San Francisco

Things to do in San Francisco

Visitors to the city by the bay will be hard pressed to run out of things to do in San Francisco. From the lively nightlife scene, to the multitude of delicious dining options, to the cultural wonders and outdoor attractions, it’s a hard vacation destination to top.

Beer-lovers wondering what to do in San Francisco will be delighted to learn that the metropolis boasts more microbreweries than New York City. Anchor Brewing Company is located in the city, and tours are available by appointment every Friday afternoon. Most bars serve a rotating list of craft beers from nearby breweries.

Because there are so many things to do in San Francisco, it’s wise for visitors to start their trip by taking a walking tour of the city. These tours, which are led by local volunteers well versed in the city’s history, are free and cover a wide swathe of the metropolis, from well-known landmarks to more out-of-the-way hidden gems. If you are still overwhelmed after the tour, these knowledgeable guides can help you craft a list of options for what to do in San Francisco before you leave the foggy city by the bay.

Bankers, first dates, and everyone in between find their way to the softly lit spot in this Beaux Arts hotel. The namesake Maxfield Parrish mural glows over the bar.

An espresso pioneer, Trieste has been roasting beans and caffeinating the city since 1956. On Saturday afternoons, the owners and other local musicians belt out everything from opera to Patsy Cline.

This wonderful collection of Japanese photo booths captures customers diving out of a washing machine, covered in confetti, or popping out of a bouquet of flowers. Before the machine spits out sticker page of the shenanigans, make sure to add after-effects like props and writing.

Climb aboard the historic ships docked at the Hyde Street Pier, such as the three-masted Balclutha (1886) and the schooner Alma (1891). Keep walking west and the crowds fall away as you reach the Art Deco Bathhouse Building, with its collection of ship models.

Browser’s cozy carpet-lined interior, collection of antique typewriters, and solid selection of local authors has made the independent bookstore a favorite stop on upper Fillmore since 1976.

Two stone lions practically purr for a photo op, flanking this pagoda-style arch.

Perched atop Telegraph Hill, this 1930s Art Moderne landmark is a dashingly romantic spot at sunset. It’s all fluted, ivory glamour on the outside; inside you’ll find period murals of city life. You can climb up to the observation deck, but the bay view from the ground is nearly as grand.

Stemmed glasses line up along the bar, getting pre-heated for Irish coffee, the whisky-laced, cream-topped pick-me-up invented here in 1952.

Mamma Mia sing alongs, double features, and hard to find films aren’t the only things that make this theatre one of the city’s most special. The two-tiered historic building and Wurlitzer organ player secure the setting as a destination in its own right.

This busy commercial strip teems with souvenir shops, antiques dealers, herbalists, and gawkers. You’ll find several treasures among the tat, like the bright kites at the Chinatown Kite Shop (717 Grant Ave.). Be sure to sample a moon cake at Golden Gate Bakery (1029 Grant Ave.).

In 2011, the onetime Zeum morphed into a more inclusive children’s museum, now geared for kids age three to twelve. The expansion added updated technology activities, like green-screen video-making—but the 1906 carousel out front spins with old-school charm.