While having fun in San Francisco can be quite expensive, there are some unique experiences you can have in the city that won’t cost you a dime!

man cycling on golden gate

Top Free Things to Do in San Francisco

Spending time in San Francisco can be exciting but expensive. Whether you are whale watching, visiting Alcatraz Island, or eating and playing at Fisherman’s Wharf, these paid attractions can be really heavy on your wallet. Luckily, there are many free activities in the city that are fun and that won’t break the bank. Check out some of these awesome options in San Francisco!

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge

There’s nothing more representative of San Francisco than the Golden Gate Bridge, and you can walk or bike across it for no cost at all. Begin your journey at the Bridge Pavilion to learn more about the historic background of the bridge, including the original 12-foot test tower constructed in 1933. You can also sign up for a guided tour, rent a bike, and get free maps for your journey. Plan a couple of hours for the trip, and make sure to capture some great pictures from both sides of the bridge.

Gaze at the Exhibits of the Palace of Fine Arts

Another iconic stop near the Golden Gate Bridge is the Palace of Fine Arts. Originally built to commemorate the completion of the Panama Canal and the rebirth of the city after the fire and earthquake of 1906, this neoclassical building is recognizable against the architecture of the rest of San Francisco. You can take some great photos near the pond that perfectly reflects the building’s beautiful architecture, and you can watch and feed the residential ducks and swans as you wander the premises.

palace of fine arts in SF

Ride the Seward Mini Park Slides

Near the Mission District, you will find Seward Mini Park, the home of two very steep and very long concrete slides. The park is closed on Mondays and at sunset, but you can visit this residential neighborhood and its park any other time. Make sure that you bring a piece of cardboard, or even wax paper, so that you can smoothly make the journey from top to bottom.

Visit the Beach

The ocean water in San Francisco is always cold, so you will not find a lot of swimmers. However, there are some fantastic views and sand relaxation options from several local beaches on the coastline. Check out Ocean Beach on the west edge of town if you want to see brave surfers and beautiful sunsets, or head to Baker Beach for the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

beach view of golden gate

Wander Around at Pier 39

There are costly shops, restaurants, and attractions at the 5-acre Pier 39, but there are also plenty of opportunities for free entertainment. The pier is home to sunbathing sea lions throughout the summer months, and you can marvel at the 39,000 tulip blooms of the annual Tulipmania in February each year. Be sure to enjoy the entertainment of free daily shows by local street performers and by musicians at the Carousel Stage and the Entrance Plaza.

Try some of these absolutely free adventures, and let us know if you had plenty of no-cost fun. Have we missed any free activities that you would recommend? Share your choices with us in the comments.

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