What is Something That I Can Only Do in San Francisco?

This iconic, much-loved city has many unique spots that have inspired generations of writers, musicians, and visitors. As Otis Reading wrote, all you have to do is go and sit “on the dock of the…Frisco Bay ” for a stop-the-clock moment in time. 

You will make unique memories here, especially if you take time to chat, attend local events, and look beyond the tourist honeypots. But to start you off, we at Incredible Adventures have come up with some of the city’s most famous, unmissable, unique things to do. 

To cite another famous local singer, Jeanette MacDonald, “It only takes a tiny corner of / This great big world to make a place you love.” We would love to hear about the memories you create and help you with your planning, so get in touch with us with any further questions.

And be sure to browse our selection of San Francisco Tours and Experiences before you go.

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge

We had to start with the obvious! The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed in the world, but step out from behind the camera and cross over (or under!) this world-famous spectacle.

Our favorite way to cross over the bridge is by bike. Rent a San Francisco E-Bike to ace the hills, feel the bay breeze on your skin, and whizz past any traffic jams. Enjoy a trip to Sausalito and perhaps return to the city via ferry….

Speaking of which, the bridge is best seen from the water at sunset. Check out our range of San Francisco Sailing Tours, which includes stunning views of the bridge. To include another San Francisco unique must-see, try our San Francisco Bay Sailing Tour and Alcatraz Night Tour.

Alcatraz is the infamous maximum security prison that closed in 1963. A tour of the prison reveals so much about the history of the city and its communities, and on the way back, you can enjoy exclusive views of the island and the city. 

Participate in San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers Race

Plan your trip for the end of May, and join the historic 12k fun run around the city (don’t forget to register on the San Francisco Bay to Breakers page). This is no ordinary fun run and is famed for its fabulous costumes.

The race was created to lift the city’s spirits after the terrible 1906 earthquake and grew to become one of the largest public races in the world. A curiosity of the event is the ‘tortilla toss’, where runners waiting at the start line throw tortillas to one another to pass the time. 

If you are not traveling in May, you can still enjoy the sights of the race on one of our carefully designed San Francisco City Tours. Keeping it green with double-decker buses, you may even get some fancy dress if you keep your eyes peeled. 

Participate in San Francisco’s World-Famous Pride Parade

If your travel plans are for June, don’t miss one of the two longest-standing Pride parades in the world! The other oldest parade is in Chicago, and both started on June 27, 1970, a year after the Stonewall uprising.

Unmissable features of the joyous San Francisco event include the Women’s Motorcycle Contingent and the two-day festival near the City Hall. 

If you are interested in LGBTW history and culture, don’t miss San Francisco’s GLBT History Museum, known for its “dynamic and surprising events and programming.” 

Take a Segway Up or Down Lombard Street

Lombard Street is famous for being one of the most crooked streets in the world, navigating a twisting path down one of San Francisco’s notoriously steep hills. 

While we sometimes love the stimulating challenge of a walk or cycle around the city, for the most fun and least effort, we recommend the Segway! Rent a San Francisco Segway for a narrated guided tour of the city and enjoy the city’s most picturesque sites. 

To access Lombard Street on the route, you need a little experience, and we recommend enjoying the Golden Gate Park tour first as the best way to navigate this huge and charming park. 

Visit San Francisco’s famous City Lights Bookstore

This is no ordinary bookstore. Known for cutting-edge ideas and daring publishing, the bookstore is credited for “playing a seminal role in the literary and cultural development of San Francisco and the nation”. 

The architecture of the building is interesting in and of itself, as a representation of the buildings constructed after the 1906 earthquake and fire, and is very much an example of the ‘old San Francisco’ before the dotcom boom. 

Book yourself into one of the weekly events or browse the eclectic collection. If you buy a novel, take it to a local cafe in the Mission District for the perfect San Francisco combination of excellent coffee and culture.

Explore San Francisco’s Iconic Beaux-Arts-Style Ferry Building

This was once one of the world’s busiest terminals for ferry rides, especially before the Oakland Bay and Golden Gate Bridges opened. It is a 19th-century spectacle, with a 245-foot clock tower that houses the largest wind-up mechanical clock in the world.

The structure has survived the 1906 and 1989 major earthquakes with minimal damage due to the carefully planned steel structure designed by architect Arthur Page Brown.

It has been restored to provide an elegant, bustling commercial center with a world-class food and farmers market. Check out the bagels, oysters, and olive oil, and don’t miss the hand-crafted ice cream.

Enjoy San Francisco’s Pirate Supply Store

On one level, this is a whimsical gift store selling unicorn horn polish, messages in bottles, fairy ‘mattresses’, and pirate-related memorabilia. It’s an enjoyable place to find souvenirs and gifts.

On another level, it is a store created to support San Francisco nonprofit 826 Valencia, dedicated to supporting under-resourced students with their writing skills. Check if any of their community events coincide with your visit for a great insight into the city’s culture and communities. 

There are so many unique things to do in San Francisco, and we haven’t even left the city boundaries! At Incredible Adventures, we take you in, around, and beyond the city to some of the incredible surrounding landscapes, so get in touch if you have any questions or need help planning your trip. 
And be sure to explore our San Francisco Tours and Activities before you leave – from relaxing overnight experiences to adventurous day tours, there is something for every traveler!