Famous for its architecture, bohemian vibe and recognisable monuments, San Francisco is becoming an increasingly popular tourist hotspot. Whether you’re there for 3 nights or a week, there’s plenty to see and it’s important to create some kind of itinerary to avoid missing the best bits.
San Fran is a year-round destination, but it doesn’t get as hot as you may be expecting. Unlike other areas of California, The Bay Area has relatively mild weather, with average day temps in the summer of around 20c. September is the warmest month, with winter months seeing more rain and winds.
Best Things to See in San Francisco
We’ve combined sightseeing, great views and sports to create a great trip for multiple different tastes. We recommend including all 3 the below list, but if you’re short on time, you can pick one or two still have a great time in San Francisco.
Each of these have been tried and tested by our team during their own trips to the northern California city and shortlisted as the 3 best things to see in San Francisco.
1. Alcatraz Prison
The most famous prison in the world, Alcatraz, can be found on Alcatraz Island, just off the coast of San Francisco. Whether you’re a fan of history, the story of the prison, or just really cool things, you’ll have a great time at Alcatraz.
There are both day and evening tours available to the island, with the latter providing a more eerie trip than the daytime option. The trips depart from pier 33 and are extremely popular, so expect to have to book up to weeks in advance. Tickets are available online, and start at around £40, depending on the kind of tour you choose. Lasting approximately an hour, you will get around-trip ferry to Alcatraz Island and a fully guided cell house audio tour.
One of the less talked about highlights of the Alcatraz tour is the phenomenal view of San Francisco from the island, especially at night. The skyline is lit and makes for one of the cities best photo opportunities.
2. Golden Gate Bridge
No San Francisco trip would be complete without the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Probably one of the most recognisable bridges in the world, let alone America, the Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco to Marin County and is a staggering 2,700 metres long and 227 metres tall.
There’s something a little surreal about walking across Golden Gate Bridge. Both because of the sheer scale of it, and the fact that you’ve seen it so many times on television. It’s worth noting that if you’re scared of heights, it might be a little less comfortable for you, as the bridge suspends over water with panoramic views all around. If you’re looking to overcome your fears, It’s a great place to start.
Depending on what time of year you visit, the bridge can be very windy. So not only be sure to wrap up warm, but prepare for a pretty blustery walk. That said, It’s a fantastic walk and an absolute must-do.
3. Oracle Park
If your first reaction is ‘I know nothing about baseball’, hear us out! The experience of visiting Oracle Park on San Francisco Bay is about so much more than the ball game. Albeit, we didn’t know the first thing about baseball on arrival and were San Francisco Giant’s biggest fans by the time it was over.
As well as being a great chance to mingle with some locals and experience a true American sporting event, Oracle Park also has some of the most stunning views over San Francisco Bay. We were lucky enough to watch sunset as the game started and it really was something beautiful.
The crowd, the half-time entertainment and the great food and beer make it must-do for us when in San Francisco. The best part is that you can get tickets from around $12, and they’re reasonable seats too. It’s always the first thing on our list when visiting San Francisco, and we’re confident you’ll feel the same way!
There’s So Much More to San Francisco
This post outlines 3 highlights in a list of probably hundreds of great things worth a visit, and if you have plenty of time in the city we would recommend trying to see everything you possibly can. Other notable mentions include the infamous Cable Cars, Nob Hill, and Lombard Street for some of the best views of the city.