If you’re looking for great things to do in downtown San Francisco, just keep reading for our top picks!
If you’re new to the city, or visiting San Francisco for the first time, you might be looking for fun things to do in Downtown San Francisco. If that’s the case, then you’re in the right place!
We’ve rounded up a huge list of things to do in downtown San Francisco that’ll suit any traveler.
From kid-friendly attractions, to delicious restaurants, to fascinating museums for adults, this handy guide of things to do in Downtown San Francisco has it all!
And don’t worry if you’re on a budget. This list of the best things to do in downtown San Francisco includes a bunch of free activities!
Everything on this list is either right in the heart of Downtown San Francisco, or it is within a 10-minute walk of the Downtown area. So everything is super close!
Now let’s get to it!
Here are 20 fun things to do in Downtown San Francisco…
Go on a walking tour
If you’re new to the city, we suggest adding a walking tour to your list of things to do in downtown San Francisco.
You can easily pick up a self-guided tour from GPS My City, but this walking tour of the waterfront covers the downtown area and Alcatraz!
So, you can see why a tour is one of the finest things to do in downtown San Francisco right?
It’s all about killing multiple birds with one stone!
Visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Our next pick for awesome things to do in downtown San Francisco is paying a visit to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.
This place is tucked right by Chinatown and lets visitors watch fortune cookies being made in a small open kitchen.
You can even order custom options or try out unique flavors like strawberry or green tea cookies!
Try and find the Filbert Steps
Next on our list of things to do in Downtown San Francisco, it’s locating the famous Filbert Steps.
It’s one of the most charming and unique places to visit in the city, and one of our top things to do in Downtown San Francisco.
Filbert steps are nestled between beautiful gardens, and offer the most picturesque views of the bay and Alcatraz Island.
The steps themselves are quite steep, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and take it slow. In the summer – absolutely take a bottle of water with you.
There’s even a resident parrot named Cherry who greets visitors with her squawks and chirps. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, Filbert Steps is definitely a must-visit spot for a lovely day out in the city and a perfect choice for things to do in Downtown San Francisco.
Visit Union Square
To kick off our list of the best things to do in downtown San Francisco, we have a visit to Union Square.
There are so many incredible things to do in Union Square, but we suggest prioritizing the museums, galleries, and shopping streets!
Whether you visit Macy’s or head to Westfield, you’ll be able to shop until you drop.
If you want even more suggestions about what to do in Union Square, you can read our list of 30 things to do in Union Square, San Francisco!
Dine at International Smoke San Francisco
Next on our list of things to do in Downtown San Francisco, it’s dining at International Smoke San Francisco.
This restaurant, located in the heart of Downtown, offers a menu filled with mouth-watering dishes that fuse flavors from all around the world.
One of the standout items on the menu is their Korean BBQ Pork Belly, which is perfectly crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside.
Another must-try dish is the St. Louis Pork Ribs, which are slow-cooked and covered in a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. After your meal, you’ll be fully fuelled up for all the other things to do in Downtown San Francisco on this list!
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Visit Pier 7 after sunset
Next on our list of things to do in Downtown San Francisco, it’s visiting Pier 7.
Now, this pier might not be as famous as some of the others on this list, but it does offer some pretty amazing city views that we think you’ll love.
Head there in the evening to get amazing views (just like the photo below!).
Head to the Curran Theatre
Next on our list of things to do in downtown San Francisco, it’s the Curran Theatre!
This charming theater is a 1600-seat venue that hosts everything from musicals from Broadway to dance and opera performances.
It’s our top pick for things to do in downtown San Francisco if you’re a thespian!
And the gorgeous red seats and huge proscenium? They’re worthy of a spot on your grid!
Check out the Museum of Modern Art
If you’re looking for things to do in downtown San Francisco, you should certainly visit the Museum of Modern Art.
It’s a spot that boasts countless collections of contemporary and modern art, and you can spend hours trawling through the 200,000+ pieces of artwork!
