San Francisco is known for many things, with their enormous redwoods being one of them.
Muir Woods is one of the best places to experience them, as it’s covered in the beautiful trees known for their aromatic red bark, incredible height, and old age. Sure, you can go on your own, but we really recommend taking a tour of them.
We’ve come up with the best San Francisco tours that will take you through Muir Woods, Sausalito, on the ferry, and much more. By the time you’re done, you’ll surely feel like you’ve experienced SF to its fullest! Be sure to see our Yosemite Park tour reviews.
Top Tours Of Muir Woods
The Best Rated Muir Woods Tours From San Francisco
- San Francisco, Sausalito and Muir Woods Small Group Tour
- Muir Woods National Monument Guided Tour From San Francisco
- Muir Woods: Redwood Forest with Ferry Morning Tour
- Muir Woods, Giant Redwoods, & Sausalito Tour From San Francisco
- Muir Woods Trip and Golden Gate Bridge Cruise From San Francisco
- San Francisco: Muir Woods and Sausalito Experience
- Muir Woods with Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour From San Francisco
Now lets take a closer look at the Muir Woods tours so you can find the right one for you!
Muir Woods Tour Reviews
- Duration: 7 hours
- Includes: 2800 Hyde Street in Fisherman’s Wharf. Meet underneath the white gazebo, next to the cable car turnaround, on the corner of Hyde and Beach Street, (Inside SF Maritime Historic Park
- Departure Point: Local guide, bottled water, granola bars, SF recommendations of things to do
- Other: Stops by legendary SF locations, stories on bus, real-world exploration
This fully comprehensive tour is one that will take you through just about every major destination spot in San Francisco, and much more. You’ll get to explore the most popular neighborhoods, take some quick photo stops, and spend some time in the gorgeous Muir Woods National Monument.
The San Francisco, Sausalito, and Muir Woods small group tour is great if you don’t like large groups.
The 7-hour tour is laid out well, offering just the right amount and nicely-timed breaks so that you aren’t overwhelmed and can take in everything you’re experiencing. The tour starts out on the right foot, with smell of the ocean in the air at Fisherman’s Wharf.
After boarding the bus, you’ll head to your first stop. At certain stops, you’ll get off the bus for a few minutes just to take some photos, while others will offer you a bit more time to really explore the area. The entire time, your guide will offer some interesting stories and history about the neighborhoods and local geography.
- We recommend bringing a light jacket, depending on the time of year, though SF can end up being windy or rainy suddenly.
Aside from Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll experience many other destinations, including Chinatown, North Beach, City Hall, Haight Ashbury, The Castro, Pacific Heights, Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods, Fort Point, Tenderloin District, Sausalito, Lombard Street, and the Marin Headlands.
SF’s Chinatown is the biggest Chinatown in all of the country, consisting of a whopping 24 blocks full of business! The beautiful traditional Chinese architecture melds with glass skyscrapers and more modern-styled buildings, offering a unique scene and vibe that is difficult to reproduce anywhere else.
Not to mention, you’ll find some of the absolute best, most delicious food (particularly dumplings!) and fun little shops.
North Beach is home to Little Italy, which as you can imagine, offers incredible cafes, bakeries, and other delights. It’s certainly charming, though is more ideal for a quick look. City Hall is host to many interesting events, such as Joe Dimaggio and Marilyn Monroe’s marriage!
Haight Ashbury is simply iconic as it’s known as the birthplace of the hippy movement and “Summer of Love”. Here, you’ll notice that it never really left. Next up, is The Castro, which is may be a fun place to go dancing now, but as one of the first gay neighborhoods in North America, it also has a strained history.
Pacific Heights is known for its panoramic views and is fittingly home to Billionaire’s Row. This row consists of countless estates owned by Silicon Valley’s powerhouses, celebrities, various politicians, sports stars, and more.
Presidio is very close to the Golden Gate Bridge (which you’ll also go on), and is known as a former WWII military base. Nowadays, it’s used as Lucasfilm’s headquarters and the Walt Disney Museum. Fort Point has a similar vibe and is located nearby, offering a nice photo op of the bay.
