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Top 5 things to do in San Francisco

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San Francisco Zoo
1. San Francisco Zoo
San Francisco Zoo is open 365 days a year, rain or shine. Stretching over 100 acres of peaceful gardens, it's home to over 2000 exotic, endangered, and rescued animals from 250 species. The Pacific Ocean backdrop makes it truly special, and the kid's play zone and exciting animal feedings make it one of the best family attractions in San Francisco.
California Academy of Sciences
2. California Academy of Sciences
The amazing, family-friendly California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco features the world’s only aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum, all under one living roof. It's conveniently located on Music Concourse Drive in Golden Gate Park. Other attractions, like the de Young Museum, the Botanical Gardens, and 412 hectares of urban park are right outside its doors.
Aquarium of the Bay
3. Aquarium of the Bay
Aquarium of the Bay is located at San Francisco's popular PIER 39. Its focus, as the name suggests, is local aquatic animals from the San Francisco Bay (and nearby waterways). There are three main exhibit areas, each with a specific point of focus. The most thrilling is the underwater tunnel, though the touch pools and naturalist talks also help make this an exciting and interactive way to get to know the bay.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
4. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
The Snøhetta expansion (completed in 2016) doubled the amount of exhibition space at the SFMOMA. The seven-story structure also expanded the gallery areas and outdoor public spaces, giving a big injection of destination architecture to San Francisco's South of Market area. The SFMOMA's permanent collection is a whopping 33,000 works, and there are always temporary exhibitions as well. When in San Francisco's SoMa make time for the SFMOMA.
Exploratorium
5. Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is an interactive museum in San Francisco that lets you get wacky with over 650 hands-on exhibits! Explore the world through science, art, and human perception and prepare to be wowed by inquiry-based experiences. The Exploratorium is located at Pier 15 on The Embarcadero.

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Legion of Honor

Overlooking the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in Lincoln Park, the Legion of Honor is San Francisco's most beautiful museum. See a collection spanning 4,000 years of ancient and European art, plus mummies, sculptures, and Rodin's The Thinker in an incredible setting. If you're taking public transport, the #18 bus goes directly to the Legion of Honor.
4.8 / 5 (33)
From $14.50
San Francisco

de Young Museum

From the stunning copper façade right through the collection, San Francisco's de Young Museum is a journey into the world of contemporary art and design. The California Academy of Sciences is nearby, as is the Botanical Gardens, and of course the whole complex is surrounded by the beautiful Golden Gate Park.
4.7 / 5 (26)
From $14.50
San Francisco

Blue and Gold Fleet

Blue & Gold Fleet is a tour provider in San Francisco, California. The company, based at Pier 39, arrange San Francisco Bay cruises as well as boat tours, ferries and sightseeing trips.
4.6 / 5 (8)
From $13.75
The Walt Disney Family Museum is an adventure into the world of 'Uncle Walt' and all that brought the man himself so much success on a global scale! Visitors can interact with special exhibitions, listening stations and more! The Walt Disney Family Museum is located in San Francisco's Presidio, a park overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
4.8 / 5 (45)
From $25.00
San Francisco

Alcatraz

Once a notorious offshore prison where some of America's most infamous criminals, like Al 'Scarface' Capone, and 'Birdman' Robert Stroud were incarcerated, Alcatraz is now a visitor attraction operated by the National Parks Service. Reachable by ferry, the island is the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the U.S. and home to large colonies of gulls, egrets, and cormorants, which add to the island's atmosphere as they circle overhead.
4.8 / 5 (20)
From $99.00
up to —27%
San Francisco

7D Experience

Dive head-first into a world of thrills, spills, and non-stop high-octane action at San Francisco's 7D Experience. Mixing 3D visuals with motion-simulator effects and relentless (virtual) shooting, it's an experience like no other.
4.7 / 5 (3)
From $14.00
Cartoon Art Museum
San Francisco

