Autumn in San Francisco
The autumn is a great time to visit San Francisco. Believe it or not, the weather in the fall in the city can actually be warmer than in the summer. This means that you can experience nature and parks as well as some popular museums and tourist attractions. Tourist attractions? Yes, as the fall is the slowest time of the year for travelers, you'll be able to avoid larger crowds and long lines while still enjoying San Francisco's highlights. So, here are the best things to do in the fall in San Francisco.
Alamo Square Park
This park is most notable as the place to view the famous "Painted Ladies," a series of Victorian and Edwardian homes that were made famous by the Tanner family, in the 1980's sitcom, "Full House". The park spreads out for 36 acres and it's a nice place to relax with a book, enjoy a picnic lunch, or let the kid's play on the playground.
Steiner St & Hayes Street, Alamo Square, San Francisco, CA, 94117
Alcatraz Island, located in the San Francisco Bay, once served as a federal prison from 1934 to 1963. Today it is a National Historic Landmark that offers tours that cover the island's history, the former prison, and the many famous prisoners that were held here. To get here, you need to take a scenic ferry ride from Fisherman's Wharf, and it's best to book ahead, especially on weekends.
West Road, SF, California, 94133-1312
Angel Island State Park
Catch a ferry from Pier 41 to explore this beautiful state park. Nature lovers will enjoy the peaceful setting and photography enthusiasts will appreciate the views looking back at the city. This is the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay and it has a number of great biking, hiking, and running trails. There are five different picnic areas, eleven campsites, and several nice beaches as well. There's also a casual restaurant on the island.
San Francisco, CA
Aquarium of the Bay
Located at The Embarcadero and Beach Street, near Pier 39, Aquarium of the Bay has a number of local aquatic animals. It's an affiliate of the Smithsonian and works to promote ocean conservation.
SF, California, 94133
Located in the northwestern part of San Francisco, Baker Beach is a public beach that is about half a mile long. The northern part of the beach is a nude beach.
Seacliff, SF, California, 94121
Buena Vista Park
Buena Vista Park, in the famed Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, is the oldest park in the city. It's a bit of a climb to reach the park's peak, but from here you can enjoy views of the city, the University of San Francisco, and the surrounding hills that make up San Francisco's unique topography. The setting is a nice place to relax or enjoy a picnic.
Buena Vista & Haight Street, Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, CA, 94117
California Academy of Sciences & Morrison Planetarium
The California Academy of Sciences is both a natural history museum and a research institute. It has more than 26 million specimens, making it one of the largest museums of natural history in the world. It's also California's oldest museum, dating back to 1853.
The adjoining Morrison Planetarium hosts a variety of shows and events centering around astronomy and the stars. The 75-foot dome and large theatre make for an engaging and enjoyable experience for kids and adults alike.
55 Music Concourse Drive, Inner Sunset, SF, California, 94118
California Historical Society
The California Historical Society offers a variety of interesting exhibits at their downtown location. They also provide exhibits to a number of exhibits to other museums in the area.
678 Mission St., San Francisco, CA, 94105
Chabot Space & Science Center
Located in Oakland, this science museum and planetarium focuses on space exploration, astronomy, rocketry, and other space-related sciences. After undergoing a large renovation in 2021, the museum has a number of hands-on science exhibits which are great for children and adults. They also have an engaging planetarium, an outdoor deck space with more exhibits, and large telescope observatories.
10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, California, 94619
Children's Creativity Museum
This kid's museum is all about using your imagination and creativity. There's a play space where kids can just be kids. There are also labs, workshops, and studios where kids can experiment, explore, and learn. The Animation Lab lets kids create their own characters who then come to life through stop-motion filming. The Tech Lab teaches kids to program robots, and the Music Studio lets kids dress up and create their own music videos.
221 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA, 94103
This is one of the most scenic beaches in the San Francisco area. As it faces north looking towards the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, beachgoers here will have nice views looking onto some classic San Francisco scenery as well as out to the ocean. The beach here is flat and somewhat wide with room to lounge, or play, although it's not very long. Bring a chair and you can enjoy a good book in a quiet setting. It was once frequented by Chinese fisherman which is where the name came from. To get here head to the parking lot on Seacliff Ave between the Presidio and Land's End park. And try not to gawk at the expensive houses on your way in.