We already talked about Muir Woods up above, and on this tour, you’ll get to explore for around an hour here. Trust us, that hour will go by fast when you’re surrounded by these red giants and fresh air.
The Tenderloin district gets a bad rap for safety issues, though you can tell that it’s gotten much better. Tucked in near downtown, it is culturally-diverse and offers quite a few delicious food options and a great local arts movement.
- You’ll want to save your hunger for when you get to Sausalito.
Sausalito is located across the Golden Gate, and was modeled after Italian villages. Here, you’ll get to relax and enjoy lunch right on the bay.
- Duration: 3.5 hours
- Includes: Pickup service from Hilton Union Square or local partner’s office in Fisherman’s Wharf, transportation by bus, experienced guide, entry fee to Muir Wood, Golden Gate Bridge toll
- Departure Point: Hilton Union Square or local partner’s office in Fisherman’s Wharf
- Other: Combines fresh air and nature with Sausalito’s mediterranean homey atmosphere
If the last tour was a bit too lengthy for you and you want something just for the afternoon, then check out this Muir Woods National Monument Guided Tour. This 3.5-hour tour starts off with a pickup service from the Hilton Union Square or local partner’s office in Fisherman’s Wharf. This will depend on your group and what will work best for you.
This sightseeing bus tour will head out to the Muir Woods National Monument first. This is an incredible sight to see, and even the route on the way up to it is breathtaking.
Once inside, you’ll spend 1.5 hours being around the gentle giants and even get a peek at its wildlife! Having been federally protected as a National Monument for over 100 years now, you’ll have the chance to learn all about the interesting history and stories of events that took place here.
If you want to see beauty outside of downtown, then this is the right way to do it. Hiking trails are not in short supply, and help to get that blood pumping! When you’re done, your stomach is sure to start growling. That’s when it’s time to head to Sausalito, the coastal Mediterranean-influenced city that sits right on the bay.
- Here is the perfect place to grab a quick bite to eat. Rated as one of the top 10 neighborhoods in the US, you may not want to leave!
You can choose to get off the bus at this point and check out the city on your own. You’ll have to head back by ferry, and tickets are not included. However, your entry fee to Muir Woods and the Golden Gate toll are covered.
- Duration: 7 hours
- Includes: Professional local driver and guide, ferry ticket, pick-up available at Hilton Union Square or Zephyr Hotel, Muir Woods entry fee
- Departure Point: Hilton Union Square or Hotel Zephyr in Fisherman’s Wharf
- Other: Ferry experience as well as exploring Muir Woods and Saualito
Some of the most endearing parts of San Francisco are the redwood forests, the bay, and the ferries which travel through it. You’ll get to experience all that and more on the Muir Woods Redwood Forest with Ferry Morning Tour.
Located approximately 12 miles from San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument is just the right distance away from the city to feel that tranquility that’s difficult to attain in a bustling downtown.
The tour includes a pickup at the majority of downtown SF hotels as well as Fisherman’s Wharf, and this will be determined beforehand. However, it usually takes place anywhere from 9am to 9:30am. This is a morning tour, after all and the early bird gets the worm!
While it is a bit lengthy at 7 hours, this tour really takes things slow so you get the full experience. So many times, tours rush through everything just to check boxes rather than to let travelers take it all in.
Board the bus, and you’ll cross the Golden Gate Bridge (toll is included) on your way to the monument and learn more about its history.
Once you arrive, you’ll be let to do your own thing and just explore this gem. There are countless trails to choose from, though each one takes you through the towering redwoods.
Redwoods aren’t the only interesting foliage here; Muir Woods is home to over a dozen species of fern, which dates back millions of years.
Not only that, but you’ll likely get the chance to encounter northern spotted owl, deer, and other animals who are native to this area.
After your forest adventure, you’ll get back on the bus and head to Sausalito where you’ll eat some lunch on the bay and check out some of the unique little shops.
- If you’d like, this is one of the most photo-friendly spots with the San Francisco skyline sitting across the bay.