When you’re done, you can stop by any of the restaurants around here for a refuel.
Have cocktails at Pagan Idol
If you’re looking for a fun and unique spot in Downtown San Francisco, look no further than Pagan Idol. The perfect place for cocktails!
This tiki-themed bar is a blast from the past, with dim lighting, tropical decor, and strong, fruity drinks served in tiki mugs.
The menu is full of delicious and creative cocktails, but if you’re not sure what to order, try the Mai Tai or the Zombie for a classic tiki experience.
The food menu is small but satisfying, with tasty bites like the pork belly bao and the spicy tuna poke bowl.
Overall, Pagan Idol is a must-visit for anyone looking for fun things to do in Downtown San Francisco.
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Admire the Bay Bridge
We couldn’t write a list of things to do in Downtown San Francisco, and not mention the iconic Bay Bridge.
OK, so this might not be San Francisco’s most famous bridge, but she comes a close second, and she is just as beautiful and impressive. At least, we think so!
This iconic landmark spans the beautiful San Francisco Bay, connecting the city to Oakland and the East Bay, and it’s a wonderful sight to just soak in and admire when you’re in the Downtown area.
It’s not just a way to get from point A to point B, it’s a sight to behold!
Visit the Ferry Building
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, visiting the Ferry Building is one of the top things to do in downtown San Francisco.
We highly recommend stopping by Hog Island Oyster Co. for the best clam chowder in San Francisco, but you can also pick up fresh produce from local vendors.
Throw in the waterfront views and community feel, and it’s easy to see why this vibrant building is one of the best things to do in downtown San Francisco.
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Drink at local breweries
If you’re a fan of beer and craft brews, then why not add a few local breweries to your list of things to do in downtown San Francisco?
We adore Black Hammer Brewing and 21st Amendment, but you can’t beat any of the best breweries in San Francisco.
And trust us, there are lots of them!
Ride one of the famous cable cars
Our next pick for things to do in San Francisco – it’s taking a ride on one of the city’s famous cable cars!
3 different routes run throughout the city, but we suggest catching Powell Hyde or Powell Mason as they pass through downtown San Francisco.
Whatever you do, make sure you snap a photo after you’ve boarded for the memories!
Another great option for things to do in Downtown San Francisco, is exploring Chinatown.
It’s one of the best things to do in Downtown San Francisco as you’ll spot everything from ancient artifacts to beautiful altars and vibrant colors.
If you’re going to make a shortlist, we recommend stopping by the Tin How Temple and the Kong Chow Temple.
And, that’s not even mentioning the amazing food there too.
Take a stroll along the Embarcadero
Next on our list of things to do in Downtown San Francisco, it’s enjoying the Embarcadero area.
This waterfront area offers stunning views of the Bay, and is home to the iconic Ferry Building, which has a variety of food and specialty shops inside.
It’s a great place to spend a lazy afternoon, just soaking in the city, admiring some amazing views, and eating great food.
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Visit PIER 39
Whether you want to spot the sea lions or do some boutique shopping, PIER 39 is one of the top things to do in downtown San Francisco!
It’s been around since 1977 and has been delighting San Francisco’s residents with its fish and chips, pretzels, and high-tech Dark Ride.
Oh, and don’t forget the street musicians and funfair rides that make this a great pick for things to do in downtown San Francisco for kiddos.
Catch a Giants Game
We literally couldn’t write a list of the best things to do in downtown San Francisco without mentioning a Giants Game!
It’s slightly outside of the main downtown area, but it’s the place to be for baseball fans (and newbies – the atmosphere is that exciting!).
Whether you just want to drink in the vibes or grab a beer and a hotdog, it’s among the best things to do in downtown San Francisco.
Hey, batter batter!
Watch a show at the Golden Gate Theatre
Calling all thespians and theatre lovers! The next spot on our list of the top things to do in downtown San Francisco is for you.
