San Francisco is a city of endless buzz and variety. A visit to the bay will bring you endless options for food, tours, nature, sun, sea and excitement, so there's absolutely no excuse to suddenly find yourself bored in the city with nothing to do. But, if you are struggling for fresh ideas, here are a few of my absolute favourites.
Be warned, some of these adventures might require you to venture a little outside the city boundaries (so they're not technically in San Francisco), but each can easily be done in a day trip.
1. Take a GoCar Tour
When I first took this tour I have to admit, I was a little skeptical. It seemed like a lot of money to be paying for a low powered go kart, but actually it's one of the best things I've done in SF.
With each tour, you take one of the weird yellow go karts and venture off on your own into the city. Within the car you'll be given directions and audio commentary that will gradually take you around some of SF's major sites.
Yes, some of the hills are a struggle. Yes you might get caught in traffic. Yes, you might get a little lost (one of our group actually got lost somehow), and yes, they don't really reverse when you need to, but hey, they're barrel of laughs and it's a far, far more interesting and enjoyable experience than a standard SF bus tour. You can find out more information about GoCar tours here
2. Take a wine tour to Napa Valley and Sonoma
If you're looking for great American wine, then Napa Valley and Sonoma County should be at the very top of your San Francisco bucket list. Book a wine tasting tour and be whisked away to several top vineyards for a fun day of excellent food and wine.
As someone who doesn't normally drink much wine, I have to say that I came away with a new appreciation, a little extra knowledge and the kind of hangover you can only get from drinking all day. Definitely something for 21 and over, but also a great way to see the countryside around San Francisco and learn a little about California's rich wine growing heritage.
3. Take a prison tour of Alcatraz at night
You may have heard of Alcatraz Prison Island, but did you know that you can take a tour at night? As if a deserted prison island wasn't creepy enough, the darkness makes for an experience you'll never forget!
Learn about the amazing stories and history of an absolutely unique piece of American history, and get a dose of adrenaline thrown in for free. Make sure you book in advance as tours tend to book up fast!
4. Visit the redwoods in Muir Woods
Muir Woods is just a short drive away from San Francisco but you'll feel like you've been transported to a different world. To find a forest of towering Redwoods so close to such a bustling metropolis might come as a complete surprise, but it's certainly a welcome breath of fresh air away from the city.
The Giant Sequoia here can reach up to 250ft, and even a quick walk amongst these monster trees is enough to take your breath away.
This is a great experience to combine with a wine tour, and some actually include a visit here as part of their itinerary!
5. Take a day trip to Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the great natural wonders of the United States, and it's really just a stone's throw away from San Francisco (roughly 3 hours drive).
Yosemite is an incredible place that's far more accessible and digestible than many of the other national parks in the US, with many of the best viewpoints being easily located along a central corridor through the valley.
From the valley floor, you'll see many of the famous waterfalls pouring from the steep canyon walls, and you may even catch a glimpse of one or two climbers making their way up the seemingly impossibly smooth rock.
To fully experience Yosemite yourself, you may choose to opt for a hike. Those looking for something more challenging can opt for Yosemite Falls, while Taft Point offers equally incredible views for a lot less effort.
Whether you hike or not, a visit to the area should definitely be on your bucketlist!
6. Visit the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory
Back to the city now, and we're headed to one of my favourite attractions; the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory. The desserts at Ghirardelli's are out of this world, and there's really nowhere better to chow down on a chocolate fudge sundae or a banana split after a long day of sightseeing.
There's often a line up for dessert, but it's absolutely worth the wait for some of their freshly made chocolate.
7. Visit a city rooftop bar
With so many high rise buildings in San Francisco, there are no shortage of rooftop bars with breathtaking city views. Options include the the Cityscape Bar atop the Hilton hotel, and the "View Lounge" atop the Marriott Marquis. Both offer views that are out of this world, particularly if you visit at night.
This list is admittedly eclectic, but it's representative of the many diverse experiences you can find within and outside the amazing city of San Francisco. Whether you're looking for a great culinary experience, a fun day out or an immersive nature escape, there's really something for everyone.