Top 8 Free Things to do in San Francisco

Image via Flickr by Jo@net

I often find myself doing research on cities I’ve never been to before and don’t have any immediate plans to visit.

San Francisco, California, is a city that I have dreamed of visiting for years. It’s iconic and filled with top international restaurants, accessible hotels for business or leisure travelers, and tons of sights to see and activities to do.

Lately, I’ve tried to find a way to visit San Francisco without breaking the bank. I never realized how many free things to do that you could find in the city. The diversity has given me a bit of a mental boost to book my stay and get here sooner.

Below are eight activities I found that are free:

1. Golden Gate Park

This park is more than 1,017 acres and entry is free. You can jog, cycle, or stroll. On Saturdays and Sundays, you won’t find vehicles present. Sometimes, you can enjoy free concerts and tour the on-site museum for free. You can also get free lawn bowling lessons on a Wednesday.

2. Pier 39

Pier 39 is full of street performers, restaurants, and a water park, but none of those options are free. However, the real reason to visit — and the one that won’t cost a dime — is the great view of a sea lion colony. More than 1,300 sea lions head to this spot between January and July each year, and you can have a front-row viewing seat.

3. San Francisco City Guides

This tour company gives free walking tours of different neighborhoods throughout the city. Learn about the Gold Rush, the art deco architecture, or the earthquake that changed the face of the city. Volunteers lead these tours, and they ask that you register your walking tour time online

4. Golden Gate Bridge

The most famous landmark in the city is free to visitors. You can walk across the Golden Gate Bridge during daylight hours or bike across the bridge at any time of day.

5. Fort Point

Originally built to protect the city from foreign attacks during the Civil War, Fort Point offers a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge and surrounding bay. The location is also a popular surfing spot.

6. California Coastal Trail

From Lands End — a great viewing spot on its own — to Presidio, you can hike or bike along this rugged coastline. Finish the day at Lands End so that you can take a dip in the Sutro Baths, which are also free.

7. Crissy Field

An old U.S. Army airfield, Crissy field is now a beautiful beach along the bay. You’ll find public picnic tables, several viewing points, and plenty of beach space when crowds swell on busy weekends. Crissy Field is one of the best windsurfing spots in the city.

8. Tin How Temple

This Chinese temple with free entry is a beautiful ode to the Chinese immigrants of the city. The site also has great views of the surrounding Chinatown architecture.

I’m excited to have found much to do in San Francisco that doesn’t cost anything. Have you ever been to San Francisco? What are your favorite budget-friendly activities?

Laura Bronner

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