San Francisco is a vibrant and dynamic city in the state of California. It is an exciting metro to visit with its counter-culture roots, picturesque views, and eclectic music scene. There are endlessly fascinating to do here for people under 21.
Its long stretch of 47 square miles is full of must-see attractions, cultural landmarks, dining options, etc. You might get overwhelmed with the assortment of activities this city offers.
Thus, here is a list of the Top 11 Best things to do in San Francisco if under 21.
List of Contents
1. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is recognizable across the United States.
It is a suspension bridge connecting San Francisco to Marin County, California.
This gate has linked San Francisco City to its northern neighbors since 1933.
SF’s Golden Gate Bridge is the most beautiful and photographed globally. It is also one of the longest and tallest suspension bridges globally. The Golden Gate Bridge was also regarded as one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
There is an array of great spots to enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge. It would be best to head to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point to get a postcard-worthy bridge shot. You can take a brief detour to the Point Bonita Lighthouse for a stunning view of San Francisco Bay at the tip of the Golden Gate Strait.
2. Alcatraz Island
The Alcatraz Island or The Rock occupies an area of 22 acres 1.5 miles offshore.
It is a small island in SF with lighthouse facilities, a military fortification, and military prison.
Alcatraz became a Civil War fort, a Federal prison, and a representation of Native American plight.
Presently, the island is a primary tourist attraction in San Francisco. Its affluent history interests travelers from all parts of the globe. It housed some of the world’s biggest offenders, including the infamous Al Capone.
You can maximize your experience on Alcatraz Island if you schedule activities offered by the National Park Service. You can book a guided tour to have a comprehensive historical background of the attraction. The best way to experience Alcatraz is to walk a lot. Do not miss the cell house, lighthouse, guard residences, and hospital area in the vicinity.
3. San Francisco Cable Cars
The SF’s cable car system is an iconic attraction in the city. It is a manually operated cable car system managed by the San Francisco Municipal Railway. The system offers three lines, including Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California Street. These lines already cover the most sought-after attractions in SF like the financial district, Nob Hill, China Town, and Little Italy.
The cable car is a quintessential symbol of San Francisco. It is a world-renowned traditional transit system that attracts plenty of tourists every year. It has been regarded as a National Historic Landmark since 1964. Aside from that, it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the US.
Riding in this cable car is a unique way to tour San Francisco. The trams offer you the best option of touring the city inside an enclosed section surrounded by glass. There are several cable car stops where you can line up and wait for a ride.
4. Twin Peaks
Another thing you should not miss in San Francisco is the Twin Peaks. They are the two most famous hills in SF, with 925 feet. These hills are near the city’s geographic center, providing a stunning view of San Francisco.
Originally called “Los Pechos de la Choca,” the Twin Peaks provide you a venue to see SF from a highly elevated standpoint. It is the second-highest point of the city, next to Mount Davidson. Visiting this site offers a collection of animals and plant diversity, too.
You can hike around a 0.7-mile trail to see 360-degree picturesque views of SF. Then, you can continue down to Twin Peaks Boulevard, going to Portola Drive for another 1.2-mile trail hike. Do not miss the opportunity to see the coastal scrub and grassland communities of the Twin Peaks’ 64-acre park.
5. The Castro District
The Castro District or ‘the Castro’ is a popular neighborhood in the Eureka Valley of San Francisco. It is the first-ever gay neighborhood in the city and even in the United States. The Castro is a notable symbol of the LGBTQ community with tons of exciting and quirky attractions.
Many people consider Castro the gay capital of the world. It is home to Harvey Milk, first California openly gay official.
The Castro District holds the venue for the gay rights movement and political efforts rallying issues about the LGBTQ community.
For those visiting this attraction, you should look at the display at the GLBT Museum on 18th street. Then, make a short stop at the Castro Theater, a registered city landmark. We also recommend you visit the Hot Cookie located near the Castro Theater.
6. Ferry Building Market Place
You will find the Ferry Building Market Place at the Embarcadero in San Francisco. It comprises a terminal for ferries traveling around the San Francisco Bay, a food hall, and a commercial building. On the other hand, Market Place is a world-class market offering various food options.
The Ferry Building Market Place is also a must-see attraction in San Francisco. It is at the heart of the city’s busiest area, converging with San Francisco’s transportation, financial, and banking district. The place also showcases a dramatic clock tower which has been a symbol of the San Francisco waterfront for almost a century.
