From the Golden Gate Bridge and infamous Alcatraz, to the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf and cable cars zooming down steep hills, San Francisco has thousands of things to see and do no matter what your age or interest. CityPass and Smart Destinations both offer tourist passes for San Francisco. CityPass offers discounted, pre-paid admission tickets to a handful of the most popular places, while Smart Destinations has unlimited admission to a much wider variety of attractions over a specified period of calendar days. You can also choose the Pier 39 Attraction Pass, which includes a trolley tour and a cruise of San Francisco bay.
Foodies will enjoy excellent restaurants all over the city, and museumgoers have SFMoMA, the Legion of Honor and de Young Museum, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, and more. Zeum and the Exploratorium are highly rated hands-on museums geared toward kids and families. And the Aquarium by the Bay, the California Academy of Sciences, and the University of California Botanical Gardens have lots of offer for nature lovers.
Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg congregated in North Beach in the 1950s, reading at places like the famous City Lights Bookstore, which still draws crowds. The hippie culture and the 1968 Summer of Love still add bohemian flavor to Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, which is also home to many restored and brightly colored “Painted Lady” Victorian houses. The dot-com boom of the 1990s brought thousands of technology professionals to the area and nearby Silicon Valley, and ushered in the gentrification of the formerly working class Mission District. The tension between old and new still exists, as new loft buildings and upscale coffee shops threaten to push out lower-income families. San Francisco also has a long history as a gay-friendly city, despite occasional conflicts. It’s the world’s most popular destination for gay visitors and is home to the largest and longest-running gay pride parade every June.
The city’s coastal weather means mild and drizzly winters, and cool summers, and the hills right in the middle of the city give neighborhoods different microclimates. Fog covers the western side of the city in the morning and burns off as the sun rises, but the hills keep the fog away from the eastern neighborhoods. With average low temperatures never reaching below 45ºF and average highs around 70ºF, there’s never a bad time to visit.
The climate and culture together give rise to some of the best dining in America, with fresh, organic, locally grown ingredients being a fixture even at inexpensive taco trucks and diners. Nearby Napa and Sonoma Valleys are home to many of the United State’s most renowned wineries.
Top San Francisco Tourist Passes
San Francisco CityPASS: One of the first cities that CityPASS was available in, San Francisco has lots to choose from for kids and adults with this pass.
Go San Francisco Card: See San Francisco your own way with this flexible attraction pass. Do as much sightseeing as you like, at your own pace, while saving precious vacation dollars.
PIER 39 Attraction Pass: Get all-in-one admission to a trolley tour, the Aquarium of the Bay, and your choice of cruises with this pass focused on Fisherman’s Wharf attractions.
San Francisco Wharf Pass: The San Francisco WharfPass gives you admission to your choice of six activities and tours in and around San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
Wine Country Explorer Pass: Get free admission to top Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries and tastings, as well as museum admission and discounts on dining. Good for 2 consecutive days.