San Francisco is an active city, with hiking trails, water activities and biking tours aplenty. Equally as important to the city, however, is its food scene, with more than 300 restaurants listed in the Michelin guide. The city is home to about 3,500 restaurants—more per capita than any other city in the U.S.—so it can be difficult to find time to dine your way around the city while also seeing the famous attractions that make this City by the Bay so special.
That’s why we’ve created a list of 10 activities that can easily be paired with a San Francisco culinary hot spot serving some of the city’s best food and drinks. Make sure to wear comfortable footwear and save some room for dessert as you explore these different pockets of the city.
Climb the Filbert Steps to catch a sunset at Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, and then descend into North Beach for drinks at the Devil’s Acre. This basement bar mixes up period-specific cocktails alongside live entertainment. Try the Pisco Punch, a San Francisco classic from the 1800s, when all the bars in town served it.
Take a ferry to Alcatraz to learn more about the country’s most high-profile villains. (Make sure to book tickets in advance.) Then, get dinner at Fog City. Local oysters and Dungeness crab cakes pair well with the restaurant’s extensive cocktail list.
Walk down curvy Lombard Street for some excellent views of the San Francisco Bay, and then grab a bite at Stones Throw. The restaurant’s artisanal menu features delicious California fare such as pan-seared day boat scallops and Brentwood corn ravioli. Afterwards, walk a block north to the original Swensen’s Ice Cream store for a banana split.
Golden Gate Park
Take a bike ride through Golden Gate Park, stopping by the de Young fine arts museum and California Academy of Sciences, watching out for the park’s herd of American bison along the way. Finish your journey by sipping a house-brewed beer in one of the Adirondack chairs at Park Chalet Coastal Beer Garden. Make sure to check what live music might be playing.
Visit the houses, dubbed the Painted Ladies, in Alamo Square for a picturesque San Francisco view with the downtown skyline in the backdrop. Follow the experience with dinner at Nopa. The restaurant specializes in organic wood-fired cuisine, so make sure to try out the wood-baked butter beans or rotisserie chicken.
Take a walk back in time to San Francisco’s hippie days by visiting the eclectic shops that sell records, tie-dye garb and festival gear in the Haight-Ashbury District. Finish the afternoon off by eating at Cha Cha Cha, a longtime local favorite that serves up Caribbean-style tapas and sangria amid funky décor.
Spend a weekend afternoon in Dolores Park people-watching—an impromptu DJ or hula hoop trio is almost always a guaranteed sighting. As the sun starts to set, make your way over to Mission Chinese Food for some melt-in-your-mouth broccoli beef brisket and other scrumptious Chinese-inspired treats. Afterward, get a cone at Bi-Rite Creamery.
Take a historic streetcar along Market Street to the Castro and explore some of the historic gay neighborhood’s quirky novelty stores. Then, grab dinner at Café du Nord, a San Francisco staple since 1907 that reopened after a restoration this past summer. Raw or broiled oysters make a delicious appetizer to precede cioppino, the fish stew that originated in SF.
Hike in the Presidio and break for lunch at Arguello. The California-inspired Mexican restaurant from award-winning chef Traci Des Jardins features several seafood options such as ceviche and calamari. If you’d prefer modern comfort food after your walk in the national park, head to the Presidio Social Club, housed in a 1903 structure that first served as a military barracks.
Pack a jacket and take a ferry to the waterfront community of Sausalito, where you can sit on a dock by the bay just like Otis Redding wrote about in his song. Dinner at Poggio Trattoria is a must. Its menu of northern Italian dishes shows off the Bay Area’s local and seasonal ingredients.