It’s easy to spend a weekend in San Francisco without spending too much money. Between the free museum days and the free concerts in Golden Gate Park, the city has a lot to offer visitors who are looking to experience the city without paying a fortune. Although the list of free things to do in San Francisco could go on indefinitely, we’ve narrowed it down to six classic (and free) San Francisco experiences.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
This festival only happens once a year so you’ll have to plan your visit around it, but if you happen to coordinate the two, you won’t be disappointed. The concert, which takes place in Golden Gate Park, is one of the largest bluegrass festivals in the country and it’s completely free. Spanning over three days with multiple stages, you can stake out a picnic spot and enjoy a bottle of wine while listening to some banjo riffs or meander from stage to stage, taking in the mix of bluegrass artists from around the world.
Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge
While driving across the Golden Gate Bridge will cost you a few dollars, walking across San Francisco’s iconic landmark doesn’t cost a thing. If you’re up for a long walk, start out at Ghiradelli Square (free chocolate samples…) and walk along the water, through Crissy Field, and up onto the bridge. Some of the best photo opportunities are right out in front of the Warming Hut (which is also a good place to get a cup of coffee or pick up some souvenirs). If you don’t feel like walking, there are a number of city buses that will drop you off next to the Golden Gate.
Mural Tour in the Mission
San Francisco’s Mission District is home to some stunning murals initiated in the 1970s by the Chicano Art Mural Movement. Take a free guided tour and learn more about the murals and get a unique perspective on the history of the area and its famed art scene. Grab some food to go at one of the many taquerias (try La Taqueria or La Torta Gorda) and spend some time people watching in nearby Dolores Park.
Free Museum Day
There are a number of museums in San Francisco that are always free (The Cable Car Museum for example). For the rest, check out this website to find a list of free admission days for some of the city’s most popular museums. The Asian Art Museum (located right off the Civic Center BART stop) is worth visiting and is free during the first Sunday of every month. The Academy of Sciences
Farmer’s Market at the UN Plaza
San Francisco City Hall is an impressive building. The surrounding Civic Center (also home to the San Francisco Public Library, United Nations Plaza, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, and the Asian Art Museum) is a great place to sit for an hour or two and enjoy the beautiful architecture. Be sure to schedule your visit during the farmer’s market (Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays). With beautiful local produce and mouthwatering food stands, it’s a good place to get lunch and have a picnic.
Although this famous crooked street is not the steepest or the most crooked street in San Francisco, it always has a line of tourists traipsing up and down its steep stairs. Just a few blocks up from Ghiradelli Square, Lombard Street’s prominence on the big screen has earned it a place on every tourist’s list of things to see in San Francisco. If you don’t feel like walking, there is a cable car line that runs along the top of the street. That part isn’t free, but riding the cable cars in San Francisco is probably something you should add to the list. It’s worth the six dollars.