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Free and affordable things to do in San Francisco

Summer travel plans costing more than you anticipated? Though most think a San Francisco getaway might be spendy, there are a variety of things to do in the Bay Area at little or no cost so you can splurge on dining out, tours, or some shopping on your vacation.

Maximize your budget in San Francisco with these free or affordable things to do!


You probably won’t need to pack a lot of sunscreen for your time spent enjoying San Francisco’s beaches but they’re a great place to visit for photos, views, hiking, and picnics. Baker Beach is known for its amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Lands End is a great option if you want to couple your beach time with some moderate hiking.

Free walking tours

See our city and learn more about its neighborhoods, landmarks, and history with a free tour with San Francisco City Guides. With an impressive collection of tours, chances are good you’ll be able to visit any neighborhood you want to and learn about it from a local. Some of their more popular or specialized tours do require pre-registration which can be done online. Some of the free San Francisco walking tours include:

  • Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco
  • Fisherman’s Wharf: A Hidden History
  • Nob Hill
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Landmark Victorians of Alamo Square
  • Castro: Tales of the Village
  • Chinatown
  • North Beach by Night
  • Gold Rush City
  • 1906: Earthquake and Fire

Though the walks may be free, if you enjoyed your tour and thought your guide was knowledgeable, tips and donations are greatly appreciated!

Pier 39

Pier 39

The sound of the sea lions will let you know you’re at the right pier! Visit the famous Pier 39 and see the sunbathing “sea celebrities,” do some window shopping, and savor a cocktail at happy hour. Pier 39 also hosts a variety of free events throughout the year, like the Outdoor Movie Nights, ‘70s Roller Disco Party, Fall Beer Pour, and Fleet Week celebrations.

Golden Gate Park

Enjoy a morning stroll or jog through Golden Gate Park like a San Francisco local for free! You might also want to visit the Japanese Tea Garden, where you can enter for free before 10 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Climb works of art

Head over to the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, and see the amazing artwork spread out on the 163 steps.

Lombard Street in San Francisco

See Lombard Street

Walk or take the Hyde Street cable car for only $7 to see the famous Lombard Street! Known as the most crooked street in San Francisco, it’s a great landmark to snap some photos of and enjoy the views of the city.

Coit Tower

Explore the murals at the base of Coit Tower for free and take in the stunning views of the bay and San Francisco. For an even better view, take the $8 (non-resident rate) elevator ride to the top.

Find enlightenment in the labyrinth

Walk the labyrinths at Grace Cathedral. The Cathedral has an indoor labyrinth that’s available when the cathedral is open to the public and an outdoor one that’s always open. Check their events calendar to see if you can drop-in on a monthly candlelight labyrinth walk or attend a yoga on the labyrinth class on Tuesday nights.

Mission Dolores

Mission Dolores

Visit the oldest intact building in San Francisco, Mission Dolores. The suggested donation for an adult is only $7 or $5 for senior citizens.


San Francisco is home to many wonderful museums and many of them offer free days. Check out Free Museum Day to see what museums in San Francisco offer free admission and when. Just be sure to plan your day accordingly as many of the museums tend to be more crowded on free days and it’s best to get there extra early or visit later in the day when the crowds have died down.

Ready to plan your San Francisco getaway? Start by finding the perfect accommodation for your vacation. We have charming rooms in our Victorian inn that range from small to spacious and meet a variety of travel budgets. 

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