Cartoon Art Museum

The Cartoon Art Museum is an intimate, boutique museum in San Francisco with original cartoon art. Founded in 1984, the Cartoon Art Museum has something for everyone—from comic strips, comic books and anime to political cartoons, graphic novels and underground comix. People of all ages can view original cartoon art at exhibitions and screenings, create their own comics and animation in workshops, research thousands of comics and books in the reading room, and mingle with professional and aspiring cartoonists.
4.0 / 5 (1)
From $10.00
The Tech Interactive, also known as 'The Tech', is a Silicon Valley-based science and technology center. The Tech encourages people to gain hands-on experience with various technologies, and is known for its distinctive mango-colored exterior.
5.0 / 5 (2)
From $27.00
San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic suspension bridge that links the American city of San Francisco, California to Marin County. The structure, which is 2,737 meters in length, is thought to be the most photographed bridge in the world.
4.8 / 5 (6)
From $65.00
San Francisco

Adventure Cat

Adventure Cat provide sailing charters in San Francisco. As well as organizing group boat trips and sightseeing tours, the Pier 39-based operator also arrange private charters.
5.0 / 5 (5)
From $60.00
up to —27%
San Francisco

The Flyer

The Flyer is a cinematic, all-action flight simulator. No trip to Pier 39 is complete without a thrill-ride which takes in some of San Francisco's most iconic sights!
From $14.00
Ideally situated in Fisherman's Wharf, the Museum of 3D Illusions San Francisco is the perfect escape from reality, whether you're a Bay Area local, or just visiting the city. There are over 40 illusions inside, plus a Smash It room that lets you send plates soaring toward a target! If you're looking for a fun, bamboozling escape, you'll find it here.
5.0 / 5 (1)
From $20.00

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Planning your San Francisco visit

Language

English

Currency

Dollar ($)

Dialing code

+ 1

Time zone

Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Getting around

Uber and Lyft are both great ways to get around this hilly city, especially outside of peak hours. Buses, street cars, the subway and cable cars run regularly, while cycling is also popular. If you're flying into SFO, take the BART towards Pittsburg/Baypoint and then call a car to your destination. It's cheaper and faster than driving from the airport.

Weather

September to November is a great time to visit San Francisco. It's less crowded and often warmer than July and August, which can be cold and windy (yes, this is California, but San Fran is surrounded on three sides by water and wind). Hotels are cheaper in winter, but take plenty of clothes to layer up. You never know when the fog will set in.

Movie set city

San Francisco is just up the California coast from Hollywood, but with a character of its own. The rolling hills, the dense fog and, of course, Golden Gate Bridge have all inspired filmmakers over the years. San Francisco has appeared as a backdrop in The Maltese Falcon (1941), Harold and Maude (1971), Escape from Alcatraz (1979), The Social Network (2010), and many more.

What to do in San Francisco for 3 days

Take a hike

Walking is free and a great way to see the city and beyond. Panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown SF can be yours from Tank Hill. This 650-foot-high mini-park offers a host of endangered butterflies, rare birds and native plant species. Likewise, Kite Hill, a small park in the middle of the city has some equally good views. Take a picnic.

Shop where it's hot

Don't just shop on the tourist trail. You’ll have more fun if you head to Union Square in downtown and let the additional street performers and flower sellers put a smile on your face. The DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse has low cost footwear that the locals love, while the Mission is the place to go for the grunge that used to be found on Haight in the 60s.

Ride the free buses

On weekends and city holidays from 9am-6pm, Rec and Park runs a free shuttle along Golden Gate Park. Stops include Conservatory of Flowers, McLaren Lodge and Stow Lake. Drinkers take note - the San Francisco Brewers Guild shuttles beer fans to local breweries for free, (third Wednesday of every month). Drink in Union Square, the Mission, Haight/Sunset and more.

Wine time

Some of America's very best vineyards surround San Francisco and, while you can take a tour to some of them, you can also drive, then rent a bike. Several companies rent bikes for under $50 per day. Alternatively, Uber and Lyft both operate in the area. To taste wines on a budget, download the Winery Finder app to find out where the latest discounts are.

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