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10 best things to do in San Francisco (if you’re on a budget)

One of the most iconic things to do in San Francisco is to visit the Golden Gate Bridge, especially when it is enveloped in fog.

Despite all the incredible cities in the US, San Francisco is often cited as the real favorite among tourists. With its bustling and vibrant culture, colorful hippy neighborhoods and cool as hell locals – it’s not hard to see why. Forget the myths of San Fran being an expensive city, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this city that won’t break the bank. Here are the 10 best things to do in San Francisco if you’re on a budget:

1. Golden Gate Bridge & Park

It wouldn’t be right if you didn’t get an obligatory shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Whether you’re walking or cycling, this is a must do for all locals and travellers. There’s a reason this bridge is one of the most photographed monuments in the world – it never fails to excite ones spirit.

However, that’s not all that can be found here. The Golden gate bridge also has its very own park and regularly puts on festivals and free concerts that you can find here. They host anything from food nights, to pride nights with live drag shows, cheese fondue pop-ups and festivals featuring San Fran’s best local bands!

It is also completely free to walk across the bridge and they’ve added in a new outdoor mini-museum on the history of the bridge that’s pretty cool.

There are many things to do in San Francisco.

2. Cable Car Museum

If you weren’t already aware of the significance of Cable cars over here – this museum will school you. Then after being schooled, you should probably jump on a cable car and find out for yourself what makes this one of the best things to do in San Francisco!

Explore the iconic cable car system in San Francisco, California, one of the must-try things to do in San Francisco.

3. Art galleries & street art in Clarion Alley

If there’s a place that does contemporary and urban street art well, it’s San Fran. Check out Clarion alley in the Mission District that is easily one of the most colourful and unusual streets that’s been around for over 20 years. The mission district takes on a grungier edge on San Fran and home to 200 murals reflecting the area’s Hispanic neighbourhood. Then head on to Valencia street and visit the off-beat and unique boutique stores that line the street.

A vibrant wall covered in graffiti in San Francisco.

4. Visit Haight – Ashbury A.K.A The Summer of Love…

Ever wondered how the hippie movement began? Feel the vibes here. This is the birthplace of The Summer of Love during the summer of 1967. San Fran basically became the epicenter for hippies where Haight streets brimmed with colourful Victorian homes. Eventually, they were replaced with high-end boutiques, hip cafes and restaurants. If you’re a music buff head to Amoeba Music to see the biggest collection of CDs in the world.

A group of people in a store in San Francisco looking at CDs.

5. Hit up Chinatown

And while you’re there, do some tea-tasting. Check out one of many Chinatown restaurants in this district for an unforgettable culinary experience.

6. Twin Peaks anyone?

For the BEST 180-degree view of San Francisco, you should give this place a visit. The view of the Bay area is world-famous and absolutely spectacular as you’re approximately 922 feet above elevation.

7. Try the glorious food

With over 3000 places for you to eat & drink – this city has more choice for you than any other. If you’re a brunch fiend, head to Mama’s for the best breakfast in town and try the French toast sampler. San Fran’s buzzing food scene is divided into quarters from the Latin America quarter, Mission district for $4 Mexican Tacos or North Beach for some Italian. The choice is yours.

Mamas French toast

8. Check out the ferry building

This is a must do and a local favourite. There is a farmers market inside that is open three days a week on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday offering visitors a delightful array of fresh produce from fruit, vegetables, meats, breads, cheese and flowers etc.

HOT TIP: don’t be shy, try the testers.

9. Explore Muir Woods

If you have a bit more free time and in need of a nature fix, this is one of the best things you can do in San Francisco. This redwood forest is indescribable with its mammoth redwood trees. Be sure to bring a camera, and a pair of trainers so you can go hiking or biking.

The sun shines through a forest of redwood trees, offering a serene escape and a must-see natural wonder for those seeking things to do in San Francisco.

10. Go to Fisherman’s Wharf

No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a trip to Fisherman’s wharf. Whether you’re here to eat, shop, explore this wharf is San Fran’s most famous waterfront. There is plenty to explore and do here with their wide range of land, sea, and air activities. Opt to go on an optional trip to Alcatraz island from Pier 33, where you can tour the abandoned prison.

Image of Fisherman's wharf in San Francisco

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