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31 Things Everyone Should Do In San Francisco, California, Before They Die

Your guide to the City by the Bay.

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1. Take a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, one of San Francisco's most recognizable landmarks.

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You can also rent a bicycle or drive across instead.

2. Take a cruise across the San Francisco Bay to learn about the history of Alcatraz Island.

Prior to becoming a National Historic Landmark in 1986, Alcatraz Island was the site of a federal penitentiary.
Narvikk / Getty Images

Prior to becoming a National Historic Landmark in 1986, Alcatraz Island was the site of a federal penitentiary.

3. Order clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, a quintessential San Francisco dish, from Boudin's flagship location at Fisherman's Wharf.

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Museum and bakery tours are offered daily. You can also watch bakers in action through a 30-foot observation window.

4. Drive down the crooked Lombard Street, one of the most iconic and well-known streets in the city.

Lombard Street is also known as "The Crookedest Street in the World." This winding brick street is also part of US Route 101.
Photoquest7 / Getty Images

Lombard Street is also known as "The Crookedest Street in the World." This winding brick street is also part of US Route 101.

5. Visit Pier 39 and watch the sea lions sunbathing on the docks.

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While you're there, check out a variety of eateries and shops. It's also a short walk from Fisherman's Wharf.

6. Soak up views of the city from atop Coit Tower.

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Marvel at the detailed murals — originally commissioned in the '30s — inside the tower.

7. Visit the Painted Ladies — the iconic houses featured in the opening credits of Full House — in Alamo Square.

While you can snap a photo outside, be mindful of residents who actually call the Painted Ladies home.
Masterlu / Getty Images

While you can snap a photo outside, be mindful of residents who actually call the Painted Ladies home.

8. Stop by for delicious Mexican food at La Taqueria in the Mission, which won the award for America's Best Burrito in 2014.

Via instagram.com

Don't forget to bring bills with you since this is a cash-only restaurant. Oh, and the tacos aren't half bad either.

9. Stop by the Haight-Ashbury district — the birthplace of hippie culture in the 1960s.

Music and book lovers should check out the Grateful Dead House, Amoeba Music, and The Booksmith.
Lunamarina / Getty Images

Music and book lovers should check out the Grateful Dead House, Amoeba Music, and The Booksmith.

10. Catch a ride on one of three iconic cable car lines that traverse the city.

The San Francisco cable cars were named a historic landmark in 1964 and have been in operation for more than 100 years.
Moreiso / Getty Images

The San Francisco cable cars were named a historic landmark in 1964 and have been in operation for more than 100 years.

11. Enjoy a day of hiking at Lands End, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and soak up scenic views of the Pacific Ocean.

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Stop by the Sutro Baths, which were originally built in the late 1800s, for more breathtaking views while you're exploring Lands End.

12. Grab a bite from the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.

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From empanadas to doughnuts, there's something for everybody.

13. Sip on some beer at Anchor Brewing Company, one of the oldest craft breweries in the country.

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Plan ahead and make a reservation for the brewery tour three months in advance.

14. Plan your trip the last weekend in June to celebrate San Francisco Pride.

San Francisco Pride festivities include a parade, a variety of parties, performers, and more throughout the weekend.
Eddiehernandezphotography / Getty Images

San Francisco Pride festivities include a parade, a variety of parties, performers, and more throughout the weekend.

15. Dine early and order a Margherita pizza at Tony's Pizza Napoletana, where only 73 of them are served each day.

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Tony Gemignani, the man behind Tony's Pizza Napoletana, is a 12-time World Pizza Champion.

16. Spend the day learning about animals at the San Francisco Zoo.

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There's a wide range of animals on-site, including an emu, two-toed sloth, rhino, and more.

17. Sip on a handcrafted cocktail at Bourbon & Branch, a classic Prohibition-style speakeasy.

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True to the 1920s, you'll need to acquire a password for entry. Reservations can be made in advanced to ensure you snag a table at this exclusive bar.

18. Spend your day exploring the stacks at City Lights, the country's first all-paperback bookstore.

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This independent bookstore was originally opened in 1953.

19. Spend the day exploring Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in North America.

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Order dim sum while you're there at local hotspots like Delicious Dim Sum, Good Mong Kok Bakery, or Good Luck Dim Sum.

20. Wear your silliest costume and participate in the Bay to Breakers race that happens every year on the third Sunday of May.

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Bay to Breakers is the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world and has called San Francisco home since 1912.

21. Learn about the history of Disney magic at the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio.

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If your visit falls between March and October, stop by the Presidio Picnic for some good eats. The event happens on the fourth Sunday of each month and has a variety of food and drink vendors to choose from.

22. Shop till you drop at the various stores in Union Square.

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Keep an eye out for the unique art installations scattered throughout the square.

23. Satisfy your sweet tooth with an ice cream cone from Bi-Rite Creamery.

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You can also order pies, cupcakes, cookies, and more!

24. Challenge your brain at the California Academy of Sciences, featuring exhibits like a living roof, rainforest, aquarium, planetarium, and more.

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If you're 21+, attend the after-hours NightLife event every Thursday from 6-10 p.m. that features a new theme each week plus cocktails.

25. Check out the Folsom Street Fair — the world's largest leather event — held every September in South of Market.

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The Folsom Street Fair is geared for leather and fetish enthusiasts. There are hundreds of booths to explore, BDSM demos, live music, and a dance floor for visitors.

26. Check out the view of the Golden Gate Bridge as you jog or bike through Crissy Field.

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You can picnic on the large grassy area or watch windsurfers on the beaches nearby.

27. Enjoy the ocean views as you dine at the Cliff House, established in 1858, near Ocean Beach.

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After your meal, stroll along the beach to watch the sunset or watch surfers catching the waves.

28. Get your caffeine fix at Andytown Coffee Roasters, Home, or Pinhole Coffee.

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Pair your coffee with a delicious pastry from Tartine Bakery or Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

29. Order a delicious chocolate sundae at Ghirardelli Square.

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Ghirardelli Square is a short walk from Fort Mason and the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park.

30. Smell the flowers at the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park.

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For even more floral fun, stop by the Japanese Tea Garden, which is also located in Golden Gate Park.

31. And finally, don't forget to treat yourself to a crab sandwich as you watch the San Francisco Giants take the field at AT&T Park.

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Don't forget to grab an order of garlic fries and beer to wash down your meal!

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