By the time travel, lodging and meals are paid for, trips to explore a city can become expensive quickly. There are tons of things in San Francisco that are worth spending the money to experience, but there are also some awesome free things to do as well.

Image Credit: David Yu – Flickr

Explore Golden Gate Park

As you walk through the park, you will be able to smell flowers, take in the calming sound of waterfalls, watch dances and boat races, take a trip to “Japan”, have a picnic, play some disc golf and so much more. Hippie Hill is a popular area for dancers and drummers to congregate for free entertainment (tips are welcome). The Japanese Tea garden is beautiful, and it’s free before 10 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Don’t forget to stop by and say hi to the bison at the urban zoo, which happens to be San Francisco’s first zoo.

Taste the local eats and drinks at Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market

Okay, so this one may not be completely free, but entry is free. You will be able to wander around and get free samples of local food and drink, but take some extra cash in case you find something you just can’t leave without.

Have a bonfire on the beach

Ocean beach has free fire pits between stairwells 15 and 20 for anyone to use. You will need to bring your own firewood and supplies, but there is no fee for using the pits. Be aware that the fire pits are reserved on a first come, first serve basis, so getting there super early is a good strategy. All fires must be put out by 9 p.m.

Hang out with sea lions

Pier 39 is special because of its large population of sea lions. At any given time, hundreds of sea lions can be seen lounging on the dock. It’s definitely something everyone should experience at least once, but these cute little creatures will have you wanting to come back to visit again.  

Take a ride on the Beer Shuttle

On the third Wednesday of every month, beer lovers are able to explore local breweries on the Drink SF Beer Shuttle. Riders are able to hop on and off wherever they would like. The shuttle does not pay for drinks, so prepare to pay for your beverages.  

See the most infamous houses in the city

The painted ladies are one of the most photographed locations in San Francisco. This is not only due to the beautiful architecture of the Victorian houses, but because most people recognize them as the location of the Tanners from Full House. Feel free to make your own cheesy TV show intro while you’re there.

Watch fortune cookies be made before your eyes

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory offers a unique experience of being able to see how fortune cookies are made. The aroma of the factory is so warm and sweet that it will be hard to leave without having a taste. Visitors are able to purchase fortune cookies from a selection of flavors and even customized cookies!

Watch (part of) a Giants game

A Giants game? For free? That’s right, AT&T Park has a standing-room section that is free of charge! Fans are able to watch three innings of a Giants game from the pen. Only 75 people are allowed to watch at a time, so plan to arrive at an appropriate time to make the cut. The pen is located along McCovey Cove under one of the three arches at the base of the brick wall in right field.

Learn about the history of cable cars

One of the most notorious views of San Francisco is the cable car. The Cable Car Museum is a destination to learn more about the history of cars and how they have evolved into what they are today.

Take a sailboat ride

Once a month, Cal Sailing Club offers free 30-minute rides on the Bay, usually on Sundays. Rides are given on a first come, first serve basis, and it can get a little crowded depending on the weather. During the ride, you will learn about the basics of sailing, boat safety, Bay ecology and of course you will get a great view from the water.

San Francisco is a beautiful city with so many things to do that don’t cost anything. Take advantage of all of the free things around the city and make the most out of your trip without breaking the bank!

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