Things To Do In San Francisco – 35 Attractions You Don’t Want To Miss

Named the best city in the world in 2021, San Francisco is one of the most popular cities and counties on Earth, not just in America.

Things To Do In San Francisco - 35 Attractions You Don’t Want To Miss

Set along the ocean, with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and rolling hills, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.

Also known as the jewel of California, millions of people flock to San Francisco every year to explore the rich history, diverse cultures, bustling streets, wonderful scenery, and so much more. 

Offering an incredible mix of history, culture, entertainment, nature, and technology, San Francisco has something for everyone. In fact, there may actually be too much to do. Narrowing the list of attractions down can be tough.

Luckily for you though, we’ve done that for you. In today’s post, you’ll find a list of 35 tourist attractions in San Francisco that you don’t want to miss. Check out our list if you need help planning your San Francisco vacation.

1. The Golden Gate Bridge

If you know anything about San Francisco, you’ll already know that our list was always going to start with the Golden Gate Bridge. Easily the most iconic landmark San Francisco has to offer, the Golden Gate bridge is the crown of the city.

Famous all over the globe for its iconic orange arches, the bridge is named after the Golden Gate Strait, which is the body of water the bridge stretches across.

Built to make travel between San Francisco and Marin County easier, the bridge quickly became the city’s biggest attraction.

A hugely popular photography destination, the bridge is visited by more than 10 million people every year. There are plenty of trails that lead to the bridge, most of which encompass the surrounding scenery and hills.

Tourists can even walk across the bridge to take in panoramic views of the city too. You should also leave some time to visit the Golden Gate National Recreation Area during your visit.

2. Alcatraz Island

Often referred to as The Rock, Alcatraz Island is arguably the second most iconic tourist attraction in San Francisco. Steeped in history, Alcatraz Island is the world-famous site of the infamous Alcatraz Penitentiary. 

This notorious penitentiary was once home to more than 1,500 convicts. Some of the most dangerous criminals America has ever known were kept at this location. This includes Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. 

Alcatraz operated for more than 3 decades before it eventually closed. It reopened in 1973 after 10 years to allow tourists the chance to explore. 

During your visit to Alcatraz Island, you’ll get the chance to learn more about the penitentiary’s history. You’ll learn about what life was like for convicts here, about the attempted escapes, and you’ll even be able to explore the cells.

That’s not it though! The island also has the west coast’s oldest lighthouse, a Civil War fortress, and a bird sanctuary, all of which can be explored too.

3. Pier 39

Pier 39 is one of the busiest and most lively parts of San Francisco. Sitting on San Francisco Bay with sweeping views of the ocean and Alcatraz Island, Pier 39 is also one of the most historic tourist attractions in the city.

It is a part of Fisherman’s Wharf which we’ll look at next!

Once upon a time, this part of the city was a famous fishing hub. Now, it is a popular tourist attraction and a busy shopping destination. If you enjoy great views, tasty food, and a good shopping spree, this is the place for you.

You’ll also enjoy Pier 39 if you love wildlife, as the area is also home to California sea lions. Spotting sea lions here is extremely easy. In fact, most of the time, you’ll find them lounging on the pier itself. 

Among the restaurants and shops, you’ll be able to find lots of entertainment too. Perfect for children and teenagers, the area has a two-story carousel, whale-watching tours, musicians, rides, and a video arcade.

4. Fisherman’s Wharf

The next tourist attraction we have for you is Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf is an iconic tourist hotspot that offers a wide range of activities, food options, shopping options, and live entertainment.

San Francisco locals call this part of the city Little Italy. It is home to a wide range of historic locations, high-end streets, world-class restaurants, and is also a great place to relax.

Despite being a busy location, there are a variety of different sunbathing spots to enjoy.

The views of the ocean and the rest of the city from Fisherman’s Wharf are pretty special too. 

You have to leave some time to at least walk around Fisherman’s Wharf. This will give you a good chance to see what the area is like, spot sea lions, and enjoy the electric atmosphere. 

If you have more time, make sure you visit the museums here too.

5. Madame Tussauds San Francisco

A great tourist attraction that everyone will love is Madame Tussauds. This is a great attraction to visit with your partner, on your own, or with your family. It’s also an excellent attraction to save for a rainy day.

