Golden Gate Bridge with Water Splashing on Rocks
May 5, 2019
| By
Maria Mancuso

Things to do in San Francisco: 9 Best Free things to do in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most popular cities to visit in the United States, and this article, ‘9 Best Free Things to do in San Francisco’ gives you a list of some of the best ‘Free’ things to do in our beautiful city!

San Francisco is easily one of the most popular and beautiful cities to visit in the United States.  There is no shortage of fantastic San Francisco Activities, San Francisco Attractions and Things to do in San Francisco.  

This article, ‘9 Best Free Things to do in San Francisco’ presents you with options for some of the best things to do in San Francisco, that are free, or cost you very little to enjoy. 

Come back to explore our San Francisco Visitors Blog to view other interesting articles on how to make the most of your next visit to San Francisco.

Now, here’s the list – 9 Best Free Things to do in San Francisco:

1.  Presidio Park & Trails:  The Presidio is a national park as well a trail area and both are great free way to experience great views, trails, businesses and restaurants. Visitors can also enjoy great views of the Palace of Fine Arts (best to go at night to enjoy the beautiful lights) and views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The Presido Trails offer some beautiful and easy hikes in the area. Tall trees, easy paths, and great views are the reward for visiting this great San Francisco activity.

2.  Twin Peaks view of San Francisco: This area gives some of the best views of San Francisco and even Santa Clara Valley to the south.  The Twin Peaks are a part of the 49-Mile Scenic Drive which starts and stops at San Francisco’s City Hall.  The 49-Mile Scenic Drive is not a part of this list, but it could be.  It is free and a great San Francisco activity.  The Twin Peaks view area is one of the most popular natural landmarks around San Francisco. The ‘peaks’ are two peaks that rise above San Francisco and give visitors spectacular views of the city, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay and south to Santa Clara Valley.  Visitors can access the Twin Peaks view by making the 922 feet hike up to the Twin Peaks.  It is an easy hike and provides great views, day or night.


3.  Golden Gate Bridge: Yep, this is an easy one.  The Golden Gate Bridge is viewable from many areas of the city of course, and there are several ways to see this famous landmark, all for free. Visitors can experience the free walking tours of Golden Gate Bridge.  Also, great views of the bridge can be seen from Fort Point National Historic Site as well as Baker Beach.  For a fee you can take a harbor cruise boat that will take you closer to the Golden Gate Bridge – but this is a list of free things to do. 

4.  Chinatown: O.k., even though you can walk around Chinatown for free, it is near impossible not to pay to enjoy the great food, unique shops and other items that actually do cost a few dollars.  A walk-through Chinatown is a ‘must do’ San Francisco activity to be sure.  As you walk through Chinatown you feel as if you are transported to another place.  The food, the stores and the atmosphere of Chinatown make this free activity a ‘must do’ anytime you visit San Francisco.

5.  Fisherman’s Wharf: This is also one of the most popular San Francisco Activities for locals and visitors alike.  Fisherman’s Wharf is located between Aquatic Park and Pier 35 which includes the popular Pier 39. While visiting Fisherman’s Wharf is free, it will be a test of your will to not spend a few dollars on the delicious seafood, sourdough bread, souvenirs and of course the shops offering amazing treats and chocolate!  During your walk along the wharf you will see the Sea Lions sunbathing on the docks and the fishermen managing their boats and their daily catches.  Fisherman’s Wharf is a great free activity. 

6.  Lombard Street: This landmark is also one of San Francisco’s most popular photo opportunities in the city.  Lombard Streets most picture-perfect section is just a one-way block on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets.  A walk along Lombard Street will take you up, or down, Russian Hill where you can see beautiful homes and colorful flower beds that line the street.

7.  The Painted Ladies: This row of beautifully painted Victorian style homes sits across from Alamo Park.  These homes are a very popular photo opportunity in San Francisco – you have no doubt seen these famous homes in a variety of photographs and paintings celebrating this amazing San Francisco landmark. Consider taking a picnic to Alamo Park across from these homes and enjoy a bite to eat while appreciating the beauty of these structures.

8.  Mission District: This always vibrant and evolving San Francisco neighborhood is a great place to spend an afternoon walking around and enjoying the sights, musicians, restaurants, shops, etc.  This neighborhood features rows of beautiful Victorian style homes, bordered by Market Street on the north side, Noe Valley to the west, Cesar Chavez Street to the south and Potrero Hill to the east.  Take a walk-through Dolores Park which is located on a sloping hillside and provides you with a nice view of Mission District.  If you are interested in spending a few bucks, Mission District gives you a lot of options for great food, entertainment, a variety of cool Coffee Shops, and bars ideal for a cool cocktail, or two.

9.  Ferry Building Marketplace:  After an extensive renovation, the Ferry Building converted into an amazing venue for lovers of food, shops, great restaurants and it is home to a very popular weekly Farmers Market.  While you can walk through the Ferry Building and experience this activity at no cost, but it will be nearly impossible to not enjoy the offerings from the vendors here. The Ferry Building features open-front shops where vendors present great food items, take away food, souvenirs, and other items.  The Ferry Building Marketplace is located at the Embarcadero and at the foot of Market Street.  

Our list of ‘9 Best Things to do in San Francisco’ highlights only 9 of the best free things to do in San Francisco, we promise to publish another, updated list of other free things to do in the city.

Visit our San Francisco Visitors Guide for more recommendations and tips for visiting San Francisco.

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