodge the $300 prix fixe menus and $200 concert tickets and still have a great time.

Insider Tips:

With so many museums in one town, ticket costs can add up quickly. Fortunately, San Francisco is covered in street art that’s as impressive as any painting you’d find on the walls of SFMOMA. Take a walk down Clarion Alley, a block-long street in the Mission that’s covered in thought-provoking murals.

In the warmer months, many of San Francisco’s neighborhood parks transform into cineplexes and concert halls. Dolores Park, Washington Square Park, and many other public spaces offer free outdoor movies, while the Stern Grove Festival series has featured free live performances by Janelle Monáe, Kool and the Gang, and the Bay Area’s own Fantastic Negrito.

Though it’s an urban center, San Francisco offers a surprising amount of nature hikes within the city limits; a trip to Twin Peaks, Mt. Davidson, or Glen Canyon Park will make you forget you’re in a major metropolis. Or you could search for one of the stairway walks hidden in almost every neighborhood.

With its ornate ceiling, the historic Castro Theatre is a sight to see. The movie house schedules a vast array of two-for-the-price-of-one double features almost every night, showcasing a mix of new and old cinema. During intermission, a live organist entertains the crowd.

Get to Know San Francisco Neighborhoods

Reviews of the Day

I've ordered pizza, cheesy bread, lasagna, spaghetti, and chicken tikka masala from Brothers, and all were tasty. The cheese pizza has the perfect amount of ooey gooey cheese, and the lasagna is very filling. The pasta portions are large and can feed two people. The pasta comes with garlic bread. It was easy to place the to-go order and also super easy, timely pickup. Brothers Pizza is located on Taraval and Great Highway which is prime location. You can walk your pizza over to the beach and enjoy your food while watching the sunset!

I had a catfish po'boy here the other day and it was really great. I think other types of po'boys get too much shine and catfish deserves more love. Actually, I take that back. The other types get the warranted amount of shine, and catfish should be given commensurate sign to it's po'boy filling peers (another criminally underrated one is the hot link po'boy but that is a story for another day). Anyways, the catfish here is great. It's well breaded, the bread is good, and there's just a lot of fish inside. A lot of places will skimp on the fish but not HKC. I also got a "side" of mac and cheese. I put that in quotations because it was at least 2x, if not 3x, as much mac and cheese as you'd g...

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One for the books. This was one of the best sandwiches I've ever had in my life. The shop is old school with SF memorabilia hanging up on the walls. Even on a Tuesday, there was a line out the door. Ordered online and came in to pick up. The guys behind the counter work hard and efficiently and it shows. These sandwiches are made with love. Despite the current pandemic situation, they're still hospitable and kind. Got the pastrami with avocado and swiss and a turkey sub with everything on it. INCREDIBLE. Will definitely be back! Thanks for staying open! =)

Know Before You Go

Photo by Light S.

Transportation

  • As the Bay Area’s population has boomed in recent years, so have the number of cars on the road. Getting around in a personal vehicle can be tricky, especially during rush hour, and finding parking is even harder. Fortunately, San Francisco is home to ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft, so finding a cab takes a matter of minutes.

  • The Bay Area Rapid Transit system, affectionately known as BART, serves San Francisco as well as the surrounding communities. The trains take riders directly to popular neighborhoods like Union Square and the Mission, but they miss others, including Fisherman’s Wharf and Haight-Ashbury. The San Francisco Municipal Railway, or Muni, has the rest of the city covered with buses and light rail.

  • Though the cable car may be San Francisco’s iconic mode of transportation, they’re really more of an adventurous tourist attraction than a reliable way of getting around. If you do plan to catch one, get ready to wait in a long line with dozens (if not hundreds) of other tourists.

  • San Francisco is considered one of the most walkable cities in America, so pack appropriate footwear—and brace yourself for the steep hills.

Photo by Mychael H.

The Lay of the Land

  • At seven square miles by seven square miles, San Francisco is a pretty small city from a geographical perspective. Still, getting from one end of town to the other can take a while, especially during rush hour. Plan accordingly—and know that San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is far from the city center.

  • San Francisco has hills. Tons of them. Some are steeper than others, so preview any walking routes your phone recommends before you set off.

  • The Mission has become one of San Francisco’s most desirable neighborhoods for locals and tourists alike. It’s centrally located, easily accessible by BART, and features some of the city’s best taquerias.

  • All tourists inevitably end up in Union Square for its restaurants and shops, but holiday travelers will especially want to make this neighborhood a top priority. Not only is this area home to block after block of hotels and boutiques, but the towering Christmas tree and skating rink turn this public space into a winter wonderland.

  • The Castro, San Francisco’s celebrated LGBTQ neighborhood, has plenty of small-town charm amidst its nightclubs and leather boutiques.