How to Tackle San Francisco as a First Timer
With so much to see and do, it's easy to get overwhelmed when planning a trip to San Francisco. From exploring the hilly streets and pastel-colored Victorian homes to sailing on the bay and hiking in the redwoods, here's how to make the most of your time in San Francisco.
See the Sights
Though San Francisco is a manageable size, with its steep hills and limited public-transit options, sightseeing tours are the best way to see the city's iconic sights. Book a hop-on-hop-off-bus tour for the most flexibility, or opt for neighborhood walking tours to slow down and uncover the city's past.
Visit the Museums
Marvel at revered paintings, sculptures, and photographs at San Francisco's art museums, including the Legion of Honor and de Young museums. Book advance tickets to avoid weekend lines, and join a gallery tour for insight into the works on display. Best of all, a ticket to either museum is good for same-day admission to both.
Hike in the Redwoods
One of the most fantastic features of San Francisco is hiking just a stone's throw from the city. Don't miss the old-growth trees in Muir Woods, over the Golden Gate Bridge in Mill Valley, including towering redwoods and sequoias. Because public transit won't take you there, book a tour that includes a hike and stops at nearby waterfront towns.
Go Wine Tasting
Sip California's famous wine just north of San Francisco at two of the most celebrated wine-producing areas in the country: Napa and Sonoma valleys. Take a wine-tasting tour to avoid the worry of driving yourself. Group tours offer a great value, and private tours let you choose the vineyards you'd like to visit.
Bike Over the Golden Gate Bridge
Perhaps San Francisco's most notable attraction, the Golden Gate Bridge should be on every visitor's itinerary. Don't miss the chance to bike over the bridge—several guided tours will lead the way, or you can rent a bike and head over on your own.
Sail on San Francisco Bay
Feel the wind in your hair with a sail on San Francisco Bay, where you can enjoy views of the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island. Book a sailing excursion for a romantic cruise with drinks, or, for a bit of history, opt for an Alcatraz Island tour—you get to see the infamous prison island and enjoy views of the bay on your included ferry ride.
7 Tours and Activities | All San Francisco Tours
- How to Get Off the Beaten Path in San Francisco
- Food Lover's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area
- San Francisco Museums After Dark
- San Francisco Dining Cruises
- Don't-Miss Dishes in San Francisco
- How to Spend a Rainy Day in San Francisco
- Biking Across the Golden Gate Bridge
- How to Tackle San Francisco as a First Timer