What to Do in San Francisco: 12 Free Activities

As far as activities go, San Francisco has a long list of things to participate in. What is even better is that many of the best gems of the city happen to be at no cost! Yes, FREE! It gives everyone that much more of an incentive to optimize your weekend and try something new! Out of all the places I’ve been to in San Francisco, this is my curated list of free San Francisco activities!

what to do in san francisco

What to Do in San Francisco for Free!

Umbrella Alley: This is a vibrant photo spot in Fisherman’s Wharf! As you walk through the alley, you are greeted by a colorful array of umbrellas overhead. Murals from local and national artists line the building sidewalls and tell a beautiful visual story. This is a great place for photoshoots and its free entry! Address: 757 Beach Street.

Ghirardelli Square: At one point in its history, it was a former chocolate factory, and now the landmark is a 3-level establishment with various shops and restaurants. There is still a Ghirardelli chocolate store in the complex which serves free samples of chocolate to patrons! Address: 900 North Point Street.

Twin Peaks: The views at the top are worth the trek! People usually make the drive up the large windy 922 ft hill, and a small number of people decide to bike or walk the trip. Either way, once you get to the top, you are greeted by the most expansive view of the San Francisco skyline, from a 360 degree angle! The view is priceless, and it is even better that it is free! See here for free hiking trails within the peaks! Address: 501 Twin Peaks Blvd.

Noriega Steps: One of the most hidden parts of San Francisco, that is a true gem at the same time! This spot is truly out of the way to most people: it is nestled multiple streets away from any main city street, up in the hills of a residential area in Outer Sunset. Once you get there, you are staring at a grand tiered 163-step staircase overlooking all of the south side of the city. It gets even better, because these are not any ordinary steps. The steps are crafted mosaic tile throughout the entire way, creating the most magical journey to the top! Address: 1700 16th Avenue.

Lands End Labyrinth: If you’re looking for what to do in San Francisco, consider a perfect scenic hike! Created by artist Eduardo Aguilera in 2004, the Labyrinth is a stunning free destination that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge! How to get to the Labyrinth: Park at Lands End parking lot behind the Cliff House at Point Lobos Avenue and 48th Avenue. Walk east on the Coastal Trail and take the trail off the beaten path towards Mile Rock Beach. Walk down the steps. Where the staircase turns a hard left, continue on the trail going straight until you see it. The labyrinth is open to the public and it is a fun, free activity to navigate to the middle! Address: Lands End Trail

Walk through Lombard Street: It is allegedly one of the steepest streets in the country, and the most crooked street in the city! People travel from all around the world to come visit this unique city block. You can enjoy scenic city views from the top. It is worth the trip down the street to see the beautifully designed houses, bright colors, greenery, and cobblestone pavement. I suggest coming here between 2-3pm for the best light and least amount of cars driving by! Address: Lombard and Hyde Street.

Swing on Billy Goat Hill: This hill is similar to the others i’ve mentioned in this post, with a trek to the top and rewarding expansive views. This one is extra special because it has a seasonal rope swing at the top of the hill, free to patrons! The swing is usually only up in the Spring and Summer months due to weather. Address: 2442 Castro Street.

Walk the Golden Gate Bridge: I have had the pleasure of walking the bridge during my time here in San Francisco, and surprised I haven’t walked it more often! My suggestion is to park at the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza and walk the length of the bridge and back to your car! The distance is 1.7 miles one way, so gear up for a healthy exercise! I recommend doing this activity on a warm day, as it get severely windy on the bridge when its foggy. Address: Golden Gate Bridge.

Visit a Museum: As far as what to do in San Francisco, there are a plethora of museums in the city. The best part about this fact is that most museums have a free museum day or time of day on a weekly basis! See here for the full listing of San Francisco based free museums!

Have Lunch at a Public Rooftop Garden: Financial District is home to the most public outdoor rooftop gardens in the city! If you have never been here before, or lived here all your life, I still think this is a surprising fact! Some of the best and my personal favorites are: Crocker Galleria, One Kearney Street, and 343 Sansome street. Check out my recent post to read more about each of them in detail.

Browse the Shops in the Ferry Building: The Ferry Building is my favorite building in the city and should definitely be on your list of what to do in San Francisco! It is home to over 50 shops, vendors, and restaurants! It is free to enter and the views from the backside of the building of the San Francisco Bay are priceless! Address: 1 Ferry Building.

Walk through Pier 39: One of the most touristy spots of the city is here! Pier 39 prides itself on being a tourist destination with everything that it encompasses! From being its own waterfront, having iconic and scenic places to take pictures, to having outdoor arcades, and even a dedicated spot for seal watching, Pier 39 is a location you can go for free and never get board! Address: The Embarcadero & Beach Street.

I hope you enjoyed this “What To Do in San Francisco” listing and found it helpful for your upcoming trip! Please comment thoughts and questions below, and share with your friends and family! Thank you for your continued support!

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