Travel Guide: The Best Things to do in San Francisco

San Francisco is often known for being a tech hub and a foodie’s paradise. It is definitely both of those things, but it also has so much more. Even though this city only stretches 7 miles, it’s packed with must-see views and activities.

The city has a rich history of diverse cultures that blend in a way I’ve never seen before. I often joke you often don’t have to travel out of the country to experience a new culture, just head to San Francisco.


To write about San Francisco we enlisted resident Jessica Wright, founder of Bon Traveler. Jessica grew up visiting San Francisco with her family often, currently lives just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin, and knows San Francisco like the back of her hand. This made her the perfect tour guide and partner to help us write about The Golden City.

What are the best things to do in San Francisco?

My favorite part of the city is exploring the contrasting neighborhoods. I love heading to the Mission for instance to grab a bite at Tartine Bakery, stroll the shops on Valencia and end with a coffee at Ritual. You never what you’ll find along the way.

Jessica carrying Baggallini’s 3-in-1 Convertible Backpack around San Francisco

Best Tourist Activities in San Francisco

One of the best things about San Francisco is that it’s actually relatively small in terms of geography (only 49 square miles), which makes it easy to see everything on your bucket list in a short amount of time.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Here are a few of the top must-see, bucket list destinations in San Francisco.

  • Of course, you have to walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • To fully experience San Francisco’s charm, hop on a cable car. San Francisco’s cable car system is the last of its kind in the United States and was made a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
  • Take a ferry to Alcatraz Island and tour the infamous Alcatraz penitentiary. The self-guided tour is accompanied by an audio recording that is voiced by former inmates and guards of Alcatraz.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf should be at the top of your must-see list. In this little area you can visit Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39, and more.
  • Walk through Chinatown. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest in the United States boasting a number of temples, theaters, shops, and teahouses.
  • Drive to the Twin Peaks. The Twin Peaks are the only hills in San Francisco that remain in their original state and offer a fantastic view of the city.

Best Art Museums and Destinations in San Francisco

When in San Francisco you have to indulge in the arts. It’s something that sets San Francisco apart from many destinations.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • A go-to is the SFMOMA or San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. SFMOMA has art from artists around the world, including Frida Kahlo, Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol, and Julie Mehretu. Plus, Sightglass Coffee is tucked away inside allowing you to extend your time indoors on a cold day.
  • Another favorite museum is the de Young Museum. It’s for the classic, fine arts that are timeless. The architecture on the building is worth it alone and the location in Golden Gate Park is hard to beat.
  • Interested in Asian art? The Asian Art Museum is one of the largest museums completely dedicated to art from this area of the world.
  • Take a walk down Valencia Street in the Mission District. Valencia is filled with artisan shops and murals from local artists.

Best Music Venues in San Francisco

Concerts are always an easy win — check out venues like The Warfield, The Fillmore, the San Francisco Symphony, and more.

  • Built in 1922, The Warfield theatre has been home to a variety of performers and shows. It’s well-known for it’s ornate decor featuring marble, gilt, and chandeliers.
  • The Fillmore is one of the most well-known concert venues in San Francisco. It has hosted acts such as James Brown, Jefferson Airplane, Prince, The Cure, and many more and still has dozens of shows every month.
  • The San Francisco Symphony has a long history dating back to 1911. This symphony offers something for everyone and has won some of the most prestigious recording awards.
  • SFJAZZ Center is home to the SFJAZZ annual season supports the local music scene with free summer concerts.

Sports in San Francisco

Are you a sports fan? Or traveling with a sports fan? San Francisco is home to a number of major and minor league sports teams. Here is a list with links to of their schedules.