Today I thought I would write about 10 free things to do in the amazing city of San Francisco. During our first trip to Fog City on a multi destination holiday with Virgin over 10 years ago I completely fell in love, and have been lucky enough to return a few times since. I’ve written previously about my love for this great city, but following our recent trip I wanted to expand on this and share with you some amazing FREE things to do, to make sure you have the most amazing time, without breaking the bank.
Explore Like A Local.
My first tip, which isn’t included in this guide, but is pretty fundamental in our experience, as the best way to experience San Francisco, is to walk. Walk and walk and walk. Up hills, across parks, through districts, and coast to coast. Our best days are spent walking around, discovering new places each day. Despite doing this for the past 4 or 5 trips, we are still finding amazing things to do on our random neighbourhood walks.
But, onto the more detailed activities…
Free Things To Do In San Francisco
The Palace Of Fine Arts.
HOW we have not been to this most amazing architectural spectacle in the past 10 years, is beyond me! The 100+ year old structure is beautifully designed and immaculately preserved. Built as part of the 1915 world art display, and later restored to its current glory, it stands proud near the Marina district. Weddings here are common place, in fact you may have seen it be a backdrop to many a film, namely recently The 5 Year Engagement. We saw 2 bridal photo shoots in the short time we were there. On a fine day sit on the grassy knoll and watch the world go by whilst enjoying the view. Somewhat unspoilt by the perpetual risk of a Starbucks being built on site!
Chrissy Beach Park.
Whilst in the neighbourhood, I’d definitely recommend a stroll along the paved Marina Boulevard to Chrissy Beach. A sandy beach in the shadow of the great Golden Gate Bridge. In my opinion a perfect spot for a photo, with the iconic spectacle of the great bridge in the background. It’s a dog friendly beach and the perfect place to let children run free outdoors. If your children are anything like mine they will love being able to play with the sand between their toes and the water lapping at their feet.
Not an activity so to speak, but definitely an experience that you’ll want to tick off of your San Fran bucket list! The “World’s Most Crooked Street” is a notorious tourist spot that I’d recommend going to, for the view alone. If you walk it then be prepared for some serious inclines. We took our youngest in the stroller, but Henry, 5, marched on ahead. The view at the top reaches out as far as the Bay Bridge and Parliament Hill and crowds gather to get their illusive shot of the iconic street.
Although not one of my personal favourites, I couldn’t write a San Francisco guide without featuring this most touristy spot along the coast. Located between North Beach and Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf contains enough cheesy tourism to fill your boots. Also the landing port for the Alcatraz Island boats (which are a must in my opinion, but definitely not free – book in advance FYI!) Crowds gather around cheering crowds of people watching side shows and grabbing street food. Visit the sea lions along Pier 39 for a cool photo opportunity and walk up and down the wharf grabbing before a souvenir of your trip, or at least a donut!
Forever synominous with Mrs Doubtfire, these beautiful homes can be found right next to Alamo Square. A good spot for a photo but not a great deal to do there after that. The best thing we’ve found to entertain the children after is the park atop Alamo Square.
Nor Cal Car Club
I was delighted to have discovered the Nor Cal Car Meet one evening whilst having dinner in Fisherman’s Wharf. Antique car owners from across North California congregate along Fisherman’s Wharf to parade their beautiful American made cars, and I found it to be a real spectacle to watch as we too strolled around the wharf.
Golden Gate Park
Stretching over 1,017 acres the Golden Gate Park has more than enough to offer for families and solo travelers alike. Take a stroll throughout this huge, green space and discover something special within it’s boarders. We loved the Japanese Tea Gardens, the botanical garden as well as the huge park for the children to enjoy. They hold loads of free events throughout the year and it’s a wonderful space to unwind or walk around.
There are so many more places I could talk about in this San Francisco guide; Ghiradelli Square. Downtown or Port Farmer’s Market for example but this should be enough to get you started.
Check out this video sharing more free things to do!
Have you got any other amazing free things to do in San Fran that you’d like to add? Get involved in the comments!