Found at Fisherman’s Wharf, Madame Tussauds is a unique and hugely entertaining wax museum. Madame Tussaud museums can be found all over the world.

Inside each museum, visitors will find a large collection of wax figures that represent famous people.

In San Francisco’s Madame Tussauds, there are more than 270 statues that depict some of America’s most famous celebrities, sports stars, and politicians.

Some of the most popular wax figures are Marilyn Monroe, Steve Jobs, Muhammed Ali, and Abraham Lincoln.

Visitors can freely walk around the museum taking photos with the wax statues and having a good laugh. There are also multi-sensory and interactive exhibits to get everyone involved. 

6. Golden Gate Park

If you’re staying in San Francisco for a prolonged period of time, you’re going to want somewhere where you can escape the hectic city lifestyle. Golden Gate Park is one of the best places you can go.

Much quieter and more relaxing than the center of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park offers locals and tourists alike an open space where they can enjoy a peaceful walk and a picnic.

This vibrant and incredibly stunning park is home to a variety of lush gardens, museums, and a complex network of walking and biking trails. It is easily one of the best places in the city to come for a more scenic walk.

As you walk through the park, you’ll have the chance to look at more than 5,000 different types of plants and flowers, so keep your eyes peeled.

The park is also home to various attractions such as the Japanese Tea Garden, the San Francisco Botanical Garden, and the California Academy of Sciences. 

We’ll look at some of these attractions next!

7. California Academy Of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences building might just be the most popular tourist attraction in Golden Gate Park.

An architectural masterpiece, this state-of-the-art “green” museum isn’t only filled with a wide range of wonderful exhibits, but it also has an impressive design.

Brilliantly designed, this sustainable building has a 2.5-acre Living Roof, covered in rolling hills, and local plants. The soil acts as natural insulation, and the solar panels produce electricity. This makes the building alone worth visiting.

Inside this deceivingly large building is a huge variety of different exhibitions. This amazing natural history museum contains a planetarium, museum, rainforest, aquarium, and more.

The Steinhart Aquarium and The Osher Rainforest are arguably the best attractions.

The aquarium holds more than 38,000 different species and features a 25-foot-deep coral reef. As for The Osher Rainforest, you’ll be amazed. The rainforest is a whopping four stories high and houses amphibians and animals.

8. San Francisco Botanical Garden

The San Francisco Botanical Garden can also be found at Golden Gate Park. Located at Strybing Arboretum, the gardens cover 55 acres of land and feature more than 9,000 different species of plants.

The botanical gardens are a great place to visit if you love nature. They’re also a great place to visit if you want to educate your children more about plant life.

An excellent thing about the gardens is that they contain plants from all over the world, not just from America. 

Some of the gardens focus on Mongolian plants, whilst others focus on cloud forest plants from Central America. There are also species of plants taken from Southeast Asia and South America (Also check out Best Places To Visit In The South)

The gardens officially opened in 1940, but planting began in 1937. Operating for so many years, you can only imagine how vast the collection of plant species here is. You’ll definitely need a couple of hours to explore the gardens.

9. San Francisco Cable Cars

Riding the San Francisco Cable Cars is an absolute must during your time in the city. First introduced to the city in 1873, the cable cars were implemented to make local transportation easier. 

Interestingly, the locals don’t actually use the cable cars as much anymore. It is believed that this is because their routes are too short compared to the distance the local trains cover. However, that doesn’t stop tourists from taking the journey.

The cable cars are an awesome part of the San Francisco experience. Aside from being super good fun, they also offer an insight into the past. They must be good fun because more than 9 million tourists ride them every year.

During the historic journey, you’ll be blessed with one-of-a-kind views of the city, so make sure you get a good spot. The scenery from the cable cars is spectacular.

10. San Francisco Chinatown

Next up, we have San Francisco Chinatown. San Francisco is famous for its diverse cultures, so you have to save some time to explore one of the most authentic and classic parts of the city.

Some interesting facts for you, Chinatown in San Francisco is the largest in the world outside of Asia. It’s also the oldest Chinatown in North America. Therefore, we can expect a lot from this part of the city.

