Walk Among The Redwoods In Muir Woods
If you go down in the woods today, youd better take a camera.
11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge youll find Muir Woods, a world-famous United States National Monument that brings in over 1.5 million visitors every year.
The protected land is one of the few remaining old-growth coastal redwood forests in the Bay Area something about walking through the worlds tallest trees and slow-flowing rivers just has an amazingly calming effect.
Easy to add into any 2 or 3-day itinerary, Muir Woods is less than an hour by car and is included in many group tours.
For all of you thirsty travelers, combine it with a trip to Wine Country to really indulge the senses.
Book Reading At City Lights Bookstore
One to two times a week you can catch a reading at the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach district.
This famous bookstore was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and was a favorite hangout of the Beat Generation.
It’s one of the few great independent bookstores still open.
Note: Right now, many of these are virtual, but they should restart the in-person readings at some point. The great news is you can see them from anywhere right now.
Golden Gate Park Gardens
Golden Gate Park has several beautiful gardens including the free Rose Garden near Park Presidio Blvd. and Fulton Street. While you are there, make sure you also check out the colorful Dahlia Garden near the Conservatory of Flowers.
Don’t miss your chance to check out these free things to do in San Francisco.
Every Sunday in the summer, you can watch free live music at Stern Grove Park.
The free concerts start in mid-June and run through mid-August each year.
Concerts start at 2 pm, but I recommend arriving early to get a coveted spot on the lawn.
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Score Strikes And Good Grub At A Bowling Alley
Ongoing$$Presidio and MissionWhether you want classic bowling or a fine-dining lane-side experience, SF has you covered. Presidio Bowl has 12 lanes, an internet jukebox, 45 beers, 19 wines, a full bar, and a pretty typical bowling alley menu. Mission Bowling Club is a little fancier with legit food and cocktails, but only six lanes, so youll definitely need to plan ahead.
$$Club Fugazi/North BeachSan Francisco could use a little love right now, and it gets more than a little during Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story, an immersive performance/homage to this wild town told via how-do-they-do-that acrobatics, including hoop diving, Chinese pole, and juggling, spoken word, video projections, shadow play, and original music. And though those things might sound like theyre for kids, this show is definitely more adult-friendly, especially if you order a bottle of wine and some fancy grown-up snacks and desserts to enjoy while you watch.
See The Bison In Golden Gate Park
Did you know there are actual Bison living in San Francisco?
The Bison Paddock in Golden Gate Park has been around since the 1800s, providing visitors with an opportunity to see what has sadly become a fairly rare sight around the United States.
If your kids love visiting the zoo, this is a wonderful chance for them to experience a somewhat threatened species that once roamed the land all across this country.
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Oaklands Charming Bonsai Garden On Lake Merritt
Oaklands Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt is an absolute must. Not only is it the only major all-volunteer-run bonsai garden in the country, but its also completely free to visit. The gardens collection comprises nearly 200 meticulously-maintained bonsai, of which about half are on display to the public at any given time. The oldest bonsai in the garden is a California juniper from the Mojave Desert, estimated to be up to 1,600 years old.
Take To The Skies On A Helicopter Tour
Once youve seen the city from the ground and the sea, the only thing left to do is fly.
A helicopter tour will have you soaring over San Francisco city and give a birds eye view of the best landmarks.
Check out Alcatraz, the underrated Bay Bridge, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, and the citys famous districts from up on high, with bonus commentary and even choreographed music .
Its a first-class flight experience, so make sure you take a camera.
Helicopter tours start both morning and afternoon from multiple city-central locations, with varying flight times to suit all budgets.
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Seal Cove Cypress Tree Tunnel In Moss Beach
Seal Cove Cypress Tree Tunnel in Moss Beach is a hidden gem. During the pandemic, I often visited here and heaved a sigh of relief. It was a beautiful escape from the monotony of quarantined life. A magical canopy of cypress trees here creates a 1/2 mile-long tunnel on one side with beautiful ocean views on the other side. When I laid my eyes on the coast far into the distance, I saw a herd of seals happily sunbathing on the beach. This place is a short 30 mins drive from San Francisco and offers a break from the humdrum of city life. Officially, this is part of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
Visit The Presidio Pet Cemetery
The Presidio Pet Cemetery was the burial site for several pets owned by military families when there was an army post in the area.
Although most of the animals were cats and dogs, there are also some rodents, birds, and reptiles buried here.
Although its a bit sad, this could be a great creepy location to visit either before or after a haunted house or a ghost tour.