The gorgeous Golden Gate Theatre is perched in the city’s famous theatre district and it exclusively plays Broadway productions.
So, you’ll get to experience the best of the Big Apple’s incredible talent pool without having to hop on a flight!
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Learn about art and science at the Exploratorium
Anyone looking for things to do in downtown San Francisco with little ones should check out the Exploratorium.
It features over 600 unique exhibits that teach kids about elements of science and art, making it one of our favorite things to do in downtown San Francisco for curious kids.
If you’re here as an adult, you should take a look at their After Dark series which is designed to appeal to an older crowd with a more laid-back feel and a “no kids” policy!
Dine at the Waterbar Restaurant
Next on our list of things to do in Downtown San Francisco, it’s the gorgeous Waterbar Restaurant.
It’s a must-visit spot for any seafood lover or anyone just looking for a delicious meal with an incredible view.
Being right on the waterfront makes it a must-visit location, especially during the warmer months in beautiful sunny weather. We can’t think of anywhere nicer to enjoy those ocean views.
The restaurant overlooks the Bay Bridge and offers a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere perfect for a casual dinner or a night out with friends. Or even a romantic date night?
The menu is definitely something to get excited about – I highly recommend trying their oysters! They have a great selection, and the variety changes depending on what’s in season.
If you’re feeling fancy, go for the Seafood Tower, which comes with a variety of chilled shellfish, including crab, shrimp, and lobster. And don’t forget about the cocktails!
Next up on our ultimate list of thingsto do in Downtown San Francisco, it’s visiting the iconic Coit Tower.
You’ll have probably seen this tower in the skyline already, but if not – it’s a tall, cylindrical tower located atop Telegraph Hill, with stunning views of the city and the bay.
The tower was built in the 1930s and funded by a wealthy woman named Lillie Coit, who wanted to leave a lasting legacy in the city she loved. We love the history behind it, and it always makes us smile when visiting.
Inside the tower, you can find beautiful murals depicting life in San Francisco during the Great Depression. So there’s some stuff for history-buffs here too.
It’s a great choice for things to do in Downtown San Francisco.
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Explore Fisherman’s Wharf
No list of the best things to do in San Francisco would be complete without Fisherman’s Wharf!
This is one of the most famous attractions in the city and you can explore PIER 39, head to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience, or head to the Musée Mécanique while you’re here.
If you’re in town with kiddos, the Aquarium of the Bay is a great way to kill a couple of hours!
Our next idea for things to do in Downtown San Francisco is the gorgeous Rincon Park.
It’s a gem of a spot that’s sure to win your heart, and it’s right on the waterfront so enjoy some amazing ocean and bridge views.
Sit back and enjoy the glittering waters, lush greenery, and comfortable benches. It’s such a beautiful spot to sit, especially in the spring and summer.
Watch a performance at the War Memorial Opera House
If you’ve ever wanted to catch a performance by the San Francisco Opera, then you’ll love the next spot on our list of things to do in downtown San Francisco.
Not only are the columns and white façade of the War Memorial Opera House worth seeing, but the performances here are truly spectacular.
And if you’re not an opera fan, the San Francisco Ballet also performs here!
Have dinner at Ozumo San Francisco
Our next idea for things to do in Downtown San Francisco, it’s a splurge date night at Ozumo.
If you’re looking for a fun and delicious place to grab a bite in Downtown San Francisco, Ozumo should be at the top of your list.
This Japanese restaurant offers a sophisticated and refined atmosphere, perfect for a date night, or special occasion, and (as you’d expect) the food is delicious.
Their sushi rolls are not to be missed, especially the spicy tuna and dragon rolls. Another standout dish is the crispy Brussels sprouts with ponzu sauce – even if you’re not a fan of this vegetable, you’ll want to give it a try!
It’s a perfect choice for things to do in Downtown San Francisco, especially for foodies!
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We hope this list of things to do in Downtown San Francisco has given you plenty of ideas!
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