San Francisco Culture & history

Our most recommended San Francisco Culture & history

San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

1. San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

Visit the world’s only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-living museum at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The superb complex incorporates all 4 attractions under one living roof, with exhibits and shows that explain the universe! Don’t miss the African penguins – and 38,000 other live animals – at the California Academy of Sciences in the heart of Golden Gate Park, a must-see attraction in San Francisco. Rocket through the galaxy at the speed of light or journey deep into the oceans of the world as the Academy boldly brings life to life. Come face-to-face with snakes and piranhas, meet Claude the American alligator with albinism, and hang out with Pierre, Howard, Ocio, and the rest of the South African penguin colony. Stroll through the rainforest dome with its free-flying birds and butterflies and become immersed in the rainforests of Borneo, Madagascar, Costa Rica, and the flooded Amazon. Discover Borneo bats, chameleons, poison dart frogs, leaf cutter ants, gliders, snakes, and so much more. Catch the latest amazing digital planetarium show, taking you on a spectacular journey to the far reaches of the universe, held 7-10 times a day. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum housed under a living roof will inspire lifelong curiosity for the natural world as you experience the depths of a Philippine coral reef, climb into the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest, and fly to the outer reaches of the universe.

San Francisco: Entry Ticket to San Francisco MoMa

2. San Francisco: Entry Ticket to San Francisco MoMa

Enjoy an entry ticket to the San Francisco MoMa in San Francisco. Marvel at the iconic paintings and sculptures as you walk around. SFMOMA now expands to 170,000 square feet, featuring outstanding holdings of more than 33,000 modern and contemporary artworks by Alexander Calder, Frida Kahlo, Julie Mehretu, and numerous others, including an entire floor dedicated solely to photography. With six art-filled terraces, a new sculptural staircase and Roman steps where the public can gather, a variety of dining options, and a Museum store offering artful gift options for everyone, SFMOMA is an unforgettable experience and a must-see San Francisco destination.   The museum is committed to exploring the new, the challenging, and the unexpected. From its internationally recognized and rapidly growing collection of more than thirty thousand artworks to its innovative film and performance programs, SFMOMA has continuously advanced the interpretation, presentation, and preservation of modern and contemporary art — embracing its connection to the world around us. Reflecting the Bay Area’s tradition of technological innovation and forward-thinking, the museum was one of the first American art museums to recognize photography and film as art forms and championed architecture, design, and media arts before they were focuses of museum collecting. The museum houses deep holdings of work by individual artists across their careers, particularly within its Painting and Sculpture collection. The museum is also dedicated to supporting and collecting the work of California artists, especially those active in the Bay Area. Artists are at the center of the work on display. Curators and conservators work directly with artists to interpret, present, and care for artwork across its lifetime, even — as in the case of performance — if it’s only for one night. Located in San Francisco’s bustling SoMA district, SFMOMA is just steps from Yerba Buena Gardens, downtown hotels, the Moscone Center, public transportation (including BART and Muni), and numerous parking garages. SFMOMA's garage on Minna Street is a few steps from the museum's main entrance on Third Street. Plus, parking on-site directly supports the museum. Limited bicycle parking is also available.

From San Francisco: Yosemite Park Guided Day Trip

3. From San Francisco: Yosemite Park Guided Day Trip

Escape the crowds of San Francisco on a full-day guided tour to Yosemite National Park. See highlights, including Yosemite Falls and Inspiration Point. Enjoy seamless travel in a bio-fueled mini-coach. Heading east across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge offers great views of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge. En route to the park the tour crosses through the Central Valley, where you will stop at a fruit stand for some local produce. Famous for its rich volcanic soil, the Central Valley is the largest agricultural region in the United States. The section the tour drives through is best known for specialty fruits and nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cherries, and strawberries. After this quick rest stop, you will enter the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Continuing into the mountains brings you to California gold country and the gold rush town of Groveland before the tour winds its way into Yosemite National Park. On your 1.5-hour narrated coach tour of Yosemite's glaciated valley, you will see famous waterfalls and rock formations including Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. Continue on past El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, Sentinel Dome, and much more. During the tour you will see Yosemite Valley from a number of great vantage points, the best of which is perhaps Inspiration Point. After the tour, you will stop for the afternoon near the base of Yosemite Falls. If you have not already picked up picnic supplies, there are many options for getting lunch in the park. You will have 3-4 hours of free time to explore the valley as you choose. You can walk to the base of Yosemite Falls, check out the visitor center, visit the Ansel Adams Gallery, stop in at the Ahwahnee Hotel, rent a cruiser bike, or hike some of the trails that originate from the valley. Although you could easily spend 3 weeks in Yosemite, the 3 hours you get on your own is enough time to understand why Yosemite is one of America's most popular national parks.

