Let's Get Outside!
With it's many outdoor activities, San Francisco is a great summer destination, but come prepared for the surprisingly cool weather. The city never actually gets hot, so even during the summer you'll want to pack a sweatshirt as you check out these fun activities.
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
Washington Square Park
Head down the hill from Ina Coolbrith Park and you'll find the popular Washington Square Park. This standard rectangle park offers a nice grassy field that is located in the heart of North Beach, San Francisco's Italian district. The park is filled with benches and places to rest or read a good book. It's also a nice picnic area and you'll find plenty of locals hanging out and soaking up the sun (when it makes an appearance). During the summer months there are often movies playing on large screens that you can enjoy free of charge. Saints Peter and Paul Church sits at the edge of the park.
Filbert St & Stockton Street, North Beach, San Francisco, CA, 94133
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
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
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 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 Conservatory of Flowers
Located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, this conservatory offers a tropical oasis that dates back to 1878. It's set in a Victorian building that is one of the oldest public wood and glass conservatories in North America. There are five galleries, each with their own unique ecosystem from around the world. This unique setting offers the atmosphere of a world adventure without leaving the city. Outside there is a beautiful lawn that is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a picnic or relax in a peaceful setting.
100 John F. Kennedy Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 94118
Once a grand public swimming area, the Sutro Baths are now just ruins of a burned-down building, of which visitors can see the old pools built out of cement into the side of the hill overlooking the ocean. The beach here is small but beautiful. The hill above is Point Lobos which has a nice walking trail and views of the surrounding hills and coastline.
1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, California
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Six Flags is a popular amusement park chain with parks throughout the country. It's known for its thrilling rides that entertain visitors of all ages. This park includes a range of rides for all ages, animal attractions, animal encounters, and live shows and performances. It also has an area for younger kids with a two story indoor playhouse that is filled with foam.
1001 Fairgrounds Dr, Vallejo, CA, 94589
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
Sausalito is a charming town in Marin County that sits across the by from the city of San Francisco. Visitors enjoy exploring the charming streets, shopping, and dining in one of the local restaurants. The town is also known for its Richardson Bay houseboat enclaves. Views from Sausalito are pretty spectacular as well, particularly as the sun sinks low.
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
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 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
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
Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach
This state park is located in the city of Alameda by the San Francisco Bay.
Gold Coast, Alameda, California, 94501
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
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
Pixieland Amusement Park
Pixieland Amusement Park is designed for kids up to 8 years old. It's a free park to explore, but you have to buy tickets to go on any rides. Popular rides include the teacups, the dragon roller coaster, and the Pixieland Express train. There's also a carousel, airplanes, and a car ride.
2740 E Olivera Rd, Concord, CA, 94519
Climb the stairwell on Filbert Street and you'll stumble into Pioneer Park, which is a 5 acre park that surrounds the famous Coit Tower. The park offers views of Russian Hill and it's possible to see The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz when the weather allows.
1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, Telegraph Hill, San Francisco, CA, 94133
Oracle Park - SF Giants Stadium
Oracle Park is home of the San Francisco Giants. Baseball lovers will enjoy visiting the ball field, which looks out on the ocean. Try to get seats along the 1st or 3rd base lines or behind home plate. There are also behind-the-scenes tours available.
24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA
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
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
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
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
Mission Dolores Park
This large park is a popular hangout with locals, who head here when the weather's nice to enjoy picnics, ballgames, and hanging out in the sun. The park has a full-sized basketball court, a bike polo court, a soccer field, and six tennis courts. There's also a large playground that's perfect for kids. The park is in a family-friendly area so parents and kids often spend their afternoons here.
Dolores St &, 19th St, Mission and the Castro, San Francisco, CA, 94114
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
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
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
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
Hayes Valley is a dynamic neighborhood centering on Hayes Street between the blocks of Van Ness Ave and Laguna. Here you'll find plenty of shops and restaurants. If you're interested in clothing boutiques, this is a good spot, as this area has plenty. Also found here are some home and garden design stores, tech and gadget shops, and shoe stores. A few bars and restaurants can be found along Hayes Street as well such as Doppio Zero (pizza & Italian), Anina (cocktails & beer), Monsieur Benjamin (French), and Chez Maman (French). The Davies Symphony Hall and the SFJAZZ Center are also in this area of town. Also, check out Patricia's Green which is a small park with some art exhibits.
Hayes & Gough, San Francsico, California
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
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
This recreation area (not to be confused with Golden Gate Park) is a beautiful natural area in Marin County that's across the Golden Gate Bridge from the city. It offers a beautiful escape from the city with walking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and beaches. The area is known for its stunning views that look back on downtown San Francisco. The park is popular with photographers who want to capture that classic San Francisco shot.
San Francisco, CA, 94123
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
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
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
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
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 210 foot Coit Tower is located on Telegraph Hill in Pioneer Park. It was built in 1932 and 1933 and offers impressive views of the city. If you're short on cash, you can explore Pioneer Park for free and enjoy comparable views to those offered at the top of the tower.
15 Telegraph Hill Boulevard, Telegraph Hill, SF, California, 94133
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
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
Children's Fairyland, in Oakland, is a lighthearted amusement park that offers young kids a fun and exciting time. The park has small rides that are perfect for young children as well as several animals, puppet shows, and magicians. The park is open on select days through the summer season.
699 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA, 94610
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
California's Great America
California’s Great America, in Santa Clara, offers exciting roller coasters and family-friendly activities that are perfect for people of all ages. The amusement park has rides and shows that everyone can enjoy. After you've had your fill of thrill rides, head to one of the park's several shows. There are acrobats, live music performances, and live action shows with some of your kid's favorite characters including Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
4701 Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara, CA, 95054
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
This steel-hulled full rigged ship was built in 1886. It's a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is located at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
Russian Hill, SF, California, 94133-1312
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
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
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
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
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
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $8 to $779. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $231. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in San Francisco
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