10 Top Things to See and Do in San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California
Lombard Street in San Francisco
Lombard Street in San Francisco, California

With its near-perfect climate and incredible landscapes, it’s no wonder that San Francisco, California draws large numbers of tourists each year. Here are ten can’t-miss activities to check out during your next trip to this picturesque city.

1. Reach New Heights at Coit Tower

San Francisco, California at sunset
Standing guard over the skyline, Coit Tower welcomes visitors to San Francisco with spectacular views of the city and its famed bridges. The 210-foot tower in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood was built in 1933 to honor the city’s firefighters.

2. Channel “The Godfather” in North Beach

North Beach neighborhood in San Francisco, California
The North Beach neighborhood is nicknamed “Little Italy” for good reason. Visitors can pop into Liguria Bakery for some of its world-famous focaccia bread before strolling the North Beach streets with their colorful Italian charm. Caffe Trieste, the spot where Francis Ford Coppola penned the classic “The Godfather,” is a local favorite for espresso and Italian pastries.

3 . Take in Some (Pop) Culture at Beach Blanket Babylon

Beach Blanket Babylon performers
As the longest-running musical revue in live theater history,
Beach Blanket Babylon is a must-see show for hilarious commentary on politics and current events. With over 17,000 shows under its belt, the iconic theater can be found at Club Fugazi in the city’s North Beach neighborhood.

4. Get Lost in a Classic at City Lights Books

City Lights Bookstore exterior on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco, California
Since 1953, residents of San Francisco have turned to City Lights Bookstore to find both rare and popular books – as well as poetry readings, open forums, and signings. It is the place where bookworms can brush elbows with their favorite authors.

5. Hop on a Historic Cable Car

San Francisco cable cars on the corner of Powell and Bush Streets

Cable cars are one of the most iconic symbols of San Francisco. Although the cars are a national historic landmark, they still perform a valuable service, helping thousands of visitors and residents get where they need to go each day.

6. Escape to Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, United States
Most people associate this famous former prison, known as “The Rock,” with such notorious criminals as Al Capone and Robert Stroud, but the island has a bigger story to tell. It has also been used as a military installation, Native American settlement, and even a bird sanctuary.

7. Bike the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California
What visit to San Francisco would be complete without the chance to take in the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge? One of the best ways to experience this 1.7 mile-long California icon is to bicycle across the length of the bridge to Sausalito. Visitors can recharge with brunch at one of the many sidewalk cafes or take a leisurely kayak excursion in the bay.

8. Eat the “World’s Best Tacos”

La Taqueria restaurant food option
La Taqueria may not look like much at first glance, but this no-frills restaurant is home to authentic Mexican recipes that have earned it the reputation of “best tacos and burritos in the world.” Nestled in the heart of the Mission District, it’s a favorite for locals and tourists alike.

9. Get Inspired at Amoeba Music

Inside of Amoeba Music in San Francisco, California
Since 1990, music lovers have flocked to Amoeba for its impressive array of music and movies, as well as its expert staff. Amoeba also offers live performances of artists from all genres.

10. Explore the Districts

Chinatown businesses in San Francisco with the Bay Bridge in the background
From high-end shopping in Union Square to the bustling nightlife of the Castro district, San Francisco has something for everyone. Chinatown is the oldest Chinese settlement in the US, while Nob Hill boasts some of the country’s most opulent historic real estate. No matter its culture or history, each district is truly unique.