150 Exciting Things To Do in the San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area. The area’s rich history and scenic location make it a popular tourist destination.

  1. Musee Mecanique (entry free) in Pier 45 and marvel at its private collection of hundreds of mechanically-operated musical instruments, arcade games, voyeurism slot machines.
  2. Have lunch in the quaint Saratoga Village near Big Basin Way or Congress Springs Road.
  3. Ride your bike in affluent Woodside, Atherton, or Hillsborough.
  4. Go to the Castro Theater in San Francisco and see a movie and an organ performance (Wurlitzer) during intermission.
  5. Oakland Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum.
  6. Shop at San Francisco’s Goodwill or Sak’s Fifth Avenue stores.
  7. See the giant redwoods in Big Basin Park near San Jose.
  8. See the Forty-niners play football in San Francisco.
  9. Go horseback riding near Uvas Meadows in San Jose.
  10. Enjoy the children and pets playng at Noe Children’s Playgound, courts and dog park. It is very near the shopping district of Noe Valley near 24th and Douglass Street. Walk downhill on 24th to Church Street.
  11. Take photos in secluded Bodega Bay.
  12. You can always buy a camera at Keeble and Shuchat in Palo Alto.
  13. Picturesque Highway One from San Francisco to Santa Barbara.
  14. Shop in the Castro, Haight Ashbury, Mission, Noe Valley, Pacific Heights, Marina or any of the unique districts of San Francisco.
  15. Red and White boat tour of the San Francisco Bay.
  16. Take a dip and enjoy a massage at one of the many hot tubs in Santa Cruz. My favorite spot is the Well Within.
  17. Kick back (really kick back) and enjoy some coffee in Santa Cruz … one of my favorite spots is Cafe Pergolesi.
  18. Have a sandwich or coffee at Robert’s of Woodside. Woodside is just off of Highway 280 on Woodside Road. This is an affluent suburb nestled in the cool forest. Maybe Joan Baez or a retired athlete will say hi.
  19. Stop by the tranquil Hakone Japanese Gardens near Saratoga.
  20. Frida’s Pizza in San Francisco’s Mission District.
  21. Enjoy a sunset at any beach.
  22. Go boating in the San Francisco Bay.
  23. San Jose flea markets. One of the world’s biggest.
  24. Visit California’s most beautiful Mission in Carmel.
  25. Get some start up money on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park.
  26. Have some of the best pizza on earth at North Beach Pizza of San Francisco.
  27. You can’t go wrong having a picnic along the secluded San Mateo Coast. Just when you thought the Bay Area was too busy, you find solitude at San Gregorio Beach.
  28. Enjoy the cool ocean breeze at any of the bay area beach during the summer.
  29. See Teatro Campesino perform La Posada in San Juan Bautista.
  30. Shop at Bloomingdale’s near Stanford University.
  31. Listen to music or dance in a club in San Francisco. Straight or Gay… this place is party central.
  32. San Jose Cinco de Mayo.
  33. Visit the new Mexican-American Cultural Arts Center in San Jose and see a Chicano performance or art exhibit.
  34. Shop and play in Capitola.
  35. Enjoy a beautiful summer day’s stroll. There is very little humidity around the Bay Area.
  36. Camp, hike, bike ride, fish or whatever you like in Lake Tahoe.
  37. Go to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose.
  38. Have coffee at Mr. Toot’s (by the beach) in Capitola.
  39. Grab a cup of coffee at Java Beach and stroll the beach in San Francisco.
  40. Mill Valley located 14 miles north of San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge is a world away from the fog and high-rise buildings of San Francisco. Visit the abundant coffee shops, stores, and even the library.
  41. Nightlife … going downtown to the many clubs for dancing, socializing and maybe a couple of drinks.
  42. Have a steak at Original Joes in downtown San Jose.
  43. Go shopping in downtown San Francisco. There are too many shops to list. Buy everything from fly-fishing gear to high-end fashions.
