free things to do in san franciscoYou can leave your heart in San Francisco, but there is no reason to leave your wallet as well. I got a chance to try out some family-friendly activities after relocating to the Bay area. Here are my top 5 picks. And, best of all, they are free.

1. Cable Car Museum

Visitors can see San Francisco’s current trolley cars in action from a deck that overlooks the winding wheels that pull the cable cars up and down San Francisco’s steep streets. The museum includes original footage of the earthquake that shook the city in 1906, three antique cable cars dating back to the 1870s, original hand cranks, and more. While admission if free, donations are encouraged. The museum is located on Mason Street.

2. Seward Street Slides


These sets of slides are a scream, especially if you happen to have some cardboard (which there are usually some laying at the bottom of the slide.) San Francisco’s hills do not make this an easy place to find our hike so bring your walking shoes — and map. For whatever reason, the slides are randomly tucked behind some houses and shrouded by trees.

3. Golden Gate Park

Explore 1,017 acres of lush gardens, playgrounds, running and walking trails, historic monuments, and festivals and events happening each weekend. There is plenty of parking on the street, so feel free to save some extra dough on that as well. There is no charge to enjoy the lush landscape of Golden Gate Park, but some of the gardens charge a minimal entrance fee, such as the Japanese Tea Garden.

4. Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39

You don’t have to go to an aquarium or Sea World to get a gander at a sea lion. There are hundreds of sea lions that lounge on Pier 39 (you will hear them before you see them.) Fisherman’s Wharf is full of plenty of entertainment from street performers to people watching. Take in a view of the Bay, watch San Francisco’s famous sourdough bread being made or the day’s fresh catch.

5. Lombard Street

Drive down or walk the “crookedest” street in the world lined with beautiful Victorian homes and whimsical, flowered vines. This popular street boasts millions of annual visitors, and claims to have some of the priciest real estate in the country.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring a sweater or a light jacket with you, the temps in San Francisco tend to be much cooler.