11 Free and Great Things to Do in San Francisco, California

San Francisco is one of the most celebrated cities in the world—and for good reason. Unfortunately, it’s also known for its high cost of living and expensive sites. That’s why we’ve put together this list of eleven free and great things that you can do in this landmark American city. By following the information in this guide, you’ll be one step closer to having the ultimate vacation for absolutely free. And reminder, California is more than just Disneyland

1) Walk the Golden Gate Bridge

Let’s be honest: we all knew this would be first on the list. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous sites in the entire United States, so it only makes sense that a free walk across this national landmark would top our list of things to do in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge- Things to Do in San Francisco, CaliforniaThings to Do in San Francisco, California

Take pictures here and experience the thrill that comes from being on one of the most famous sites in the entire world. The Golden Gate Bridge is incredibly beautiful and fun to walk. In other words, it’s an adventure you won’t be forgetting any time soon. 

2) See the Painted Ladies

The Painted Ladies are a set of gorgeous houses that are truly some of the most beautiful in the area. One of them was also used on the set of Full House. While it’s impossible to go inside the houses and view them,

Painted Ladies, San Fransisco- Things to Do in San Francisco, CaliforniaThings to Do in San Francisco, California

you can see from the outside and potentially get some great views if you know where to stand. If you’re ready to see a staple of American culture up close and personal, you’ll love taking a trip to get a free view of the Painted Ladies. 

3) Go to Coit Tower

From the top of Coit Tower, you can see the downtown area, around the Bay, and even the island of Alcatraz. This makes it one of the most thrilling spots in all of San Francisco.

Coit Tower- Things to Do in San Francisco, CaliforniaThings to Do in San Francisco, California

It will take a bit of hike to reach the tower, but you can enter for free (though it does cost you to ride to the top). You’ll certainly want to make a trip to Coit Tower a part of your next San Francisco vacation. 

4) Visit Golden Gate Park

This incredible free park is located near a hub-bub of activity and offers you the chance to chill and relax in some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. Ideal for couples, families, and even solo travelers,

Golden Gate Park- Things to Do in San Francisco, CaliforniaThings to Do in San Francisco, California

Golden Gate Park is a key part of the San Francisco experience. The park offers a variety of free activities and resting spots that will take your San Francisco vacation to the next level. 

5) Visit the Japanese Tea Garden

San Francisco is home to the nation’s oldest Japanese tea garden. With beautiful plants and floral arrangements, it’s one of the most carefully cultivated gardens in the US.

Japanese Tea Garden- Things to Do in San Francisco, CaliforniaThings to Do in San Francisco, California

You’ll want to see this garden up close to really appreciate its beauty. The best part? You can do it for absolutely free! Take in the sights and have a great time at no cost to you. 

6) Watch the Bay Lights

If you stay until nighttime, you’ll want to see the Bay Lights. One of the most incredible sights in the area, the Bay Lights are famous for their beauty and romanticism.

Bay Lights- Things to Do in San Francisco, CaliforniaThings to Do in San Francisco, California
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Sit back and watch them with your lover or with your family; no matter what, you’re sure to enjoy the view as the lights come twinkling on above the gorgeous San Francisco Bay. 

7) See a Free Comedy Show

It’s no secret that San Francisco boasts one of the best comedy scenes in the United States. At locations such as Slate Bar and Murphy’s Pub, you can experience this comedy for absolutely free.

Audience- Things to Do in San Francisco, CaliforniaThings to Do in San Francisco, California

Have a roaring good time with your friends at any one of the area’s famed comedy clubs. These venues will have you laughing like you never have before. For this reason, make sure to add a free comedy show to your San Francisco bucket list!

8) See the Fortune Cookie Factory

A great location for kids, the Fortune Cookie Factory offers free guided tours for kids and their families.

Fortune Cookie Factory- Things to Do in San Francisco, CaliforniaThings to Do in San Francisco, California
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

If you want to see directly how fortune cookies are made and also get your hands on some of these delicious treats, you certainly don’t want to miss out on a trip to the Fortune Cookie Factory. 

9) Take a Walking Tour

There are a variety of free walking tours that will take you around all the important sites in the city.

Walking Tour- Things to Do in San Francisco, CaliforniaThings to Do in San Francisco, California

If you’re someone who likes to have a bit of guidance in their travel, make sure you sign up for one of these tours so that you can make sure you see everything there is to see in San Francisco.

10) Go to San Francisco Maritime Park

On certain days, you can get into the San Francisco Maritime Park for free (notably Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veterans Day). If you happen to be in the area at this time, you’ll want to take advantage of the opportunity to see

San Francisco Maritime Park
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

the incredible array of sights and attractions the park has to offer. Primarily focused on the maritime nature of the Bay area, it’s a must-see for anyone who’s traveling San Francisco. 

11) View the Mission Murals

Some of the most excellent graffiti in the area, these murals make for the perfect picture opportunity. You’ll love the variety and the detail that are put into these murals and will have a great time looking at each

Mission Murals

 one of them close up. The Mission Murals have been a free staple for San Francisco travelers for years, and now you can experience them yourself on your next vacation. 

The Bottom Line

With its international reputation, San Francisco is certainly one of the world’s must-see cities. Now with the information in this guide, you can see the city in a cheaper and better way. For this reason, make sure to reference this piece as you plan your upcoming vacation!

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