San Francisco Bay Area Bucket List
Summer is here and school’s out…Let’s go explore and take advantage of the many local adventures that the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer. If you’re looking for some family fun activities to do close to home, here is our “Bay Area Bucket List” with some ideas before the season ends that will allow you to create great memories with friends and family.
Please check back regularly since we will be updating it frequently… so if you have ideas to share please comment below, we would love to heard them!
We can’t wait to check more items off this list!
SAN FRANCISCO NEIGHBORHOODS
- Visit and LISTEN to the Sea Lions at Pier 39
- Eat sourdough bread at the Boudin Sourdough Factory and Museum.
- Have clam chowder on the wharf.
- Eat an ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli Square.
- Play games at the Musée Mécanique museum.
- Eat Cioppino (seafood soup which is uniquely San Franciscan) at Cioppino’s.
- Find animation, innovation and inspiration at The Walt Disney Family Museum.
- Play at the Julius Kahn Playground while enjoying the beautiful views.
- Eat, Drink & Play…Off the Grid: Picnic at the Presidio on Sundays.
- Run the Lyon Street Steps and enjoy the views.
- Build a sand castle at Baker Beach and take panoramic pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands and Lands End.
- Walk the “Lover’s Lane” trail and the Wood Line.
- Check out the Pet Cemetery, a treasured spot in the Presidio.
- Visit Lucasfilm “Yoda Fountain” at the Presidio. ( just tell the guard that you’re there to see Yoda :-))
- Find Inspiration at Inspiration Point.
- Explore the abandoned batteries of Fort Winfield Scott.
- Legion of Honor fine arts museum in Lincoln Park.
- Explore the ruins of the Sutro Baths.
- Hike the Land’s End Trail, from the Cliff House to the Palace of the Legion of Honor.
- Visit the new mosaic stairways: Sea Cliff’s Lincoln Park Steps (one block from the Lands End Trail)
- Dine with a View at the Cliff House one of the oldest and most iconic buildings in San Francisco.
- Visit the massive brick walls of Fort Point U.S. Army’s.
Marina / Pacific Heights
Includes…Cow Hollow, and Lower Pac Heights
- Walk and/or Fly a kite along the water from Marina Green.
- Listen to the ocean at The Wave Organ.
- Visit the Palace of the Fine Arts, the last remaining structure from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
- Visit Fort Mason Center, a converted military base.
- Climb up to Pacific Heights for some of the city’s best views.
- Ice skate on the Union Square Ice Rink during Christmas time.
Includes…Russian Hill and Polk Gulch
- Visit Grace Cathedral and have a yoga class on the labyrinth.
- Check out the Cable Car Museum (free).
- Visit the 22-Foot Tall Gingerbread House at the Fairmont Hotel during Christmas.
- Eat at the TOP OF THE MARK and enjoy a breathtaking 360 degree view of the San Francisco skyline.
- Walk Up/Down Lombard Street, the “Crookedest Street in the World”.
- Hanging off a cable car.
- Try every sample offered at the Ferry Building.
- Visit the Saturday morning Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market.
- Catch a Ferry and take a tour to mysterious Alcatraz Island.
- Visit the Exploratorium a 21st century learning laboratory.
- See the Bay Bridge Bay Lights display. The largest public light sculpture in the world. (Lights will return in 2016)
- Walk around the expansive lobby of the Hyatt Regency.
Chinatown — North Beach — Telegraph Hill
- Visit the Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown.
- Explore Chinatown.
- Climb the stairs to the top of Telegraph Hill and visit the top of the nozzle-shaped monument “Coit Tower”. Check out the beautiful murals at Coit Tower.
Includes…Golden Gate Park, West Portal, Park Merced, and Ingleside
- Trek up the stairs to Grand View Park and enjoy the breaktaking of views of the city & the sea. (Turtle Hill).
- Hike the Moraga Steps – The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps.
- Visit the San Francisco Zoo.
Golden Gate Park
- Visit the California Academy of Sciences and/or roll out your sleeping bag for Penguins + Pajamas at the Academy.
- Conservatory of Flowers.
- Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers.
- Cross the Drum Bridge at the Japanese Tea Garden.
- Visit De Young Museum: The oldest museum in San Francisco.
- Ride to the top of the Hamon Observation Tower at the De Young Museum. It’s free!
- San Francisco Botanical Garden.
- Smell the roses at the Rose Garden.
- Rent a rowboat on Stow Lake.
- Check out the bison paddock.
- Play and Ride the carousel at the Koret Children’s Quarter Playground.
- Bike along Golden Gate Park’s John F Kennedy Drive on a Sunday when the street’s closed to traffic.
- Check out the Casting Pools & Angler’s Lodge.
Includes…Cole Valley, Alamo Square, Lower Haight, and Parnassus Heights
- Visit the painted Ladies in Alamo Square and find the full house house.
