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8 Things To Do in San Francisco

From beautiful coastal views to historic landmarks, San Francisco is an exciting destination.

By Melanie Vare on December 2, 2021

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco / iStock.com

San Francisco is a city so beautiful, exciting and diverse that you can always find something new to see and do. Consistently ranked as America’s Favorite City, it never fails to entertain. Hilly twisted streets, an exciting cultural mix, museums, great food, unique neighborhoods, famous bridges, the sparkling bay, and the clanking cable cars make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

1. Make It Your Mission To Experience the Mission

The Mission District is home to one of the original California missions. It’s young and bohemian while still keeping true to its authentic Mexican roots. Grab a burrito at La Taqueria and head to Dolores Park for a picture perfect viewpoint of downtown San Francisco and the Bay Bridge.

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Land's End in San Francisco / iStock.com

2. Step to the Edge At Lands End

Lands End’s rocky, windswept shoreline is perfect for hiking and taking in breathtaking views. Walk the Coastal Trail, find the labyrinth at Eagle’s Point, explore the ruins of the Sutro Baths, and enjoy great views of the ocean and Golden Gate Bridge. Keep an eye out for seals, porpoises, and whales.

3. Get Carried Away at the Ferry Building

The Ferry Building is a transit hub for ferries carrying commuters across the bay to outlying cities, as well as a bustling marketplace with little shops where you can buy the finest coffee, cheeses, salamis and sourdough bread, and enjoy the freshest oysters, crab and seafood at a bay-view restaurant. Shop at one of the best farmers markets in the country. Meet friends for drinks after work.  Catch a ferry to visit charming Sausalito or go to Angel Island for hiking and camping.

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Alamo Square, San Francisco / iStock.com

4. Admire the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square

Alamo Square is one of the most photographed locations in San Francisco. Famous for its cluster of pastel-painted Victorian homes, back-dropped by downtown skyscrapers, it is truly a visual treat.  

5. Snoop the Neighborhoods

Spend some time checking out the many micro neighborhoods in San Francisco, each with its own flavor. Cole Valley is home to young professionals and has a real sense of community with load of cafes. Presidio Heights has some of the city’s largest homes with sweeping views and great shopping and dining. Noe Valley has undergone gentrification and is now considered an upscale neighborhood, home to many urban professionals, and particularly young couples with children. Stroll through the venerable Haight and get your ’60s hippie on.  

6. Catch Sunday Service at Glide Memorial Church

No matter your religious leaning, you’ll be brought to your feet — clapping and swaying — at Glide Memorial Church’s Sunday service. The choir’s unique mix of spiritual, gospel, jazz, blues, pop and soul is a 90-minute celebration of brotherhood and acceptance.

7. Eat. Eat. And Eat Some More

Here’s a city that doesn’t have a boring food bone in its body. Clam chowder in a bread bowl, apple fritter from Bob’s Donuts, a simple walk-away seafood cocktail down at the Wharf, espresso from Cafe Trieste, carnitas burrito at La Taqueria, egg custard tart at Golden Gate Bakery, dim sum in Chinatown, Swedish pancakes at Sears Fine Foods, oysters at Swan Oyster, Hangtown Fry at Tadich Grill, carne asada super burrito at Taqueria El Farolito, high tea at the Garden Court in the Palace Hotel, ice cream at Mitchell’s or Bi-Rite, and every kind of ethnic food in existence.

8. Take Advantage of the Freebies

Walk the crooked streets. Gaze at sweeping views. Walk or bike the Golden Gate Bridge. Visit a museum on one of the free days (most offer a day during the month). You’ll find free movies and Shakespeare in the park during the summer months, and enjoy the outstanding festivals with world-class performers from rock to bluegrass to classical.

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