Things to do in Bay Area

Fun Things to Do in the Bay Area

There's a lot to see in the Bay Area—make the most of your time with these fun things to do.

The Bay Area is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States. The region is packed with iconic attractions, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Painted Ladies (the houses in Full House). Add in the diverse food scene and grand Northern California landscapes, and you have a destination that keeps on giving.

Want to see as much of San Francisco as possible? We recommend making an itinerary of fun things to do in the Bay Area. The city's notorious hills and traffic easily add to your travel time. That time doubles if your list includes day trips to Napa Valley, Marin County, Muir Woods National Monument, or the hiking trails in Tilden Regional Park.

Golden Gate Park

The majestic Golden Gate Park is a natural first stop on your visit to the Bay Area. It's much more than a serene green space—this giant park has more than 1,000 acres of things to do. You could easily spend an entire day here playing aquatic sports, watching wildlife, visiting museums, and reveling in nature.

1. Stroll Through the San Francisco Botanical Garden

Walking through the San Francisco Botanical Garden feels like teleporting to wilderness areas around the world. Gaze up at tropical palm trees, meander through densely packed bamboo, and feel the breeze in an Andean cloud forest.

Then, there are the gardens. Our favorite is the ancient plant garden, which showcases species that Indigenous people relied on centuries ago. The path takes you on a journey through time, highlighting plants that dominated each period.

Other wonderful spots include the dreamy Garden of Fragrance and the succulent garden. For a true California experience, explore the Redwood Grove. It becomes atmospheric on misty mornings.

Photographer: Cole Keister

2. Paddle on Blue Heron Lake

San Francisco's residents have loved Blue Heron Lake (previously Stow Lake) since the 1800s. This man-made paradise expands across 12 acres, offering plenty of space for boating. Rent pedal boats or rowboats at the Blue Heron Boathouse and spend an hour exploring the island and drifting with a view of the shore.

Want to save some money? Order breakfast from the boathouse for a discount on a boat rental. We recommend going out early in the day before the crowds arrive—it's the most peaceful time to be on the lake.

3. Visit the Bison Paddock

Bison might be one of the last things you expect to see in the heart of San Francisco, but Golden Gate Park defies expectations. Walking over to the Bison Paddock lets you witness majestic creatures that once wandered wild through the American West.

Giant bison graze in a picturesque meadow, calmly munching on grass and ignoring spectators. The park's resident bison (and their ancestors) have been enjoying their grassy enclosure since the late 1800s. You might see a few employees from the San Francisco Zoo on-site checking on the animals' health and comfort.


The Presidio is a huge park located at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. Once upon a time, it was a Spanish fort and an army post. Today, it's a natural area and historic site operated by the National Park Service. The park is also one of the endpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge.

4. Explore the Trails and View at Crissy Field

When the Presidio had a military presence, Crissy Field was an airfield. Today, it's a popular local spot for walking, biking, and hanging out with friends.

Tourists come for one main reason—the panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Get all gussied up to take photos in front of the bridge, or bring a blanket and picnic supplies to take in the view from the grass.

If you're up for a walk, park in the lot near the Golden Gate Promenade, which is by the Palace of Fine Arts. From there, stroll along the shore. The large beach fills up with families and sunbathers on warm weekends, so it's a good idea to arrive early to find parking.

Photographer: Will Truettner

5. Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum

Disneyland might be more than 400 miles south of the Bay Area, but you don't have to make the trip to experience some Disney magic. The Walt Disney Family Museum explores the man behind the legend and his life away from the spotlight.

Discover how Disney built his animation empire, check out some of his earliest sketches, and learn about the unique technologies that drove the success of the company. The museum is a must for any Disney lover, but it's equally interesting for casual fans.

Although it looks small from the outside, the inside is packed with fascinating exhibits. Allow around two hours for your visit so you have time to soak it all in.

6. Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

If you're not content to admire the Golden Gate Bridge from afar and have some extra energy to burn, lace up your walking shoes when you're visiting the bridge and cross it on foot. Protected pedestrian sidewalks run on either side of the bridge, so you can get up close and personal with this engineering marvel.

The bridge is less than two miles long. The time it takes to complete depends on how fast you walk and how often you stop to take pictures or admire views of the bay. Wear comfortable shoes and layers—the wind whips in off the ocean.


SoMa (South of Market) is a large and diverse area. It's a cultural hub and the home of Oracle Park, the stadium where the San Francisco Giants play. It also houses a few of our favorite spots for karaoke in the Bay Area.

7. Experience the SFMOMA

With its breathtaking architecture and broad collection of modern art, the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) is one of the best museums in the city. Begin your visit outdoors at the Living Wall, which is covered in more than 15,000 plants. It makes a vibrant backdrop for a pre-museum selfie.

Inside the cavernous museum, treasures await. By far, our favorite is Olafur Eliasson’s One-way color tunnel. As you walk through, the brightly colored glass and acrylic prisms transform the space in a downright mesmerizing way.

That's just the start—the museum is known for its ever-changing selection of joyful installations and large-scale pieces. It's fun for art aficionados and newbies alike.

Photographer: Derek Zhang

8. Discover Contemporary Works at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Immerse yourself in the often offbeat Bay Area arts community at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. This massive facility offers a taste of artistic disciplines. Wander through the latest art exhibits, check out a mind-bending indie film, or peek behind the scenes on a tour.

