From the very beginning and during the Gold Rush days, San Francisco has been the gathering place for free-thinkers. Famous for tolerance and openness, the city welcomes everyone. The attractions include natural wonders and cultural highlights, and much of it is free. Here are 15 of the top free attractions in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Modern Art Museum offers free admission on the first Tuesday of every month. It includes many famous paintings as well as exhibits on design, photography and architecture. The Asian Art Museum has free admission on the first Tuesday of the month and contains the oldest Chinese Buddha known. It offers 6,000 years of history and impressive Asian collections. Two other museums worth visiting are also free on the first Tuesday. The de Young Museum with a beautiful sculpture garden and the Legion of Honor with European and ancient art.
2. Free Concerts
For over 100 years the Golden Gate Park Band has presented free public concerts. Located in the Spreckels Temple of Music at 1 p.m. from April through October.
3. The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is open to pedestrians during the day. It is a 1.7 mile walk, one way, and there are gardens on the southern end of the bridge and a visitor’s center.
4. Maritime National Historic Park
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is near the Hyde Street Pier where historic ships are docked. The Golden Gate Bridge makes a beautiful background for photo-ops. It is free all year. While at Fisherman’s Wharf, visitors can watch the sea lions at Pier 39 for free.
5. Free Chocolate at Ghirardelli’s Former Factory
Get free samples of Ghirardelli chocolate and see the original chocolate-making equipment at Ghirardelli’s former factory. Surrounded by Ghirardelli Square, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and just a few blocks from Lombard Street,one of the most famous photo-ops in the city. It has nine hairpin bends in just one block.
6. Chinatown Night Market Fair
Chinatown Night Market Fair guarantees a thrilling evening with lion dancing, Chinese opera, martial arts, dozens of vendors and much more. It is open every Saturday night from late July to late October from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
7. Steinhart Aquarium and San Francisco Zoo
The Steinhart Aquarium and the San Francisco Zoo are both free on the first Wednesday of every month.
8. Bay Area Discovery Museum
The Bay Area Discovery Museum at Lookout Cove is free to families on the first Wednesday of the month. It has hands-on exhibitions including tidal pools, a theater and art studios.
9. Botanical Garden
San Francisco Botanical Garden has free admissions and two free tours on weekdays and one on the weekend. It is 55 acres of over 16,000 plants.
10. Shakespeare in the Park
Free Shakespeare in the Park is professional level theater performed at 7:30 on Saturdays and Sundays in parks throughout the city from late June to the end of September.
11. Lindy in the Park
Lindy in the Park is a free swing dancing party in Golden Gate Park. It is in full swing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday. There are guest DJs and great music.
12. Coit Tower
See the Coit Tower murals in the lobby that represent the early 30s and walk down the Filbert Street Steps to see the hidden cottages with sculpture gardens and fantastic views of the Bay Bridge. There are also wild parrots along the way.
13. City Tours
San Francisco City Guides offer several free tours of the city that take one and a half to two hours. These tours are great for history aficionados and are a lot of fun. Visitors can see Chinatown alleys, Alfred Hitchcock film locations and much more.
14. Cable Car Museum
The famous cable cars have their own museum that has free admission.
Hidden away is a tiny park with curving concrete slides that are a lot of fun for children of all ages. Bring a cardboard box for sliding. It is located near the corner of Douglas St. and Seward St.
The fun never stops in San Francisco, and some of the best things to see and do are free.