What Are The Most Historical Places To Visit In San Francisco?

When we say San Francisco, what do you think of? The Golden Gate Bridge, Silicon Valley, and wine tasting, right? The cultural and tech capital of California is rightfully known for these iconic elements, but we’re going to look a little deeper into the historic heart of this vibrant city.

From the infamous Alcatraz Island and Fort Point to a storied indie bookstore and the San Francisco Cable Car Museum, keep scrolling to find out what makes this west coast city unique. Maybe you’ll even get a little travel inspiration, too!

Incredible Adventures is a small family owned and operated business based in the heart of San Francisco. As the greenest tour company in the city, we pride ourselves on offering travelers a safe and reliable way to connect with the nature and history of our hometown and surrounding areas. There’s no need to worry about your carbon footprint. With us, we’ll offset it with our biodiesel fueled vehicles!

We understand how precious vacations are, and that’s why our San Francisco tours are no-fuss, flexible excursions that show you the highlights of the city with our local knowledge. If you’d like to hear more about what we do, get in touch.

But for now, let’s look at some of San Francisco’s most historic landmarks.


Alcatraz is a must-see for any history buff visiting San Francisco. Converted into a federal prison in 1934, the island is famous for holding notorious gangsters like Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the “Birdman of Alcatraz”), and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

While the prison closed in 1963, it is a fascinating site of protest and history. Embark on a fifteen-minute ferry ride to Alcatraz for amazing views of the classic San Francisco skyline, including the red arches of the Golden Gate Bridge and Angel Island.

If you’re brave enough, join us on our Alcatraz Night Tour & San Francisco Bay Tour to encounter ‘The Rock’ by moonlight. The night shift gives visitors exclusive access to parts of the former jail not open to the public by day. The multi-language audio tour “Doing Time” paints a vivid scene with interviews with former inmates.


Fort Point is a must-see for military enthusiasts. Also known as “the pride of the Pacific”, Fort Point’s exemplary mason work was constructed at the height of the California Gold Rush. Designed as part of a naval defense system, the Fort was positioned to protect the bay against a Confederate attack from the sea that never came.

The Fort has seen many uses in its history. In World Wars I and II, it became active once more. In WWI, it was designed as a detention barracks but remained unused. In WWII, soldiers were stationed to guard the entrance of Golden Gate from potential submarine attacks.

If you’d like to grab a cool one after your tour, Fort Point is now home to a local brewery — the Fort Point Beer Company — just a twenty-minute walk from the historic site. Grab a beer and head down to Golden Gate Beach and look out over the bay with Alcatraz in the distance.


This iconic bookstore is the symbol of the 1950s Beat Generation. Founded in 1953 in North Beach by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, City Lights gained notoriety when it faced charges of obscenity for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.

City Lights gained its iconic status as a place where counterculture came to flourish. Once host to Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, among dozens of other famous writers, visitors can now search its three levels of books for a classic or drop in for a night of poetry.

Once you’ve chosen your next vacation read, take a cab or a stroll down to Haight-Ashbury, the nexus of the 60s hippie movement. Here you can get a flavor of Woodstock and check out the Grateful Dead House or Jimmy Hendrix’s former red house. Speaking of houses, look out for the colorful Victorian Painted Ladies on your way.


If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to take a cable car while wearing flowers in your hair! Nothing will get you up and down the hilly streets in style like a ride on a cable car. There are three lines still in operation, but if you want to learn more about this mode of transport, visit the Cable Car Museum.

At this working museum, you can watch the engines and winding wheels pull the cables of these cars into motion. Compare the cable cars of today with the preserved cars of the past and learn all about the grips, cables, and brakes that keep these cars running.

Did we mention the museum is free? Our local tip is to avoid waiting in line by walking to the next cable car stop and board en route, wherever you see the brown and white cable car sign.


If you want to extend your historic tour after Alcatraz, head on down to the Sutro Baths. Its ruins are located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and, while they’re not open for swimming, the baths offer an insight into public pastimes of years gone by.

The Sutro Baths were opened in 1896 by the former San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro and advertised as the world’s largest indoor swimming pool. The high running costs saw it transformed into an ice rink and an apartment complex was planned before the building was lost in an arson attack.

The nearby Cliff House was also owned by Sutro and is an example of neo-classical architecture. The building has been rebuilt several times and has been a roadhouse, a penny arcade, and a restaurant complex until its closure in 2020.

Today, visitors can look at the site of former glory and stroll along the beach absorbing the eerie atmosphere.


Walk up to the Ferry Building and stand beneath the dramatic clock tower that overlooks the San Francisco waterfront. Once a central hub for visitors on ferry boats to the city in the Gold Rush era, the building has been converted into a vibrant marketplace and food hall full of local foods, wines, and music.

The farmers market runs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The plentiful stalls offer everything from fresh meat, eggs, and vegetables to flowers, herbs, and jams. Step inside the Ferry Building’s historic walls and experience new flavors among the thronging crowd.

If you’re a wine connoisseur looking for a calmer crowd, why not head out to Napa and Sonoma on our Wine Country Tour? Delicious grapes await in these idyllic vineyards. Cheers!


There’s more than a mouse in the house! The Walt Disney Family Museum is a great place for families to explore the history of the world-renowned American animator. Also located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, visitors can enjoy the interactive exhibits and a 12-foot diameter model of Disneyland.

Learn about what made Walt tick and take in the impressive collection of more than 248 awards he won during his career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. There’s a theater on the lower level that screens daily Disney movies, so grab some popcorn for your visit and spend a few hours reliving your childhood or making new memories with your kids.

And that brings us to our close of some of our local favorites We hope this list has inspired you to start chartering your map around San Francisco’s historic hotspots. Whether you’re looking for a multi-day tour of San Francisco or a tour that’s customized to your needs, let us know! We’re here to make sure your San Francisco adventure is a dream come true.

If you’re looking for a minibreak from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, our Yosemite National Park tours will be a breath of fresh air. Just a four-hour drive from San Francisco, Yosemite’s ancient sequoia trees and granite cliffs are waiting for you via our environmentally friendly biofuel mini-coaches.

In the meantime, we’ll be waiting in the City of Fog to welcome you to our shores, whether you arrive by ferry boat, plane, or cable car.

Save Big with Incredible Adventures!

These are just a few of the best things to do in San Francisco; you can find more places to visit on our blog. Incredible Adventures offers fantastic San Francisco tours and experiences. We are currently offering discounts on all of our tours when you book your trip in advance.

  • Book 90 days prior to the departure date and SAVE 20% with the code EARLY90.
  • Book 60 days prior to the departure date and SAVE 15% with the code EARLY60.
  • Book 30 days prior to the departure date and SAVE 10% with the code EARLY30.

Feel free to call us at 415-642-7378 if you have any questions about our discounts or tours.