In another league compared to other Chinatowns, San Francisco Chinatown is jam-packed with antique stores, souvenir shops, workshops, traditional restaurants, traditional pharmacies, temples, and more. 

Exploring the winding streets and alleyways is great fun. You’ll come across small businesses and vendors selling dim sum and handcrafted souvenirs, you’ll find quirky teahouses, and you’ll come across the most amazing architecture. 

Visiting Chinatown is also a great way to learn more about San Francisco’s Chinese community. If you time your visit right, you might even be able to join in with some traditional Chinese festivals.

11. Ghirardelli Square

In the 1800s, Ghirardelli Square was the site of a successful chocolate factory and a general store. However, in the 1960s, the factory was sold. To save the square from demolition, William Matson Roth bought everything.

With his mother’s help, he turned the square into a thriving retail and restaurant complex, which is still going today. 

This square holds great meaning and historic significance in San Francisco as it is believed that it was the first successful adaptive reuse project in the whole of America. This rich history is one of the many reasons you should stop by the square.

The other reason you should stop by is that there are plenty of things to see and do. For starters, Ghirardelli is back in the square with multiple locations.

Secondly, you’ll find an array of different shopping opportunities, and finally, the square has some of the best food and drink options in the city.

You’ll find teahouses, cheese bars, wine bars, a brewery, and much more. There’s even an arcade and mini-golf course for both adults and children.

12. Oracle Park

If you love sports, you need to visit Oracle Park during your vacation to San Francisco. Oracle Park is a famous baseball stadium home to the San Francisco Giants.

Formerly known by the name AT&T Park, the stadium sits right on San Francisco Bay and holds more than 40,000 spectators.

The stadium is mainly reserved for baseball games but it isn’t uncommon for soccer and American football games to be hosted here too. The stadium has even hosted rugby games and live music in the past. 

In fact, world-famous artists such as Metallica and Paul McCartney have performed here.

If you plan your visit to San Francisco right, you could take in a live event or baseball game at Oracle Park. If not though, don’t worry! 

Oracle Park also offers daily tours. These tours give visitors behind-the-scenes access to the ground, even allowing tourists to stand on the field.

13. The Palace Of Fine Arts

Found in San Francisco’s Marina District, the Palace of Fine Arts is an events venue that hosts regular performances. Set in stunning scenery, this epic venue has the most amazing architecture and surrounding area.

So much so, you have to visit the center even if you aren’t attending a show. The green gardens and beautiful lake that sit outside this masterpiece of architecture help create a charming and quite gorgeous part of the city.

For those interested in history, the Palace of Fine Arts is the last on-site structure built for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition that remains. The building stands 49 meters high and has been designed to look like an ancient Roman ruin.

Today, the palace puts on regular events and performances that tourists and locals can enjoy in an idyllic backdrop. We highly recommend at least walking around the palace and taking photos. 

14. San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art

You don’t have to be an art lover to enjoy what the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has to offer. This wonderful museum is packed with interesting exhibits, world-class pieces of art, and interactive exhibits.

This museum is one of the largest museums in the whole of the United States. It houses more than 30,000 individual pieces of art, in more than 4,000 meters of exhibition space.

In terms of the type of art you’ll find inside the museum, you can expect anything from sculptures and paintings to photography and media arts. The museum also features special screenings, unique events, and interactive exhibits.

Whilst the museum displays art from all around the world, its collection of American artwork is most impressive. The museum is home to various art pieces from the likes of Clyfford Still and Jackson Pollock.

There’s also a neat rooftop garden on top of the museum that features an open-air gallery.

15. Asian Art Museum

Another art museum art buffs might like to take a look around is the Asian Art Museum. The Asian Art Museum is undoubtedly one of the most important museums in the whole of San Francisco. 

The museum first opened in 1966, with most of the collection coming from art collector Avery Brundage. Brundage’s collection aimed to bridge the gap between the west and the east.

The museum only received part of his collection at first, with the rest being donated upon his death in 1975.

The museum has since gone on to amass an even bigger collection of artwork from across Asia. The collection now features paintings, sculptures, architectural fragments, bronzes, jade carvings, and ceramics from a wide range of Asian cultures.

