San Francisco
United States of America

Things to Do in San Francisco

Coit Tower

Landmarks

Locals have polarising views about Coit Tower’s appearance. It was inspired by the Art deco movement and actually started as a city beautification project. Funnily enough, this attempt to pretty the city was constructed from reinforced concrete. Looking for panoramic views and wild parrots? Trek to the tower via the Filbert Steps, where many a lunch is worked off.

Accommodations near Coit Tower
AT&T Park

Stadiums or Arenas

Root for the home team here. Home to the San Francisco Giants, this ballpark gives baseball games an exquisite Bay backdrop. Of course foodie-centric San Fran brings its love of locally sourced, organic-food fusions to the stadium. Dig into grilled Gruyère, curry-dusted sweet potatoes or even something from the edible garden as you wait for a home run.

Accommodations near AT&T Park
Lombard Street

Landmarks

The world’s “crookedist” street zigs and zags and zigs again. If you’re prone to motion sickness, Lombard Street might be better seen from outside an automobile. Car traffic is downhill only and the speed limit is 5mph. These 27-degree turns swerve through a picturesque, albeit steep, area. Instead of driving, take an urban hike to the top to watch the cars descending.

Accommodations near Lombard Street
  • Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Ghirardelli Square

Shopping Areas

Go ahead and spoil your lunch! Cacao nibs, gourmet sea salt crunch, medicinal chocolate, hot cocoa, white, dark and milk – every member of the chocolate family can be found in the marketplace. It was once the site of a chocolate factory, but the plaza hasn’t lost its sweet touch. Just don’t expect to see Willy Wonka anywhere around this chocolate-inspired retail hub.

Accommodations near Ghirardelli Square
Haight-Ashbury District

Popular Areas

Remember the Summer of Love? 1967 Haight-Ashbury does. The centre of hippie culture protested against ‘Nam with peace fingers. Once a village of tie-dye, Tibetan prayer flags, and purple haze, the district has made room for new neighbours (hello, expensive yoga studio). Take your pick of fringe-friendly teashops, vintage boutiques, epic record shops and recycled clothes.

Accommodations near Haight-Ashbury District
  • Haight-Ashbury District, San Francisco, CA
Alcatraz

Landmarks

Ready for a jailbreak? Ferry to this floating penitentiary where history and voyeurism collide during chilling tours of the cells where convicts like Al Capone and Robert Stroud did time. In 1962, three prisoners escaped and were never found. Whether the rip tides took them or they made it land, no one knows. Today thousands of birds nest near the crumbling prison walls.

Accommodations near Alcatraz
Presidio of San Francisco

Parks

Urban green space, take two. This military-base-turned-national-park beats Golden Gate Park in terms of acreage – and oddities. Pick up ghosts at the pet cemetery where the descending fog gives new meaning to the word “spooky”. Devotees of the great outdoors will love the network of trails through the shade of eucalyptus trees onto coastal bluffs.

Accommodations near Presidio of San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge

Landmarks

Nothing signifies San Francisco like the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a ‘ride of passage’ into a city you won’t forget. Finished in 1937, this bright orange structure brings a daily stream of cars and spandex-clad cyclists across the Bay. On a fog-free day, take in the rock, water, and Alcatraz views as you walk or jog across. Vertigo junkies will feel right at home on top.

Accommodations near Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Park

Parks

Bison roaming near the Pacific? Dutch windmills? San Francisco has it all. An oasis for urbanites, Golden Gate Park is home to more than picnics and guitar strumming. There are also indoor rainforests, botanical gardens, aquariums, golf courses and Japanese pagodas. Amid the flora and fauna, museum curators throw frisbees and the literati pen their poems in the sun.

Accommodations near Golden Gate Park
San Francisco Zoo

Attractions

Ever seen a grizzly? Rescued bear sisters Kachina and Kiona are happy to say hello. Native plants of the Pacific nestle next to 1,000 plus animals. Rescued, endangered, and representing 250 unique species, the SF Zoo imports wildness from around the world. From Penguin Island to the African Savannah, there’s a chance to discover something new in this urban wilderness.