To wrap things up, you’ll board a ferry to the cruise which sails by Angel Island and the infamous Alcatraz.
- Duration: 4 – 5 hours
- Includes: Half-day tour, admission to Muir Woods, transportation by air-conditioned bus, WiFi and restroom on board, 1-way ferry ticket from Sausalito to San Francisco (if option selected), 4-hour bike rental (if option selected)
- Departure Point: Downtown San Francisco
- Other: Option to explore by bike
If you’re someone who enjoys being active instead of just taking a passive role in a tour, then this is the one for you.
The Muir Woods, Giant Redwoods, and Sausalito Tour is a scenic adventure that will take you through nature and cityscapes, filling your noggin with all kinds of knowledge along the way!
You’ll start out your tour by meeting your guide in San Francisco (meeting spot will be determined and agreed upon beforehand). Once you board the bus, your tour will start out by crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’ve never been on it before, it’s a bit surreal: the view of the bay, the sheer length and height of the bridge itself – everything.
Once you cross, you’ll get to pass through the Rainbow Tunnels on Highway 101 located between San Francisco and Marin. At one time, they were one of the city’s first landmarks, over 50 years ago. You may not be able to catch a photo, but they look pretty cool regardless.
Further on the route to Muir Woods, you’ll travel over all kinds of hills, with a top-notch view of Mount Tamalpais in the distance.
Once at Muir Woods, you’ll get almost an hour-and-a-half to check it out. There is a lot to go through, other than just strolling through and appreciating the sequoias (though this on its own is also beautiful). There is a lot of history here, and centuries ago, the Coast Miwok Native American tribe called it home.
As you can imagine, the redwoods are just as old, if not older, ranging from 500-800 years old in some areas.
Travel the nature trail along Redwood Creek, all the way through Cathedral and Bohemian Groves.
- Each one is a bit different, and when you stop at the Visitor Center and gift shop make sure to grab something for those who weren’t able to come with your group!
Once you’ve made it through, you’ll hop back on the bus to Sausalito where you’ll be charmed by the stunning homes and tidiness seen here. You’ll have a 1-hour stop here to allow you time to explore the area. Thanks to the incredible views this neighborhood offers, you’ll have some great snaps to share with others.
There are a couple of different options to choose from, too. You can select the Sausalito ferry, which is a 1-way ferry trip back to SF. You can also choose to upgrade with a 4-hour bike rental to pedal around Sausalito and return to the city at your convenience.
- Duration: 5 hours
- Includes: Round-trip bus transportation from San Francisco, entrance fee to Muir Woods National Monument, 1-hour Golden Gate Bay cruise ticket, audio guide available in 16 languages during cruise
- Departure Point: Fisherman’s Wharf or downtown
- Other: Comprehensive half-day trip
Put on your hiking shoes, because this 5-hour tour is going to take you all over California’s redwood forest! Yes, this is yet another trip to Muir Woods National Monument, however, if you find the others too long then this is a nice alternative.
If you are bringing children along, a 7-hour trip may be too extensive for them.
Your meet-up point will be determined beforehand, but usually the tours are good about being able to meet you around downtown San Francisco or Fisherman’s Wharf. Once you get on board, you will set off towards the “outskirts” of the city.
You’ll have to cross the famed Golden Gate Bridge, which to the shock of many, isn’t even gold!
The towering bridge is certainly thrill-inducing and just beautiful to look at – especially if you’ve never gone over it before.
After you cross, you’ll head even further north to the canyon that holds trees that date back hundreds, possibly even thousands of years.
Finding forests like this in America is not easy to come by, as many have been destroyed by fire or mankind. However, the Muir Woods National Monument has stood the test of time.
- You’ll spend a little over an hour here, browsing around the natural walkways through the redwoods.
Afterward, you’ll journey back to the city, stopping through the little seaside village of Sausalito. Sausalito is reason enough to voyage to the bay area, due to its unique feel, crafty boutiques, and quaint cafes.
