Things to see and do in San Francisco

San Francisco resonates with a cool, quirky, and vibrant culture. From the Latin-influenced eateries and weird stores of the historic Mission area, to the ultra-trendy Haight and affluent paradise of Pacific Heights, there’s an area suited for everyone.

Popular attractions in San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

Cross one of the world's most famous and colorful bridges

Good for
  • Sightseeing
  • Bridge
  • Top attractions
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San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is the most iconic landmark in the city. Opened in 1937, after almost 5 years of construction, its signature color is actually "International Orange", rather than gold. The 1.7-mile-long suspension bridge links San Francisco to the Marin headlands and can be crossed by vehicle, on foot, or on a bicycle.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed landmarks in the world. According to the time of the day, different viewpoints offer the best photos of the bridge. Fort Point is good in the morning, Baker Beach is great in the afternoon, and the Marin headlands are excellent in the evening.

Hotel prices near Golden Gate Bridge

3 stars
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$175
4 stars
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$186
5 stars
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$362
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Alcatraz Island

Get locked up in one of America's most famous prisons

Good for
  • Sightseeing
  • Lighthouse
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Alcatraz Island and its famous federal prison are among the most iconic landmarks of San Francisco. Just 1.25 miles offshore, the 22-acre island is now a recreation area and National Historic Landmark, after the penitentiary closed in 1963.

Alcatraz went through a lot of development and renovation at the end of the 20th century to make it more accessible and enjoyable. Other than exploring the historical buildings, you can stroll around Alcatraz Island to discover its beautiful natural scenery and wildlife. Tours to the island and the prison depart daily from Pier 33 in Fisherman's Wharf.

Hotel prices near Alcatraz Island

3 stars
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$173
4 stars
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$186
5 stars
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$363
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Fisherman's Wharf

Explore San Francisco's historical waterfront neighborhood

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San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf is one of the older and more popular neighborhoods of the city. Mostly dating back to the mid-19th century, the waterfront area is full of delicious seafood restaurants, giving off the delightful smells of Dungeness crab and clam chowders, among other yummy dishes.

The Fisherman's Wharf is still home to an active fishing fleet, but it's also become a major tourist attraction in San Francisco. You'll find shopping centers to wander around, museums to visit, a decommissioned WWII submarine to explore, and even a sea lion colony at Pier 39.

Hotel prices near Fisherman's Wharf

3 stars
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$166
4 stars
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$175
5 stars
from
$362
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Pier 39

Wander around one of San Francisco's liveliest neighborhoods

Good for
  • Activities
  • Shopping centre
  • Shopping
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Pier 39 is found at the edge of the famous Fisherman's Wharf, in the north of San Francisco. It's packed with shopping centers, seafood restaurants, and a big choice of entertainment options, making it one of the most popular places in San Francisco.

Pier 39 is especially enjoyed by families as many of the attractions are designed for kids, like the aquarium, the video arcades, and the virtual 3D rides. Uniquely Pier 39 also has its own colony of California sea lions. Their loud barking and playful antics have been features of the pier since 1989.

Hotel prices near Pier 39

3 stars
from
$173
4 stars
from
$175
5 stars
from
$362
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Presidio of San Francisco

Explore the largest natural park in San Francisco

Good for
  • Sightseeing
  • Natural history museums
  • Museums
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The Presidio of San Francisco offers a grand day out in relaxing natural surroundings. You'll find this park and former military base, recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1962, at the northern tip of San Francisco. The park spreads over a hilly area of 1,480 acres, covered with pine and cypress trees.

Apart from the natural sites like Baker Beach, there's a good range of manmade points of interest to explore in the Presidio of San Francisco. You should definitely check out Battery Chamberlin, Fort Point, and the great view of the Golden Gate Bridge, for a start.

Hotel prices near Presidio of San Francisco

3 stars
from
$172
4 stars
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$201
5 stars
from
$362
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Lombard Street

Take a ride on the world's most crooked street

Good for
  • Sightseeing
  • Street
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A 1-block segment of Lombard Street has become a popular spot to visit in San Francisco. Going east-west from The Presidio to The Embarcadero, in the northern area of San Francisco, Lombard Street has a 600-foot section described as the most crooked in the world.

The eastern side of Russian Hill has a slope so steep that road builders had to put in 8 sharp curves to make it possible to drive up and down it without an off-road vehicle. Naturally, traffic flow is pretty slow, especially since the street is now a popular attraction.

Hotel prices near Lombard Street

3 stars
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$197
4 stars
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$196
5 stars
from
$429
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Chinatown Alleyways

Explore one of the largest Chinese enclaves outside of China

Good for
  • Sightseeing
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San Francisco's Chinatown Alleys give you the full Asian experience on the west coast of the USA. The Dragon Gate, at the intersection of Bush Street and Grant Avenue, marks the area's entrance, and is one of its most famous landmarks, often featured in blockbuster movies.

If you want to enjoy a slightly less touristy experience, you should explore the alleys off Stockton Street, heading towards Portsmouth Square. Both of these areas have a more genuine Chinese touch. Stockton Street features fish markets and small restaurants, while Tai Chi practitioners and Chinese chess players are found in Portsmouth Square.

Hotel prices near Chinatown Alleyways

3 stars
from
$171
4 stars
from
$174
5 stars
from
$314
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Twin Peaks

Get a breath of fresh air in central San Francisco

Good for
  • Sightseeing
  • Park
  • Relax in a park
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The Twin Peaks offer a breath of fresh air in the center of San Francisco. These 2 hills reach a height of 925 ft, and are home to a pristine natural habitat, containing a wide range of endangered plant and animal species. Many of the city's reservoirs are also found here, on the northern side of the Twin Peaks.

The star attractions here are the 360-degree panoramic views over San Francisco and the bay. The most famous viewpoint is Christmas Tree Point, on the northern peak. On clear days, you can see as far as Santa Ana Mountain, 86 miles away.

Hotel prices near Twin Peaks

3 stars
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$179
4 stars
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$182
5 stars
from
$362
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California Academy of Sciences

Visit one of the world's largest natural history museums

Good for
  • Natural history museums
  • Sightseeing
  • Kid friendly
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The California Academy of Sciences was established in 1853, and completely renovated in 2008. It now houses a collection of over 20 million specimens in 4 venues: Kimball Natural History Museum, Morrison Planetarium, Rainforests of the World, and Steinhart Aquarium.

Covering an area of 400,000 square feet, the California Academy of Sciences is one of the world's largest natural history museums, as well as a center of many ongoing research studies. You can take a break from wandering around the seemingly endless exhibits at The Academy Cafe and The Terrace - the center's 2 dining options.

Hotel prices near California Academy of Sciences

3 stars
from
$172
4 stars
from
$185
5 stars
from
$362
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Union Square

Shop in one of the world's premier retail districts

Good for
  • Dancing
  • Nightlife
  • Entertainment district
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Union Square is a great destination for shopaholics in San Francisco. Found in the heart of the city, just south of Chinatown, this 1-block plaza has an impressive collection of shopping malls, art galleries, posh boutiques, and upmarket restaurants.

This lively shopping and dining hub covers 2.6 acres and stretches out onto the neighboring blocks, where you'll find stylish hotels, lounge bars, and single-act theaters. A busy place that never seems to sleep, this cosmopolitan area is considered one of the world's premier shopping destinations, and is one of San Francisco's major attractions.

Hotel prices near Union Square

3 stars
from
$161
4 stars
from
$174
5 stars
from
$314
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