Accommodations near San Francisco Zoo

Accommodations and Hotels in San Francisco

Civic Center Inn

5 Review score

Score from 2195 reviews

$109

Average price per night
  • 790 Ellis Street, Downtown San Francisco, San Francisco
Oceanview Motel

5.8 Review score

Score from 1026 reviews

$130

Average price per night
  • 4340 Judah Street, Sunset District, San Francisco
The Westin St Francis San Francisco on Union Square

8.2 Very good

Score from 2337 reviews

$189

Average price per night
  • 335 Powell Street, Downtown San Francisco, San Francisco
Argonaut Hotel, a Noble House Hotel

8.7 Excellent

Score from 1819 reviews

$269

Average price per night
  • 495 Jefferson Street, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Hotel Nikko San Francisco

8.6 Excellent

Score from 3700 reviews

$189

Average price per night
  • 222 Mason Street, Downtown San Francisco, San Francisco
Pier 2620 Hotel Fisherman's Wharf

8.3 Very good

Score from 1443 reviews

$199

Average price per night
  • 2620 Jones Street, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
The Fairmont San Francisco

8.7 Excellent

Score from 1432 reviews

$199

Average price per night
  • 950 Mason Street, Nob Hill, San Francisco
San Francisco Marriott Marquis

8.5 Very good

Score from 3079 reviews

$189

Average price per night
  • 780 Mission Street , Downtown San Francisco, San Francisco
The Scarlet Huntington

9.1 Wonderful

Score from 1603 reviews

$295

Average price per night
  • 1075 California Street, Downtown San Francisco, San Francisco
Discover San Francisco

Popular Neighborhoods in San Francisco

Downtown San Francisco

148 properties

The hustle doesn’t quit in Downtown. From the wee small hours to midnight, this district is alive and kicking. Whether it’s the morning bustle of business commuters, the afternoon energy of urbanites or night owls plumbing the clubs, get swept away in a true city feel. You can shop and eat on every corner – and take the tram to any area.

Union Square

79 properties

High fashion meets vintage boutique. If you’re looking for a specific brand, it certainly lives in Union Square. Civil protests and pro-Union rallies gave the square its name – but the only politics here now are consumer related. Relax in the café of your choice and watch the cable cars, seagulls – and the people – as they pass.

Theater District

38 properties

Love a good show? The Theater District has the city’s best stages. With a dozen theatres within a few blocks, you’ll surely cross paths with thespians. Head to Farmerbrown for a pre-performance feast (try the fried pickle chips and kale Caesar). Then see what’s new at the San Francisco Playhouse or the ACT Conservatory for the city’s class acts.

South of Market (SOMA)

28 properties

SoMa – or South of Market – mixes grit with innovation. Coffee houses, beer gardens, and hip food trucks signal this as the heart of urban revival. Illustrators, entrepreneurs, and tech-savvy types file out of chic converted warehouses. Check out the must-see modern art at Yerba Buena gardens and SF MOMA.

Fisherman's Wharf

14 properties

You’ll have plenty of company as you pick through the sights and sounds of the family-friendly Fisherman’s Wharf. Street performers, eclectic cafes and bowls of chowder fight for your attention. The sea lions of Pier 39 are an all-age affair, as is the maritime museum of historic ships at Hyde Pier. Ferry across to the notorious Alcatraz prison.

Financial District

12 properties

Look up and see the skyscrapers, look around and see the suits. Nine-to-fivers play here. As shiny and polished as an iPad, this is where important decisions are made. Pass through on your way to other places or head to a restaurant for lunch at SF’s financial core. Close to everything – take a moment in the urban oasis to map out what’s next.

Nob Hill

12 properties

Ride a cable car to Nob Hill, where Bay views are endless. Victorian houses, designer boutiques and organic bakeries set the tone. The “Painted Ladies” and Gothic Grace Cathedral bring architectural charm from the past. Regardless of its hilltop heights, this neighbourhood feels a cut above the rest.

Mission

11 properties

Bookshops, bicycles and street art galore! Nothing embodies the ever-changing aura of SF like the Mission. As multicultural as it gets, find mouth-watering tacos, next to tropical fruit stalls, and cones of artisanal ice cream (hello, Bi-Rite). Rent a bicycle and ride from hip Valencia to Dolores Park, where many a sun-kissed afternoon is spent.

Embarcadero (North Waterfront)

10 properties

This waterside walk takes you past the Bay Bridge to the trolleys of Market Street. Find the Ferry Building and explore the farmers’ market where celebrity chefs buy their organic ingredients. Refuel with coffee at the Blue Bottle inside, then buy some organic cheese and sourdough for an impromptu picnic by the Bay.

Chinatown

5 properties

The oldest Chinatown in North America – and the largest Chinese community in the US – blends tradition with tourism. Look around and see what you find. Indulge in dim sum, shop exotic balms, and inspect the live chickens. Stop to smell the Chinese five spices (fennel, cloves and ginger anyone?), and let the discord of Stockton Street entreat.

