21 Amazing Free Things To Do In San Francisco

January 19, 2015

San Francisco, famous for its scenic beauty, Victorian architecture and cultural diversity, is an opulent destination where socialites and lavish travelers get to experience the finer things in life. As a tourist in this majestic American city, you may fill your time dining at extravagant world-class restaurants, taking luxurious limo rides to the wine country, and enjoying champagne cruises on its lovely bay.

Yet ironically, it is also a hip Californian destination where tourists can take pleasure in hundreds of freebies and cheap things. Trust me, the city has an endless array of delights and entertainment options that won’t cost you a buck.

From visiting interesting museums to munching tasty and hearty culinary treats, there are tons of free things tourists can do in the city of San Francisco. For those who are planning a trip to San Francisco, make sure to take note of these amazing gratis offerings:

1. Cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is neither the oldest nor the tallest suspension bridge in the world. Still, it manages to lure throngs of tourists every day, thanks to its grandeur, magnificent architectural design, terrific atmosphere, and gorgeous views. One the world’s most celebrated engineering wonders, the Golden Gate Bridge is an absolute must-visit attraction in the city of San Francisco.

2. A stopover at the Cable Car Museum

No list of the best free things to do in San Francisco is complete without a visit to the Cable Car Museum. Billed as one of the top attractions in the city, the Cable Car Museum is a treasure trove that showcases the beloved cable cars of San Francisco. Here, you get to feast your eyes on a fantastic collection of antique cable cars, engines, tools and photographs.

3. San Francisco Railway Museum

Can’t get enough of San Francisco’s transit history? Then, make it a point to pay a visit to the San Francisco Railway Museum.

4. Artistic Murals

Fond of art? The city flaunts a myriad of colorful murals to please your gusto. These eye-catching works of art can be seen inside the Rincon Center, Beach Chalet and Coit Tower. Furthermore, the city has a cluster of visually appealing outdoor murals that can be found in The Mission Neighborhood’s Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley.

5. Bay Area Discovery Museum

Traveling with your kids? The Bay Area Discovery Museum offers free admission to families, every first Wednesday of the month, starting from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon.

6. Randall Museum

From Tuesday to Saturday, the Randall Museum offers free access to its greenhouse, ceramics studio, woodshop and animal exhibits.

7. The art of book making

Learn the art and history of traditional book making, by visiting the San Francisco Center for the Book.

8. San Francisco Zoo

Get up close and personal with your favorite animals at the San Francisco Zoo for free, during the first Wednesday of the month.

9. A tour to the Jelly Belly Factory

Do you have a sweet tooth? Then, step into Jelly Belly’s factory, and smell the spellbinding aroma of pineapple, cinnamon, peach and chocolate. Of course, a visit here also lets you enjoy a taste of the factory’s well-known sweet jelly beans.

10. San Francisco City Guides

Get a deeper insight of the city’s gripping history, with the free walking tours offered by the San Francisco City Guides.

11. Drop by Sutro Baths

A layover to the breathtaking Sutro Baths is something you should include to your travel plan in the “Golden City”. Not only does it boast magnificent historic ruins, but it also has plenty of hiking trails as well as offers breathtaking panoramas of the Pacific Ocean.

12. Hiking trails

For outdoor aficionados, the city has a handful of hiking trails that guarantee to quench your thirst for adventure, including the Twin Peaks, Bluffs Trail and Mount Davidson.

13. Beaches

For those who want to indulge on an astonishing beach excursion, the city of San Francisco has a galore of fabulous beaches, including the Bolinas Beach, Stinson Beach, East Beach, Baker Beach and Ocean Beach.

14. Golden Gate Park

The Golden Gate Park is a vast and stunning park of green meadows, museum and redwood. As far as I’m concerned, it is a great place to laze off on a sunny day in San Francisco. In addition, it comes with a glut of freebies, including its weekly events and concerts like Shakespeare in the Park and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

15. Gratis comedy shows

There are local bars in San Francisco that host free comedy shows. The Café Royale, for instance, has a free monthly comedy show known as the Tickled Pink.

16. Free Pizza

Craving for something delicious and filling? Go to Palio D’Asti during its happy hour (4 to 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday), order a couple of drinks, and get a large pizza for free.

17. Complimentary wine tastings

Every Friday and Saturday afternoon, the Lost Canyon Winery offers complimentary tastings to some of the most luscious wines in California.

18. More free drinks and food tastings

For foodies, a visit to this city opens a window of opportunity for you to enjoy a wide variety of mouthful goodies for free.  In San Francisco, you can tickle your taste buds with the free chocolates offered at the TCHO, the fine wines at Fat Grape, and the olive oils served at We Olive.  Also, a stroll along the Ferry Building may result to munching delectable free treats.

19. Tai Chi

Enjoy all the stress-busting benefits of Tai Chi for free at the North Beach’s Washington Square. Every eight o’clock in the morning, the local Chinese community in the city would come to this square to practice Tai Chi. No one from the Tai Chi practitioners as well as the square’s bystanders would mind if you would follow along the flow of movements of this relaxing Chinese martial art.

20. A leisurely stroll or drive along the Lombard Street

Sounds familiar? The Lombard Street is a world renowned street that has been featured in many TV shows, films and even video games. Whimsical, fun and a bit crazy, the street is great place to take a walk or drive in San Francisco.  Plus, the homes here are pretty nice, making it a great place to take selfies and photographs.

21. Chinatown Night Market Fair

The Chinatown Night Market Fair, which is held every Saturday evening from July to October, is a convivial Oriental feast with dozens of dynamic vendors selling interesting crafts and products. Apart from window shopping, a visit to this market also lets you delve into the beautiful Chinese culture, with its Chinese opera, martial arts and lion dancing shows.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a memorable getaway in the city of San Francisco. With these San Francisco freebies, you surely can have a blast, and experience a trip of a lifetime, even when you are on a tight budget.

Planning on visit San Francisco? Don't have enough time to build your own list of things to do in San Francisco? Make things a whole lot easier and simpler on your end by grabbing a copy of this awesome San Francisco travel itinerary!

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Ashley Thompson
A fun size lass born in rock and roll who dreams to become a rock star, or a world traveler, or both.
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