Best San Francisco Attractions
Top Sights To See
Here are some of the best San Francisco attractions, activities & events to see and do. First, we’ll help you quickly show first time tourist friends a good time without much work on your part :). Then, we give a taste of some hidden delights in the SF Bay area most locals have missed.
FIRST TIME TOURISTS
Your first time as a San Francisco tourist will be a rare treat! We guarantee it if you follow our San Francisco tourism guide for first time tourists. You’ll find these San Francisco sights are better than a Disneyland for adults!
Fisherman’s Wharf – Famous tourist trap, enjoying a nice natural setting, which hides some very neat things to do for even locals to do within the uproar. Pier 39, located here, is one of the top three tourist attractions in the U.S. (i.e., third after the two Disneylands).
Once you have seen the best known tourist sites there is a wide variety of lesser known nearby attractions to make sure you don’t miss. These are a few.
North Beach & map – North Beach and adjacent neighborhoods are great places to walk. With this guide even locals will find many reasons to keep going back. Check out the do-it-yourself walking tours for attractions you haven’t seen before.
LOCAL TREASURE HUNTERS
This web site is primarily for local enthusiasts searching for the “best of the best” hidden treasures to be found. So, be sure to look at the San Francisco neighborhoods and the nearby towns sections for details of where to go when you are planning to visit a particular area. You can also search the overall site for a treasures of particular interest.
Below are just a few examples of great San Francisco Bay area attractions which even many locals have never seen. Many more can be found throughout this site.
- The USS Hornet, Alameda. The USS Hornet, one of the most famous WW II Aircraft carriers, gives you a real feel for exciting days of the past. Just walking the flight deck is a thrill.. Our ballroom dance instructor tell us that the old time Big Band bash there, covering 3 dance floors within the enclosed heated hanger deck, is the best place to go for New Year’s Eve. Maybe we’ll see you there next year.
- Old St. Hillary Preserves, Tiburon. Some of the prettiest views and wild flower nature preserves in the Bay area.
- Lyon Street Steps, Lyon St/Broadway St, San Francisco. This is one of the most beautiful spots in the world … and many locals don’t even know how to find it. Another great stairway, which even fewer know, is the mosaic-tiled Moraga Steps.
- The Vallejo Crest, a very small park at the top of Vallejo St., Russian Hill. This quiet private view spot is part of the unique Russian Hill neighborhood. From Vallejo & Jones walk 1/2 block east on Vallejo to where Vallejo St. ends at the top of the hill. After you’ve enjoyed the view then walk east down the stairs one block to the Ina Coolbrith Park at Vallejo & Taylor. Another way to get there is to start at Vallejo & Columbus in North Beach and walk west on Vallejo. It’s four long blocks uphill, with steps, which will make you huff & puff if you’re not used to City hills.
- N. Judah Muni Metro ride, San Francisco. For an interesting and quite different view of the city take the North Judah line from the San Francisco Caltrain station, in SOMA by the Giants Baseball Park, over to Ocean Beach and back. Avoid rush hours, however; you’ve been warned. Outer Sunset at Judah near Ocean Beach is developing into one of the more interesting neighborhoods in town, a little Santa Cruz of sorts with several nice coffee houses and restaurants for upscale hippies. It’s a find!
- Windsurfing, Foster City lagoon. There’s no better place around to take windsurfing lessons or to practice in warm waters. Paddle boats , standup paddleboards, and kayaks are also available. This location, near the intersection of Highways 101 & 92, is convenient to the entire Bay area.
- Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, San Jose. This is one of the best Egyptian museums in the U.S. Still, many San Jose residents have never been there.
The SF Giant’s AT&T Baseball park, at the south end of The Embarcadero in SOMA – has a great Bay view you can see from the upper stands. When we are in the area with nothing to do we’ll sometimes wait a couple of innings and get some cheap San Francisco Giant’s tickets from a scalper … just to enjoy the upper bleacher and excellent ball park food for an hour or two. Or, we’ll walk to the back of the ball park and watch the game from the free right field viewing area adjacent McCovey Cove. By the way, you can usually get inside the park for free except on game days.
- Stanford sports – If you like baseball check out the games at Stanford. It’s a low key pleasant way to spend a few hours watching one of the top college baseball teams in the country. Same, but usually more crowded, for tennis.Years ago we passed numerous pleasant afternoons enjoying a picnic lunch in the end stands of Stanford’s old Football Stadium. Back then, in the days of Jim Plunkett & John Elway, this was a nice way to picnic. Stanford now has a nice new stadium designed with the help of Bill Walsh.
College of San Mateo Jr College football– Now it’s more likely that we will take in the second half of a football game at the CSM Stadium, off Hwy 92 between Hwys 101 & 280, in San Mateo. It is cheap, the Bulldogs are a football powerhouse (2009 NorCal Champions), and last but not least the view of the Bay is fantastic! From the stands it appears that the football field sits perched on the edge of space overhanging the SF Bay. The view is worth checking out even if there is no game.
- 49ers Football– We watch it on TV along with the rest of U.S. The new stadium in Santa Clara will now open but it’s packed and tickets are reselling for outrageous prices.
As you can see, we go for the pleasant low-key atmosphere and great view more than for the games themselves. However, since Bay Area teams are often highly ranked nationally it makes attending even more fun.
San Francisco Bay Area attractions include dozens of other events to see on most weekends. Many are world class or very unique … and others are old hat, like street fairs which are still worth dropping by if you’re already in the neighborhood. Definitely check out our special San Francisco Events page.