This includes artwork from Japan, China, Korea, Iran, and India. Works within the collection date back as far as 6,000 years old. There are plans for the museum to be expanded even further too, so make sure you visit.

16. Twin Peaks

If you’re keen to find the best views of the city, there is only one place to go. That place is Twin Peaks. Standing at 900 feet tall, Twin Peaks is the name given to the two hills that stand above San Francisco.

Aside from offering locals and tourists a great place to escape the city and enjoy some of the surrounding scenery, Twin Peaks offers the most amazing panoramic views of the city.

From the top, you’ll quickly realize just how impressive San Francisco is. Easily one of the most beautiful cities in America, you can truly take in just how breathtaking the city is from Twin Peaks.

The second-highest point in the city, these untouched hills offer excellent views of the Bay Bridge, Downtown San Francisco, the ocean, and much more.

The Twin Peaks are also a great place to get some daily exercise in. There are plenty of hiking, biking, and running trails to explore.

17. San Francisco Symphony

It doesn’t matter if you’re a classical music connoisseur or someone that can’t tell the difference between Beethoven and Bach, you’ll enjoy the San Francisco Symphony. 

The San Francisco Symphony is a world-famous and award-winning symphony, led by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen. Based at Louise M Davies Symphony Hall, this symphony hosts regular concerts, events, and themed evenings.

One of the greatest things about the symphony is that they perform a wide variety of different performances so that everyone has something they can enjoy.

There are regular symphony events, classical performances, introductory events, and even Hollywood movie events.

The film nights at the San Francisco Symphony are incredible and extremely entertaining. During these events, visitors sit and watch a Hollywood film on a big screen whilst the orchestra performs the score. 

This is the ultimate surround sound experience, offering a unique glimpse into movie magic.

18. Coit Tower

The next San Francisco tourist attraction on our list of attractions you don’t want to miss is Coit Tower. Coit Tower is a 210-foot tower that sits in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood.

Not only is it an iconic sight in the area, but it also offers exceptional views of the city.

From Coit Tower, you can easily see the city and the bay area. In fact, we’d go as far as saying that this location offers some of the best panoramic views in the city. 

Built in 1933, the landmark is named after Lillie Hitchcock Coit. Lillie Hitchcock Coit was a wealthy woman whose $118,000 bequest to the city saw the tower’s construction. If you decide to visit the tower, you’ll be able to head up to the top.

At the top, you’ll find an observation deck that offers 360° views of the city. You also need to spend some time looking at the tower too. At the base of the tower is a variety of different socialist paintings. 

19. Ferry Building Marketplace

All the shopping and foodie enthusiasts amongst us should head over to San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace. This lively part of the city is where you can find a wide range of tasty foods and souvenir stalls.

The public food market that is based at the Ferry Building Marketplaces is jam-packed with an array of different restaurants, snack stalls, grocery shops, and other food stalls. The variety here is immense.

You’ll find everything from full meals and snacks to sweet treats and food-related souvenirs. A common theme across the market is quality. The quality right the way across the market is top-notch.

You can find the Ferry Building Marketplace at the waterfront. Some of the food you might find includes seafood, burgers, Mexican food, and Japanese cuisine. There are also bars that sell a wide range of beverages including beer and wine.

20. Angel Island State Park

Sometimes, visiting the less touristy attractions in a city is a nice way to take everything in and admire what a place has to offer. In the case of San Francisco, visiting Angel Island State Park is your best option.

Despite its impressive natural beauty, Angel Island State Park is one of the less busy tourist attractions in San Francisco. This could be down to the fact that it is away from the main center of the city. 

A 25-minute ferry ride away from Pier 41, Angel Island State Park is the largest natural island in San Francisco Bay. A wonderful city escape, the island is loaded with natural beauty and astounding viewpoints.

When it comes to things to do on the island, you can enjoy a picnic with a view, hike one of the many nature trails, run, cycle, and even camp. The island also has several beaches you can enjoy. 

21. TreasureFest

Visiting the next tourist attraction on our list will take some extra planning because it is only open at certain times throughout the year. Therefore, you should check the website for date announcements before planning your visit.

Based at the Marin Center in San Rafael, TreasureFest is a unique market/entertainment hub that offers locals and tourists a day filled with fun, laughter, and excitement.

