Things to do in San Francisco are abundant and amazing. This beautiful, historic city has many hills, views of ocean and bay, incredible architecture, and an incredible food scene. More on San Francisco in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3!
Haas Lilienthal House and Pacific Heights
The Haas Lilienthal House in Pacific Heights is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture. The house is the only Victorian home tour in San Francisco. The Haas family built the home in the 1880s. Alice Haas, the youngest daughter, married Samuel Lilienthal. Their large family lived in the house from the 1920s to the 1970s. Tours of the house are led by a docent on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Because of restoration work and special events, make sure you call and get confirmation of the tour time you want (415.441.3000).
Sunday tours of the Pacific Heights neighborhood are also available. Again, be sure to call to confirm. There is a very detailed map of the Pacific Heights Walking Tour that you can download and take the tour yourself. There are many interesting stories and different architectural styles in these buildings.
Don’t miss the 1913 Spreckels mansion on Washington Street. The Spreckels family was famous for their sugar, in California and Hawaii. Adolph and Alma Spreckels funded the Palace of the Legion of Honor museum. The home is owned by Danielle Steel. Search for parking on your map app. There are several pay lots in area. https://www.sfheritage.org/haas-lilienthal-house/
Painted Ladies and Haight-Ashbury
You may have seen many photos of the Painted Ladies on one side of Alamo Park. This row of homes on Steiner Street gained fame as the location for Full House. The Victorian homes are situated on a hill with downtown and the Bay visible behind them. To get a good photo, you will want the sun in the west, so go in the afternoon. This is a very popular tourist attraction, so you will see plenty of cars, tour buses, and people. http://www.sanfrancisco.travel/painted-ladies
Haight-Ashbury became famous in the 1960s as the center of flower child culture. Music history was made here by the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and Carlos Santana. I remember how much we loved the poems in Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows by Rod McKuen. The area today is an interesting mix of Victorian architecture, restaurants, and shops with unique character. http://www.sftourismtips.com/haight-and-ashbury.html
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park was originally an area of over a thousand acres of sand dunes on the western side of San Francisco. New York’s Central Park inspired San Franciscans to begin planning a park in the 1860s and 1870s. Thousands of trees were planted including eucalyptus and Monterey pines. John McLaren was the superintendent of the park from 1887 to 1943 and shaped much of the park.
The park is full of attractions so you will need to plan your visit(s). A Shakespeare Garden, children’s playgrounds, a carousel, Conservatory of Flowers, and Strybing Arboretum are some of the offerings. The California Academy of Sciences, de Young Museum, and Japanese Tea Garden are all near the Music Concourse. Named for M.H. de Young, the de Young Museum has a wide range of fine arts. A free feature of the museum is the 144-foot-tall Hamon Observation Tower where you can get some amazing views of the Golden Gate entrance to the Bay and the city. The de Young is closed on Mondays.
The Academy of Sciences has an aquarium and a planetarium. Admission is almost $35 for adults, so make a plan to spend enough time here. The Music Concourse underground parking is a convenient parking lot for the park. Make sure you get there early in the morning. The lot tends to be completely full by 11 am.
Next time we go, I’d like to eat at Nopalitos and Tosca Café.
Map things to do in San Francisco
Resource links for 7 things to do in San Francisco
- Golden Gate Park
- California Academy of Sciences
- Japanese Tea Garden
- Legacy Bar & Restaurants includes San Francisco’s most legendary restaurants and bars with cultural significance.
- Haight-Ashbury Flower Power walking tour
- Download the Pacific Heights Walking Tour
- The Haight from SF Gate
- Origins of fortune cookie from the Smithsonian
My parents met and married in San Francisco, so I’ve heard stories about the city all my life. My mother’s aunt, Rosa, was an amazing seamstress and she worked first at the Nancy Ann doll company and then the atelier at a Magnin department store. My mother lived with her when she first came to the US. Affiliate links: if you make a purchase using these links, I’ll receive a small compensation towards maintaining this blog, at no extra cost to you.