Local's Guide to San Francisco's Best Outdoor Activities & Restaurants

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Advisor - Marissa Morrill
Curated By

Marissa Morrill

  • San Francisco

  • California

  • USA

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Solo Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Group Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Foodie

  • Sightseeing

the red golden gate bridge
Curator’s statement

San Francisco is where I call home so I'm a tiny bit biased but the food and drink culture mixed with the massive parks and outside activities make it a place every foodie and outdoor lover should visit. SF is a great place to visit solo, with a group, or with your partner. If you want to get out of the city for the day, you can always hit up wine country, which is just an hour away. Bring layers though because Karl the Fog can sneak in at any moment!

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Things to do in San Francisco

busy green park at the top of a hilly city with a clear blue sky

Parks + Picnics

San Francisco has incredible and expansive parks where you can always find locals picnicking, playing volleyball or hosting a birthday hangout. The parks are all very green with lots of trees so it's a great place to hang for the afternoon with some drinks and snacks.

  • Dolores Park: Iconic SF park with expansive views of the city.

  • Alamo Square Park: Snag a park bench opposite the infamous Pink Ladies.

  • Chrissy Field: If you want to picnic while looking over the bay and the Golden Gate bridge and get some steps in, Chrissy Field is where you should head.

  • Golden Gate Park: This is the biggest park in the city and depending what neighborhood you're in, you can likely stumble upon it. The Botanical Gardens and a few museums like the De Young and California Academy of Science are also in Golden Gate Park and a great place to stop if it's rainy or if you have kids.

Hiking + Walks

  • Twin Peaks: Hike up to the top of Twin Peaks for some epic views of the city.

  • Lands End: If you want to check out the pacific ocean, head out to the west side of SF for some beautiful beaches and sites like the Sutro Baths and look out points towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Fort Mason to Golden Gate Bridge: Rent a bike or walk the ~3 mile walk (partially uphill!) along the marina to the Golden Gate Bridge vista point. Bring a jacket though - it might be sunny but it is very windy!

  • Walk around the Valencia corridor in the Mission: There's tons of local restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, book stores, clothing stores that you can stumble upon on Valencia Street. You'll find locals and visitors coming in and out and you could spend all day here. Start at Valencia & 24th Street and walk towards Market street. Grab an ice cream at Smitten or a cocktail at The Beehive!

Day Trips

If you're looking to get out of the city for a day, head up to Sonoma for wine tastings and other amazing restaurants. You can spend the night up there or come back in time for a late dinner in SF.

If you're looking to do a big hike with beautiful views, head over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin and hike near Mount Tamalpais or Tennessee Valley.

Places to eat & drink in San Francisco

cocktail with flower petals and a candle


  • Philz (multiple locations): Founded in the Mission neighborhood of SF, this is a favorite spot for locals. Try their Iced Mint Mojito! Insider tip - if you're walking along the marina near Chrissy Field, they have a coffee truck there and a great place to grab a coffee and keep walking!

  • Andytown (Sunset): Head out to the Sunset neighborhood and grab a matcha, latte or one of their incredible baked goods and stroll along the path above Ocean Beach.

  • Stonemill Matcha (Mission): If you're into matcha, this place is amazing! Their food and drinks are almost too pretty to consume but it's a great spot to try. There can be a line so brace yourself.


  • Tartine Manufactory (Mission): Tartine is one of SF's most iconic bread bakers and they opened this restaurant in the Mission which serves all their incredible breads and baked goods along with other brunch options. The building and space inside is also beautiful! If you are closer to Dolores Park, you can stop at their bakery and grab some things there too.

  • Plow (Potrero Hill): Run, do not walk, for the french toast at Plow! Some of the best traditional brunch foods can be found at this iconic brunch spot. But with the incredible food comes some insane wait times so get here very early (like 7am early and try a weekday!).

  • Outerlands (Sunset): If you want to hang with the locals, come out to the outer sunset and try their breakfast sandwich or dutch pancake! They have indoor and outdoor space and pups are welcome outside. Come early as they don't take reservations for brunch.


  • Ernest (Mission): If you're looking for something a little fancy or have a reason to celebrate, come let the chef cook for you at Ernest (aka try their tasting menu). If you like seafood and modern twists on traditional Asian dishes, you have to come here. Everything is incredible and the drinks are also amazing. You definitely need a reservation so book early!

  • DamnFine (Sunset): Pizza, pizza and more pizza. Whether you are picking up pizzas for takeout or want somewhere you can bring your kids or your new date, this is a great hidden gem in the Sunset. You can make reservations but can usually find a spot at the bar without one too!

  • Flores (Marina): Interested in some margs and tacos after walking through Chrissy Field to the Golden Gate Bridge? Flores has you covered.

  • Liholiho Yacht Club (Nob Hill): Want a taste of Hawaii in California? Then head to Liholiho for some Hawaiian inspired dishes from steam buns to a baked Hawaiian. Their cocktails are also amazing! You can also book a res in advance and if you love it here, check out their sister restaurant, Good Good Culture Club in the Mission.

  • Mister Jiu's (Chinatown): It is so hard to pick what brings people back here: the food, the drinks, the view or the beautifully designed space. But regardless, you must come here (and you pretty much must have a reservation). It's a modern Chinese American restaurant in a historic Chinatown spot. It's great for date night or a celebration with a group and try everything!

  • Nopa (Nopa): This SF staple has been around for years and is in the heart of the Nopa neighborhood. Come for some traditional American dishes, all made in a wood burning grill and oven. Their ingredients are all locally sourced and the restaurant has an amazing cozy, neighborhood environment.

Advisor - Marissa Morrill

Travel Advisor

Marissa Morrill

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to San Francisco.