After you’ve gotten your fill of bayside views, fresh-brewed coffee, and fun gifts, you’ll have a 1-hour cruise on the bay. Here, you’ll be able to catch sight of Alcatraz Island, and the city skyline. As the audio commentary is available in 16 languages, you’ll be able to learn about the city’s interesting (to say the least) history and landmarks.
- Duration: 4 hours
- Includes: English-speaking guide, entrance to Muir Woods
- Departure Point: Fisherman’s Wharf
- Other: Luxury minibus tour
While the vast majority of forests in California have been used for commercial gain and purposes, Muir Woods National Monument remains very well-preserved.
This creates an aesthetic and climate rarely seen in this area of the world, and is so beautiful it’s really worth checking out.
The Muir Woods and Sausalito Experience Tour fits right into this. The 4-hour tour is a nice way to pass some spare time, and as it’s limited to a mere 10 participants, it’s easy to get around and a fun way to travel in small groups.
3You get to choose between either a morning or afternoon departure from Fisherman’s Wharf, so if you are busy during the afternoon or night it’s still feasible to participate in.
The bus you’ll be taking isn’t your old school bus or city bus. Instead, you’ll be riding in style in a luxury minibus. The comfy seats are plush and won’t leave you wiggling around trying to avoid discomfort – even later in the tour.
- Your live tour guide will be right there to fill you in on fun stories and other info about San Francisco, and is there to answer any questions you may have, as well.
Along the route to Muir Woods, you’ll get to pass the Palace of Fine arts and the former military base, the Presidio before you cross the Golden Gate Bridge.
Once you get to North Vista point, they’ll make a stop to let you snap some shots of the amazing bay views. This is particularly special during the morning tours, as you still have some fog (depending on the weather and time of year, of course).
You’ll keep going along the Pacific Coast Highway, which offers some of the prettiest oceanside views in the world. Finally, you’ll arrive at Muir Woods and will get off the bus. While many like to compare Muir Woods and the Redwood Forest, the former is the only surviving stand of Old Growth forest in the bay.
After spending an hour of exploring, you’ll board the bus again and head to Sausalito. It offers a different feel, as you’re heading back into civilization, but it is still quaint and feels like “the olden days” almost. Locals tend to be friendly, food is delicious, and it’s filled with boutiques and art galleries.
- Duration: 10 hours
- Includes:Pick-up and drop off at most San Francisco hotels, knowledgeable professional guide, 2 flights of wine tasting, comfortable transportation by petroleum-free, biofueled mini-coach
- Departure Point: Pickup is available from most San Francisco hotels. Please call the local partner at least 72 hours before your tour to confirm all details and pickup times
- Other: Wine country and San Francisco, Muir Woods tour
Our guide of the best San Francisco and Muir Woods tours wouldn’t be complete without this one: the Muir Woods with Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour!
If you’re a wine lover, then you need to do yourself a favor and hop on board! The 10-hour tour is longer than the others but that’s because you’re going all the way to Napa and Sonoma.
Just like the others, your pickup will be in the city and will start out with you crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and to the Muir Woods National Monument.
Once there, you’ll get off and have an hour to hike along countless different paths, reveling in the stunning nature, huge sequoias, and more.
Once back on the bus, you’ll begin your trip to the wine country and stop in historic Sonoma Plaza. Here, you’ll stop for some lunch, and take a bit of a break after your hiking.
You’re sure to have worked up an appetite!
- Afterward, you’ll stop in both Napa and Sonoma Valley to taste various wines: red, white, and dessert wines totaling to 2 flights!
The wines come from reputable producers such as the Larson Family, Cline Cellars, and Robledo Family wineries.
To wrap up the day, you’ll stop at the Golden Gate Bridge for photos if the weather is right!
San Francisco Travel Guide
Getting There –
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is one of the main hubs in North America, and almost every airline (national or international) has routes that serve it. This can make it very easy to get to SF, albeit the ticket prices do tend to fluctuate quite a bit. The best time to get your tickets will be anywhere from October to January, where it can get pretty chilly with wind and rain.
