26 Places to Take Out of Town Guests in the Bay Area | Tourist Sights + Local Spots

|February 9, 2017

San Francisco is one of the most visited cities in the country. Of course, there’s a reason (or hundreds of reasons) for that. We have several of the United States’ best restaurants, iconic and historic landmarks, natural wonders and enviable neighborhoods. And that’s just in SF! You can find even more attractions throughout the Bay.

With so much to see and do, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when entertaining family and friends. To help, we collected the best sights and activities for the entire Bay Area. Whether your visitors are coming in to see the sights or to explore like a local, our list has the top destinations for everyone!


For low budget adventures in the city, check out our list of free things to do in SF!

The Tourist Sights

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco, California

The Golden Gate Bridge

It’s the most iconic and well-known symbol in the area — they’re going to want to see it. You can view the bridge from several places in the city, or walk across it to get to see the sweeping landscape. The best part is it’s free to walk!

Alcatraz Island

Another SF classic, the island is home to first lighthouse and fort built on the west coast as well as the infamous federal penitentiary. Plan ahead and reserve a guided tour!

Ghirardelli Square

Located in Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square is filled with local shops and restaurants. And you get to explore them with a spectacular seaside view! The quaint atmosphere is perfect for an evening out.

The Local Spots

The Palace Hotel Garden Court San Francisco, California

Photo Courtesy of The Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel

Even if you’re not staying in the luxury Palace Hotel, stop by for a drink in the Garden Court. For something extra special, come on Sunday morning for brunch or Saturday for Signature Tea!  

Musée Mécanique

This Fisherman’s Wharf destination has the world’s largest privately owned collection of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines. Don’t forget to arm wrestle on the same machine Julie Andrews wrestled in The Princess Diaries!

Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve

Get some outdoor time in Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, the dense eucalyptus forest near the geographical center of the city. Hike through the 61-acre reserve, steeped in San Francisco history!

The Speakeasy

The first rule of The Speakeasy is read the rules. Then, make your reservation for SF’s Illicit bar, crooked casino, vaudeville cabaret and immersive theatre adventure.


The Tourist Sights

Jack London Square Oakland, California

Photo Courtesy of Jack London Square

Jack London Square

Located within the Port of Oakland, Jack London Square is the only publicly accessible mixed-use waterfront area in the East Bay. Ride the ferry between the square and Pier 39 in San Francisco or visit Heinold’s’ First and Last Chance Saloon, the historic bar opened in 1883!

Oakland Zoo

The Oakland Zoo has over 660 native and exotic animals for you to see and interact with. Don’t miss the Sky Ride! You can see the animals below and the SF skyline in the distance! Skip the lines and buy your tickets online.

Redwood Regional Park

In the hills east of Oakland, you can explore a hidden redwood forest. Though they were historically logged for Bay Area development and building materials, the 15-foot trees now stand tall among smaller native trees.

The Local Spots

Mount Diablo Oakland, California

Photo Courtesy of Summit Post

Mt. Diablo

It’s been said that Mt. Diablo has the best landscape view in the whole Bay. At the summit, you’ll be at 3,849 feet, surrounded by low, rolling hills. This gives you a high and unobstructed vista; in fact, when conditions are clear, you can see almost 200 miles.

The Gardens at Lake Merritt

Admission is free to Lake Merritt’s gardens and you’ll get to explore various themed areas — from bonsai to palm. And the gardens are located in the heart of Oakland at Lakeside Park, our nation’s first wildlife refuge!

The New Parkway Theater

A community-centered pub and cinema, The New Parkway Theater is great for a low-key evening. Sit back and relax in the cozy couches while watching new releases or cult classics. Plus, enjoy delicious food and local beer and wine delivered right to your theater seat!


The Tourist Sights

Things to do in Berkeley

Gourmet Ghetto

Thanks to chef Alice Waters, everyone has heard of the Gourmet Ghetto and her restaurant, Chez Panisse. The food-centered community is about more than just eating; it’s about making meals from locally sourced, fresh ingredients and preparing them in a way that enhances their natural flavors. Stopping anywhere for a meal in the neighborhood is a good idea, but if you want something original and exquisite try Chez Panisse or The Cheese Board Collective.

UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science

This UC Berkeley building is located in the hills above campus. From there, you can see a 180-degree view of the SF Bay. Check out the current view before you go!

The Local Spots

Berkeley, California Farmers' Markets

Farmers Markets

Because of the food-centered Gourmet Ghetto and the passionate history of Berkeley, the grocery shopping and farmer’s’ markets are can’t-miss events. Year-round you can explore the Downtown Market (Saturday), North Market (Thursday) and the South Market (Tuesday).


Jupiter is a local favorite for beer, pizza and the heated backyard patio. Inside an old livery stable from the 1890s, they have 12 of their own beers on tap and various guest brews. The interior decor is inspired by the oldest bar in Berlin, but get a seat in the garden for the best experience!


The Tourist Sights

The Tech Museum of Innovation San Jose, California

Photo Courtesy of The Tech Museum of Innovation

The Tech Museum of Innovation

Located in San Jose, The Tech Museum was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2015, the highest honor a museum can achieve. Spend a day there to learn about innovations in healthcare, the Silicon Valley, robots and more! It’s a great destination for visiting kids!

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Make the drive across the Peninsula to see the views from Pigeon Point Lighthouse. The structure is the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast and offers amazing seaside views of the Pacific Ocean.

The Local Spots

Foothill College Observatory

Foothill College Observatory

Operated by the Peninsula Astronomical Society, the Foothill College Observatory offers weekly public programs inviting the public to view the surrounding universe. Every clear Friday stop by to see the stars through their high powered telescope; Saturdays you can view the sun and check the website for event updates on special astronomical events!

Stanford Theater

Designed and built in the 1920s, the Stanford Theater takes inspiration from Persian and Moorish architecture. Spend some time taking in the decor, then sit back and relax with a classic movie — from Casablanca to silent movies!


The Tourist Sights

Things to do in Marin County

Take the Ferry to Sausalito

The ride between Sausalito and San Francisco is one of the most popular, scenic ferry trips in the world. Along the way, you’ll get views of Bay Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Ride the Golden Gate Ferry or hop aboard the Blue and Gold Fleet!

West Point Inn

Less than 6 miles from Mount Tamalpais State Park, West Point Inn is a 1900s rustic, rural location offering spectacular view of Richardson Bay and the surrounding hills. Once a stop on the Crookedest Railroad in the World, you can stay at the historic inn or just explore and take in the view!

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore is a 71,028-acre park preserve located on the Point Reyes Peninsula. In addition to housing seaside wildlife and nature, the space is also a Tule Elk reserve!

The Local Spots

Things to do in Marin County

Terrapin Crossroads

Founded by Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh, Terrapin Crossroads is a music venue, bar and restaurant in San Rafael. Packed with local and band history, it’s a great place for brunch, dinner and music!

Drakes Estero

Inside Point Reyes National Seashore, Drakes Estero is part of the only West Coast marine wilderness south of Alaska. In the place where freshwater meets saltwater, you’ll find thousands of species of birds and land mammals. Dip your paddle in the water and watch bat rays and leopard sharks glide below you!

Share your tips!  

Where do you take out of towners around the Bay Area?

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