San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

4. San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

See the best of San Francisco on an English speaking walking tour and learn the history behind each turn from your guide. Take in the views of the skyline on your ferry to Alcatraz before exploring this notorious prison. Meet your guide at the north end of Fisherman's Wharf and start your experience by taking in the amazing views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz. Hear how San Francisco transformed from a sleepy village to a booming port city when gold fever swept the nation in 1849. Learn about the life of the Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli at the famous former chocolate factory in Ghirardelli Square. Stroll along the fog-lined waterfront and drool over the numerous stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. Walk a portion of the historic Barbary Coast trail while your guide tells you about its colorful past. You and your group will then make your way to Pier 39 and admire historic ships in the harbor. Witness the colony of sea lions that have taken over many of its docks. Continue along the Embarcadero Promenade and learn about its evolution from a traditional maritime port to a modern urban waterfront filled with trendy restaurants and amusement piers. The walking tour concludes at Pier 33, where you will present your photo ID to receive your Alcatraz tickets. Board your ferry and enjoy a self-guided tour of Alcatraz upon the island.  Learn about the history of the cell house and its former residents with an award-winning audio tour available in multiple languages. You can expect to be done with the whole experience in the late afternoon.

San Francisco: Exploratorium Daytime Admission

5. San Francisco: Exploratorium Daytime Admission

Discover a world of adventure with a full-day ticket to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the only place in the city where you can touch, tinker and play with hundreds of interactive exhibits. The museum is conveniently located at Pier 15 between the historic Ferry Building and Pier 39 on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Perhaps the most experimental museum in the world, the Exploratorium explores the world via large-scale art installations, studies of microscopic life, motion, color and light installations, and much more. Spread across six expansive galleries, you can embrace the wild wonders of the world and beyond with exhibits that you can feel, play with, and manipulate. A learning lab for all ages, it’s the best place to immerse yourself in San Francisco’s innovative culture.

SF: Alcatraz Ticket w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Night Tour

6. SF: Alcatraz Ticket w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Night Tour

See the best of San Francisco with this combined hop-on-hop-off ticket and Alcatraz Island visit. Explore the island of Alcatraz and enjoy 2 days of sightseeing with insightful commentary from a live guide. Tour the famous prison that has played a role in jailhouse folklore and the historic evolution of the West Coast. Learn more about the 14 unsuccessful escape attempts by over 30 prisoners and their fates. Your Premium Big Bus hop-on-hop-off pass is a great way to see the sights of San Francisco. Listen to commentary by live English-speaking guides, or enjoy pre-recorded audio commentary in 10 languages. Your 2-day ticket includes a full day of unlimited hop-on-hop-off and a 1-hour panoramic night tour. Explore one of San Francisco's most fascinating neighborhoods on a fun and informative walking tour of Chinatown. The tours are offered daily, and you can ask an agent for locations and time schedules. Also included are a bonus 1-hour bike rental (with the purchase of a 1-hour rental) and Players Arcade Drink and Game Tokens. Hop-on, hop-off tour stops include: Stop 1: Corner of Jefferson & Mason StreetStop 2: Holiday Inn Northpoint b/w Jones & ColumbusStop 3: Washington Square - Columbus & Union StreetsStop 4: Embarcadero Center - Corner Clay & Battery StreetsStop 5: Ferry Building - Market St b/w Stuart & Spear StreetsStop 6: Union Square South - Geary St across from Macy’sStop 7: Hilton Hotel - Corner Mason & Ellis StreetsStop 8: Civic Center - Fulton St b/w Larkin & Hyde StreetsStop 9: Alamo Square - Corner Fell & Pierce StreetsStop 10: Haight Ashbury - Haight & Shrader StreetsStop 11: Golden Gate Park - Music Concourse Drive Golden Gate ParkStop 12: Golden Gate Bridge- North Vista PointStop 13: Palace of Fine Arts - Richardson & Francisco StreetStop 14: Marina Neighborhood - Lombard & Fillmore StreetsStop 15: Lombard Street Corridor - Lombard & Gough StreetsStop 16: Union Square North - Post & Powell StreetsStop 17: Chinatown Gate - Grant and Bush StreetsStop 18: Portsmouth Square - Kearny & Clay StreetsStop 19: Pier 35 Cruise Terminal - The EmbarcaderoStop 20: Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf (then return to Stop 1)

San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus with Ferry & Alcatraz Tour

7. San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus with Ferry & Alcatraz Tour

Get lots of choices for sightseeing in San Fransisco in one go — access to the hop-on hop-off city tour route with English commentary, a special night tour, a ferry ride with tickets to Alcatraz Island for a self-guided audio tour of the notorious prison. Benefit from audio guides available in a variety of languages at Alcatraz Island. With open double-decker buses and an English guide on each one, you can see just about everything and learn just as much. Get to all the most famous spots in the city. Pick out the ones that interest you as 48 hours is enough time to go back and visit your favorites again. The Official City Loop highlights include: • The Palace of Fine Arts• North Vista Point where you can take photos of Golden Gate Bridge• Golden Gate Park where you can enjoy the Japanese Tea Gardens• Haight-Ashbury district• San Francisco Downtown, Chinatown• The Civic Center• The Embarcadero• Fisherman’s Wharf• Barbary Coast• The Financial District and the Ferry Building Take the Night Tour to cover many of the attractions from the other routes, but with a whole new perspective. It is not hop-on hop-off and departs from Fisherman’s Wharf in the evening all year round with additional departures during the summer months.