If you want a cheaper option, San Jose airport (SJO) is about an hour away from San Francisco. Many times, you’ll be able to find a significantly more affordable flight to SJO, so we recommend looking at both options. So, how exactly are you going to get from San Jose from San Francisco? The BART services the East Bay and South Bay (i.e. San Jose), offering quick, efficient, and relatively comfy transportation to SF. We’ll go ahead and go more into detail later on in our guide regarding local transportation, however.
While it may not be as quick as a plane, trains are another way of getting to San Francisco from within the United States. In fact, SF is currently accessible by train from an impressive 358 other cities within the country.
Amtrak is the most popular company, with the most trains on just about any given day. These are comfortable, relaxing, and you’d be surprised at how affordable they are. We’ve actually found cross-country ticket prices for under 100 bucks before! The Salesforce Plaza train station is the station located closest to the city center, so if you’re staying downtown, this is the station you’ll want to arrive to.
If you’re coming from the east coast, you’ll most likely use I-80, which connects New Jersey with San Francisco. However, that’s going to be a long drive! Many Southern California residents like driving up to the bay for the weekend, which is a very easy, direct drive via the I-5. However, there’s also the “scenic route” which tacks on 3 hours to the already 6-hour drive via Highway 1.
If you really have no other option, then you can take a Greyhound. Greyhounds are absolutely cheap, but in this case, you get what you pay for. They’re uncomfortable, always seem to be either too hot or too cold, are noisy, and take a long time to get wherever you’re going due to all the stops made along the way.
Getting Around –
Getting around San Francisco is actually pretty easy – that is, if you’re not driving. Driving your own car is probably the most inconvenient way of moving around. First, traffic can get pretty crazy in the morning and around 5 o’clock. Not only that, but the city is filled with 1-way streets, Trolleys that you have to avoid – not to mention the absolutely insane hills that make up a large part of the streets in San Francisco.
We recommend you take advantage of the Muni and BART systems when you can. BART seems to be faster during rush hour and overall operates more smoothly and efficiently. There are 4 BART lines throughout the bay, along with 48 stations. If you have to choose between the two, we say go BART.
No matter where you’re staying, you’re going to feasibly be within walking distance of a Muni bus, light rail Metro train, streetcar, or cable car. All are budget-friendly, convenient, and eco-friendly. The cable cars are iconic and are one of the easiest ways to get up steep hills. Each ride is $7, though, which can get expensive quickly.
Alternatively, you can also bike or walk, which is a better choice in the daytime depending on where you are. Lyfts, taxis, and other rides are a possibility as well and are great for shorter distances, like at night. However, just remember that they may also get stuck in traffic.
Where to Stay –
You’re probably wondering about the best area to stay in SF, and the truth is, there’s something great in just about every area of the city.
SoMA – If you love food (and who doesn’t?) you need to just make home base SoMA. Standing for “South of Market”, it comes backed with both older and brand-new restaurants. You’ll find everything from just about every price point here.
Fisherman’s Wharf – While SoMa is definitely designated as the foodie area, if you want fresh seafood, Fisherman’s Wharf can’t be beat. In fact, if you don’t eat here at least once, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. From fish and chips, to calamari, to iconic clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls, it’ll change your life.
While it is busy with tourists most days, you are right on the water. With these views, you’ll get to see fishing fleets and walk along the pier to see cute (at a distance!) sea lions and breathe in that fresh sea breeze.
- The Argonaut Hotel – Absolutely beautiful, stunning historic hotel located right on the water. The entire hotel is nautical-themed in a non-cheesy way. Views can’t be beat, with the bay, Alcatraz, and Golden Gate Bridge located right outside your window. They even offer complimentary cruisers if you’d like to pedal around the area!
- Hotel Zephyr – This is a fun, youthful hotel with around 8,000 sq. feet of outdoor play area to enjoy with friends, family, or a significant other. The Instagram-worthy hotel also features a large indoor game room, and beautiful outdoor views as well.
Noe Valley – If you’re going with the entire family, then you’ll love the homey, charming feel of Noe Valley. It’s located right in the city center, featuring wide sidewalks, and is known to be very easy to walk around. The iconic SF townhomes are here as well, which make for beautiful snapshots.
