San Francisco: the golden city of California, which is known for being as expensive as it is entertaining. But if you want to have fun without breaking the bank, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered with the top free things to do in the city.
1. Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge, the global iconic symbol of San Francisco, is the first place you must check out. Make a stop at the visitor center if you need information about the free walking tours starting at the Strauss statue and moving to the bridge. Otherwise, you can do a self-guided tour at your own pace, enjoying the scenery around at leisure.
If you pack a pair of binoculars with you, be sure to gaze down from over the bridge to catch dolphins and seals swimming around. Twin Peaks is a great vantage point to enjoy the city skyline. Just check the weather before you plan, because if it is foggy, there won’t be much to see.
2. Pier 39
This is an all-around fun spot to be, for singles as well as families. The walk through the pier to reach the water’s edge is a mixture of color, taste and delight. You will find attractions like an infinite mirror maze, a colorful carousel, cotton candy stalls, a shop dedicated to left handers, and mouth-watering seafood restaurants all thrown together on this pier. You can easily spend a few hours here, tasting amazing food and enjoying the plentiful shopping.
At the end of the pier, you have the Sea Lion museum on the first floor and incredible views of the Bay. When in season, you can spot hundreds of sea lions lazily sunbathing over the wooden planks on the water.
3. Mission Dolores Park
Mission Dolores Park is a beautiful place to catch a breath of fresh air and relax your feet after all the sightseeing. This spot is located in the uber-cool Mission district, named after the popular Mission Dolores Church close to this huge park. Many locals prefer this space for outdoor recreation. It has amazing views of the city as an added bonus. Public transportation to this park is plenty if you do not want to catch an Uber or Lyft.
4. Palace of Fine Arts
This place is a true jewel of San Francisco. These ancient pillars of art are maintained well by the city, and it attracts thousands of visitors every week. The dome in the center connects to multiple huge pillars full of beautifully carved art of angels looking down on us. There is a peaceful lake near this dome where you can catch glimpses of marine life, including turtles.
The park around the lake makes for a delightful walking trail that the locals take advantage of regularly. If you happen to visit the Palace of Fine Arts during evening hours, you would love to see the lighted dome inviting you in. Sometimes weddings are also conducted in this heavenly spot, and you can see beautiful brides gliding in their wonderful gowns here.
5. Golden Gate Park
This is huge expanse with a whopping 1,000+ acres of pure serenity. No one can be expected to cover all this ground in a single day, but there are ways to do that – like going on a Segway tour! Everything is so well-organized here, making it a favorite spot for both locals and tourists. Do not forget to check out Stow Lake and man-made Huntington Falls.
Golden Gate Park is also home to the Japanese Tea Garden, a beautiful park. Fortunately, for tourists, it is free to enter if you arrive before 10 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
6. Rincon Park
If you believe in romance, this park is the place to be. Located near Embarcadero, this spot serves as a pleasant break for office workers on weekdays and love-struck tourists on weekends. Rincon Park is famous for its huge bow and arrow, known as Cupid’s Bow.
7. Baker Beach
This beach is right next to Golden Gate Bridge and is real beauty to spend time at, simply relaxing on the sand and gazing at the Golden Gate. The water can be pretty cold, so be prepared for it if you plan on any water fun. Catch a sunset that you will never forget from this beach.
8. Lombard Street
This is a beautiful residential street famous for its crooked path. There are wide sidewalks that allow tourists to walk up and down the street to enjoy its beauty. Cars are restricted here, so you can only catch a ride till a certain point close to this street. Gorgeous flowers decorate the path, making it a sight to behold.
These spots can be covered in a long weekend, and there are many more awesome free things to do in San Francisco if you can spend more time here. Have a great time!