Fun Free Things to Do in San Francisco

Fun Free Things to Do in San Francisco
San Francisco offers lovers of the outdoors a number of free attractions that have no parallel anywhere else in the state. From large open greens to one-of-a-kind museums, San Francisco is budget-friendly and ready to impress.

Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

The Strybing Arboretum is one of those places tourists often miss because it's rarely advertised in brochures, even though it's a favorite with the locals. For those wishing to see San Francisco for free, the Arboretum is an ideal destination. The main attraction here is the Redwood Trail, a self-guided tour that takes you through a recreated redwood forest, which includes a multitude of trees and plants typical of the region. Children's activities, story time and workshops are also available for free here. Areas of the garden are dedicated to a specific country or region, such as South African and New Zealand areas. There is a reflecting pond, a fountain and an Ancient Plant Garden, where living relatives of extinct prehistoric plants are grown.

Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
9th Ave at Lincoln Way
San Francisco, CA
(415) 661-1316
sfbotanicalgarden.org

Cable Car Barn Museum

Once you had a chance to ride the cable car around the streets of San Francisco and enjoy the fresh misty air, the Cable Car Barn Museum is just a logical next stop. Visitors can see a collection of historic cars, including a 1870s Clay Street Hill Railroad grip car, the only one of its kind still in existence. Mechanical devices such as tools, track pieces and brake mechanisms are also on display. A large exhibit of historical photographs and detailed models complete the collection.

Cable Car Barn Museum
Washington and Mason Streets
San Francisco, CA
(415) 474-1887
cablecarmuseum.org

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

While you need to pay a fee if you want to take the ferry to Alcatraz, entry to the park as well as use of its amenities is completely free. There are several beaches within the park's area (which is actually a group of several different national parks), including Stinson Beach (in the Marin Headlands, up Highway 1 on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge) and Ocean Beach (on the west side of the San Francisco peninsula, south end of the Golden Gate Bridge). Ocean Beach is both the longest and the widest beach in San Francisco and a popular destination for experienced surfers. The Fort Point National Historic Site, the Milagra Ridge and the Olema Valley areas all offer numerous opportunities for hiking and exploring. Swimming is also possible at the many beach landings, as is biking and picnicking. There are four campgrounds within the park, all rather primitive and some requiring a hike to reach the sites. All campgrounds are located within the Marin Headlands.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Fort Mason, Building 201
San Francisco, CA
(415) 561-4700
nps.gov/goga

Article Written By Sarah Dray

Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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