Living in San Francisco offers access to some of the country’s most iconic sights, best food, oldest traditions and most noteworthy attractions. And every year, the list of things you can do in the city gets longer.
To help make sure you can do it all, we created a bucket list for you to complete in 2019. It includes a few of those old traditions and iconic sights alongside some of the city’s newest attractions. Enjoy!
1. Spend a full day in The Presidio.
The Presidio is a must visit in San Francisco. It’s the best place to see the Golden Gate Bridge (home to some of the city’s best hikes), it’s filled with history and military landmarks, and it’s one of the best places to go for local, crafted food. To make your visit even better, we put together Your Guide to Spending a Full Day in The Presidio, Mapped complete with breakfast, lunch, dinner, hikes, activities, cocktails and a sunset view.
San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade has been a tradition since the 1860s. It’s one of the few remaining illuminated, nighttime parades in the country and is the biggest parade celebrating the lunar new year outside of Asia. Every year, you’re invited to join the fun on the street or tune in on local television channels KTVU Fox 2 or KTSF Channel 26. In 2019, the event is scheduled for Saturday, February 23rd.
3. Tour Alcatraz.
Just over one mile offshore from San Francisco, Alcatraz Island is home to one of the most historic and famous prisons in American history. You can view it from the shores of the city or take a ferry across the water and tour the island and the prison grounds. To see all the tour options (including a spooky night tour), check out Alcatraz Cruises.
4. Shop local at a farmers market.
In Northern California, we’re blessed with year-round bounties in local produce, meat and seafood. As a result, we don’t just get summer farmers’ markets; we get them year round! Our guide, The Ultimate Guide to 120 Bay Area Farmers’ Markets, includes features on some of San Francisco’s best, including CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, and the Fort Mason Center Farmers’ Market which is hosted by California Farmers’ Markets Association and Golden Gate National Park Service.
5. Visit Golden Gate Park.
At three miles long by one-half mile wide, Golden Gate Park is home to the San Francisco Botanical Garden, California Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, four dog play areas, Stow Lake Boathouse, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park Golf Course, tennis courts, a polo field, an archery range, sports fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, and even more!
6. Cheer on the Giants at AT&T Park.
AT&T Park is the home of the San Francisco Giants and offers tours, games during the season, the annual Giants Fan Fest, public events and one of the city’s most exclusive speakeasies.
7. Attend a local street fair.
San Francisco’s famous street fairs cover every neighborhood from the Folsom Street Fair and Castro Street Fair to Haight Ashbury Street Fair and Nihonmachi Street Fair. Each one celebrates the culture, history and local businesses of each community.
In 2019, The Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon is taking to the streets of San Francisco for the 42nd year. In July, you can join over 27,500 runners on the route through the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, Crissy Field, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and past Coit Tower, AT&T Park and more. And you don’t have to be a marathon runner to participate! The event includes a full marathon, two half marathon options and a waterfront 5k race.
9. Picnic in Alamo Square Park.
This neighborhood park is a local landmark thanks to its perfect view of San Francisco’s Painted Ladies, but it also offers a dual-level playground for kids, an off-leash area for dogs, a full tennis court, picnic areas and sights like the Shoe Garden, lawns, flowerbeds and willows. You can find news and information here courtesy of San Francisco Recreation & Parks.
10. Attend every Sunday Streets event.
Sunday Streets is an annual summer series that transforms car-congested streets into car-free community spaces where kids can play, people can stroll, neighbors can meet, and local businesses can interact with you. Featured neighborhoods include the Mission, Excelsior, Bayview, Tenderloin, SoMa and more. Each one gets their own Sunday and their own special event! You can get more information on the website here.
11. See a game at the Chase Center.
Set to open before the 2019 NBA season begins, the Chase Center is a brand new, multi-purpose arena that will be the new home of the Golden State Warriors. Privately funded by the Warriors and located entirely on private land, the new facility will offer 3.2 acres of public plazas and open space, 100,000-square-feet of restaurant and retail space, and approximately 200 events every year.
12. Celebrate local food with Off the Grid.
If you’re craving food truck fare, look no further than Off the Grid. This beloved Bay Area company hosts markets in San Francisco, East Bay, Marin County, Silicon Valley and in the Peninsula. With multiple markets every day of the week, you’ve probably passed through one already or even seen it from afar. But this year, swing by to get a taste for local eats!
13. Eat at an award-winning restaurant.
As of 2019, San Francisco boasts a huge number of James Beard Award winners and eight restaurants that hold three Michelin stars (which is more than New York City!). And as a whole, the Bay Area is home to 57 Michelin star eateries.
This year, celebrate our city’s success and dine at one (or all) of these stand-out restaurants. You can learn more about the James Beard award winners with our guide, 15 James Beard Award Winning Restaurants Worth Visiting in San Francisco.
14. Volunteer with a local charity.
For centuries, the Bay Area has served as a leader in social and political movements. As such, thousands of charitable organizations have flourished in the region, and continue to do so with help from locals, supporters and volunteers just like you. To learn more about a few of these organizations, check out 27 Outstanding Local Charities in the San Francisco Bay Area + How You Can Help. It includes categories benefitting food programs, animals, the environment, youth, literacy and more.
15. Embark on your own cocktail tour.
No San Francisco bucket list is complete without a shout-out to The San Francisco Cocktail Bar Bucket List. It includes 25 of the city’s most awarded, most talked-about, unique destination bars, rooftop lounges and restaurants.
16. Take a professional foodie tour.
One of the best ways to explore San Francisco is via its best and most notable eateries. And local businesses like Avital Food Tours, Incredible Adventures and Wild SF Walking Tours have created specialized, curated experiences to help you eat, learn and encounter some of our city’s best foodie neighborhoods.
17. Cross the Bay Bridge.
The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge connects San Francisco to the East Bay and some of the Bay Area’s outstanding communities, restaurants, businesses and attractions. To plan what you’re doing in the East Bay, check out the following guides set in some of our favorite communities: What To Do in Oakland if You Only Have 24 Hours, The 15 Best Brunch Spots in Oakland, What to Do in Berkeley if You Only Have 24 Hours, and Your Guide to Living in Fremont.
18. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge.
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge isn’t just a picturesque sight. It also connects our hometown to Marin County and some of the region’s best outdoor spaces, most charming waterfront towns and more. To plan your excursion, check out Your Guide to Marin County, California and Why You Should Spend a Day in Sausalito to learn more about Marin Headlands, Muir Woods National Monument, Sausalito and more.
19. Eat fresh Dungeness crab.
We may be a little biased since the Bay Area is our home, but there is no better crab than the Dungeness. This sweet crustacean is fished from the Pacific Ocean from November through June which means local restaurants can often offer whole roast crabs through the winter and sometimes even into spring. To find out where you can get yours, check out Where to Eat Whole Dungeness Crab in the Bay Area.
Finished our bucket list?
Check out What to Do in San Francisco if You’ve Already Done Everything.