When open, this vibrant San Francisco hub has more than 400 vendors, 40 food trucks, live music, and bars. 

As you can probably imagine, all of these things make for a thrilling event. We highly recommend spending the whole day here.

You can spend your day roaming around the stalls, buying souvenirs to take home, indulging in authentic, freshly made food, and dancing to live music with a fresh beer in your hand.

What’s not to like?

Some of the things you can expect from the stalls include handcrafted jewelry, antique art, vintage clothes, and furnishings.

22. Mission District

San Francisco’s Mission District is known as a haven for the city’s young, bohemian crowd. It is home to a fantastic variety of attractions and has a unique Mexican influence.

As a result, it is a must-visit destination in the city if you want to experience more culture. 

This vibrant neighborhood is a popular walking tour destination. You’ll find a wide range of unique walking tours that will take you around the area. Most walking tours take tourists on a journey that shows them the area’s most popular spots. 

During the tours, tourists will learn more about the history of the area and what the district has to offer. One of the most interesting things in the area is the street art. Vibrant murals are scattered around the area, making ordinary walls much more exciting. 

Bringing the district to life, a lot of these murals serve as a backdrop for different exhibits and festivals. You can expect to see most of the street art on a walking tour.

23. San Francisco Zoo

San Francisco is home to one of the best Zoos in America. Spread across 100 acres of lush park-like land, the zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals. 

San Francisco Zoo is easily one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Whilst it is enjoyed more by families and animal lovers, there’s something everyone will love here. Perfect for a full day out, there is plenty to see and also plenty to do. 

A wonderful thing about San Francisco Zoo is how it aims to educate children and adults about conservation. Through amazing exhibits, live demonstrations, and hands-on activities, the zoo prides itself on helping preserve the animal kingdom.

To give visitors the best chance to learn about animals from around the world, the zoo is split into zones based on animal origin. For example, the Australian Walkabout houses wallaroos and kangaroos, whilst the African Savanna houses zebras and lions.

Other cool attractions at the zoo include a historic steam train ride, a play area, and a carousel.

24. Exploratorium

If you’re traveling to San Francisco with your children, make sure you take them to the Exploratorium. The Exploratorium is a fun-filled education center or museum that has been primarily designed for children. 

Inside the museum, your children will find hundreds of entertaining interactive exhibits that will test their minds and introduce them to new things. 

Educating children through play, this center is split into several different galleries. Each gallery has something different to offer.

Some of the things you can expect to find in the galleries include light and mirror exhibits, ecology of the Bay Area exhibits, and human phenomena exhibits.

This jaw-dropping museum will leave your kids in awe. You’ll find it extremely hard to get your children to leave the center. Before you leave, be sure to check out the outside gallery too.

This gallery looks into the history and ecology of San Francisco. 

25. Lands End Lookout

San Francisco is blessed with an array of wonderful and quite frankly stunning lookout points, many of which look like the front of a postcard. The Lands End Lookout is a fine example of this.

This part of San Francisco is famous for its pristine shoreline and impressive coastal views. Consisting of zigzagging cliffs, lush forestry, and undisturbed views of Golden Gate Bridge, Lands End Lookout is beautiful.

Lands End is also home to a variety of Sutro Bath Ruins. There is a hiking trail here that takes visitors on a 5.4 km loop. The path is lined with trees and bushes and consists of rustic stone stairs.

If you follow the path along the cliffs, you’ll come to a stairway that takes you to Land’s End Point. This point is where the best views can be found. There’s even a charming hidden beach. 

26. Union Square

One of the best places to visit if you want to observe local life is Union Square. A popular tourist attraction, Union Square is a busy and lively San Francisco neighborhood featuring huge skyrise buildings and busy streets.

Simply sitting at one of the local coffee shops and watching the world go by is all you have to do to enjoy your time here. Watching the locals rush about on their way to work is surprisingly entertaining. 

Union Square is also home to a number of luxury hotels, galleries, retail stores, cafes, and restaurants, so there are plenty of places to explore. Taking in some of the amazing architecture is a firm favorite with tourists too.