Seacliff Ave, San Francisco, California
Chinatown is a must-see neighborhood for anyone visiting San Francisco. It's one of the most visited neighborhoods in the city and it offers a unique cultural experience, that is surprisingly authentic, particularly if you wander down Stockton Street, which is lined with local seafood and vegetable markets. For the more touristy stretch with souvenir shops, head to Grant Street. San Francisco's Chinatown has a long history, and it is home to the largest Chinese population outside of China.
For anyone interested in trying local Chinese food, there are a number of good restaurants. There are also many small shops with souvenirs and trinkets.
San Francisco, CA
Contemporary Jewish Museum
This three story museum is an impressive sight. It is made with more than 3,000 color-changing blue steel panels that form the Hebrew letters chet and yud, which come together to spell the Hebrew word for life. The museum hosts a series of rotating exhibits as well as cultural shows.
736 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA, 94103
de Young Museum
This art museum is located in Golden Gate Park and features work from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. This museum is more than 125 years old and it's popular for its unique fashion exhibits that include everything from costumes to contemporary Muslim fashions. There's also a beautiful observation tower on the 9th floor that looks out over Golden Gate Park, downtown San Francisco, the Bay, and the Marin headlands.
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 94118
This small park is located between the Duboce Triangle and Lower Haight neighborhoods. It's an urban park, and small in size, but offers a nice green space in an otherwise urban area.
44 Potomac Street, Western Addition, SF, California, 94143
The Exploratorium will entertain and engage kids and adults of all ages. It has a wide variety of kid-friendly, hands on exhibits that include science experiments, as well as interactive zones that incorporate touch, sight, memory, and perception. The museum is found at Pier 15 and it features exhibits that serve to educate and inform on all types of science including physics, biology, engineering and sound.
Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green Street), San Francisco, CA, 94111
Fisherman's Wharf is a classic tourist's neighborhood in San Francisco. It's filled with souvenir shops where you can by t-shirts and other nick nacks. This is also where you'll find the famous Pier 39 with its many attractions including San Francisco's famous sea lions. Also in the area are a couple of museums, the famous sourdough and clam chowder restaurant, Boudin, and ferries to Alcatraz. Fisherman's Wharf is also the turn around point for one of the cable car lines.
San Francisco, CA
Fort Funston Beach
Located at the southern end of the city limits of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast, here visitors will find an old fort along with a nice stretch of beach. This section of land is now part of the Golden Gate National Rec Area. On the beach itself and the surrounding hills, you'll find some ruins of a WWII gun battery and fort, much of which can be climbed around and through if you're looking to explore. This is also a popular spot for hang-gliding and a gathering place for people with dogs. Public restrooms and picnic areas area also provided.
Skyline Boulevard, San Francisco, California, 94166
Named after the famous chocolate maker and constructed from a historic chocolate factory, this shopping center and public square has a number of boutique shops, ice cream, cafes, and nearby restaurants. Naturally, the most visited shop is the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop and ice cream cafe where you can get all sorts of yummy treats. Visitors can also find some fun activities such as mini-golf, a public fountain with outdoor seating, and great views looking out to the bay.
871 Beach Street, Marina District, San Francisco, California, 94109
Glen Canyon Park is a city park with 60 acres of green space and a number of fun activities including a rock climbing wall. There's a 1.8 mile trail that can get a bit crowded during popular times. During the spring season, the park is popular for its wildflowers.
Elk St and Chenery St, San Francisco, CA, 94127
Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Park is a diverse outdoor space with museums, wildlife, gardens, and trails all within a peaceful setting. It is the third most visited park in the United States, and it's the perfect place to wander, walk, run, or relax. Inside the park you'll find world-class museums like de Young Museum, the unique Japanese Tea Garden, and the impressive San Francisco Botanical Garden. It's easy to pass hours here just soaking up the refreshing outdoor setting.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
Japanese Tea Garden
This garden is designed specifically to create a zen experience. It offers a wonderful retreat from the chaos of the city and you can sit and relax or wander through the pagodas, koi ponds, and bonsai trees. The blooming cherry blossoms and the native Japanese plants create an authentic experience where you can immerse yourself in tranquility. For a light snack, head to the teahouse.
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 94118
Julius Kahn Park
This playground offers impressive city views in a gated setting where the kids can play. There are two areas, one for older kids and another for the younger kids and there are places where kids can climb, spin, or swing.
