- By Kevin
- On Jun 26, 2017
- North America
- Travel Tips
Plan a great day out without spending a dime with these inspiring ideas for free things to do in San Francisco, including gratis sights, attractions and museums. Guide you to visit San Francisco, to discover San Francisco's great spots and touch the common life there.
Back in the ’60s, the Diggers—the group that essentially founded the hippie movement in Haight-Ashbury—pioneered an entire economy built on barter. One of their most inspired innovations was the Free Store in which all items were there for the taking. Times have changed, but even in the home of $4 toast and $7 coffee you can still have a great time without reaching for your wallet.
Simply strolling the streets is one of the best things to do in San Francisco—and it's free. Even the most jaded locals find themselves gasping on hilltops—and not just because of the climb. In the Mission, exterior walls provide a gritty outdoor canvas for intricate murals by world-renowned artists.
Urban street art gives way to urbane galleries in Potrero Hill, where a cluster of galleries makes it a convenient area for a contemporary-art crawl. Or take a hike: Within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) more than 115 miles of trails skirt its dramatic coastlines. Below are our top choices for the best free attractions, events and museums in the city.
Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
The world's most photographed bridge, the Golden Gate is one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the World, and its 746-foot red-orange towers never fail to thrill—even when they're peeking out through a shroud of white fog. From the east side walkway, you can take in the soaring 4,200-foot spanner, the city skyline, Marin Headlands and the Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon.
East sidewalk hours are 5am–6:30pm (5am–9pm during Daylight Saving Time). Those on two wheels can access the bridge 24 hours a day through a security gate from both the west and east sidewalks. Hours vary for east/west sides; check goldengatebridge.org/bikesbridge/bikes.php for schedule. Whichever route you choose, be sure to wear layers: Even if it's sunny in your neck of the woods, the bridge can be sub-arctic.
Take a hike in Crissy Field
Formerly an army airstrip, Crissy Field is now a restored salt marsh and recreation area, with a 4.3 mile waterfront promenade that wanders through grassy fields, past sheltered beaches, windsurfers and picnic areas.
Start at the informative Crissy Field Center for some background history, then follow the bayfront path past the Farallones Marine Sanctuary center to Torpedo Wharf for an Instagram-worthy photo of the bridge. The trail ends at Fort Point—a fortification built during the Civil War to defend against a battle that never happened and the location of a pivotal scene In Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.