The Castro

3 properties

Rooted in liberal activism, The Castro has taken a turn for the posh. These days, you’re as likely to see baby buggies as you are racy window displays. But don’t worry – pink triangles and rainbow flags still mark the spot. Catch a classic film or a sing-a-long musical at the historic Castro Theater then grab a hot cookie from … Hot Cookie.

Local Tips for San Francisco

Maiden Lane Union Square
Laura by Laura

Laura likes to stay fit by swimming, hiking and running her way through delicious San Francisco.

Maiden Lane is a short pedestrian street just one block east of Union Square. Dotted with shops and a number of eateries, the terrace seating gives the place a tinge of a European feel. Definitely stop by Frank Lloyd Wright’s V. C. Morris Gift Shop building, built in 1948.

Nightlife in Golden Gate Park
Katrina by Katrina

Adventurous Katrina enjoys hiking through the city to discover hidden vistas.

Everyone knows that Golden Gate Park’s Academy of Sciences is awesome, but do they know about the Thursday night parties? Learn about sharks, stars or cats while sipping on artisanal cocktails and dancing! For planetarium tickets, arrive early, otherwise buy them online. Over 21s only.

  • 55 Music Concourse Dr San Francisco, CA 94118
  • www.calacademy.org
  • Open Thursday 18:00-21:00.
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
Esther by Esther

The Union Square area is Esther’s go-to place for up-to-the-minute shopping and dining.

Smitten Ice Cream makes simple yet rich and creamy ice cream – using liquid nitrogen. A scoop is a little steep at USD 5, but where else are you going to find ice cream made using liquid nitrogen? Oh, and did I mention that it’s made using liquid nitrogen? Order, wait 5 minutes and voila!

  • 432 Octavia St. #1A (at Linden St.) San Francisco, CA 94102
  • smittenicecream.com
  • Open Monday-Wednesday 12:00-22:00, Thursday-Friday 12:00-23:30, Saturday 11:30-23:00, Sunday 11:30-22:30
Epic Stair Views
Kaitlin by Kaitlin

Kaitlin loves to explore everything from hiking trails to the city’s newest restaurants and bars.

If you’re not big on stairs, then stop reading. No wait, keep reading because the vista from the top will be worth all the pain and agony! Clamber up 288 gruesomely steep steps, and have a celebratory Rocky moment, before admiring the crazy beautiful bay view. Note: beware of joggers.

  • Broadway and Lyon Street San Francisco, CA 94115
Bike to Food Trucks & Golden Gate Bridge
Meghan by Meghan

A Marina District resident, Meghan can’t get enough of San Francisco’s beautiful coastlines.

On a Sunday afternoon, rent a bike from Dylan’s Tours on Columbus Avenue and cycle to Presidio’s weekly Off the Grid Picnic (AKA street food heaven). Sink your teeth into The Chairman’s Steamed Pork Belly Bun and wash it down with some beer. The lawn can be damp, so bring a thick blanket.

  • Main Lawn Post, Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129
  • offthegridsf.com
  • Open Sunday 11:00-16:00.
Playground in Golden Gate PArk
Fatima by Fatima

Fatima is a fan of the laidback atmosphere that San Francisco’s parks and restaurants exude.

Golden Gate Park Playground is just the place for your toddlers, tweens and inner child. Revamped in 2007 as Koret Children’s Quarter, the park has everything from sandpits and swings to a vintage carousel. Throw in a few blisters and scrapes and you have yourself a fun-packed day.

  • Golden Gate Park San Francisco, CA
Mosaic Steps
Tiffany by Tiffany

A San Francisco resident of 20 years, Tiffany knows all the city’s latest happy hour spots.

I love it! Similar to the famous steps in Rio, each of the steps here are covered with a zillion tiles that make up a brilliant work of art. Not only will you get to enjoy the stunning view from the top, you’ll have all 163 steps to admire as you climb up. Situated near 16th and Moraga.

Biergarten in SF
Miles by Miles

Miles thrives in discovering unique wine varietals at San Francisco’s hole-in-the-wall bars.

Grab a litre of Belgian beer, a brät and an authentic German pretzel at Biergarten. Operated out of converted shipping containers, this Hayes Valley beer garden is the perfect place for a relaxing time with friends – especially on a warm afternoon. Arrive early to avoid the long queue.

  • 424 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102
  • biergartensf.com
  • Open Wednesday-Saturday 15:00-21:00, Sunday 13:00-19:00.
Fillmore Music
Lee by Lee

Laidback Lee enjoys relaxing at Ocean Beach and walking through the nearby Golden Gate Park.

Featuring posters of past shows covering the walls, a trip to the historic Fillmore can’t be beaten. The world’s top talents including Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and the Grateful Dead have all performed at this intimate venue back in the psychedelic ‘60s. Come and see where it all began.

