23 Free Things To Do in San Francisco

There are many fantastic free things to do in San Francisco. Here are our favorites, including some of the city’s most iconic experiences. Bring the kids! Most of the free things to do are also family friendly.

The Golden Gate Bridge

You haven’t been to San Francisco until you’re strolled across this massive landmark. Luckily for you, the city’s biggest icon is always free for pedestrians. With breathtaking views of the city, as well as Alcatraz and Angel Island, this one-of-a-kind experience should top your list.


Golden Gate Park

Independent of its incredible attractions, Golden Gate Park is still a world-class, urban green space. Wide lawns, hidden groves, and rolling hills make it an easy and memorable place to explore. Entrance to the park is free, and it’s also no charge to see the park’s towering windmills, resident bison herd, or flowing waterfall.

The Harmon Observation Tower at the de Young Museum

Rising high above the trees on the north side of Golden Gate Park is the de Young’s Harmon Observation Tower. It’s free for all, whether or not you’ve visited the museum. An artistic piece in its own right, the Tower was a bit controversial when it was built; but once naysayers stepped inside and took in the 360-degree views of the city from the top, they quickly changed their tune.

Military museum – Fort Point

Located underneath the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point is one of the oldest American military bases on the west coast. Now decommissioned, Fort Point is a free museum that not only educates you about San Francisco’s military history but also offers some awe-inspiring perspectives of the enormous bridge above.

The Presidio

Urban hiking, a 1,500 acre national park, the Presidio is a true gem within city limits. The former military base now offers hiking trails, historic buildings and multiple picnic locations with epic views. There are multiple entry points to the Presidio, and a free shuttle to get you there.

Twin Peaks

In the geographic center of the city, you’ll find one of the highest natural points at which to observe San Francisco. The path to the top can be steep and winding, but the view is a terrific reward, on a non-foggy day. Just be sure to bring an extra layer; the wind at the summit can be fairly strong.

Mount Davidson

Though perhaps not as famous as Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson is in fact taller (but just by a smidge). The benefit of Mount Davidson, though, is that it tends to be the less visited of the two sites, meaning that your time in the parkland on Davidson’s slopes will feel much more like an escape from the urban jungle below. Visit on a non-foggy day.

Free dance lesson – Lindy in the Park

Do you like to dance? Then head to Golden Gate Park on Sundays for Lindy in the Park. You can take a free half-hour swing dance lesson starting at 12:00 p.m. You don’t need a partner, just a willingness to learn!

San Francisco Cable Car Museum

While it costs $8 to ride the historic Cable Cars of San Francisco, it’s free to visit the Cable Car Museum at the corner of Mason and Washington Streets. Not only can you learn the history of the cable cars, but also you can see how the entire system runs. This facility isn’t just a museum; it’s a crucial and operational part of the city’s transit system.

Mount Davidson

Though perhaps not as famous as Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson is in fact taller (but just by a smidge). The benefit of Mount Davidson, though, is that it tends to be the less visited of the two sites, meaning that your time in the parkland on Davidson’s slopes will feel much more like an escape from the urban jungle below. Visit on a non-foggy day.

City Guides Walking Tours

No matter your interest, City Guides has a tour for you. All of their programs are led by local volunteers and they’re all free! Despite San Francisco’s hilly terrain, it’s a very walkable city, which makes City Guides a terrific option for getting your bearings, learning a little, and discovering some local favorites.


While some of the attractions contained within may charge, exploring PIER 39 itself is completely free. There are performers, movie screenings, and of course the lovable sea lions. For a full list of upcoming events at PIER 39  click here


Exploring San Francisco’s famous Chinatown is best done on foot. This historic neighborhood is always busy, and is full of hidden gems that welcome the curious traveler. If you’ve still got some pep in your step after ducking into many shops and restaurans. It is possible to get guided tours of Chinatown – click here

Free Sunday concerts – Stern Grove Festival

From mid-June to mid-August, you can attend a series of free Sunday concerts at Sigmund Stern Grove. This popular performance series in the Sunset features a wide range of genres, from classical music to rock.

Ghirardelli Square

This beautiful brick complex at the water’s edge was once where famous Ghirardelli chocolate was made. While production has since moved to the East Bay, there are still plenty of sweet treats to enjoy at Ghirardelli Square, which is home to a number of shops and restaurants. Just enjoying the view and the outstanding seasonal decoration.

Alamo Square Park

Home to one of San Francisco’s most noteworthy views, Alamo Square Park is where you’ll find the Painted Ladies, a row of classically beautiful Victorian homes. On clear days, the city skyline in the distance creates a backdrop that stuns visitors and locals alike. Don’t forget to pack a blanket; Alamo Square Park is an excellent spot for a picnic.

Alta Plaza Park

Alta Plaza Park is a charming open space in the heart of the Pacific Heights neighborhood. There are lots of fun things for families to do in the park, including a playground, tennis courts, a basketball court, a dog run, and more. One of the best parts of the park is its stunning view. At the top of the hill, you can see the surrounding cityscape and bay. There is a grand staircase that will help you get to the top of the park.

Salesforce Park

Sitting as the crown of the new Salesforce Transit Center, Salesforce Park is a green oasis in the heart of the bustling South of Market neighborhood. Guests can enjoy this 5.4 acre urban park with green spots on which to relax, a children’s playground, and a jogging track all four stories high. Throughout the structure, you’ll find public artwork, from beautiful tiled floors to illuminated modern art and a sensor-activated fountain. 

Free Museum Days

Most of the museums in San Francisco open their doors for free to visitors at least once a month. The free days are usually the first Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday of each month. While these days can get crowded, they’re still a great deal. Participating museums include the Asian Art Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor, and many more.

Public art and Mission Murals

Public art is everywhere in San Francisco, but nowhere is it more abundant than in the Mission. Colorful murals in a variety of styles, created by many different artists over the years, each with their own unique viewpoint, can be found all over the neighborhood. The most popular ones can be observed in Clarion and Balmy Alleys, where the art flows uninterrupted from one building to another.

Free Concerts at Amoeba Music

Amoeba Music (1855 Haight St.) is legendary because it’s the world’s largest independent record store. You can browse their selection of CDs, records, and more. If you’re lucky, you can catch a live concert while you’re there. Check the store’s website for a calendar of performances.

Grace Cathedral

Atop Nob Hill sits Grace Cathedral, a massive Gothic structure that includes labyrinths, gardens, and a regular schedule of excellent free musical performances. There’s no charge to enter, even if all you want to do is marvel at its incredible architecture.

Dolores Park

It’s far from being San Francisco’s largest green space, but Dolores Park in the Mission is certainly among the most popular with the locals. With killer views of the downtown skyline, new amenities and recreational areas, and unobstructed sunlight, Dolores is where San Franciscans go instead of the beach. If you want to simultaneously commune with nature and with your fellow man, Dolores Park is the place to go.