West Pacific Ave & Spruce St, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA
Kimball Natural History Museum
The Kimball Natural History Museum is a fun and educational museum for kids and adults alike. It's located in the California Academy of Sciences, and it has exhibits on fossils, natural history, and our planet.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
Kirby Cove Beach
On the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, in the Marin Headlands area, this small southern-facing beach has fantastic views looking out towards the bridge and the city, as well as the ocean. You'll have to walk about a mile and climb some steps to get down here, but when you do, you'll be alone for the most part.
San Francisco, California
Lands End Park
Lands End is a park that's located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It runs along the beautiful rocky shoreline and offers stunning views out over the water. It's located between the Sutro District and Lincoln Park and has a number of hiking trails that follow the coast. You'll also find a few small beaches such as Mile Rock Beach and Sea Rocks Beach. Also inside the park is the Legion of Honor art gallery, Holocaust Memorial, a golf course, the USS San Francisco WW2 Memorial, the Sutro Baths, and more. It's a nice place to explore, or find a space to yourself and enjoy reading or simply relaxing.
Seacliff, SF, California, 94121-1545
Lawrence Hall of Science
This science center is a fun place to explore with hands on exhibits and a great science curriculum that's suitable for all ages.
Centennial Drive, Berkeley, California, 94708
Legion of Honor
From it's beautiful Beaux-Arts building to its impressive collection of ancient and European art, this museum is a must-see in San Francisco. The limestone, marble, and chevron wood building is a beautiful work of art and inside there is a collection of more than 800 European paintings (with 250 available to view).
Lincoln Park | 100 34th Avenue (at Clement Street), Lincoln Park, San Francisco, CA, 94121
Often called "the crookedest street in the world" (although technically it's ranked second - the first is also in San Francisco), this zig zag street is a popular tourist attraction. It's fun to drive through this small stretch of switchbacks, but depending when you visit, be prepared for traffic.
Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA
Muir Beach Overlook
Located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Beach Overlook is a cliffside park between San Francisco and Stinson Beach. It offers views of the city on clear days and on occasion you may even see migrating blue whales between the months of November and June.
San Francisco, California
Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument is one of the closest places to San Francisco where you can enjoy a forest of redwood trees. The park spans 554 acres, with 240 acres filled with redwoods. The park is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Center and it's a popular day trip from the city. Plan to arrive early if you're visiting on a weekend.
Mill Valley, CA 94941, CA, 94941
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology is a natural history museum that is part of the University of California, Berkeley. It was founded in 1908 and is a major center for vertebrate studies on the West Coast.
Campanile Way, Northside, Berkeley, California, 94720
Oakland Aviation Museum
This large aircraft museums offers plenty to see and do for aviation lovers. Featuring a huge hangar full of historic and modern aircraft, visitors can see items from the early days of flight (Wright Brothers models), to World War II aircraft to Vietnam and modern era aircraft. Also on display are exhibits about women in aviation, Black Americans in aviation, aircraft engines, historic airlines, and more.
8252 Earhart Rd, Oakland, California, 94621
Ocean Beach is located on the West Coast of San Francisco by the Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by the Golden Gate Park, the Richmond District, and the Sunset District.
1506 Great Highway, Sunset District, SF, California, 94122
Pier 39 is the most popular pier in Fisherman's Wharf. It's a touristy area with a number of shops and restaurants, but people also head to the pier to see San Francisco's famous sea lions. They hang out on the nearby docks and entertain the crowds. The pier is also lined with seafood vendors and a couple of tourist museums.
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA
Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden
Head to this beautiful garden during the spring season to see the tulips in bloom. The garden offers a touch of the Netherlands in San Francisco. The flowers are set beneath an authentic Dutch windmill and the beautiful red, pink, orange, and yellow colors really pop when the flowers are in bloom. You can also grab a bite at the Park Chalet Garden Restaurant and enjoy the view while you dine.
Golden Gate Park
This family-friendly museum offers a number of interesting exhibits including a STEM lab, science and ceramics studios, and several exhibit spaces. This museum is all about the kids, and there's plenty of space for the young ones to play. There's a toddler treehouse and a large electric model railroad that even has replicas of Bay Aria trains. Animal lovers will enjoy the animal exhibit which features live coyotes, foxes, reptiles and sea creatures.
199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA, 94114
Rodeo Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It's located in Marin County and has a notable spit that is about 50 meters wide. There is pebbly sand and cliffs by the beach.
