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They say there are only seven wonders in the world, but we say there’s one more: the San Francisco Bay area. It comprises three major cities: San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland.
Who wouldn’t want to visit this scenic beauty with fine dining, great artwork, and revolutionary tech?
Home to the global headquarters of Google and Meta (formerly Facebook), the San Francisco Bay area is the high-tech hub. Apple and other leading tech firms are also there. You’ve got the mesmerizing bay area with lush mountains and gorgeous beaches.
Are you tech-savvy, an art lover, or a significant adrenaline junkie? There are separate places in California known for these things. But the Bay Area has it all. It’s got something for everyone, so you’ll never run out of things to do in the Bay Area.
To help you plan your dream vacation, we’ve compiled a list of the 11 best things to do in the Bay Area.
1. Visit Google Plex
Imagine the things that you use Google for. You may try to find the best route to a place, search for something, write a paper, or translate something. Google knows everything there is to know about you. It’s like that one friend who has all your embarrassing pictures and knows all your embarrassing secrets. Doesn’t that make you want to know all about it, too? What if we said you could?
Search: Where are you, google? It’ll tell you that its headquarters are in Mountain View, which is in the SF Bay Area. The company doesn’t permit non-employees to enter the building, but you can check out the outdoor campus, which is open to everyone.
Take a tour of the Android statues garden, which consists of sculptures of the various Android operating systems. Looking at the statues of cupcakes and doughnuts (older versions of Android operating systems) might make you hungry, but Google has you covered with its gourmet cafe! Here, you’ll get a variety of dishes, all for free.
Make sure you see the coolest thing there- the live search wall. Here, visitors can see the common search trends worldwide at that particular time.
While this is more tech-related, there are also some random attractions that you’ll find incredible. We’re all fans of Stan, the picture-perfect statue of a T-rex skeleton. It’s said that this statue was built to remind Google employees to stay relevant and creative. Otherwise, their ideas will go extinct, just like the dinosaurs.
For all the athletic people, you can play tennis and various other sports on the multiple courts and fields on the Google campus. However, this is allowed for visitors only at night and on some weekends.
All in all, you can spend an entire fun-filled day at Googleplex. There’s a cafe, sports fields, a merchandise store and many exciting things to see. Who wouldn’t want to visit the company that revolutionized tech?
2. See the Golden Gate Park
Abound with mesmerizing lakes and prestigious landmarks, Golden Gate Park is a tourist haven. Check out all 1,017 acres of this nature wonderland that thrives with recreational activities.
Complete your action-packed day with a taste of culture by visiting the De Young Museum, the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, and the California Academy of Sciences. You can play multiple sports, including tennis, at Golden Gate Park. Also, pack a frisbee with your sports bag because you’re in for a fun picnic on its grounds. Don’t miss the beautiful and serene Japanese tea garden.
3. Check out the Activities at Ocean Beach
Are you in it for the thrills? Ocean Beach is the largest beach in the Bay Area. It’s also great for surfing at a low tide. But beware, though, and listen to all the warning signs because currents can get pretty intense.
Being one of the largest beaches in San Francisco also means that it is very crowded. Visiting this famous scenic beauty is one of the top things to do in the Bay Area.
Are you wondering why this beach is so famous? While not exactly family-friendly, this beach offers recreational activities such as fishing, kite flying, and surfing. Go there for a fun girls’ weekend, but only if you don’t need to drink to have fun because alcohol is not allowed here.
If you need more, know that this beach is known for its bonfire parties. Bonfires and Ocean Beach are the perfect combo as it gets windy here. Cozy next to the fire and watch the calming waves crash against the rocks!
However, bonfires are banned for some months, so you can check on the Golden Gate National Recreational Area website and plan your trip here accordingly.
Ever wonder if you could look at the world in a way that makes it look beautiful? The camera obscura will show you a rotating ocean beach view in magnificent pastel shades. This magnificent structure is what’s so special about Ocean Beach. It is also one of the most extraordinary historic buildings in the Bay Area.
Made in 1948-1949, it’s a beautiful white building with a rotating lens or “eye” on one side, which projects a 360-degree view of the ocean beach onto a round viewing table. Meet the eye that sees all by checking out the ocean beach. While you’re there, the Sutro bath ruins are a must-see for people who love sightseeing. They also provide a great background for a picture.
Visiting this beach is one of the things to do in the Bay Area that will give you a taste of history, adventure, and beauty.
