San Francisco is a little bit of everything, and so is the array of free things to do in this city. In this collection you’ll find 30 things, from a Hunky Jesus contest to San Francisco’s nature to swing dance lessons. The best part? All these things are totally free to do or see. Believe me: you won’t get bored one second in California’s City by the Bay. Here’s 30 free things in San Francisco!
Walk along the Golden Gate Bridge
You can’t visit San Fracisco and skip the Golden Gate Bridge. I think that one’s self-explanatory.
Discover Lands End
Lands End is a rocky and wonky coast line and perfectly suitable for walks, beautiful views and Instagram-worthy photos, obviously.
Take one of the Free Tours by Foot
Of course Free Tours by Foot can’t be skipped either when you’re in San Francisco. It’s a cheap way to get to know the city through a local.
Live music in Amoeba Music
Amoeba Music is a music store with lots of free performances. Have a look at their website to check past and future concerts.
Relax at the Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is huge (it’s bigger than Central Park in NYC) which means you can easily spend all day here. Or just a few hours, of course – whatever you want!
Get some fresh air at Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is a beach along the west coast of San Francisco. It’s a lovely beach to get some fresh air and watch the enormous waves. It’s not really suitable for swimming, but it does help you forget about city life for a moment.
Experience Friday Nights at De Young
Friday Nights at the De Young museum is an art event where you experience a mix of music, performances and exhibitions. It’s a cool experience and totally free. You can even have a free look at the permanent collections on these nights.
Have some fun with Laughter Yoga
Sometimes we take life a bit too seriously, but luckily San Francisco knows pretty well how to solve this. Free Laughter Yoga classes are a good start to raise your mood to the top level.
Take the 284 Filbert Steps
Several beautiful views and a free workout (yay!) while you take the 284 Filbert Steps. These steps are definitely photogenic so have your phone ready for beautiful pictures on Instagram or Snapchat.
Admire a Critical Mass (or just join the party)
Critical Mass is a mass bicycle tour which takes place every last Friday of the month. If you have a bicycle, you can join, and if not: watching it is at least as fun!
Swing Dance with Lindy in the Park
They’re a big fan of free lessons in San Francisco. This time you can take free swing dance lessons – and you don’t even need a partner. Who knows you might run into your Prince(ss) Charming while learning to dance!
Spot sea lions at Pier 39
Of course you can’t miss this touristic hotspot. Pier 39 is very popular in San Francisco and the sea lions even so.
Visit the Cable Car Museum
Learn about the history of SF’s Cable Cars whenever you’d like, because this museum has free entry all day every day!
Have a look at Lombard Street
If you have a car by any chance, I’d recommend driving through Lombard Street (if you don’t have one, then watching the cars is equally as fun). Why? Because this is a steep and tortuous street including 8 hairpin turns. I wanted to drive down it on a bike, but was scared and ended up taking the street next to it! (Just as steep but no turns!)
Visit the Fortune Cookie Factory
Yep, that’s right. In Chinatown you can get a tour through the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company. It’s small, but you get a free (freshly baked!) cookie, which is a win regardless. What’s even cooler: if you pay a small fee, they’ll put a B.Y.O. message in your cookie.
Climb to the top of Mount Davidson
Mount Davidson is the highest natural point in San Francisco and brings you a fantastic view.
Slide down along the Seward Street Slides
Get some cardboard at the supermarkt and go down the slide you can find at Seward Street. Rediscover the child in you, because slides are just awesome. End of discussion.
Admire the mural paintings in the Mission District
The Mission District is almost more of a complete outdoor art museum. This neighborhood is full of mural paintings with all sorts of different themes.
Have some bites at the Ferry Building Marketplace
Ferry Building has a market hall full of food that’s guaranteed to make you hungry. Luckily lots of stalls here have little bites that you can try for free. Yum!
Visit the Palace of Fine Arts
This is truly a beautiful monument that’s very close to the Golden Gate Bridge. A perfect way to combine these two visits!
Relive history at Fort Point
Back in the day, Fort Point kept unwanted visitors out of San Francisco’s harbour. Nowadays it’s a place where you can learn about the history of the city and look at it from a different perspective.
Admire the city from the De Young observatory
Remember the De Young Friday Nights? De Young also has a free, lovely view for you whenever you want. Take the elevator to the 11th floor and enjoy!
Discover an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum all in one at the California Academy of Sciences
This museum has it all, no joke: an aquarium, planetarium and natural history. They have a Free Admission Day on one Sunday every quarter.
Explore-for-yourself exhibitions at the Exploratorium
Museums where you’re allowed to touch everything are always a plus. At least, that’s what I think. The Exploratorium has free entry on Pi Day (14 March) and Mother’s Day (8 May). Keep an eye on their website for potential new dates.
Visit the San Francisco Botanical Garden
Every second Tuesday of the month you can visit the Botanical Garden for free. Here you’ll find an extensive collection of plants and flowers and a beautiful landscape to go for a walk. A perfect way to unwind a little.
Go to a baseball game
AT&T Park is where you’ll need to be when the Giants are playing (April to October). At the east side of the park you’ll have a free view of the game.
Discover a few POPOS (privately-owned public open spaces)
Do things differently and go on a scavenger hunt to find the hidden POPOS in the city. Use this guide to find them, or just go on an adventure!
Discover the treasures of Presidio
Discover Lover’s Lane (a 150 year old footpath), Andy Goldsworthy’s ‘Wood Line’ (art installation made out of zigzagging eucalyptus trees) and Inspiration Point (another beautiful view) at Presidio Park.
Have a look at the antique arcade games at Musee Mecanique
Although you’ll have to pay for playing games, watching is for free. At Musee Mecanique you’ll find lots of old arcade games which are simply awesome.
Celebrate Easter with the Hunky Jesus contest
I’ve saved the best for last. San Francisco is known for her hippie-ish culture and openminded mentality. The Hunky Jesus contest every Easter might just be the best proof. Yep, you’ll know what to do next Easter!
If you think something’s missing in this list, feel free to leave a comment. There’s no such thing as too many budget friendly to do’s!
What’s your favorite free activity in San Francisco?