10 Things To Cross Off Your San Francisco Bucket List
San Francisco is one of the most recognized cities in the world. The Golden Gate Bridge to S.F. is as iconic as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, it’s no wonder that the City by the Bay remains one of the most desirable destinations year over year.
Travelzoo and Google Local Guides have partnered up to round up a list of fun things to do on your first (or second or third) visit to the Bay Area. We call it our San Francisco bucket list. And as a bonus, read through the end to find out how you can win $300 toward your next visit.
1. Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge
This iconic architectural marvel is a must-see on not just your S.F. bucket list, but your X-amount-of-things-to-do-before-you-die list. Rent a bicycle for $35 for two and cruise swiftly across the bridge where Marin Headlands offer impeccable views of the Golden Gate Bridge with the added backdrop of San Francisco. Local Guide Mike Klubock calls it a “wow view.”
2. Ride a cable car
Because hanging on to the side of a cable car is way cooler than attempting to hike up the steep hills of Powell Street. And located 10 minutes away from the cable car starting point, Zagat-recommended Chiaroscuro offers an Italian lunch for two for only $39.
3. Wake up at the crack of dawn for Tartine Bakery
Where there’s a 30-minute line that wraps around the block, there’s a heavenly morning bun at the end of it worth the wait. In fact, Local Guide Dennis Dang says the morning bun, croissant and fresh bread are “the only three things you need” at Tartine Bakery. So go ahead and set your alarm clock and get there early!
4. Visit the Painted Ladies
Okay, they’re not literally painted ladies. They’re the Victorian-style homes that opened every episode of Full House, the show that taught us that anyone can become a multimillionaire by the age of 6 as long as you can nail a catchphrase. Wait, no, that wasn’t the lesson. Was it? Well whatever it was, kids of the 90s will appreciate the view from Alamo Park, as Local Guide Bryan Nabong puts it, “one of the postcard looks of San Francisco.” Oh, and word is Uncle Jesse still visits.
5. Eat in the oldest Chinatown in North America
You bet you’ll find authentic Chinese food at one of the most prominent Chinatowns in the US. Lines form outside of Good Mong Kok Bakery where locals get their morning dim-sum (Chinese tapas) to go, and there’s a website for Golden Gate Bakery called “Is the Golden Gate Bakery Open Today?” dedicated to letting customers know whether they can get their egg custard tart fix at the beloved bakery.
6. Take an Alcatraz night tour
Local Guide Sally Zhao recommends booking “in advance as tickets sell out fast.” That’s no surprise being that an evening tour adds excitement to the already spooky penitentiary. But if an up-close look at the former prison is not your thing, Blue & Gold Fleet’s “Escape the Rock” cruise circles around the island and tells stories of Alcatraz’ notorious criminals from afar for 50% off.
7. Indulge in an ice cream sundae from Ghirardelli Square
Ghirardelli Square is the former chocolate factory of where the namesake chocolate started. Local Guide Lauren Pinheiro reminds tourists and locals alike of the “Ghirardelli 12-scoop sundae.” Enough said.
8. Explore Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is 1,017-acres of gardens, playgrounds, lakes, trails, museums and more. That’s larger than New York City’s Central Park! If you’re looking to get a taste of it all, this Go San Francisco Card will save up to 55% on admission to top attractions including the Conservatory of Flowers, de Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences located in this massive urban oasis.
9. Climb the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
Ascending to Grandview Park are mosaic steps that started off as a neighborhood project inspired by the Stelaron Steps in Rio de Janiero. The goal was to turn the 163 steps into a work of art for the city to enjoy. Today, crowds of visitors climb and admire this stairway every day and enjoy rewarding panoramic views of the city up top.
10. Take in city lights atop Twin Peaks
With the numerous spots to take in Bay Area views, Twin Peaks remain a hit with locals. Local Guide David Bos says on a clear night, this gem makes for a great post-airport stop to take in city lights after a late-night arrival.
What’s on your S.F. bucket list? Are there any additional tips and suggestions you can share with us? Let us and our friends over at Google Local Guides know by leaving a review here.
Local Guides is a global recognition and reward program for creators on Google Maps — those who help others make more confident decisions about where to eat, shop and play. Every high-quality review you leave on Google Maps starting now through the end of the year will increase your chance of winning $300 toward Travelzoo, so get reviewing!
Join Travelzoo for FREE!
The best travel and local deals delivered to your inbox.