Explore one of the most vibrant cities in the United States, with this selection of San Francisco art, history and food experiences.
San Francisco is a city bursting with culture. From a variety of art and a thriving food scene in the city center, to outdoor experiences that are available around most local green spaces, no two days in this part of California need to ever be the same.
On your next day out in San Francisco, take some time to explore what its outdoor spaces have to offer. From walking across one of the world’s most famous bridges to learning more about one of its best artistic communities, here is a selection of cultural experiences to discover in this Northern California city.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a globally recognizable landmark that is remarkable in more ways than one. As well as having the tallest bridge towers in the United States, the bridge was so difficult to build that it’s now one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. From the bridge, pedestrians can see out across the cityscape, as well as Baker Beach and Fort Point National Historic Site, a Civil War-era brick fortress. The San Francisco side of the bridge has a visitor center and souvenir gift shop to pick up informational guides, as well as the Round House Cafe, which is perfect for a lunchtime snack. Stretching 1.7mi (2.8km), the Golden Gate Bridge takes around 35 minutes to walk from end to end, but there is also a bus service.
Artists have been painting the walls of San Francisco’s Mission District since the early ’70s, in protest of everything from wars and gentrification to health care and the general quality of life in the city. Today, the Mission Murals beautify the district’s alleyways, giving a unique local view to San Francisco’s history. Weekly tours of the murals are available through City Guides. Spend a morning exploring the city’s amazing open-air gallery and learn more about the artists and their artworks. You don’t need to sign up for these tours; simply meet the guide in front of Charlie’s Deli Cafe on Folsom Street. The 1.5hr tours take place weekly at 10am on Saturdays.
Locally known as the “People’s Market,” Alemany Farmers’ Market opened in 1943 as a way for farmers to sell surplus produce during World War II. Over 70 years later, and this friendly food market, now based in Bernal Heights, is one of the most popular in San Francisco and a busy weekend spot. It’s not the type of market where you will find artisan bread, fusion street food and to-go cocktails. Alemany Farmers’ Market offers fresh fruits and vegetables for low prices, focusing on Southeast Asian produce. Looking for inspiration for their next dish, chefs from San Francisco’s best restaurants and kitchens are often found perusing the stalls. It’s open from dawn until dusk, so arrive early for a parking space.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest and largest Chinatown in the United States and has a wealth of history and culture to offer. Spend a day exploring its streets and admiring the ornate temples, including the Tien How Temple, as well as the district’s famous Dragon Gate. There is a selection of modern dim sum restaurants and traditional restaurants available for dinner reservations. Choose Z & Y Restaurant for a popular traditional spot, or if you feel like trying something new, head to Mister Jiu’s for Chinese food with a Californian twist. You can easily find your way around the neighborhood on your own, but if you would like a guide to give a little more information about the history of your surroundings, San Francisco City Guides run free tours that are open to the public every Tuesday and Saturday at midday.