31 Free (or Cheap) Things to do in San Francisco

So you’re looking to get out and enjoy the city, but you’re afraid of spending a lot of money. Great news! There’s a ton of cool, local stuff to see and do in San Francisco that won’t cost you (or won’t cost you much). Unless you want a drink. That’s extra.

SoMa

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Rincon Center Murals

The history of California, as told through Russian surrealist murals.

Glass elevator joy ride Westin St. Francis

As Drake would say, views.

Free Belgian Waffle Wednesday

Capital One Cafe has “Waffle Wednesdays” every week from 9-11am. That’s a sweet way to get over hump day.

Fog Bridge

A permanent (and free!) installation from the Exploratorium where water is pumped at a high pressure through more than 800 nozzles lining the bridge, creating an immersive environment where you're shrouded in mist.

Ferry Building

People watching + sample eating = several hours well spent.

Farmers Markets

Find out what’s in season and cook with hella fresh produce? That’s a win-win. There’s one in practically every ‘hood too.

Free Museum Day

The MoMa and Contemporary Jewish Museum offer one free museum day a month, and their public art spaces are always free year ‘round too.

North Beach

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Telegraph Hill/Coit Tower

Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Empire State Building, we’ve got Coit Tower. Take an urban hike up Telegraph Hill (don’t forget to say hi to the parrots) and check out the Diego Rivera mural on the first floor. It’ll cost you to take the elevator to the top, but getting there is its own reward.

Filbert Street Steps

While you’re at Coit Tower, take a little detour to the steepest steps in the Western hemisphere!

Hyde Street Pier

It costs money to go inside the five historical boats, but it's totally free to Instagram them from the outside.

Pay What You Can Exploratorium Day

The Exploratorium likes to get creative with their reduced rates, so keep an eye out for Pi Day, Mother’s Day, and other Community discount days throughout the year.

Reading at City Lights Books  

It’s like a real life audiobook.

Movie Night in the Park @ Washington Square Park

Across a handful of days in the summer, you can enjoy a classic flick in the historic park.

North Beach Festival

For two days every June, North Beach is decked out with arts and crafts, gourmet food booths, and three stages of live entertainment.

Transamerica Pyramid

You can’t ride to the top, but you can catch the view from the live feed in the adjacent visitor center. This is also a great spot to kick back in Redwood Park right next door.

The Mission

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The Knockout

Lots of great events every month, from karaoke to drawing to bingo. No cover charge!

Music at Amnesia

Tired? Live shows at Amoeba. Wired? Daily live shows at Amnesia.

Dolores Park

It’s a San Francisco institution.

Seward Street Slide

A big-kid concrete slide. Just remember to BYOC (Bring Your Own Cardboard).

Visit the church from Sister Act 2

Lauryn Hill and Whoopi sighting not guaranteed.

Shakespeare in McLaren Park

Doust thou like-th free-th Shakespeare in the park-th?

Precita Eyes Murals

As these started in the '70s, the probability is high that you’ve seen these eponymous Eyes around the Mission, but the storefront has maps to other locations.

Movie Night @ Dolores Park

Bundle up, bring a picnic basket, and catch a flick in the park!

Everything else-ish

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SF Beer Shuttle

On the third Wednesday of each month, San Francisco Brewers Guild shuttles beer lovers around to breweries on a free bus. "Meet the Brewers" night starts at 6pm, and the bus runs on a schedule, hitting four to six bars in a specific area such as Haight/Sunset, Dogpatch/Mission Bay, SoMa/Union Square, or Mission/Dolores/Bernal. You do have to pay for whatever beer you drink, though.  

SF Library Discover & Go pass

You can reserve a limited number of passes for places ranging from the Asian Art Museum to Coit Tower to the Conservatory of Flowers. All you need is a library card!

SF Walking Tour

Choose a themed tour, from Hitchcock to historical, all over the city, all year long.

Catch the Golden Gate Park band on a lazy Sunday in Golden Gate Park

One of America's oldest professional concert bands plays classical music, marches, Broadway show tunes, and more in Golden Gate Park from mid-June through early October.

Free Friday nights at the de Young

Like Night at the Museum, but you actually learn something. Or at the very least, snap a pic in front of the selfie wall. Friday nights at the de Young run from end of September through November.

Take a circus class

Learn how to juggle, walk the tight wire, and generally clown around at Circus Center’s free open play session every Friday night.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

This three-day outdoor concert answers the question: what if Outside Lands were free and not foggy because it’s held in October?

Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown

Much like Alcatraz, everyone’s gotta go once, if only to experience the chocolate fortune cookie.

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