Free and Almost Free Things to Do in San Francisco
Despite—or perhaps because of—the astronomical cost of living here, San Francisco offers loads of free diversions. Here are our picks for the best free things to do in the city, in alphabetical order by category. Also check out sf.funcheap.com for a calendar of random, offbeat, and often free one-offs.
Free Museums and Galleries
- Fort Point National Historic Site
- Octagon House
- San Francisco Cable Car Museum
- San Francisco Railway Museum
- Wells Fargo Museum
Free Museum Times
The first week of every month brings a bonanza of free museum options. Just be aware that free times can draw crowds.
- Asian Art Museum, first Sunday of every month
- de Young Museum, first Tuesday of every month
- GLBT Historical Society Museum, first Saturday of every month
- Legion of Honor, first Tuesday of every month
- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (galleries), first Tuesday of every month
- The Golden Gate Park Band plays free public concerts on Sunday afternoon, April through October, on the Music Concourse in the namesake park.
- The San Francisco Conservatory of Music offers frequent free recitals year-round at its Civic Center home.
- Stern Grove Festival concerts are held in the Sunset on Sunday afternoon from June through August, ranging from opera to jazz to pop music.
- Yerba Buena Gardens Festival hosts many concerts and performances from May through October, including Latin jazz, global music, dance, and even puppet shows.
- The free San Francisco City Guides walking tours (note: a $15 donation is suggested) are easily one of the best deals going. Knowledgeable, enthusiastic guides lead walks that focus on a particular neighborhood, theme, or historical period.
- City Hall offers free tours of its grandiose HQ on weekdays.
More Great Experiences for $7 or Less
- See baseball at Oracle Park, for free! Go to the stadium's Portwalk, beyond the right-field wall, for a standing-room view through the open fence. Twenty-four people are allowed, and you must leave after three innings. Check to be sure this is in effect.
- Do your own walking tour of the Mission District's fantastic outdoor murals, then grab a bite at a taqueria.
- Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge—an obvious but breathtaking choice.
- Choose a perfect treat at the Ferry Building's fabulous marketplace and stroll the waterfront promenade.
- Tour the grounds around the Palace of Fine Arts, circling its lagoon. Next, walk through the Presidio to the Letterman Digital Arts Center campus to see the Yoda fountain and life-size figure of Darth Vader inside the building beyond.
- Take the kids to Koret Children's Quarter in Golden Gate Park and go for a ride ($2) on a vintage carousel.
- Hike up to the top of Telegraph Hill for sweeping city and bay views.