- Channel peace, hope, and love from the ’60s at the corner of Haight and Ashbury.
San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood. Includes…Bernal Heights, Potrero Hill, and Dogpatch
- Take a walking tour to learn about the Balmy Alley Murals in the Mission – the most concentrated collection of murals in the city.
- Near the Mission Find a favorite taquería in the Mission; eat lots of tacos and burritos.
- Sit in top of Bernal Heights Park and enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree panorama and clear views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown, San Bruno Mountain, and the hills of the East Bay.
- Enjoy a picnic at Dolores Park (It’s between the Mission and Castro neighborhoods).
- Drive down Vermont Street, the actual curviest street in San Francisco.
Castro / Noe Valley
Includes…Twin Peaks. Glen Park, and Upper Market
- Drive to the top of Twin Peaks.
- Visit Billy Goat Hill Park. It is a rope swing on the big tree near the top of the hill.
- Diamond Heights.
- Mount Davidson (927 feet, is the highest point in San Francisco)
- Slide down the Seward Street slides.
- Visit Tom and Jerry Christmas House during the Holidays.
Civic Center / Hayes Valley
- Step inside City Hall and stand under the dome, which is the tallest in the United States, 42 inches higher than the one in the nation’s capital in D.C.
- Check out the “Bliss Dance” (dancing lady statue) a forty-foot tall sculpture by local artist Marco Cochrane and enjoy the Amazing views of the city.
SOMA / Yerba Buena
Includes…Mission Bay and South Beach
- Create a work of art at the SFMOMA.
- Visit the Yerba Buena Gardens an oasis in the heart of the city.
- Read inspiring words from Martin Luther King Jr. behind the cascading fountain at Yerba Buena Gardens.
- Zip down the 25-foot tube slide at the Yerba Buena Gardens Play Circle.
- Go to a Giants game at AT&T Park or Take a behind the scenes AT&T Park Tour.
- Museum Modern Art.
- Celebrate cartoonists and visit the Cartoon Art Museum.
- Visit the San Francisco Flower Mart
AROUND SAN FRANCISCO:
- Walk the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Hike the Muir Woods National Monument.
- Visit the Bay Area Discovery Museum a 7.5 acres of natural beauty framed by the majestic backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Take another view of the Golden Gate bridge from Battery Spencer at Fort Baker.
- Visit Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands.
- Go to the Italian Street Painting Marin in San Rafael.
- Take the ferry from Sausalito/Larkspur to San Francisco.
- Visit The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.
- Hike in the Marin Headlands.
- Day trip out to Stinson Beach.
- Visit the Bay Model Visitor Center in Sausalito.
- Hike Mount Tamalpais.
- Visit Angel Island State Park.
- Visit Point Reyes and the lighthouse.
- Visit the stunning Cypress tree tunnel In Point Reyes National Seashore. At the end of the tunnel is the historic RCA/Marconi station, a wireless telegraph station where operators tap out Morse Code messages from ship to shore in the early 2oth century.
- Enjoy the Inkwells swimming holes – small, deep pools lie beside Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Lagunitas, Marin.
- Visit Paradise Beach Park – A 19 acre regional park is located along the east shore of the Tiburon Peninsula.
- Hike the Alamere Falls – A waterfall in Point Reyes National Seashore.
- Hike the Cataract Falls in Fairfax.
Wine Country/Napa & Sonoma
- Eat at Bouchon Bistro and/or have a delicious pastry at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.
- Tour the French Laundry’s Garden.
- Ride a tram to the top of Sterling Vineyards in Napa Valley and enjoy the 360-degree views.
- Tour an authentic 13th century Tuscan castle-winery at Castello di Amorosa.
- Catch the Napa Valley Wine Train.
- Board the Napa Santa Express Train this Holiday Season.
- All Aboard at Train Town!
- Visit Old Faithful Geyser, one of three Old Faithful Geysers in the world.
- Ride a Zipline in the Redwoods at Canopy Tours.
- Visit Coppola’s vineyard in Geyserville. Take a tour, sit by the pool, or visit the vineyard with the kids to pick up eggs during Easter time.
- Kayak or canoe on the Russian River.
- Take a hot air balloon ride over wine country or go to the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic.
- Take a hike in the beautiful wine Country.
- Explore the Sonoma-Marin Cheese Trail.
- Visit Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory. The oldest and largest sticker company in the United States and check how thousands of stickers are made.
- Visit Spring Lake in Santa Rosa with the Family.
- Experience the Joy of Peanuts Visiting the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Ice Rink Complex in Santa Rosa.
- Experience “The Spirit of Africa” and see animals in their natural habitat at Safari West.
- Ride wild roller coasters and visit the animals at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
- Spend some time at small, out of the way vineyards in and around Napa and Sonoma.
