10 Things to Do in . . . San Francisco!

San Francisco, California is one of the world’s most vibrant, unique cities. Any San Francisco guidebook can show you a number of awesome places to visit, from gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge to exploring Alcatraz…

… but here at Couchsurfing, we know that locals can teach you more about their city than any guidebook! Want to experience San Francisco the way the locals do? Look no further. We asked the Couchsurfing staff here in San Francisco where they love to bring their Couchsurfing guests – check out their responses!

1. Go to Zeitgeist

I bring every visitor here. A great bar with a huge beer selection, giant back patio, and a great cross section of SF culture.” – Connor, born and raised in the Bay Area

2. People watch at  Mission Dolores Park

Product Manager Mitch, his wife Ellaine, and their Couchsurfing guests at Dolores Park.

“It is quite a scene on a sunny day. Stop by Bi-Rite market and pick up some beer or wine and some food and then head to the park for some amazing people watching. There’s also a really nice view from the Southwest corner of the park. Also, Tartine Bakery is nearby. Tartine makes amazing baked goods that are delicious!” – Patrick, in the Bay Area for 13 years

Pro Tip: “Check out Free Movie Night!” – Sarah, in the Bay Area for 8 years

3. Listen to The Wave Organ

“A hidden local gem and voted “Best of” 2013! Through a series of pipes, the wave organ interacts with the waves of the bay and conveys their sound to listeners at several different stations. The effects produced vary depending on the level of the tide but include rumbles, gurgles, sloshes, hisses, and other more typical wave sounds. The structure incorporates stone platforms and benches where you can sit near the mouths of pipes, listening.” – Billy, in the Bay Area for 11 years

4. Eat at SOMA StrEAT Food Park

“It has such a cool & unique atmosphere! People are able to have their pick from at least a dozen different types of cuisine from all over the world, drink some local beer and chill out on the turf! Food trucks are a fun way to explore all the great food SF has to offer in one place!” – Amanda, in the Bay Area for 3 years

Office dog Blanche and a young guest check out the view at the end of Land’s End Trail.
Office dog Blanche and a young guest check out the view at the end of Land’s End Trail.

5. Hike Lands End Trail


“A beautiful scenic trail and then a walk on the beaches with cliffs and caves. You can end up at the Sutro Bath Houses or the Lands End Labyrinth – or both, if you are looking for a longer hike! It’s also a great place to the Golden Gate Bridge. Bonus: it’s dog friendly!” – Don, in the Bay Area for 3 years

Pro Tip: “Make reservations for brunch at Outerlands afterwards!” – Patrick, in the Bay Area for 13 years

6. Tour The San Francisco Armory

“It’s a huge old military fortress (complete with a shooting range, drill court), built by the National Guard. It looks like a castle. If you’re interested in military history, it’s a must-see. The basement is so deep that you can see Mission Creek running through it.  An even more interesting is the fact that it was purchased in 2006 by Cybernet LLC, a pornographic production company, and is home to tons of gorgeous, elaborate sets. They offer regular tours there- tours are 18+, but their tour site is safe for work. You’ll be surprised at how chill and professional everyone is, and their tour guides are extremely informative and will put you at ease. It’s definitely an “only in San Francisco” tourist spot! “ – Denise, in the Bay Area for 6 years

7. Explore the Museums during Nightlife and AfterDark

“Nightlife at the Academy of Sciences and AfterDark at the Exploratorium are both fun ways to see the museums without navigating through throngs of families. Plus, what is better than exploring a museum with a drink in your hand?” – Zareen, born and raised in the Bay Area

8. Walk the Marin Headlands

Office dog Sierra takes in the Marin Headlands.

Best view of the bridge and looking back on the city” – Jenn, in the Bay Area for 5 years  

Pro Tip: “Walk or bike over the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito!” – Andrew, in the Bay Area for 9 years




9. Relax at Kabuki Springs & Spa

Traditional hot springs bathhouse in the heart of Japantown. You can buy an inexpensive day pass and melt away all of your traveling stress in a variety of pools or splurge on spa treatments.” – Sarah, in the Bay Area for 8 years

10. Go to the Castro Theater Singalong

“An authentic SF experience, unique, funny and engaging in such a historical neighborhood.” – Nico, in the Bay Area for 5 years

This only made #10? You guys… Just go there to see Grease and we will redo the ranking afterward.”   – Nico

San Francisco Pro Tip: “Make sure to visit some of the neighborhood centers, like the Marina (Chestnut Street), the Mission (Valencia Street), the Castro (Castro Street), Russian Hill (Polk Street) to see the parts of the city where locals actually hang out and eat out – most of us don’t visit Union Square or Embarcadero except during the day or for work dinners and the like.” – Mitch, in the Bay Area for 10 years

Agree with Nico about the Castro Singalong or want to share more ways to explore San Francisco? Join the discussion below!




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