San Francisco, California, 94965
San Francisco Botanical Garden
This large botanical garden has more than 9,000 plant varieties. The park is divided into different sections including the Succulent Garden, the Moon Viewing Garden, the Ancient Plant Garden, and the Garden of Fragrance. There are monthly guided tours where you can learn about the seasonal flowers as well.
1199 9th Ave, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 94122
San Francisco Museum of Craft & Design
This museum features the work of painters, textile artists, and sculptors. It's a small museum with a number of rotating exhibits.
2569 Third Street, San Francisco, CA, 94107
San Francisco Railway Museum
Located by the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero, this fun and family-friendly railroad museum focuses on the history of railroading in San Francisco with a special focus on the historic street cars. After all, the city is not just home to the cable cars, but also street cars and a subway system. Visitors can get into the driver's seat of a replica street car and view a variety of exhibits about local history as it relates to transportation in the region.
77 Steuart Street, Embarcadero and Financial District, San Francisco, California
San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo is an impressive zoo that sits on about 100 acres in the southwestern corner of the city. The zoo has more than 1000 individual animals and 250 species. It's also the birthplace of the well known gorilla, Koko.
To Little Puffer Steam Train, SF, California, 94166
For a quieter setting, head to the Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park. The flowers in this garden have all been mentioned in Shakespeare plays, so literary enthusiasts can enjoy identifying the species. You can enjoy a quiet and romantic picnic and it's also the perfect place to relax with a book or spend time with your thoughts. The setting is often used for weddings as well.
Golden Gate Park
The Steinhart Aquarium is part of the California Academy of Sciences. It's a diverse aquarium with almost 40,000 live animals from over 900 different species. There are unique and beautiful exhibits as well as interactive programs that everyone can enjoy.
55 Music Concourse Drive , Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 94118
The Charles F. Hagar Planetarium
Located at San Francisco State University, the Charles F. Hagar planetarium is open to the public as well as school groups. While it's a smaller venue with only 75 seats, the events and shows teach everyone about the stars in a fun and educational way.
Thornton Hall, 4th Floor,, Room 422, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California
The Marine Mammal Center
Created in 1975, the Marine Mammal Center, focuses on rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing injured marine mammals. It's also a research and educational center.
2000 Bunker Road, San Francisco, California, 94965
The Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is the last building remaining from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. It's a beautiful, classical style building that sits by a lagoon that serves as a reflecting pool. Inside the palace there are regular art exhibits and performances. The theater seats about 1,000 people.
3301 Lyon Street, Marina District, San Francisco, CA
The Presidio historically served as a U.S. Army base but today it is a large green space and a public park. It's situated in the northwestern corner of the city at the gateway to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio is a national park that is controlled by the National Park Service and it runs between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, ending at Baker Beach. Within the park there are stunning views of Marin County and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as a number of biking, hiking and walking paths. There are also plenty of places to enjoy a picnic or rest with a good book. The Walt Disney Family Museum as well as a golf course and several cafes are also found within the park.
The Presidio, San Francisco, CA
This park is all about the views. It's one of the highest parks in the city and it looks out over the entire Bay Area. The park is made of up two peaks with the north peak offers 180 degree views of the city. The park can be a bit challenge to get to, particularly if you're relying on public transportation, but the view at the top is well worth it. In total, the park has 64 acres of land.
501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco, CA, 94114
Walt Disney Family Museum
This museum is dedicated to the life and work of Walt Disney. It was founded by the Walt Disney Family Foundation and is overseen by Diane Disney Miller. The museum features historic photographs and other paraphernalia from Walt Disney's life as well as rotating exhibits on various animators and stylists who have worked on the Disney movies.
104 Montgomery Street, Presidio, San Francisco, CA, 94129
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
This venue offers contemporary visual art, performances, films, and community programs that highlight and educate the public on local, national, and international artists that are creating works in modern times.
701 Mission St., SoMa, San Francisco, CA, 94103
Yerba Buena Gardens
Located amid the hustle and bustle of the Financial District, this garden offers a nice retreat from the surrounding energy. There's a hedge maze, waterfalls, and grassy areas where you can relax in the sun. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a snack or take a break with a book. It's also conveniently located where you can rest your legs during a busy day of sightseeing.
750 Howard Street, SoMa, San Francisco, CA, 94103
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $23 to $90. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $53. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in San Francisco
How much do vacation rentals cost in San Francisco? Prices vary by location, date, size of the place, and the level of luxury. See below for options.