  • 1805 Geary Boulevard San Francisco, CA 94115
  • thefillmore.com
  • Check website for details.
Clarion Alley and Balmy Street Murals
Nadia by Nadia

Born and bred in San Francisco, Nadia is an avid fan of the artsy Mission District.

Nestled between Mission and Valencia streets, Clarion Alley is a one-block alley covered in bold pop culture art. If you’re looking to get a taste of profound historical art, then walk over to Balmy Street. Both alleys feature vibrant, ever-changing pieces that evoke emotions and feelings.

  • Clarion Alley and Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94110
  • www.sfhq.net
Hike to the Beach
Cassie by Cassie

Having lived in San Francisco for 3 years, Cassie enjoys rooting for the Giants at AT&T Park.

Even just walking a few miles along the cliff of the 11-mile Coastal Trail will give you a taste of Lands End’s stunning wildlife. End your rocky hike at Eagle’s Point from where you’ll have yet another million-dollar view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Farallon Islands.

  • 680 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
  • www.nps.gov
  • Open Monday-Sunday 09:00-17:00.
Hike to City Views
Rachel by Rachel

Rachel loves to sit on Hippie Hill by Golden Gate Park with a book and a bottle of local wine/beer.

If you’re heading towards Haight-Ashbury, stop by Buena Vista Park. It’s a bit of a hike to the top but you’ll have sweeping views of the entire Bay Area waiting for you. Surrounded by lush foliage, you’ll forget that you’re still in the city.

See what other visitors said

Best of San Francisco

Booking.com asked travelers...

Why do you recommend San Francisco for food?

Over rated, and fairly pricey! I would almost say the cost of food in San Francisco is on par with New York, without the same level of quality. The seafood in the area is also overpriced, with a certain crab shop charging upwards of $30 per crab which does not include tips or tax i.e. look to be paying upwards of +25% per meal (approx 10% tax + approx 15% tip). For some reason, all seafood shops were selling New England (East Cost) Clam Chowder in a bread bowl; I am not too sure why the west coast does not have its own soup dish, and that they have to use an east coast soup. East coast soups like this are heavy and stodgy designed for a cooler region should not be sold in a region where the average temperature is 20C and balmy! What made the New England Clam Chowder San Franciscan, was the sour dough bread that is made in the area. To be honest, the bread is not that good either, just tasted like bog standard sour dough, nothing to get excited about. What I would have which is half decent is the local vietnamese (pho was good, but nothing to write home about), chinese (decent also nothing to write home about, unless you have not had decent chinese before) and mexican (burritos are average).

San Francisco is only 7 by 7 miles. It's a very small city, but feels like a big one, since it's very dense. It's a fantastic experience to walk around the city, climbing up hills to reach stunning views, finding yourself moving from Chinatown, where hardly anyone is speaking English and dim sum is available at every step, to North Beach with delicious Italian restaurants, to Pier 39 and tourist attractions to the Marina with hip boutiques and bars, through the Presidio, etc. Those aren't even half of San Francisco's neighborhoods, but every part of the city has so much food, shopping, art and life to offer, and you can't see it quite right from a car. There are so many little gems to discover, and it's realistic to get from neighborhood to neighborhood on foot.

The secret for me to sampling the diverse foods would be, going to the farmers market and seeking out restaurants that are not chains and that serve something that you could never find at home. For some people that might mean an easy find like say Clam Chowder in a bread bowl at Boudin Bakery on Fishermans Wharf or something like a Vietnamese restaurant near China Town. For others it might be something really different like The Stinking Rose (a garlic restaurant) in Little Italy. Think of something you've always wanted to try and can't really get wherever it is that you live.

Venture outside the most touristy areas like Pier 39 and Union Square - go to Hayes Valley, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, Cow Hollow, the Marina. It's much less crowded and you can even forget you're in the city

Financial district alleyway restaurants, Tiramisu and Claude were very good. As well as the Ferry Building restaurants

not living in the city, i love watching everyone enjoying being part of the city

Certainly public transports; getting bikes or using taxis.

Yes, the city in general, beautiful!!

Joes crab

Transportation

San Francisco Transportation

Air

From San Francisco’s international airport (SFO), the BART to Downtown San Francisco's Powell Street, Montgomery Street or Embarcadero (terminal) stations departs every 20 minutes. It takes approx. 30 minutes and costs around USD 9. If you’re not in a hurry, follow the signs for the shared SuperShuttle service for USD 17, which takes 25-45 minutes – depending on the number of stops it makes. Taxis are readily available, costing USD 40-60 (excluding tip) and taking 25 minutes.