We love to see what's playing in the center's stunning Blue Shield of California Theater. It's known for hosting dance performances that showcase innovative styles and choreography. From ballet to contemporary, there's always something interesting happening.

Civic Center

San Francisco's Civic Center is a buzzing area overflowing with grand architecture and some of the city's most thrilling cultural outlets. Don't worry about parking; you can easily get there by public transportation.

9. Attend a Performance at the San Francisco Opera

Dress up (or don't—it's totally up to you) for an evening at the exceptional San Francisco Opera. The company performs throughout the year, ranging from classics, such as The Magic Flute, to lesser-known masterpieces, such as Idomeneo. The singing is phenomenal, and the opulent theater adds to the vibe.

In an effort to make the art form more accessible, opera performance prices start at just $26. Some shows offer discounts for Bay Area residents. We suggest going early to hear the preshow talks, which provide an engaging introduction to the story and music.

10. Explore the Asian Art Museum

The Bay Area has a long and storied history of immigration from Asian countries, so it's no surprise it's home to the extraordinary Asian Art Museum. The art selection was curated to foster a deeper understanding of Asian cultures and artistic traditions. It offers a fascinating glimpse into history.

Check out remarkable artifacts. You'll see fancy metalwork from China's Bronze Age. Also, 15th-century Japanese ink paintings and well-preserved kimonos.

Mission District

The oh-so-trendy Mission District is the place to be if you're interested in the coolest boutiques and most innovative restaurants. With its gorgeous murals and thriving food scene, this neighborhood is a traveler's dream.

11. Sample Mission-Style Burritos at La Taqueria

The mission-style burrito is deeply embedded into the Bay Area's culinary landscape. This monster of a burrito originated in the Mission District in the 1960s, although its exact invention is the subject of much debate. Regardless, it quickly became a staple.

These burritos are made with an enormous tortilla and generously stuffed with your choice of fillings, these burritos are big enough to feed two people. To try this Bay Area classic, head straight to La Taqueria. Here, the kitchen crew prepares massive burritos with one key characteristic—made without rice.

The inside is loaded with beans, meat, cheese, and house-made salsa. There's almost always a line (for good reason), but it usually moves quickly.

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12. Enjoy Artisanal Ice Cream at Bi-Rite Creamery

If there's anything San Franciscans love, it's artisan foods. Small-batch and farm-to-table restaurants are everywhere in this food-obsessed city. One of the most delicious is the Bi-Rite Creamery, which offers a range of artisanal ice cream flavors.

Bi-Rite is famous among locals for its strong flavors and creative concoctions. The options change regularly, often featuring locally grown fruits or house-made baked goods. With mouthwatering flavors, including blood orange sherbet, crème brûlée, and orange cardamom, you might need to come back for seconds.

North Beach

Visitors to the Bay Area find themselves drawn to the lively North Beach area. Brimming with adorable cafés and gorgeous historic architecture, it's a feast for the senses.

13. Savor Italian Cuisine at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana

North Beach was a popular spot for Italian immigrants in the early 1900s. And as you dig into a pizza at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, it's not hard to imagine you're in a Naples café.

Tony's doesn't limit itself to Italian pizza. The menu also features styles from cities such as Detroit and New Haven. Bring a group and order one of each to decide which one you think is best. The restaurant also offers beer, cocktails, and multiple Italian wines.

14. Relish Coffee at Caffe Trieste

Caffe Trieste has mastered the art of vintage Italian design. The old-school interior is a glorious mishmash of tiled tables, red leather seats, and an eclectic selection of wall art. There's nothing pretentious or fancy about it, so we visit every chance we get.

Gorgeous as it is, the decor isn't the main attraction. The diners that pack the seats are there for the authentic Italian coffee. The restaurant claims to have introduced espresso to San Francisco more than 50 years ago, and it's still a top spot among serious coffee connoisseurs.


With its seaside location, the Embarcadero area is a popular spot to while away the hours in San Francisco. Walk down the shoreline path, stopping occasionally to explore the local piers, visit a museum, or admire the view of Angel Island. A few blocks away, you'll find the infamous switchbacks of Lombard Street and many of the best places for stand-up comedy in the Bay Area.

15. Ride the Historic San Francisco Cable Cars

There's no better way to see the city streets than aboard the San Francisco cable cars. These open-air cars are an iconic symbol of the city and are almost always packed with eager visitors. Hop on board and enjoy the breeze as you chug up steep hills.

If you're in the Embarcadero area, the best place to board the cable cars is Fisherman's Wharf. Make sure to bring exact change or buy your ticket online using the MuniMobile app. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency visitor passport includes unlimited rides.

Photographer: Daniel J. Schwarz

Embrace the Unique Charm of the Bay Area Through These Exciting Activities

San Francisco will draw you in, charm you with spectacular surroundings and incredible restaurants, and win you over with its dynamic culture and open-minded people. Our performances exude the same spirit of innovation and creativity that permeates the streets of San Francisco.

We start with cutting-edge technology and combine it with beautiful artistry and acrobatics that seem to defy the laws of physics. The result is as captivating and memorable as the city itself. Immerse yourself in a wild, unfettered world of wonder at one of our shows in the Bay Area.

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