- Dolores Place – These studio apartments come in a Victorian row house built in the early 1900’s. It’s currently in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods, with a gorgeous sunny deck.
- Noe’s Nest Bed and Breakfast – Once again, expect charm and comfort here with fantastically friendly staff. A hearty breakfast buffet comes included, along with spa tubs, green garden areas, and excellent views of the city.
Castro – For wonderful new restaurants and high-energy locals and guests, this is an excellent place to stay.
Chinatown – Chinatown is simply iconic and for the obvious: it’s the best for Chinese food. With over 24 blocks filled with restaurants, food markets, street food vendors, and cool little shops. If Chinatown isn’t an option for you, Richmond is a close second.
Whiteswan Inn – With a Cotswolds, 60’s influence, it has that old-school British feel to it. Complimentary breakfast baskets and wine will give you all the fuel you need to check out the area!
Union Square – If you’re looking to shop, or simply want a pretty central location so you can explore all of the city with ease, Union Square is the best area. Offering all the major retail brands, you’ll be able to find just about anything here. Hotel Triton is one of our favorites: it’s relatively budget-friendly, elegant, comfortable, and cozy. The rooms aren’t super spacious, but if you love that feeling of being in the middle of a bustling city, then this is it.
Restaurants and Eating Out –
Even if you spend the rest of your life in San Francisco, it would be practically impossible to try everything the city has to offer. Many eateries have been around for decades, while many others are sprouting up constantly. Known as a foodie city, there’s nothing you can’t find here, regardless of budget.
- ONE65 – Sitting just a block from Union Square, if you are looking for a French dining experience to take a date (or yourself), ONE65 is a great option. Consisting of 6 stories, each floor offers something different. The ground floor is an all-day café so if you’re one of those people who needs a nice latte at 9PM, you’re in luck. Not only that, but they offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, chocolates, ice cream, and fine pastries! The bistro boasts a chef’s counter where you can watch as your dishes are prepared!
- Lilolilo Yacht Club – Craving Hawaii but can’t get to the island? Check out Lilolilo Yacht Club!Temporarily located at 18th and Mission, this place manages to brighten up an often-foggy city. We highly recommend their house-made spam with kimchi friend rice!
- Phill’s Phire Phoods – Started by Chef Phill Quinones from Miami, he brought his hometown’s flavor over to San Francisco. Known for years now as one of the best food trucks in the city, they offer a Latin take on things and offer virtual cooking classes.
- Curry Up Now – Since their success back with their original food truck in 2009, they’ve since expanded to 4 trucks and various restaurants and cocktail bars! However, we still recommend the trucks the most. Get traditional Indian flavors in a modern take, quickly!
- Sowl Bowls – For delicious, healthy Thai street food, there’s Sowl Bowls. Tamarind, garlic, and many other sauces garnish traditional bowls filled with tofu, dumplings, chicken, and more.
- Buena Vista – Did you know San Francisco has world-famous Irish coffee? Well, the Buena Vista is, we should say. Their recipe has been around since the 60’s and is definitely the most delicious we’ve had. Served in a crystalline, 6-ounce, heat-treated goblet, you’ll be transported back in time with the mouth-watering mixture. The place has been featured on just about every food/travel show out there, for good reason!
- Boudin Sourdough – We told you before that if you want the iconic SF clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls, to head to Fisherman’s Wharf. There are various restaurants which offer it, but the best to do it is Boudin’s.
Nightlife and Entertainment –
We’ll be honest: nightlife and entertainment aren’t quite what they were 10 years ago in San Francisco. However, there’s still a lot to be explored with famous bars, lounges, and dance clubs. Not only that, but they have plenty of night tours, dinner cruises, late-night museums, and more.
One of the things SF does well is exotic cocktails and excellently-brewed beers. The Alchemist Bar & Loungeis certainly one-of-a-kind, with their steampunk theme and Victorian-esque décor. Their bar bites are tasty, but their unique cocktail flavor profiles and colors are what’s worth coming for. Our personal favorite is the “Camping with Hipsters”, consisting of mezcal, Benedictine, vetiver, pineapple, lemon, and yuzu soda.