4. Click Pictures at Golden Gate Bridge
Who hasn’t heard of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge? This California historical landmark offers the prettiest sights in the San Francisco Bay Area. The views of ringlets of foam crashing against the rocks, the mesmerizing water, and the bright orange shade of the bridge attract visitors to the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the longest bridges in San Francisco, but that’s not the only fascinating fact about it. Many also come to appreciate the precise construction of this majestic structure. It is also located over the Golden Gate Strait, where the Pacific Ocean meets San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate Strait also gives this famous bridge its name.
If you’re wondering how to cover the entirety of this bridge, you can bike it or take a 30-minute walk across it to enjoy the cool breeze and picturesque views. On your walk, you’ll see that any spot is picture-worthy, but all of them are very crowded. If you’d like a secluded spot to view the bridge and take pictures, go to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point- it’s located on a low hill close to the sea.
So check out San Francisco’s most popular tourist destination, the Golden Gate Bridge, where you can get picture-perfect views. After you bike through this bridge, check out the nearby Oracle Park, home to the San Francisco Giants.
Other notable bridges in the SF Bay Area include the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, known for the breathtaking light show that occurs here every night.
5. Tour Alcatraz Island
Lock your ticket to Alcatraz Island now, just as they locked up prisoners in the cells of the most famous jailhouse in the world! While many prisoners made escape attempts to leave the prison, tourists love to stay here.
Don’t be alarmed, though. The prison closed in 1963, which was way too expensive to run, and now is a beloved tourist spot. People come here to hear about Alcatraz’s history and get exclusive looks at the cells that earlier housed America’s most dangerous and famous criminals.
To reach Alcatraz Island, you must take a short ferry ride that lasts 15 minutes. You can book your tickets at the official Alcatraz cruise site but do so in advance as they sell out quickly.
Then, you can take a self-guided tour of the prison using one of the brochures provided at the ferry landing or ask one of the National Park volunteers or guides to give you a tour. Alcatraz Cruises also offers an informative audio tour that will tell you all about the individual cells and the prisoners that used to be in them.
The infamous Robert ‘Bird Man’ Stroud, Alvin Karpis, George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly, and Al Capone are some of the most known criminals in these cells. Of all these prisoners, 36 made escape attempts, and only a few are known to have succeeded. Many were either killed or caught, and some drowned in the water.
Are you wondering if some of them ever made it out? The answer is yes because, in 1962, three prisoners carved a hole in their cell walls using spoons and other metals. They then made replicas of themselves using paper mâché and kept them in their beds to try to fool the guards. After escaping, they allegedly swam back to the mainland, as their bodies were not found in the water.
Hearing about many failed escape attempts and some successful ones, you’ll see how cruel and unforgiving this island was to its prisoners, with its cold waves that feel like shards, scaring anyone who dared to escape. The exercise yard also added to the torture of the inmates, as they could see the beautiful city of San Francisco as a reminder of what they lost.
However, as you tour the cells, you’ll see evidence of the activities of cellmates. Some played instruments, some painted, and some read.
Besides the cells, you should also see the lighthouse, originally built in 1854, demolished and then rebuilt. It was the first lighthouse on the West Coast and is a rich piece of the history of Alcatraz Island.
If you have time, stay for a night tour, as that’s the time when the island is the least crowded.
6. Swim in the Russian River
Do you prefer sweet or salty? We prefer sweet, which is why we recommend swimming in the angelic waters of the Russian River. A dip in the river will wash away your daily stress and refresh you. It’s also much better than swimming in the sea because there will be no crabs here!
Rent a kayak and paddle through the rapids like a pro, or maybe go canoeing for a sweet, relaxing trip across the waters.
If you’re feeling adventurous, cover the rest of the distance by jumping off and swimming to the shore. There are numerous beaches on the river where you can sit back and relax after your swim.
You’ll love the views of low-lying mountains covered with lush vegetation, clear blue water, and gorgeous golden sand. You might see these sights often in photoshopped pictures but never in real life. So come to the Bay Area on your next trip and experience the heavenly charms of the Russian River.
Hike San Francisco’s natural wonderland: Mount Tampalis. Soaring high at 2574 feet, Mount Tam is what dreams are made of, with its beautiful views and endless activities!
It is the tallest peak in Marin County and has the most diverse relief features, from tall redwood trees and fresh green grasslands to breathtaking azure waters and vast hills.
Are you eager to look at these views? You’re in luck because you can reach and traverse the mountains in many ways. Many like to cycle or drive through the enchanting mist that lines the trails. You can also trek or hike through Mount Tam to see its natural wonders up close.
You can also have a picnic or go wildlife-watching on your hike. As you reach the top, visit the East Peak Visitor Center, where you can get some fantastic merchandise and enjoy food. Also, check out the outdoor theatre, the Mountain Theatre, if you like plays.
