15 things to do in San Francisco for under $20

by Travelbag on 28 May 2015, 09:05AM

When you’ve splashed out on visiting a city like San Francisco, you’ll want to see and do as much as possible – without spending all your spending money in one go. Lucky for you – San Francisco is home to some incredible activities, and there are loads of fun things to see and do in the city where you won’t need anything more than a $20 note.

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We’ve put together some of our favourite picks in the list below!

Visit the art galleries: FREE
Most good art galleries are free, and in San Francisco there are plenty of amazing free galleries to choose from. We’d recommend 49 Geary. Other favourites include Ratio 3 and the Diego Rivera Gallery.  From these galleries you’ll get a great feel for the art scene in San Francisco, as well as the local artists who are dominating the industry. Most galleries will offer a free tour guide too – if they have anyone available.

Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge: FREE
It’s a big old bridge, but it’s beautiful and well worth the time it takes to walk across. It’s one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, and is the star of many movies. So why wouldn’t you want to get up, close and personal? Walking across the bridge gives you some fantastic photo opportunities and truly shows you what all the fuss it about.

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Window Shopping: FREE
San Francisco is known for its great shopping – so indulge in a little window shopping for free. Some of the world’s biggest brands are found in San Francisco and the shopping district is easy to walk around too – so it’s a nice, easy way to spend the afternoon in the city.

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Have a coffee on Chrissy Fields: $4
Chrissy Fields is the city’s most central beach and it looks onto the Golden Gate Bridge. If you want a nice relaxing morning, or love a spot of people watching – this is the ideal place to do it. Grab a coffee from the local coffee shop (that’s the $4 charge) and take a seat and enjoy. You won’t find a nicer place in the city, especially on a sunny day.

Ride the Cable Cars: $6 (One-way)

The Cable Cars are an iconic part of San Francisco’s transport system, and no tourist can leave the city without at least rising one-way somewhere. Avoid the queues by choosing to take your ride early in the morning – and if you can – try and get a spot standing on the outside (because, heck, it’s way more fun that way). You’ll love being part of the city’s history, and seeing the way locals still get around.

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Visit the Cable Car Museum: FREE
Once you had a ride on one of the working cable cars, take a trip down to the Cable Car museum to find out more about them and their history in the city. The museum is housed within a still-functioning cable-car barn and shows off three 1870s cable cars as well as the famous ones tourists are used to seeing in the city centre. It’s a lot of fun – and great for photo opportunities if you didn’t grab a picture when you were riding on the line.

Visit the Sea Lions at Pier 39: FREE
No one can come to San Francisco and not take a trip down to Pier 39. The pier, which is know for it’s lively shops and restaurants – is also known for the sea lions that live there year-round. It’s quite something to see, and if you’ve never seen a sea lion before – it’s quite special seeing one up-close and in the wild. Try and stick around until you witness the seals take a tumble off the wooden floats (it happens more than you think!) – it’ll definitely make you chuckle!

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Public Library City Tours: FREE
If you like seeing the city like a local, in the public library local volunteer-historians lead roughly five daily walking tours a day. And they’re free! The tours are organised and arranged both by neighbourhood and by theme – so make sure you take a tour that interests you. It’s volunteer-based, as we mentioned, which means the tour is free but it’s always nice to tip – as these folks are doing such an awesome job.

Walk around Golden Gate Park: FREE

San Francisco’s answer to Hyde Park or Central Park, this is a gorgeous area of the city to take a stroll around on a sunny day. Don’t bother taking a map – half the fun is getting lost anyway!

Explore Fort Point: FREE
Fort Point isn’t only a historical part of the city (great for visiting historians) it’s also a wonderful place to get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge too. It’s a bit of a hike up to the top – but nothing to straining, and most people will be able to get there comfortably.  Don’t forget your camera - there are plenty of amazing photo opportunities once you reach the top.

Presidio Pet Cemetery: FREE

This is a bit of an odd one – but bear with us. If you’re kind of person who loves seeking out the quirky and bizarre parts of a city, the pet cemetery is definitely one of those. It’s something unique to San Francisco and a popular spot. 

Photograph the Painted Ladies

The Painted Ladies are some of San Francisco’s most famous and recognisable landmarks, but are actually privately owned residential houses. You can go and view the houses at any hour, but we’d recommend going during the daytime so you can see the beautiful paint and individual character each one has. The houses are all centred around a park too – so you can sit back and enjoy some lovely views of the city whilst you’re there.

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Check out Lombard Street (or get a taxi down it): FREE or $10
Another of San Francisco’s recognisable landmarks – Lombard Street is a zigzag road that you have to see to believe. The road has featured in many a movie and TV show – and it is truly something to see. You can walk above or below the road on foot (to take photos) or you can hire a taxi and drive down it, which will cost you about $10.

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Visit the Mrs Doubtfire House: FREE

One of the best films from the last few decades, and the filming locations are located right in the heart of San Francisco. Instead forking out and taking an expensive movie tour – a quick Google will show you where the key spots are located. The Mrs Doubtfire house is one of the most iconic and is within easy walking distance of most city centre hotels. Another you could visit is the church from Sister Act.

Play Urban Golf in Mission: $12
Fancy doing something a bit different one evening, but don’t want to spend loads? Urban golf is a great way to blow off steam, and have a little fun – and it’s super cheap too.

Click here to read more about San Francisco.


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