The Alembic Bar is another awesome choice with classic, handcrafted cocktails and a rather interesting bar food menu. The dimly-lit space is most well-known for its famous Sazerac in a “glass rinsed with a green bitter liquid that shall remain nameless”.
Temple will have all the top mainstream DJs and artists here in electronic music, and is aimed more towards very young crowds. 1015 Folsom is also all about electronic music, though tends to lean more towards the underground side with techno, tech house, and even some trance. Audio is very similar to 1015 regarding their lineups, with everything from light and airy melodic sets to banging 140 BPM hard techno.
If you’re not much of a club person, there’s still a lot to do at night. We recommend checking out the Alcatraz Night Tour, which includes roundtrip ferries, a guided tour, live boat narration, and much more. It’s great for those history buffs or people who are attracted to the spooky side of things. The tour goes from the dock to the main prison building, though there are various other programs and presentations as well.
If night tours are your thing, there are 3 different bus companies that offer tours of the city. Gray Line Tours is the most affordable, but also the shortest at just 1.5 hours long. We really like the Big Bus Tours which are 2 hours long.
If you want somewhere to watch the sun set, you have to check out the Coit Tower. Open until 5 or 6, it’s quite possibly the best place to catch the sun going down over the skyline. There are other great spots to catch it too, like at the top of Lombard Street by cable car or Mark Hopkins Hotel at the rooftop bar.
While San Francisco gets about 259 days of sun per year, it also gets a lot of rain and wind! As it’s literally right on the bay, there’s not a lot blocking the wind and rain from getting to you. During winter, you may even see some hail or sleet! The city’s coldest month is definitely January, and September is actually their warmest month, with an average daytime temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
We’ve seen the city even in the summertime, turn from a perfectly warm, sunny day, to windy and rainy in the matter of a couple hours. It’s always a smart idea, no matter when you visit, to bring at least one pair of pants and a jacket. In the winter, bring some boots and something to cover your ears, too.
The main attractions in San Francisco are obviously the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and Fisherman’s Wharf. We do recommend seeing each one, and if you head to Fisherman’s Wharf or Alcatraz, you’re going to pass by Golden Gate, regardless. It’s right there. The Bay Bridge also looks pretty cool, and will get you to Oakland, should you need to head that way.
Alcatraz is one of the most famous prisons throughout the world, and has been open as a tourist attraction since the early 70’s. Al Capone and the Birdman are just some of the better-known criminals who were jailed here.
If you stop by Fisherman’s Wharf, aside from the beautiful views, nautical experiences, and sea lions, you have to stop by Ghirardelli Square and try some chocolate! It’s the perfect dessert after indulging in some fresh seafood!
Make sure to check out the USS Pampanito, if you’re into WWII submarines. Oh, and to grab some cool souvenirs, head to Pier 39 which has over 50 stores and various eateries.
Chinatown is a must-see for us. It’s the oldest Chinatown in North America, and is the biggest Chinese population outside of China. It has incredibly authentic food, and the fogginess of the bay always seems to make it look more ethereal and like something from a movie. It’s fun to walk around whether day or night.
Introduced all the way in 1873, the cable cars are iconic to this area and even if you don’t need to, just ride them at least once. The Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde routes are the most beautiful, though they’re also convenient for taking you to the Wharf, Nob Hill, and other spots.
Golden Gate Park is a place to relax and just breathe. After all, it’s considered the “lungs” of the dense city. With over 5,000 types of plants and a ton of walking and cycling trails, you’ll pass by the Japanese Tea Garden, SF Botanical Garden, de Young Museum, and more. The latter features art and period interiors from North America, along with various exhibits from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and more.
For a truly upscale experience, check out the Palace Hotel, which was built in 1875 near Market Street. Just the Garden Court reception area alone is stunning. Here, you have to have at least one cup of tea. Traditional afternoon tea is served here with fine china, sterling silver, and more.