If you’re an adventure junkie, the best activity that visitors like to do here is paragliding. Hike to the top and fly into the clouds like an eagle. You’ll love the views of the ocean and the hills on your trip through the sky.
This majestic hill will give you a great experience of thrilling activities and scenic views. You can check it out on your way to Golden Gate Bridge, located south of Mount Tam.
8. See Cultural Artworks at Asian Art Museum
Experience many cultures by visiting one of the top cultural attractions in the Bay Area. With over 18,000 artworks, the Asian Art Museum encompasses Asian art inspired by Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Turkish, and other cultures. This art ranges from ornate and detailed sculptures to exquisite paintings.
It’ll take you 2-3 hours to go through the museum. Go on a weekday as there will be less rush here. Don’t forget to check the important details on the Asian Art Museum website.
The Asian Art Museum is a must-see among the various things to do in the Bay Area for those who love a mix of art and culture. As you enter, you’ll see multiple art galleries and be able to explore exhibitions of statues, videos, paintings, and multiple other forms of Asian art. It is truly a fantastic representation and appreciation of Asian culture.
We won’t give any more spoilers. See this cultural wonder for yourself. Also, be sure to check out the cafe and the museum store.
9. Go Wine Tasting at Sonoma Farm Trails
Sonoma County has it all: pristine beaches, lush oak, redwood forests, and vast hills. However, in the heart of it all is Sonoma country’s sweet secret, the Sonoma farm trails.
Visit Sonoma County’s untouched haven. You’ll love the smell of fresh tomatoes, the sights of golden marigolds glowing in the sun, and the cool breeze that sweeps your hair away.
Located in Sonoma County, the Sonoma farm trails were created by farmers to help tourists and visitors learn about food production and agriculture. Other than touring the farms, you can also taste samples of crops! Go wine tasting, eat juicy fruits, or try samples of sugarcane.
Moreover, there are also U-pick farms where you can pick your fruits and vegetables rather than buy from the market.
Celebrate your festivals with even more pizzazz by picking your Christmas trees or Halloween pumpkins from these farms.
You can ask for a map or guide from the trail members to see where you can taste samples, find wineries, go to workshops, or buy fruits and veggies from farmer’s markets.
So, what are you waiting for? Drive to Sonoma County now!
10. Munch at Chinatown San Francisco
We didn’t forget about the foodies, so we recommend China Town to those who love finger foods. SF’s Chinatown offers authentic Chinese dishes from dumplings to spring rolls to honey chili potatoes.
Besides the food, everything else- from the architecture, the culture, and the festivals- is inspired by the Chinese people’s lifestyle. This is an excellent way for Chinese immigrants to feel at home and experience their culture. American tourists also enjoy visiting Chinatown and indulging themselves in its culture.
It is North America’s oldest Chinatown and one of the largest, spanning over 24 blocks.
Take a walk down any street. Lanterns and colored houses abound. The glow of these lanterns is mesmerizing when combined with the scenic views of colorful houses and buildings. While taking a stroll, eat Chinese food, observe the intricate architecture, and check out the cool shops.
Chinatown is a must-see for those who love scenic views and authentic Chinese food! If you’re more into Mexican, you should check out Fruitvale in the East Bay area.
11. Surf the Waves at Rodeo Beach
Are you obsessed with pretty views? Rodeo Beach is a great sight for sore eyes.
In Marin County, Rodeo Beach is a part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. Lined with colored pebbles, this beach is famous for its unique features. It has rocky sand and is enclosed by the Rodeo Lagoon. Visitors love coming here to have a picnic or surf the ocean. Some like to sunbathe and view the enchanting sights of the beach that are not visible on other beaches.
Observe the beautiful hues of yellow, orange, pink, and blue that can be observed as the sun melts into the ocean. The red and green pebbles that line the dark sand add to the vibrant, colorful vibe of the beach. Waves crashing into the rocks make for perfect views. The weather is great too, due to the cool breeze and warm sunlight.
Due to the rocks and strong currents, Rodeo Beach is not safe for swimming. However, visitors can enjoy many different activities like surfing and sunbathing. You can also fly kites, go hiking, or bird watching.
This beach is pretty unique and offers a list of interesting activities. It is proof of the Bay Area’s never-ending charisma.
With so many diverse activities, the Bathey area won’t disappoint. From going old school and visiting farms to checking out high-tech firms, there is a vast range of things to do in the Bay Area for every kind of person.
The Bay area is a natural wonder, a hub of art and culture, and the go-to place for adventure junkies. It has also reshaped technology with its abundance of leading tech firms.
With so much to see and do, the Bay Area is bustling with tourists. Don’t miss out on the fun that so many people have here, or you’ll get FOMO. Book a ticket to this beautiful place now!