From San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and Alcatraz Tour

8. From San Francisco: Muir Woods, Sausalito and Alcatraz Tour

On this tour, travel across the Golden Gate Bridge and through the rugged coastal mountains of Marin County. Experience the magnificent views of the San Francisco Bay and valleys where the Coastal Miwok once lived. Stop at the Muir Woods Monument where ancient groves of giant redwoods tower over the Redwood Creek. As this tour allows more time in Muir Woods than any other tour group, enjoy being in nature underneath the massive trees as your guide educates you on the area. Next, visit the beautiful coastal town of Sausalito, which is a gorgeous Mediterranean-style village with quaint shops, art galleries and waterfront restaurants. Finally, head to Alcatraz Island with your roundtrip boat ride. Discover the history and secrets behind one of San Francisco's greatest landmarks with an award-winning cellular audio tour in 10 different languages.

San Francisco: The Walt Disney Family Museum Entrance Ticket

9. San Francisco: The Walt Disney Family Museum Entrance Ticket

Take an inspirational journey through the life of Walt Disney at the Walt Disney Family Museum located in the Presidio of San Francisco. Learn about Disney’s remarkable life story. Be inspired to heed your imagination and persevere in pursuing your goals and dreams. Enter a world of animation, innovation, and inspiration and immerse yourself in the remarkable life story of Walt Disney — the man who raised animation to an art, tirelessly pursued innovation, and created a distinctly American legacy, transforming the entertainment world. Explore interactive galleries and state-of-the-art exhibits that are narrated in Walt’s own voice, and feature early drawings, cartoons, movies, music, listening stations, more than 200 video screens, and a spectacular model of Disneyland.

San Francisco, Sausalito and Muir Woods Small Group Tour

10. San Francisco, Sausalito and Muir Woods Small Group Tour

Take a small-group day trip by bus around San Francisco. See the Golden Gate Bridge, spend time at the Muir Woods National Monument, and enjoy lunch in picturesque Sausalito. Meet outside Fisherman’s Wharf at your chosen tour time. After a brief roll call, you’ll board the bus and travel to your first stop. Over the next 6 hours, you’ll be treated to stories about the neighborhoods, diversity, and geography of the area.  You will exit the bus at several stops for photo opportunities and exploration, enjoy lunch in Sausalito, and then spend over an hour in the beautiful Muir Woods National Monument. At the end of your amazing adventure, you’ll be dropped off at the same location where you boarded the bus.  Here are the places you will explore (photo stops noted by *): • Fisherman's Wharf - One of San Francisco's most popular destinations. From beautiful old shipyards to Boudin's Bakery and the smell of fresh clam chowder, Fisherman's Wharf has it all • Chinatown - Boasting the largest Chinatown in the United States, this 24-block mecca is bustling with energy, amazing food, and unique shops that give this area its charm • North Beach - Voted as one of the USA's ten great neighborhoods, North Beach is best known as the home of Little Italy. From delicious restaurants to authentic sidewalk cafes and bakeries, you will feel the charm of San Francisco as soon as you arrive • Pacific Heights* - Offering one of the most scenic outlooks in all of Northern California, Pacific Heights is home to Billionaire's Row, featuring the estates of politicians, tech titans, and other San Francisco celebrities  • Presidio - Former military base, now a beautiful park that includes Crissy Field, Fort Point, Lucasfilm's headquarters, and the Walt Disney Museum • Golden Gate Bridge - Declared "one of the 10 wonders of the modern world," the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognized symbols of San Francisco • Muir Woods* - Muir Woods National Monument is home to some of the oldest and most beautiful trees in the world. Many consider this stop to be the highlight of their trip. The National Monument entry fee is an additional expense to the paid on the day. • Fort Point* - Located just beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point gives you a front-row seat to the Bay and is a great photo stop. This former military fortification was used during WWII • Sausalito* - Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge, this artistic enclave has the setting and beauty of a European Mediterranean town. Enjoy your lunch on the San Francisco Bay

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Frequently asked questions about San Francisco

What top attractions are a must-see in San Francisco?

What are the best day trips and excursions from San Francisco?

The best day trips and excursions from San Francisco are:

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Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco

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What people are saying about San Francisco

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,873 reviews

Wow! Had an amazing tour with the incredible, Dara. Not only was she a fountain of knowledge, but delivered it with such passion and heart. The walk along Fisherman’s Wharf was lovely and very informative. We then boarded the ferry to Alcatraz and did a tour of the the prison cell - you must do the audio tour, it is eye-opening. Highly recommend this excursion. You’d be lucky if you got Dara as your guide.

Great day. We spent 2 1/2 hours on the rock. You’re going to San Fran. You go to the rock. Hop on hop off Bus tour, was a perfect way to see the city. The 1 1/2 hour night tour was great as well.

We had a great time, especially during the waterfront tour. We had John Hurst who was welcoming, friendly and gave great recommendation and knowledge. Would definitely recommend!

Very very fun! Easy to get around and see everything!! Get a 3-day pass - you'll use it!! Stay in a hotel near / on the routes - you'll be glad you did!!!

Dylan, guide and driver of our tour was exellent, explained a lot about history, wider circustances and also about today´s San Francisco...