- Relax in a mineral water pool at Indian Springs in Calistoga.
- Experience the Flavors of Oxbow Public Market in Napa.
- Tour or take a one hour cooking class or a full-day learning experience at the Culinary Institute of America.
- Hike Armstrong Woods State Reserve.
- Take a tour of the Petrified Forest (Petrified by volcanic activity).
- Tour California’s Last Mission (Mission Solano) and Spend an afternoon in Sonoma Square.
- Visit the cottage where author Jack London’s wrote many of his novels and stories and explore the Jack London State Historic Park.
- Enjoy the Food and Wine Walking Tour in Healdsburg.
- Taste local craft brew in wine country: Petaluma Hills and Lagunitas http://northbaybrewerytours.com/
- Explore V Marketplace in Yountville
- Take a guided walking tour at McEvoy Ranch (organic Olive Tree orchard) Olive Oil Factory in Petaluma, California. https://www.mcevoyranch.com/tours-and-workshops.html
- Go Apple Picking
- Go Pumpkin Picking in a local Farm/ Decorate them.
- Visit the California Mission Museum at the Cline Cellars in Sonoma (specially for 4th graders).
- Walk the the nine-acre gardens of Cornerstone Sonoma.
- Visit a local Farm:
- Visit a Winery:
South Bay/East Bay Towns/Santa Clara Valley
- Take a self-guided tour at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View.
- Visit Winchester Mystery House in San Jose.
- Tech Museum of Innovation.
- Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.
- Intel Museum.
- California Great America.
- See the campus of UC Berkeley.
- Fly a Kite at the annually Berkeley Kite Festival.
- Visit Children’s Fairyland in Oakland. Children’s Fairyland opened in 1950 and was America’s first storybook theme park.
- Experience Wonders of the Universe at Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland.
- Go to the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo.
- Do a Fun Geeky Tour in the Silicon Valley (Steve Jobs’ garage, “HP Garage”, home of Google, Facebook).
- Visit the Home of Google!
- Try Garlic-Flavored Ice Cream at Gilroy.
- Explore the gardens, learn about monarch butterflies and ride on a giant banana swing at the he Gilrory Gardens Family Theme Park
NEARBY DAY & WEEKEND TRIPS
- Take a Drive down the Pacific Coast Highway (US Highway 1).
- Half Moon Bay.
- See the elephant seals in Año Nuevo State Reserve.
- Visit Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
- Santa Cruz – Combine a mile-long beach with cool rides and games.
- Hike in Big Basin State Park.
- Visit the Mystery Spot where gravity defy nature.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- Tour the 17-Mile Drive.
- Dennis the Menace Park.
- Walk the Cannery Row.
- Visit Carmel-by-the-Sea– Carmel-by-the-Sea was rated #3 in the list of the world’s best cities for romance by Travel + Leisure and Rated the #1 Dog Friendly Town in America
- Walk around Point Lobos State Reserve.
- Visit Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park & Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – Park offers a hike to a waterfall, a redwood grove & coastal views.
- Experience The Big Sur – Check the Bixby Bridge.
- Pebble Beach.
- Explore Hearst Castle a magnificent Mediterranean-style country house.
- San Luis Obispo — Stay at the Madonna Inn, see the mission and the sand dunes, and explore downtown on foot.
- Visit Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove one of our most beloved attractions from late October through February. Thousands of colorful Monarch butterflies cluster in the limbs of Eucalyptus and Monterey Pines in the area, giving the appearance of yellow and orange leaves.
High Sierra North
- Enjoy Lake Tahoe during Summer and Winter.
- Explore Fort Bragg
- Visit Mendocino
- Visit Point Arena Lighthouse
- Visit Bodega Bay
- Take a history lesson at Fort Ross, an impressive historic Russian fortress that was once a bustling base for Pacific trade.
The Big Valley
- Visit California State Capitol in Sacramento.
- Visit Old Sacramento.
- Tour the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield.
- Take a FAIRFIELD Budweiser BREWERY TOUR. One of America’s oldest brewers.
- Visit Bridgeport Covered Bridge on the Yuba River one of only a dozen covered bridges in California.
- Visit the gold rush towns of Coloma, Grass Valley, and Nevada City.
- Rub a pig’s belly at the Animal Place Sanctuary and Educational Center in Grass Valley
- Take The 45-minute Cavern Walk Tour (234 stairs to a depth of 165 feet below the ground) at the Moaning Cavern Adventure Park http://www.caverntours.com/
High Sierra South
- Yosemite Valley. — See El Capitan and Half Dome.
- Visit Redwood Country
- Humboldt County — See Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
- Sequoia National Park — General Sherman Tree, Crystal Cave, and Grant Grove.
- Bumpass Hell, Lassen Volcanic National Park.
- Sundial Bridge, Sundial Bridge Drive, Redding, CA.