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Things to See & Do in San Francisco


The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. at Powell St. (415) 391-2001.

Free Things to See & Do

Lombard Street  
Walk down Lombard Street (crooked street, start at top of the hill at Hyde Street)

Coit Tower
At the top of Telegraph Hill ($3 to top)

Yuerba Buena Gardens
Contained within Mission, Folsom, Third and Fourth Streets in the SOMA district

Explore the Presidio with the free PresidiGo Park Shuttle. Take MUNI bus #45 from Union Square area to the Presidio gate


Alcatraz Tour   
Alcatraz Island was once a federal prison that held some of the country’s most notorious criminals. Tours are operated by Blue & Gold Fleet from Pier 41. Costs $26-33 including a self-guided, narrated tour. It’s touristy but great fun. Excellent views of the city. Book 3 to 4 days in advance.

Blazing Saddles Bicycle Rentals  
Rent a bike for $7/hr, $28/day (20% student discount on day rentals). Maps/trails info supplied. Pier 41, Fisherman’s Wharf.

City Guides   
Free walking tours of the city with an emphasis on architecture and history. (415) 557-4266


Asian Art Museum  
The Western world’s largest museum of Asian art. Open Wed to Sun and costs $12, which includes admission to the de Young Museum on the same day. Golden Gate Park.

Cal. Academy of Sciences  
Here you can visit the Morrison Planetarium/ Laserium, the Steinhart Aquarium and the Natural History Museum. Open daily and costs $24.50 with the third Wednesday of each month free. Also in Golden Gate Park.

M. H. de Young Memorial Museum  
San Fran’s oldest art museum contains paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. Open Tues to Sun and costs $10/$6 for students. In Golden Gate Park. The first Tuesday of each month is free.

San Francisco Art Institute  
Galleries contain experimental contemporary art. Open daily and is free. 800 Chestnut St.

Must See & Do

Explore all the great neighborhoods
Alcatraz Tour   Take the 49-mile Scenic Drive
Coit Tower during day and on a clear night
Twin Peaks for great city views
Check out the seals hanging out at Pier 39
Sample the seafood from street side stalls at Fisherman’s Village

Golden Gate Bridge  
Walk or bike across Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County in 1/2 hr for spectacular views of the bay area (unless the fog’s in).

Cable Car Ride  
The Cable Car system, a National Historic Landmark, was once the city’s mass transit system. They are a fun and efficient way to tour the city. The Powell-Mason line goes from downtown to North Beach; the Powell-Hyde line runs from downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf; and the California St. line runs from the Embarcadero through Nob Hill to Van Ness Ave.

Money Saving Tips

Buy a MUNI-pass 1-7 days or a 1-day Cable Car pass
Look for coupons in free city guides for discounts to many touristy and not so touristy attractions

Shopping Areas

Union square

City Escapes

Just a short Bart ride away from the city, you can visit the UC Berkeley campus. Plenty of bookstores, boutiques and street vendors here. The City has a track record for activism during the 1960’s, remnants of which include People’s Park. A past gathering spot for antiwar activists, this park has continued to be a symbol and place of protest for a variety of social and political causes.

Napa/Sonoma Valley  
For a day trip that is not too expensive (and if you like wine) - either rent a car or take a bus tour of the Napa or Sonoma Valleys. Hundreds of wineries, ranging in size and in taste, offer free tasting.

Marin County  
Across the Golden Gate Bridge, you can find both the urban culture and the great outdoors. The drive along Rte. 1 is spectacular (a winding road along the cliffs overlooking the ocean). Places to visit include Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Muir Woods (giant redwoods and peaceful trails). Further on up the coast you can go to Point Reyes Peninsula with its secluded beaches and miles of hiking trails.

Other Day Trips
Big Sur (2.5hrs)
Stinson Beach/Muir Woods (just over Golden Gate Bridge)
Yosemite National Park (4hrs)

Moving On

Portland/Oregon Coast   The coast between SF and Portland takes a little longer but is spectacular and worth the trip.
Sacramento   California’s capital, vibrant city and steeped in Gold rush history.
Yosemite   Just 4hrs from San Fran. One of the best National Parks in America.
Wine Country   A visit to Napa or Sonoma Valley is a must while in SF. Ask the hostel reception for the best day tours.
Los Angeles   Head south along Hwy 1 for an amazing and varied trip.

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