Those of you that like to party might also be pleased to hear that Union Square has a thrilling nightlife scene. If you’re looking for an entertaining evening filled with live music, alcohol, and parties, Union Square is the place to go. 

27. The Painted Ladies

The next tourist attraction on this list is the Painted Ladies. Despite the name, the Painted Ladies aren’t ladies at all. Instead, they are a row of the most spectacular and extremely historical Victorian homes.

Found at Alamo Square Park, the Painted Ladies might not sound that exciting, however, they are brilliant. Unlike other Victorian homes in San Francisco, the Painted Ladies have been colorfully painted. This enhances their architectural features immensely. 

The houses have a rich history that most of San Francisco know about. In the late 1800s, the houses were vibrant like they are today. However, during World War II, they were painted gray. 

Thankfully, their color was restored in the 1960s, restoring the homes to their former glory.

There are other Painted Ladies in the city, but these ones have to be the best. They are sat in a wonderful location and even have the most amazing city skyline backdrop.

This backdrop makes a great photograph as you can see old and new San Francisco at the same time.

28. Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar

Those of you that like to search for iconic local bars during your vacations will love what this next tourist attraction has to offer.

The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar is one of the best and most iconic bars in the whole of San Francisco. The bar opened for business in 1945, making the most of the tiki bar craze.

The city’s close affinity to the Polynesian islands made the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar an instant hit.

It is this closeness to the Polynesian islands that made the tiki bar trend take off in the first place.

The bar has a typical tiki bar appearance that is very exotic, a little bit like the bar’s lively atmosphere. As soon as you step into the bar, you’ll be greeted by tiki figurines, a wooden dance floor, pseudo-Polyneisan decor, seashells, and bamboo. 

Amazingly, the bar even has its own pool in the middle of the restaurant. In the evening, a boat sits in the middle of the pool with a bandstand playing music. This only makes the bar more fascinating. 

You’ll probably love the artificial thunder and rainstorm sprinklers too.

29. Antique Vibrator Museum

Couples looking for some more adult-appropriate tourist attractions in San Francisco should check out the antique vibrator museum. Needless to say, this is an eye-opening tourist attraction.

It may seem like an odd museum to open, but the Antique Vibrator Museum is actually super interesting. For example, did you know that the vibrator was originally a medical tool used in the Victorian era? 

If not, you’ll most likely find this museum incredibly interesting. You’ll have the chance to learn the history behind the vibrator and start to understand how the first modern vibrator was made in 1902. 

The museum takes things up a level by also displaying a wide range of antique vibrators from earlier times. These include some of the most bizarre, and quite honestly scary toys and models that aren’t like anything this market has to offer today.

For obvious reasons, this is a tourist attraction you shouldn’t visit with children.

30. Washington Square

Washington Square is one of San Francisco’s oldest parks. It is just as popular today as it was in 1847 when it first opened. 

Compared to other squares in the city, Washington Square is a bit more relaxed. It has more open green space and a more relaxed atmosphere.

So much so, it is a good place to visit if you want to kick back, relax, enjoy a coffee, and grab something to eat.

The park occupies the land in front of Saint Peter and Paul’s cathedral. As a result, the park also offers some great views of the local architecture. A lot of tourists find that the best photography spot for taking shots of the cathedral is the grass area at the square.

The center of Washington Square is where you’ll find the most popular restaurants and cafes. We definitely recommend grabbing some fresh food and drink before sitting on the grass for a while to admire the scenery. 

31. Lombard Street

With so many wonderful things to do in San Francisco, it might seem strange that a street makes our list of the best tourist attractions you don’t want to miss. However, once you see Lombard Street, you’ll understand exactly why it’s on this list. 

Often referred to as the most crooked street in the world, Lombard Street is an iconic zigzag street that can be found at Russian Hill. Unbelievably, the street makes 8 sharp turns across Russian Hill. 

Despite the windy nature of the street, people still drive their cars down on a regular basis. As a result, it isn’t uncommon to find a queue here. If you’re feeling brave enough, you could drive your car down the street too.

If not, don’t worry, you can walk down the street too. The Hyde Street cable car will drop you off at the top. The walk down is very entertaining and somewhat baffling. You’ll also be treated to some fantastic views of the city from the top.

