San Francisco Bucket List: 30 Must-Do Activities

San Francisco, often dubbed “The City by the Bay,” is a diverse city located in Northern California. Here are 30 Must-Do Activities that will take you on an exceptional journey through the city’s diverse neighborhoods, historical landmarks, and natural wonders.

bucket list of san francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

No visit to San Francisco is complete without seeing the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Spanning 1.7 miles, this iconic red suspension bridge offers breathtaking views of the bay and the city skyline. Walk, bike, or drive across the bridge and capture unforgettable moments.

Alcatraz Island

The second San Francisco Bucket List is to explore the infamous Alcatraz Island, home to the historic Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Take a ferry ride to the island and delve into the intriguing history of this former prison, where notorious criminals like Al Capone were once held captive.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Visit Fisherman’s Wharf, a bustling waterfront district filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Try clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, watch the sea lions bask in the sun at Pier 39, and take a scenic boat tour of the bay.

Lombard Street

Drive or walk down Lombard Street, often referred to as the “most crooked street in the world.” This picturesque street features eight hairpin turns, making for a unique and thrilling experience.

Palace of Fine Arts

Marvel at the grand architecture of the Palace of Fine Arts, a stunning Greco-Roman-style structure set amidst serene surroundings. The lagoon and the colonnades provide a perfect backdrop for photography.


Discover the vibrant culture and history of San Francisco’s Chinatown, the oldest and one of the largest in North America. Stroll through its bustling streets, visit the colorful shops, and savor delicious Chinese cuisine.

Golden Gate Park

Explore Golden Gate Park, a massive urban oasis with gardens, museums, and recreational areas. Visit the Japanese Tea Garden, the de Young Museum, and the California Academy of Sciences.

Cable Cars

Ride the iconic San Francisco cable cars, the last manually operated cable car system in the world. Hop on board and experience a nostalgic journey through the city’s hilly streets.

bucket list if visiting SF

Mission District

Experience the artistic and Bohemian vibe of the Mission District. Admire the colorful murals that adorn many buildings and enjoy a diverse range of eateries, bars, and cafés.

Lands End

Embark on a scenic hike along the Lands End Trail, offering breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and the Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t miss the chance to explore the Sutro Baths, the remnants of a historic bathhouse.

Coit Tower

Climb to the top of Coit Tower, a tall art deco structure atop Telegraph Hill. Enjoy panoramic views of the city and the bay while admiring the stunning murals inside the tower.


Visit the interactive Exploratorium museum, where science comes alive through hands-on exhibits and experiments. It’s a great place for both kids and adults to indulge their curiosity.

Ghirardelli Square

Indulge your sweet tooth at Ghirardelli Square, the historic chocolate factory turned shopping complex. Treat yourself to their famous chocolate creations and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

Presidio of San Francisco

Explore the Presidio, a former military base turned national park with beautiful forests, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks. Don’t forget to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Presidio Officers’ Club.

California Academy of Sciences

Get up close to natural wonders at the California Academy of Sciences. This remarkable museum houses a planetarium, an aquarium, and a living roof that supports an impressive variety of plants.

Twin Peaks

One of San Francisco’s iconic landmarks, Twin Peaks, offers an unrivaled panoramic view of the city. These two prominent hills, standing approximately 922 feet tall, are an ideal spot for sightseeing, hiking, and photography. Drive, cycle, or hike up to the peaks and find yourself surrounded by the stunning vistas of the cityscape, ocean, and bridges.

The Ferry Building

A must-visit on your San Francisco bucket list should be the iconic Ferry Building, an extraordinary waterfront terminal renowned for its gourmet food hall and marketplace. Located on the Embarcadero, it’s a hub for food lovers, offering an array of local, artisanal products that represent the rich culinary culture of the Bay Area.

You can begin your gastronomic adventure by hopping from one stall to another, sampling organic farm produce, handcrafted cheeses, and freshly baked bread. Be sure to try the famed Acme Bread Company for its delightful sourdough and the Cowgirl Creamery for its wide selection of artisanal cheeses.