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Wells Fargo Museum San Francisco
Located in the heart of San Francisco, the Wells Fargo Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the history of the American West. The museum is housed within one of the citys iconic Victorian buildings, and it chronicles countless aspects of life in those early days, from transportation to communications to banking. With numerous artifacts and interactive exhibits, the Wells Fargo Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into our past, allowing us to better understand how we got to where we are today. Whether youre a long-time resident or a visitor from afar, this cultural landmark is well worth exploring. So why not head over to the Wells Fargo Museum today and experience all that this unique institution has to offer? You wont be disappointed!
The Museum Of International Propaganda San Rafael
The Museum of International Propaganda is a unique institution that offers visitors a glimpse into the world of propaganda and its impact on history. The museum is located in San Rafael, California, and is open to the public free of charge. The museum features a wide variety of propagandist materials from around the world, spanning multiple centuries and covering a wide range of topics. The collection includes items such as political posters, wartime propaganda, and even childrens toys. Visitors can explore the different ways that propaganda has been used to influence public opinion and shape history. The Museum of International Propaganda is an enlightening experience that is well worth a visit for anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating topic.
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Ride A Cable Car In San Francisco
As iconic as visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is, riding one of San Francisco’s historic cable cars is truly the best way to get to know the city. There are three lines that operate in the citytwo between Union Square and Fishermans Wharf and one on California Streetthey take you through San Franciscos most famed neighborhoods at practically no cost.
San Jose Museum Of Art
The South Bay and San Jose, CA have no shortage of museums. For art lovers, theres the San Jose Museum of Art, specializing in art and artists of the West Coast. Visitors can expect to see a wide assortment of mediums including paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings, and much more.
The museum costs $10 for adults but is free for young adults, students, and teachers.
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Best Free & Affordable Attractions In San Francisco California
Whether you’re exploring one of the city’s beautiful parks preserved within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, or exploring historic neighborhoods, the city’s outdoor areas offer ample opportunity for recreation and historic architecture appreciation as part of self-guided walking tours. Many area museums offer free admission daily or on select free days.
We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.
Glbt Historical Society Museum
One of the first museums in the world dedicated to the subject of LGBTQ history and movement, this museum offers a look into the past century, showcasing local events and people that have shaped this neighborhood as well as the global community.
Admission is free for all visitors every Saturday, thanks to a grant from the Bob Ross Foundation. All visitors are encouraged to reserve these free tickets online in advance.
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Trek Or Cycle Across The Golden Gate Bridge
Not just for tourists, but a must for any city-dweller. The 1.7-mile span is open for pedestrians during daylight hours, with parking at either end, and the entire 3-mile round trip can be walked in an hour. Grab a cup of coffee and head out for an early morning adventure, and touch Hopper’s Hands while youre in the neighborhood. Golden Gate Bridge. Open daily.
Some of the records for sale at Amoeba Records on Haight Street in San Francisco on April 6, 2021.
Beach Market At Coquina Beach
Whether you want to pick up some produce or browse artisan goods, the Beach Market at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island is a fun addition to a beach day. Find dozens of vendors set up at Coquina Beach select days of the week from 10am-4pm. The days the market operates change throughout the season, so check for the current schedule. Parking is plentiful and free at Coquina Beach, which is Anna Maria Islands southernmost public beach. FYI: The market is closed for the months of August, September and October.
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Japanese Tea Garden Morning Free Times
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning between 9 am to 10 am, you can enter the Japanese Tea Garden for free.
This allows you to stay as long as you want to admire the beautiful gardens, check out its colorful pagodas, and stroll along its paved paths.
It’s another one of my favorite free things to do in San Francisco.
Eat Oysters At The Marshall Store
What is it? A postcard-perfect waterfront spot for oysters near the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Why go? Youll feel transported to New England at this charming seafood shack dishing up local crustaceans and mollusks on the banks of Tomales Bay. A line forms early for a simple menu of local oystersdont miss the BBQ oysters with chorizo butterwith a side of buttery garlic bread. Grab a bottle of rosé from the cold case and head to the communal tables lining the oyster shell-dotted shoreline.
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Seasonal Activities With Sf Rec & Parks
San Francisco is full of amazing activities and resources for just about any hobby you can think of and SF Rec & Parks knows it! If youre looking to try a new sport or learn a new skill, they have excellent programming every season. Most of the activities require a course fee, but there are always some free ones sprinkled in for group dance classes, drop-in workouts, and more for all ages.
Check Out The Painted Ladies
For a quick history lesson, in San Francisco during the Victorian era, it was tradition to paint houses in bright, distinctive colors luckily for architecture-loving travelers, a few of these historic buildings have been meticulously preserved to this day.
