• Meander Along the Marina’s Golden Gate Promenade and Crissy Field: There’s something about strolling the promenade that just feels right. The combination of beach, bay, boats, Golden Gate views, and clean, cool breezes is good for the soul. Don’t miss snacks at the Warming Hut.
  • Take a Free Guided Walking Tour: With over 90 tours to choose from—Murals and the Multi-Ethnic Mission, Castro: Tales of the Village, or Gold Rush City, to name a few—San Francisco City Guides is one of the best deals in town.
  • Pretend You’re a Guest of the Palace or Fairmont Hotels: You may not be staying the night, but you can certainly feel like a million bucks in the public spaces at the Palace Hotel. The extravagant creation of banker “Bonanza King” Will Ralston in 1875, the Palace Hotel has one of the grandest rooms in the city: the Garden Court, where you can have high tea under a stained-glass dome (definitely not free). Running a close second is the magnificent lobby at Nob Hill’s Fairmont San Francisco.
  • Tour City Hall: Come see where, in 2004, Mayor Gavin Newsom made his bold statement to the country about the future of same-sex marriage in this beautiful Beaux Arts building. Free tours are offered to the public.
  • Cocktail in the Clouds: One of the greatest ways to view the city is from a top-floor lounge in hotels such as the Sir Francis Drake, or the venerable InterContinental Mark Hopkins. Drinks aren’t cheap, but considering you’re not paying for the view, it almost seems like a bargain.
  • Browse the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market: Stroll booth to booth sampling organic food. Buy fresh produce alongside some of the big name chefs of the Bay Area. People watch. It is always a party and always free. Held rain or shine every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, this is one of the most pleasurable ways to spend time the city.
  • Visit the Wells Fargo Museum: Have a look at pistols, mining equipment, an original Wells Fargo stagecoach, old photographs, other gold rush–era relics at the bank’s original location.
  • Hang out in Golden Gate Park: Stroll around Stow Lake, watch the disco roller skaters who dance around the area closed to traffic on Sundays, hang out in Shakespeare’s Garden, or just find a sunny patch of grass to call your own. There’s tons to do in the city’s communal backyard that doesn’t cost a cent.
  • Take Advantage of Free Culture Days: Most every museum in San Francisco opens its doors to the public for free on certain days of the week.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.