32. The Wave Organ

The Wave Organ is an acoustic sculpture located on the jetty in front of San Francisco Bay. Created by artist Peter Richards, this impressive sculpture is wave-activated. 

Constructed in 1986, Peter Richards was able to produce this one-of-a-kind sculpture using natural elements, in this case, the sea. The sculpture is designed to harness the waves to produce sounds.

The sculpture does this by amplifying the wave sounds that lap against it.

The sculpture has been sourced from a demolished cemetery. It is made from granite and carved marble. We don’t know about you, but this seems like a lovely way to preserve memory and reuse sensitive materials.

The Wave Organ has also been designed with a concrete seating area. This means that tourists and locals can come and sit on the sculpture and listen to the songs it creates.

The varying sounds the pipes produce can also educate visitors, as they show how unpredictable and restless the ocean is. 

33. Aquarium Of The Bay

Next, we have the Aquarium of the Bay. The Aquarium of the Bay is an unforgettable tourist attraction that families, couples, and solo travelers love. It is particularly unforgettable for children. 

This aquarium aims to educate visitors about marine conservation. It does this by allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the world’s most amazing marine life.

The aquarium has a large collection of marine life from around the world but its collection of local marine life stands out the most.

This is because the aquarium prides itself on protecting the wildlife in San Francisco Bay.

The Aquarium of the Bay features multiple floors and exhibits, packed with marine life. As you make your way around the aquarium, you’ll have the chance to learn more about the wildlife and watch live demonstrations.

One of the main attractions in the aquarium is the tunnel exhibits. The aquarium has 300 feet of tunnels. These tunnels feature clear glass so visitors can see all the marine life above their heads.

These tunnels contain an astonishing 20,000 animals and 700,000 gallons of water.

34. Yerba Buena Gardens

The penultimate San Francisco tourist attraction on this list is Yerba Buena Gardens. Yerba Buena Gardens is a beautiful public park initiative that was implemented to improve urban areas. 

The gardens consist of two full blocks of green open space that are connected via a pedestrian walkway. The main draw here is the inviting green lawns. These green open spaces are perfect for relaxing, having a picnic, or simply enjoying the sun.

These aren’t the only reasons you should visit Yerba Buena Gardens though!

The gardens are also surrounded by towering skyscrapers, restaurants, cafes, and a handful of interesting attractions. These include the historic LeRoy King Carousel from 1906, a bowling center, ice skating, and a children’s museum. 

You can also take a look at the public art installations at the glass Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. 

In fact, the gardens are a great place for artists to visit as they were developed with artists in mind. They feature a wide range of contemporary film, art, and live performance work. Exhibits can be found in the center.

35. The Walt Disney Family Museum

The final must-visit San Francisco tourist attraction on our list is the Walt Disney Family Museum. This museum is the perfect place to visit if you or someone you travel with loves Disney.

This unique museum focuses on the long history of Walt Disney and the Disney franchise. If you visit the museum, you’ll come away knowing so much more about this industry-changing franchise. 

Visitors are taken on a journey through Walt Disney’s life, learning how he was brought up, how he started Disney, and the legacy he left behind. You’ll also learn more about Disneyland’s construction and the many achievements that have been reached.

There are more than 40,000 square feet of museum to explore, so you might be here for a while. Most of the exhibits include interactive displays, artifacts, films, and reading. One of the best exhibits is the rotating artist exhibit.

This exhibition gives you the chance to learn more about the artists behind some of your favorite classic characters. 

Final Thoughts

San Francisco is right up there with the most interesting, exciting, unique, and diverse cities in America. It really isn’t a surprise that the city won the best city in the world award in 2021. 

In this guide, we put together a long list of the best tourist attractions in San Francisco. There are many more attractions in San Francisco that you can and possibly should visit, but the ones on our list are the attractions you really don’t want to miss.

If you’re planning a vacation to the jewel of California, you should try to see as many of these attractions as you can. Not every attraction will necessarily be something you love, but they are all iconic in their own way.

On our list, we’ve also been sure to include attractions that everyone can enjoy. Whether it be something sporty, foodie, historic, or wildlife-related, there’s something on our list for everyone.

All you have to do now is decide which tourist attractions you want to visit first!

Alex Kallen
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