Air

The majority of flights out of this smaller airport are domestic flights. The most convenient way to reach the centre is by taking the AirBART tram to Coliseum Station. These trams depart every 10 minutes and cost approx. USD 3 (youth rates also available). From Coliseum Station, hop on the BART to downtown San Francisco for approx. USD 4.

Light Rail

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is one of the most reliable public transits in San Francisco. Four of the five high-speed commuter rail lines go through downtown San Francisco and connect to a number of transport systems, including the Muni Metro light rail. BART runs every 15/20 minutes, starting at 4:00 (6:00 on Saturdays; 8:00 on Sundays and public holidays) and stopping around midnight. It’s also one of the most convenient transports to take from the airport.

Bus

Operated by Muni, San Francisco’s buses cover most of the areas that the light rail trains and cable cars don’t – but they're often delayed or irregular. If you’re paying by cash (USD 2.25, exact change only), board from the front and make sure to get a transfer ticket from the driver. The ticket will allow you to travel on all Muni systems (excluding cable cars) for 90 minutes, and will also serve as your proof-of-payment.

Taxi

With the omnipresent hills, taxis will make your life easier. Fares start at USD 3.50 and each mile costs an additional USD 2.75 – but don’t forget to add a 10-15% tip. Taxis can easily be flagged down near popular tourist areas and major hotels, but you might need to call if you’re outside the downtown area. If you need to call one, plan ahead – taxis can take up to 30 minutes to arrive. Many taxis take credit cards, but ask the driver before getting in.

Cable Car

The iconic cable cars are a fun way to get around. Two of the three lines, Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde, begin downtown and head north towards Fisherman’s Wharf, while the third route, California, travels along California Street through Chinatown. At USD 5 a ride, it’s best to purchase a 1-, 3- or 7-day Muni Passport if you plan on taking it a couple of times. The passport will allow you to travel on all Muni services an unlimited number of times and costs between USD 9 and 20.

Metro

The Muni Metro, one of Muni’s many transport systems, features six regular light rail lines that run underground in downtown San Francisco and above ground on the outskirts. Popular Muni stops include SF Zoo, Castro, Powell, Montgomery and Embarcadero stations. Best to purchase a Muni Passport to avoid the hassle of buying tickets or preparing exact change. For schedules and route maps for each line, check their website.

Car

San Francisco is a very walkable city, with good public transport. Unless you plan on taking a day trip to the surrounding cities, avoid driving within the city. Not only are parking spaces extremely hard to find, they also cost an arm and a leg. (Some hotels will charge USD 60 per day!) If you absolutely have to drive somewhere, rent a car for just the days you need to. Note: don’t rent a manual gear car unless you’re used to parking on steep hills.

Food in San Francisco

Top Restaurants in San Francisco

Mid-Range Fare
Italian
Kuletos
  • 221 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102
  • Open Monday-Thursday 07:00-22:30, Friday 07:00-23:00, Saturday-Sunday 08:00-23:00.
  • www.kuletos.com
  • 001 4153977720
Cheap Eats
Cafe
Cafe Madeline
Mid-Range Fare
American
Hops & Hominy
Upscale Dining
Seafood
Farallon
Cheap Eats
Thai
Chabaa Thai Cuisine
  • 420 Geary St, San Francisco, CA ‎
  • Open every day 11:00-01:00.
  • 001 1453463121
Cheap Eats
Cafe
Sutter Street Cafe
Cheap Eats
French
Cafe Madeleine
Mid-Range Fare
American
Burritt Room + Tavern
Mid-Range Fare
Vietnamese
Sunflower Cafe
Cheap Eats
American
Beanstalk Cafe
Cheap Eats
Japanese
Katana-Ya
Upscale Dining
Cantonese
Hakkasan
Upscale Dining
French
Bouche French Bistro and Wine Bar
Cheap Eats
American
Super Duper Burgers
Mid-Range Fare
Gourmet
Urban Tavern
Upscale Dining
Gourmet
Sons & Daughters
Upscale Dining
Gourmet
Aveline
Cheap Eats
Cafe
Daniel’s Cafe
  • 154 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA ‎
  • Open every day 07:00-20:00.
  • 001 4159561760
Mid-Range Fare
Thai
White Horse Tavern & Restaurant
Mid-Range Fare
Thai
Colibri Mexican Bistro
Upscale Dining
French
Bluestem Brasserie
Mid-Range Fare
American
Hopwater Distribution
Mid-Range Fare
American
Milleller
Upscale Dining
Italian
Fino Restorante & Bar
Mid-Range Fare
Bar Bites
MillKeller Bar
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