  44. Go to the world famous Watsonville Fly In. See vintage planes and the old guys and gals who love them.
  45. Hike in the hills near Alum Rock Park in San Jose. Watch out for snakes.
  46. Take in Japanese Culture at the San Jose Obon festival. Bring a fan and kimono and join the dance and procession.
  47. Have an ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco.
  48. Go to the DeSassait Photography Gallery at Santa Clara University.
  49. Go to a performance or exhibit at MACLA in downtown San Jose.
  50. Go to the traditional Thanksgiving Big Bone Game between Lincoln High and San Jose High.
  51. Hang out at one of the many Silicon Valley watering holes in San Mateo to San Jose.
  52. Enjoy a performance or an exhibition at the Mission Cultural Arts Center in San Francisco.
  53. San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.
  54. Enjoy a California or Stanford basketball game.
  55. Go water skiing at Calero reservoir or at other great area reservoirs or lakes.
  56. Buy a book at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach.
  57. Dance to Salsa music in the Mission District of San Francisco.
  58. The lovely campus and the impressive redwoods of University of California at Santa Cruz.
  59. See a Stanford or California football game.
  60. Have Sunday brunch in downtown Carmel.
  61. Carnaval in San Francisco, the annual street parade and festival held during the last weekend in May.
  62. Hike in the magnificent Muir Woods.
  63. Go dancing at the Top of the Mark in San Francisco.
  64. Enjoy camping on a beach south of Carmel. Camping is available on beaches all the way to the Mexican border.
  65. Attend a performance at Zellerbach Hall at the University of California in Berkeley
  66. Enjoy the Santa Clara County Fair in San Jose.
  67. Drive to the top of Mount Hamilton and see the Lick Observatory in San Jose.
  68. See motorcycle or auto races at Laguna Seca.
  69. Shop at Santana Row Shopping Center in San Jose for expensive gifts.
  70. Have some Japanese food in San Jose’s Japantown.
  71. While in San Francisco, get to the corner of Cole and Carl by taking the “N” Judah trolley from downtown. From there it is only a short walk North to the Haight Ashbury District near Golden Gate Park.
  72. Stroll along a secluded beach in Bolinas.
  73. Pick a quiet spot in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and have a picnic or toss the Frisbee.
  74. Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk.
  75. Take a charter boat-fishing trip out of Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Monterey, Half Moon Bay or Berkeley.
  76. See the San Jose Sharks (NHL).
  77. Shop and eat your way down University Avenue in Palo Alto near Stanford University.
  78. Have a BBQ at San Jose’s Alum Rock Park. This is one of many parks to choose from in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  79. Go to Nordstrom’s in downtown San Francisco and get your shoes shined for $2.00.
  80. Open studios in San Jose or San Francisco.
  81. Tour the wine country and have some beer.
  82. Go to the Century theaters and see a movie in San Jose.
  83. Explore the San Jose Museum of Art.
  84. See the giant redwoods and camp at Big Basin State Park.
  85. Ferrari of Los Gatos.
  86. Watch out for firecrackers at San Francisco’s Chinese New Years Parade.
  87. See the Cleveland and San Jose Ballet perform. Take in a symphony, opera or ballet in San Francisco, San Jose or Oakland.
  88. Visit the dramatic shoreline of Carmel.
  89. Relive history by visiting the prison cells of notorious criminals like Al Capone at Alcatraz Island.
  90. Go to the Stanford University Chapel for a performance of classical music.
  91. See the fish at San Francisco’s Steinhart Aquarium.
  92. On Holohan and East Lake Avenue in Watsonville is the best produce stand in the USA. Yes, they have chips and soda too.
  93. See the sea otters and sea lions play at Cannery Row in Monterey.
  94. Go to downtown Los Gatos (Los Altos, Palo Alto, Burlingame, Sausalito, etc.) and observe YUPPIES down $7 cappuccinos.
  95. Have a tasty hamburger or a crepe at the Crepevine in San Francisco’s Sunset District. They have other locations too.
  96. Go to annual Greek festival in San Jose.
  97. Go bike riding or just enjoy the flowers at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
  98. Take a cable car ride in San Francisco.
  99. Have a Taco at Taco Bell (on the beach) in Pacifica.
  100. Visit Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.
  101. Go fishing off the Pacifica Wharf.
  102. Fish, drink a soda and eat calamari at the Santa Cruz Pier.
  103. The Kings Mountain Art Fair takes place on Labor Day Weekend in a redwood forest setting near the Kings Mountain Fire House and Community Center (13889 Skyline Blvd.) in the hills above Woodside. The event still has some of that great, original San Francisco hippy feel.
