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Best Things To Do In San Francisco

San Francisco is one of my favorite cities on the Pacific Coast. It’s got everything you want in a city – every kind of art, attraction, shopping, and food. Plus, San Francisco’s parks and waterfront make the city feel very “outdoorsy” and not crowded.

If you’re taking a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway, or if you’re in Northern California, then San Francisco needs to be on your itinerary.

So here’s what you need to know to plan the perfect trip to San Francisco!
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Best Things To Do In San Francisco

Must-Do Activities

Stroll through China Town

Take pics from the top of Nob Hill

Drive down Lombard Street

Visit Alamo Square

See if the Billy Goat Hill Swing is up (you also get great views of the city from here)

Visit the Lyon Street Steps

Marvel at the Palace of Fine Arts

Walk along Marshall’s Beach 

Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge

Explore Fisherman’s Wharf

Ride the Famous Cable Cars

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Best Things To Do In San Francisco

When To Go

September – November has some of the warmest and sunniest weather all year. And the crowds and prices will be much lower after the peak summer months end. Fall is your best chance for beach days in San Francisco, but always bring some layers because the bayside breezes can be chilly.

December – February sees low accommodation rates, and you won’t be competing with many other tourists for the best photo spots at top attractions. But make sure you bring plenty of warm clothes and rain gear if you’re visiting during these months.

March – May is the city’s shoulder season, so tourist numbers and prices will be on the rise, but not at their peak. I do recommend avoiding popular Spring Break weeks from late-March to Early-April. Temperatures will be in the mid-’60s (around 18ºC) during the day and a bit cooler at night, so still bring layers.

June – August. Because these are summer break months in the U.S., this is the peak travel season for San Francisco. Prices and tourist numbers will be at their peak, and you’ll want to book accommodation and tours in advance. And to many people’s surprise, San Francisco is quite chilly, damp, and foggy during the summer. So always have a layer with you, and bring a raincoat.

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Best Things To Do In San Francisco

Where To Eat

For Burgers: Super Duper Burgers, Causwells, Sam’s, Comstock Saloon

Brunch Places: Rose’s Cafe, Rusty’s Southern, Breadbelly, Lokma

Asian Food: Saucy Asian (Asian Fusion), Dumpling House (Dim Sum), Mamahuhu (Chinese), Rasa Rasa (food truck)

Rooftop Dining: Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge (pictured above), The View Lounge, Top of the Mark

Seafood: Alamo Square Seafood Grill, Anchor Oyster Bar, Farallon, Angler

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Staying at The InterContinental: the best hotel in San Francisco

Where To Stay

YOUR ACCOMMODATION IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF YOUR TRIP. SO I’VE GOT THE BEST HOTEL IN SAN FRANCISCO FOR YOU! READ ABOUT MY STAY AT THE INTERCONTINENTAL SAN FRANCISCO TO SEE WHY THIS CHIC, MODERN HOTEL IS WHERE YOU SHOULD STAY WHEN YOU’RE IN SAN FRANCISCO.
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Best Things To Do In San Francisco

Best Day Trips

Napa and Sonoma. I highly recommend spending a few days in both of these wine regions, but they are also leisurely day trips from San Francisco. You can drive to one of the hotels or towns and catch the wine shuttles that serve Napa and Sonoma. Or you can visit one or both of the regions as a guided tour from San Francisco. Either way, make sure you’re using good transportation judgment after each tasting.

Here’s my Getaway Guide To Napa Valley

Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Reyes is a beautiful cape just 30 miles northwest of San Francisco. Here, you can take those iconic Northern California Coast Instagram pics! I recommend visiting Point Reyes Lighthouse, Drakes Beach, and hiking to a view of Chimney Rock.

Monterey. The Monterey/Carmel-By-The-Sea/Big Sur area is worthy of its own trip. But if you can only visit this area as a day trip, then I recommend you do the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey and hike the McWay Waterfall Trail in Big Sur.

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Best Things To Do In San Francisco

Best Viewpoints Of The City

Pier 7

Coit Tower

Alamo Square Park

Twin Peaks Summit

Golden Gate Overlook

Bernal Height Park

Hawk Hill

Alcatraz Island

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Best Things To Do In San Francisco

If-You-Have-Time Activities

Browse City Lights Bookstore and walk through Jack Kerouac Alley next-door

Visit the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood – “birthplace of the hippie counterculture”

Relax at Golden Gate Park

Sail to Alcatraz Island

Explore the Union Square Neighborhood

Visit the Aquarium of the Bay

Tour the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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Shop My California Essentials
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Is there anything you’d add to this San Francisco guide? If so, let us know in the comments!
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For Planning The Rest Of Your Pacific U.S. Trip
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This post is not a sponsored post, and, as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article about the best things to do in San Francisco are entirely my own. Some of these links are affiliate links, and, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

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