Things to Do For Free in San Francisco

  • 01 of 06

    Free Top Attractions

    San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
    San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. franckreporter / Getty Images

    Of all the most popular places to visit in California, San Francisco has more top sights that have no admission charge than anywhere else.

    Lots of San Francisco's top attractions don't cost a penny to see and enjoy. To keep the text below easy to read and not cluttered up with a bunch of links, you can get all the information on them in our list of top sights

    • A visit to Chinatown
    • A walk down "crookedest" Lombard Street
    • A walk in Golden Gate Park. You can also enjoy the playground for free and take a selfie with the buffalo.
    • A walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. You can visit the Fort Point National Historic Site just below the bridge for free, too.
    • A stroll along the waterfront to see Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf
    • A drive on the 49-Mile Drive (except for the cost of fuel)

    Reader's Favorites

    More than 11,000 of our readers voted for their favorite thing to do for free in San Francisco. Thirty percent of them said they like to take a free tour. 15% liked Fort Point, and 10% liked the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • 02 of 06

    More Things to Do for Free

    View from Coit Tower
    View from Coit Tower. Patrick Finnegan/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    You'd have to pay to go up to the observation level at Coit Tower, but you can see the lobby and catch the views from outside for free.

    Any of these urban hikes in San Francisco are also free. Unless you tire out and have to pay to get back to where you started.

    You can also visit any of San Francisco's hidden rooftop parks for free and get a gander at some of the best views in town while you're there. You can find a good list of them at the San Francisco Chronicle Website.

  • 03 of 06

    Free Tours

    Taking a San Francisco Walking Tour
    Taking a San Francisco Walking Tour. Courtesy of San Francisco City Guides

    City Guides: Volunteer guides give daily tours at locations around the city. Some of their most popular tours include Fisherman's Wharf, the Palace Hotel and Chinatown. Donations are appreciated but not required.

    Free Tours by Foot also gives free walking tours, but they're really more like name your own price tours (although I guess you could decide that your price is free).

  • 04 of 06

    Free Museum Admissions

    Wells Fargo Museum, San Francisco
    Wells Fargo Museum, San Francisco. Robert Alexander / Getty Images

    Admission is always free at the Cable Car Museum, the San Francisco Fire Museum, and the Wells Fargo History Museum.

    You can get into the Chinese Culture Center for free (but a donation is "suggested"). You can also get into the gift shop and see the exhibits on the ground floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for free.

    Many of the city's fee-based museums offer free admission on a limited schedule. Days and requirements vary, and you might need to have a specific brand of credit card to take advantage of them. Your best bet is to check the website of any museum that you want to visit to see when — or if — they offer free days.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Free Performances

    Concert at Stern Grove
    Concert at Stern Grove. Scott Schiller/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

    Golden Gate Park Band Concerts: Concerts Every Sunday, April through October

    San Francisco Mime Troupe: They're a Tony Award-winning company who perform free shows in city parks and indoor venues

    San Francisco Shakespeare Festival: Free performances in area parks, all summer

    Stern Grove Concerts: They offer free outdoor concerts on summer Sundays, and the lineups are astonishing, especially given the price.

    The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is free. And they bring out the top names in the genre.

    You can also get free admission to concerts and performances in San Francisco with Goldstar. You can sign up for free, get access to comp tickets — and even use it at home, too. Here's what you need to know about Goldstar.

  • 06 of 06

    More Things You Can Do in San Francisco

    Cable car in the streets of San Francisco,
    San Francisco Cable Car. Francesco Vaninetti Photo / Getty Images

    There's a lot more to do in San Francisco. If you're a contrarian traveler who seeks out the undiscovered spots, then don't miss these Things You Didn't Know You Wanted to Do in San Francisco. And of course, you'll want to take a look at the top things to do in San Francisco.

    Do you want your kids to have fun in San Francisco? Here's where to take them.

    It might rain in the winter. Here's what to do in San Francisco when it's raining. And if it's summertime when you visit, you'll definitely want to know What to Do on a Summer Night in San Franciso. Or for that matter, find out what you can do at night in San Francisco anytime.

    What Not to Do

    You don't want to sound and look like a dumb San Francisco tourist or waste your time on trashy tourist spots. Whatever you do, don't do these 16 things when you go to San Francisco.