AT&T Park (Oracle Park)

Catch a San Francisco Giants baseball game at AT&T Park, a beloved sports venue located along the bay. The ballpark’s stunning views and vibrant atmosphere create an unforgettable experience.

Muir Woods National Monument

Take a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods, a tranquil redwood forest that will leave you in awe. Walk among the towering ancient trees and connect with nature.

San Francisco is a city of endless possibilities, where every corner holds a new adventure. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a longtime resident, this bucket list of 20 things to do in San Francisco is sure to enrich your experience and create lasting memories in the enchanting “City by the Bay.” Enjoy!

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Immerse yourself in contemporary art at SFMOMA, one of the largest modern art museums in the world. Marvel at the impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and installations.

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Union Square

Visit the vibrant and bustling heart of downtown San Francisco, Union Square. Home to a wide variety of stores, restaurants, and hotels, the area is a shopper’s paradise with plenty of options for dining, entertainment, and sightseeing. Don’t forget to check out the statue of Ulysses S Grant in the center of the square.

Yerba Buena Gardens

Unwind and relax in the serene setting of Yerba Buena Gardens, an urban oasis located in downtown San Francisco. Take a stroll around the gardens and check out the impressive sculptural displays and public artworks. The gardens also host some of the city’s most popular events and festivals throughout the year.

De Young Museum

Discover the world’s finest collections of American art at the De Young Museum, located in Golden Gate Park. This museum houses an impressive variety of artwork from different eras and styles, including Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and more. Don’t miss the chance to explore this incredible museum!

Alamo Square Park

Take in the breathtaking beauty of San Francisco’s classic cityscape at Alamo Square Park, where you can find iconic Victorian buildings and stunning views of downtown. This photogenic park is a great place for an afternoon picnic or relaxing stroll.

Angel Island State Park

Take a ferry to Angel Island, California’s largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay. Explore its diverse trails, historic sites, and scenic lookouts while enjoying breathtaking

San Francisco Botanical Garden

Surround yourself with lush foliage and colorful flowers at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, a 55-acre urban oasis located in Golden Gate Park. This gorgeous garden is a great place for nature lovers to explore and enjoy the beauty of the natural world.

Sutro Baths

Take a trip back in time at the ruins of Sutro Baths, an iconic structure located below the Cliff House. Built in 1894 as a public pool, this site is now home to tidal pools and shoreline trails that offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

The Wave Organ

Listen to the sounds of nature at The Wave Organ, an acoustic sculpture located on a jetty in the San Francisco Bay. This site is composed of 25 organ pipes that create music with the waves as they lap against it. It’s a truly unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else!

From iconic landmarks and breathtaking natural landscapes to vibrant city life and world-class museums, San Francisco has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or a chance to relax and explore the beauty of the Bay Area, this list of 20 must-sees will help you plan your perfect trip to the “City by the Bay.” Enjoy!

The Buena Vista

The Buena Vista holds a distinctive spot on any San Francisco bucket list. Situated in the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, this iconic cafe is famously known for introducing Irish Coffee to America. 

Step into the historic establishment, enjoy the warm, old-world charm, and savor the perfect blend of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and cream, carefully layered to deliver a taste that has delighted locals and tourists alike since 1952. Don’t forget to pair your coffee with their delectable all-day breakfast for a truly San Franciscan experience.

Ghirardelli Square

As a chocoholic’s paradise, Ghirardelli Square is an essential stop on any San Francisco itinerary. This historic public square, once home to the renowned Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, now houses an array of unique shops and restaurants. 

The square also offers stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, making it an ideal spot for leisurely strolls. Be sure to visit during the holidays for a special treat, as the square lights up with a giant Christmas tree and hosts a range of festive events. Ghirardelli Square is not just a place; it’s an experience that beautifully combines San Francisco’s historic charm with sweet indulgence.

SF Bucket list

Conclusion: San Francisco Bucket List

San Francisco is a city full of adventure, excitement, and culture. No matter what’s on your bucket list, this vibrant city has something for everyone. Whether you’re exploring the theater district, taking a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, learning about the island’s history at Alcatraz, indulging in gourmet food at the Ferry Building, or admiring the city’s murals, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience in San Francisco. 

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