Known as Postcard Row, the Painted Ladies are a collection of homes climbing up the hill across from Alamo Square Park and easily hold the claim to fame of being one of San Franciscos most photographed locations.
With the city skyline in the background, the neat row of colorful homes has featured in countless movies, ads, and tourism brochures.
For prime photo conditions, have your camera ready at sunset. There are plenty of walking, bus, and biking tours that stop by the Painted Ladies with some even venturing inside.
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Apple Park Visitor Center Cupertino
The Bay Area is home to many world-renowned tech companies, and visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at one of them by taking a self-guided tour of the Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino. The Apple Park Visitor Center is the perfect place to learn about everything Apple. The Exhibition space features exhibits on the companys history, products, and environmental initiatives. You can also check out the latest Apple products in the Store. After exploring the Exhibition and Store, relax at the Apple Cafe. The Roof Terrace offers a unique view of Apple Park and its rolling landscape. And be sure to visit the Gift Shop before you leave!
Plugas Water Temple In Redwood City
Plugas water temple is a hidden gem in the Bay Area. It is a small piece of Europe in the heart of Silicon Valley. A great destination for a relaxing walk or a family picnic. This is open only during the weekdays. The best part is, there is no entrance fee and the parking is free too.
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Free Things To Do In San Francisco: The Wave Organ
The Wave Organ is a unique modern art sculpture located along the shores of the San Francisco Bay near the Exploratorium, constructed in May of 1986 by artist Peter Richards. The acoustic sculpture is designed to amplify the ambient natural sounds of the Bay with the use a series of more than 20 PVC and concrete pipes, which transfer sounds to a number of listening stations. The sculpture is designed to mimic the effect of listening through a conch shell, producing low, ebbing and flowing tones for listeners to enjoy. Listening quality is best during high tide times, though the sculpture is available for play during all weather conditions. Public parking is available at the nearby marina, with trailhead access available from nearby Crissy Field.
83 Marina Green Dr, San Francisco, CA 94123, Phone: 415-528-4444
Take Some Great Photographs After Dark
Although youll need daylight some of the best photo ops in San Francisco, there are some pretty great places to take pictures after the sun goes down.
If youre interested in taking photos of the Bay Lights display, a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge will be in order.
You might also want to consider taking a trip to Treasure Island to get one of the best views of the San Francisco skyline as it lights up after dark.
Alternatively, you could also head to the Marin Headlands near Sausalito for another great vantage point of the city.
NOTE: Some of the San Francisco night bus tours will actually take you to Treasure Island to give you a good look at the skyline from afar.
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Travel Through Time At The Musee Mecanique
One of the worlds largest privately-owned collections, the Musée Mécanique features over 300 machines sure to pique the interest of any history-savvy vacationer.
From antique slot machines to penny arcades and other 20th-century artifacts, the range is both diverse and wonderful.
A popular spot for a rainy day, the museum has been in operation since 1912 with founder Edward Zelinsky starting his collection at just 11 years old.
Today, it fills two buildings along Pier 45 of Fishermans Wharf and theres always a friendly attendant nearby to help find your way and learn more about what sits before you.
And the best thing? Besides being open all year long, admission is totally free!
Watch Movies Under The Stars
Grab a blanket and some popcorn. Sundown Cinema continues in city parks into the fall with Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark at Alamo Square on Sept. 9, Shang Chi in Dogpatchs Crane Cove Park on Sept. 30 and Addams Family Values at McLaren Parks Jerry Garcia Amphitheater on Oct. 21.If independent films are more your jam, the PROXY Walk-in Theater in Hayes Valley kicks off its free fall indie film series Sept. 23. Every Friday through Oct. 21, films begin at dusk at PROXYs open-air venue near Patricias Green. You can catch Memoria on Sept. 23, Lead Me Home Sept. 30, Neptune Frost Oct. 7, Happening Oct. 14 and Promising Young Woman Oct. 21. Various locations and dates.
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Celebrate Asian History At The Asian Art Museum
Connecting art with life, the Asian Art Museum is one of the worlds finest collections of artwork from the entire Asian continent.
With more than 18,000 works spanning a diversity of cultures including from Turkey, India, China, and the Philippines, youll find a world-class range of paintings, sculptures, bronze works, textiles and more.
The remarkable collection spans over 6,000 years of complex history, from ancient civilizations to contemporary technological marvels making it a quintessential SF outing for culture vultures and art-lovers alike.
Check it out in the heart of the citys Civic Center, and learn a thing or two about another culture.