Oh, yeah, San Francisco is expensive. We know. But the good news? There are tons of incredible things to do here that don’t require a dime — just a little bit of time and adventure. Here are some of our favorite free things to do in San Francisco. They’ll help you save up for a trip to one of these incredible restaurants.
1. Walk or bike the Golden Gate Bridge.
It’s a breezy (in all forms of the word) 0.8-mile trip that spans the area where bay meets ocean. Breathtaking views abound.
2. Watch the Giants play at AT&T Park (just 3 innings, that is).
The San Francisco Giants offer a small viewing area near McCovey Cove, where you can watch the game from behind the fence. But not a bad view, right? Standing room only, and each group of people gets switched out after the third, six, and ninth innings.
3. Eat your way through the Ferry Building.
Hello, free samples! For the most free stuff, come during the Saturday Farmers Market.
4. Admire the city’s many murals.
Intricate, gorgeous, and provocative murals are scattered throughout the city. Start with the ones in the Mission (including Clarion Alley and Balmy Street), as well as those at Coit Tower.
5. Explore Crissy Field.
See the bridge from a whole different angle, below and beside it at this grassy (and sandy) urban refuge.
6. Feel like you’re walking on clouds at the Fog Bridge at Piers 15 & 17.
This Exploratorium pumps out water at high pressure through more than 800 nozzles lining the bridge, to create an immersive environment where you’re shrouded in mist.
7. Head up to the Top of the Mark on Tuesday nights (in the summer) for free wine, bourbon, and a classic flick.
Sample wine and bourbon tasting, take in spectacular city views, then sit back for movie night. See more info here here.
8. Gaze up at the windmills at Golden Gate Park.
Frolic amongst the colorful tulips, too, at the Queen Wilhelmina Garden.
9. Get a free wine tasting at Treasure Island’s Fat Grape Winery.
Head on into the bay between Wednesday and Sunday to sample a (very large) selection of local, sulfite-free red wines.
10. Take your pennies to the Musee Mecanique.
OK, it’s not technically free, but you’re bound to find some pennies lying around, right? It’s worth it to play with the mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines.
11. Drink your way through the Anchor Steam Brewery.
Learn about the intricate processes of beer brewing, but more importantly, get free samples! Tour reservations required.
12. Walk the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral…
…or do yoga right on top of it every Tuesday evening.
13. Bundle up at Baker and Ocean Beach.
And while you’re at it, explore these other beautiful beaches in and around San Francisco.
14. Visit some of the city’s free museums.
See the cable cars’ central nervous system at the Cable Car Museum, meet native animals at the Randall Museum, learn about the city’s streetcars at the Railway Museum, wander an old bathhouse at the Maritime Museum, and learn how to drive a stagecoach at the Wells Fargo History Museum.
15. Make your way up San Francisco’s most spectacular stairways.
Get your comprehensive guide here. We absolutely love the mosaic ones!
16. Embrace your inner chid at the Seward Street Slides.
Just remember to grab a piece of cardboard for a faster ride down (there’s usually some right there for ya).
17. Catch live music at Stern Grove every Sunday (during the summer).
And don’t forget the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, plus free shows at Amoeba Records.
18. Last, but certainly not least: climb the city’s many epic hills
Follow our guide to the 10 best.
Have you experienced any of these free things to do in San Francisco? What else do you like to do when you’re feeling a bit penniless?