  104. Be cool and eat at the Spork Restaurant in San Francisco on Valencia Street near 21st.
  105. Sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco.
  106. Go sailing on the San Francisco Bay.
  107. Jog at the San Jose State University track. The same track where Olympians John Carlos, Tommie Smith and Lee Evans worked out.
  108. Just look in the newspaper… your bound to find a festival, performance or exhibit that is just right for you in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area.
  109. Inspect the archives at the Chicano Center at San Jose State.
  110. Have a doughnut at Rollo’s on 13th Street in San Jose.
  111. Visit the Green Gulch Zen Center near Mill Valley. Walk from there to the gardens to the beach where Alan Watts lived.
  112. Go water skiing in the San Joaquin Delta. An hour East of the Bay Area.
  113. Have lunch in downtown Mendocino. Watch out for the brownies!
  114. Buy a pumpkin for Halloween in Half Moon Bay. This is a great location to find the perfect orange globe.
  115. See art or picnic at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. The Sony Center is nearby.
  116. Go to Japan town in San Francisco.
  117. San Jose Rose Garden
  118. Rent a houseboat on Shasta Lake. If you prefer a more natural and serene lake, I would recommend driving a few miles west to Whiskeytown Lake.
  119. Ride your bike up Mount Hamilton Road in San Jose.
  120. Drive the spectacular coastline from Pacific Grove to Carmel through Del Monte. Don’t miss the charming homes facing the coast.
  121. Visit the KPFA (lefty) studios in Berkeley.
  122. Chicano Art at Galeria de La Raza in the San Francisco Mission District.
  123. Enjoy international food and listen to music all weekend long during Tapestry and Talent in downtown San Jose.
  124. Listen to Los Lobos or other performers at Santa Cruz’s Catalyst.
  125. Hang out with the tourists at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.
  126. Picnic and even play basketball at the San Francisco Art Institute. You will enjoy a great view of Fisherman’s Wharf from the roof top basketball court and cafe. Crooked Lombard Street is but a couple blocks away.
  127. Watch the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco.
  128. Have a picnic at Stinson Beach. What a great place to visit an even better place to live.
  129. Have some corn on the cob or sushi at the San Jose Nihonmachi festival in Japan Town in San Jose.
  130. Watch the Giants play baseball at the new Pac Bell Park in San Francisco.
  131. Enjoy the San Jose Jazz Festival at Cesar Chavez Plaza.
  132. Go fishing at the Capitola Pier and appreciate the jazz music performances on many weekends.
  133. Take an extension class at one of the many colleges in the Bay Area.
  134. Have some of the best Vietnamese food in San Francisco at Tu Lan on (sleazy) 6th Street near Market. Park yourself next to the cooks (my favorite spot) and watch them perform and once in a while… fight.
  135. Keep an eye out for whales near Davenport.
  136. Driving along beautiful Highway 9 between San Jose and Santa Cruz is a great experience. See beautiful mountains, homes, redwoods and much more.
  137. Walk on Valencia Street between 16th and 24th Streets.
  138. Take time for a leisurely coffee or lunch in Santa Cruz’s Pacific Garden Mall.
  139. Visit upscale galleries in downtown Carmel or San Francisco.
  140. Have breakfast at the Pork Store in the Haight Ashbury in San Francisco.
  141. Say hi to ex-Mayors Ron Gonzales of San Jose, Willie Brown of San Francisco or Jerry Brown of Oakland. What are they up to this year?
  142. Contemporary art at Villa Montalvo, an Italian Mediterranean style mansion, in Monte Sereno.
  143. Take CalTrain from San Jose to San Francisco and back.
  144. Get a massage in San Francisco.
  145. Go to San Juan Bautista and visit the Mission and shop for antiques in a rural setting.
  146. Shop or eat in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
  147. Go water or snow skiing (gambling too) in Lake Tahoe.
  148. Have fun at the annual Italian Carnaval at San Jose’s Holy Cross Church.
  149. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on 4th and San Fernando Streets in San Jose.
  150. See a painting by Frida Kahlo at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
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