You will find a parade of open-fronted shops, specialty food markets, and SF’s best boutique inside the ferry building. The best way to enjoy this tourist spot is to engage in a food tour. You should try the Rancho Gordo dried beans, Frog Hollow Farms fruits, jams, and the charcuterie of Boccolone Salumeria.
7. Muir Woods National Monument
The Muir Woods National Monument is just 16 miles north of San Francisco. You will find it on Mount Tamalpais, close to the Pacific coast. It is a beautiful and expansive monument managed by the National Park Service and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
People visit this national monument to see a cathedral of old redwood trees aged 400 to 800. Here you will see other three species, including the California bay laurel, the bigleaf maple, and the tanoak. The monument is a well-protected area in San Francisco Bay.
Paying a visit to Muir Woods National Monument allows you to appreciate the beauty of San Francisco in its most natural state. You can take a 30-minute hike at the national monument or take a longer trek near Mount Tamalpais State Park. You also can explore on-site beaches, including Muir Beach, Rodeo Beach, or Stinson Beach.
8. California Academy of Sciences
For those who want to engage in an academic experience in San Francisco, you should visit the California Academy of Sciences. It is also a research institute and natural history museum located in Golden Gate Park along Nancy Pelosi Drive. There are tons of things to see here, including a planetarium, an aquarium, and a rainforest.
It is one of the most popular natural history museums in the world. The Academy houses the Steinhart Aquarium, the Osher Forest, and the African Penguin Colony. Given its vast offerings, the Academy is also recognized as the world’s first ‘Double Platinum’ museum by the US Green Building Council.
The Osher Rainforest is full of colorful birds, butterflies, and other tropical life. You should visit Steinhart Aquarium with more than 900 exotic fish species, stingrays, eels, seadragons, sea turtles, etc. Meanwhile, the African Penguin Colony is home to adorable aquatic tuxedo birds where you can watch them waddle, swim and socialize.
9. Fisherman’s Wharf
The Fisherman’s Wharf is a bustling area in San Francisco. It is a popular tourist attraction offering a vibrant local neighborhood and a thriving commercial scene.
The harbor houses Pier 39, the Cannery Shopping Center, Ghiradelli Square, and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
Visiting the Fisherman’s Wharf allows you to experience the best of San Francisco. Here you will find fishing boats, sea lions, seafood dining options, and family entertainment. You can also visit nearby attractions, including the Hyde Street Pier, a decommissioned World War II-era submarine, and a 19th-century cargo ship.
Since the pier offers you endless food and dining options, you should embark on a day-long food trip on your visit here. We recommend you to try the floating Forbes Island restaurant at Pier 39 plus the Fisherman’s Grotto for the best food experience in SF.
10. Palace of Fine Arts
You can find the Palace of Fine Arts in the city’s Marina District. It is a colossal structure built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The Palace became a recognizable landmark in San Francisco today.
The attraction holds a wealth of history, given that it serves several functions. After World War II, the Palace of Fine Arts turned into a military storage depot, a warehouse for the Park Department, and even a telephone book distribution center. Despite its decaying structure, the Palace still attracts plenty of visitors today.
Visiting the Palace should also be part of your bucket list with its extravagant neoclassical structure. Outside the Palace, you can take Instagram-worthy shots, marvel at its beauty, or stroll around the vicinity. When you get inside the building, there is a theater where you can watch performances and comedic acts.
11. Lombard Street
The street is the “Crookedest Street in the World” and one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
It is an east-west street in SF known for its steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns. The road stretches from The Presidio up to The Embarcadero. You can find the most crooked part is at the eastern segment of the Russian Hill neighborhood.
The street has been the most visited part of San Francisco. It receives around two million tourists every year, especially during the summer. You will see significantly manicured landscaping spread throughout the area more than the street.
The most incredible way to experience the street is to drive downward, where you can feel its crookedness. You can also choose the Hyde Street cable car to drop you off at the top of the curvy part of Lombard Street. You should also take a spectacular photo at the bottom while looking at the street’s curve.
There are plenty of ways and fun things to do in San Francisco, especially for those under 21. I hope you enjoyed reading our SF guide, and if something is missing or you want to be part of this list, let me know your thoughts below.