San Francisco Bay Area Bucket List

In the San Francisco Bay area there are literally thousands of things you can do on any given day.  If you are a San Francisco local, or a tourist visiting for only a few short days, check out these “must do” items on the San Francisco bucket list. Photo: Sherrie Perkovich

SAN FRANCISCO, OCTOBER 12, 2011 - In the San Francisco Bay area there are literally thousands of things you can do on any given day.  If you are a San Francisco local, or a tourist visiting for only a few short days, check out these “must do” items on the San Francisco bucket list. 

If you are a local, chances are you have done a few of these.  If you are visiting the Bay Area, this list can help you use your time wisely.  This list only scratches the surface and is not in any particular order.

  1. Walk/bike over the Golden Gate Bridge then drive up to the Marin Headlands to Golden Gate Bridge overlook
  2. Visit one of the many wine regions around SF
  3. Hike Mount Tam, and have lunch in Stinson Beach
  4. Spend a day hiking, playing and picnicking Mt. Diablo or Angel Island
  5. Pub crawl local brew pubs and dive bars while drinking local craft beers (Toronado, Magnolia, Alembic, Thirsty Bear, City Beer Store, La Trappe, Zeitgeist, 21st Amendment & Lucky 13 are faves)
  6. Walk/bike from Ft. Mason to Ft. Point through Crissy Field
  7. San Francisco - Fort Point under Golden Gate Bridge

  8. Drive Highway 1 north to Mendocino and The Avenue of the Giants and/or Highway 1 south through Half Moon Bay to Carmel and Big Sur
  9. Check out a concert at one of SF’s famous, intimate concert venues (Boom Boom Room, Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, Bottom of the Hill, Biscuits & Blues, Yoshi’s, Café du Nord, Elbo Room, The Independent and of course Fillmore West…just to name a few) 
  10. Spend a day exploring and hiking through Golden Gate Park or the Presidio.
  11. Walk from Union Square to the top of Nob Hill (you can take the cable car if you aren’t able or willing to hike up the STEEP hills). Reward yourself with a drink at the Top of the Mark (in the Mark Hopkins hotel).
  12. Hike the lesser known trails and parks in San Fran (Sutro Heights Park, Mt. Davidson, Dolores Park, China Beach, Fort Funston).

12.  Attend a tasting event. Wine, beer, whiskey, scotch. You name it.  A few great events to plan your weekend around are WhiskyFest, Big Sur Food & Wine Festival, Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza, San Francisco Ski & Snowboard Wine & Beer Expo, Hopland Wine Passport Weekend, PinotFest in Monterery or Pinot Days SF, Bodega Bay Seafood Art & Wine Festival, ZinFest, Livermore Wine Country Festival and Heart of Sonoma Valley Open House Thanksgiving Weekend

Livermore Valley Wine Country Scenic View

13.  Grab dinner at one of San Francisco’s (and the country’s) best restaurants (according to locals and SF Gate).

14.  Sit outside and enjoy brunch in the warm sun (seasonal). Zazie, Plow, Baker Street Bistro, Magic Flute, Foreign Cinema, Reverie, Mama’s &  Ella’s (no outdoor seating at these last two, but AWESOME food).

15.  Hit one of SF’s museum night events (NightLife at California Academy of Sciences, Friday Nights at the De Young, SFMOMA)

16.  Some of the best sushi in the world is here… it’s a “must try!”

17.  Skip the bus tour and hop into a Bay cruise (Bay Voyager, Blue & Gold Fleet, Hornblower, Red and White Fleet)

San Francisco RIB Bay Voyager Cruise of SF Bay, Alcatraz in background.

18.  Bend an ear at one of the many outdoor concerts (many of which are free) such as Stern Grove, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Outside Lands, Yerba Buena Gardens Fest, Treasure Island Music Fest or Free Shakespeare in the Park

San Francisco Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Elvis Costello, Peter Rowan, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Warren Hellman, Del McCoury. Photo by Jay Blakesberg

19.  Shop ‘til you drop in SF’s charming boutique areas like Union St, Chestnut St. and The Castro

20.  Express your artistic side by visiting one of SF’s many museums

21.  Traveling with kids? Then be sure to stop by the Exploratorium, Monterey Bay Aquarium (1.5 hours south of SF), Sonoma Traintown (1 hour north of SF) or the California Academy of Sciences

22.  Drive up to Twin Peaks for the city’s most breath-taking views

23.  Tour Alcatraz, especially at night.  Be sure to take the audio tour as well as experience the individual docent tours

24.  Hike Lands End and the visit the historic Sutro Baths ruins

25.  Catch a San Francisco Giants game at gorgeous AT&T Park

Over the course of the next few months, I’ll be writing feature articles about each of these items on my bucket list.  A few of them I’ve already covered (see the main column section for Out and About San Francisco).  The rest will come with incredible detail and suggestions based on personal experience.  Follow me along on this journey.  Locals, let me know if you think something is missing from this list that my readers should hear about!

Golden Gate Bridge with SF Bay view. Taken from the Marin Headlands by Sherrie Perkovich.


Weather:  Be sure to check the weather here.  Best times of year to come are March-May and September-November.  The summer is great for those activities outside the San Francisco city limits.  SF gets a fair amount of rain December-February.  So plan accordingly.  Always bring layers of clothing. And don’t forget your summer scarves!

For brunch, to avoid a wait, get there before 10am.   I know this might be tough on a weekend, especially if you just went wine tasting or beer guzzling.  But it’s worth it to get up and out before the crowds.

For anything requiring tickets, be sure to book in advance.

Read up on the history of San Francisco.

For many of these activities you can take public transportation, such as MUNI buses and streetcars.  If you are coming from the East Bay, you can take BART and transfer to MUNI.  If you are coming from the South Bay, you can take CalTrain and transfer to MUNI.  From Marin, take Golden Gate Transit buses.  To plan your trip with all available public transportation, click here.

For activities outside San Francisco, it is best to rent a car and drive.

Quick links to feature articles for items on The Bucket List:

10 things to do in San Francisco in October

The best free concerts in San Francisco: Stern Grove

Golden views from Golden Gate Bridge

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music Festival

Livermore Valley Wine Part 1 & Part 2

The Presidio, a park to love

Sonoma: Swirl into wine country


Columnist Sherrie Perkovich offers an insider’s perspective of the very best San Francisco has to offer. Join her weekly to experience the best the City by the Bay has to offer - from parties to parks and everything in between. 

Sherrie is a San Francisco local that fancies herself an extroverted fine dining, wine drinking, know-it-all.  If it’s happening in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sherrie is in on it.  Follow her column, for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco treats.  

Read more of Sherrie’s work at Out And About San Francisco in the Communities at the Washington Times.  Follow Out and About on Twitter and on Facebook for even more inside scoop. 

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Sherrie Perkovich

Sherrie is a perky, music and wine-loving, Northern California local that seeks out and spreads the word about San Francisco experiences as well as unforgettable wine-related travel experiences.  She is CMO of The Grape Hunter USA, where they focus on helping artisan wineries and developing unique wine travel for consumers. Follow her on Twitter @BigNoseWino

Sherrie is a San Francisco local that fancies herself an extroverted fine dining, wine drinking, know-it-all.  If it’s happening near SF, Sherrie is in on it.  Follow her columns,  for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco ~ San Jose treats and Wine Country Weekly.  


Contact Sherrie Perkovich


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