Trying to find something fun and exciting to do in San Francisco is about as hard as blinking your eyes. In other words, it isn’t hard at all. San Francisco always has something going on.
Whether your loved one is taking a quick trip to the City by the Bay or is a lifelong resident, there’s always something new and entertaining for him/her to do. The hardest part is trying to narrow down the options.
With that in mind, here’s a list of 30 of the most entertaining experience gifts in San Francisco.
30 Best San Francisco Experiences
Fun on the Open Water: America’s Cup Sailing, San Francisco, CA
Send your friend out for a little daytime sailing adventure on the USA 76, a certified-Cup Sailing competition-level ship. The trip lasts about two and a half hours and will introduce him to competitive sailing.
It also gives him a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge from a vantage point he’s probably never considered. He can sit back and enjoy the peace and beauty of the scene, or he can get up and actually help sail the boat.
Either way, he’s in for a great time.
For the History Buffs: Fire Engine Tour, San Francisco, CA
For the loved one who wishes she was raised in the 50’s, this is the perfect gift. She’ll get to take a tour of lovely San Francisco while riding in the back of a vintage 1955 Mack Fire Engine. She’ll see such sights as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Baker, Sausalito, Union Street, Crissy Field and more.
The driver also acts as a personal tour guide, giving your loved one a lot of great historical facts about the different areas, and she’ll even get to wrap up in authentic fire gear for extra comfort and warmth.
A Delicious Treat: Wine Country Tour, San Francisco, CA
With this package, your friend will have his own private guide. Together, the two of them will set up an itinerary that’ll allow them to visit between four and six different wineries – some of the best in Northern California.
He’ll travel in style in modern luxury vans and learn about the history of California wine-making. He’ll get to taste some of the best, most award-winning wines in the area. It’s a very intimate tour, and he’ll share it with only a handful of other patrons, meaning he’ll get the best possible experience.
A New and Interesting Skill to Add to the Resume: Flying Trapeze Lesson, Oakland, CA
If you have a friend who’s ever wanted to run away and join the circus, this just might be the most unusual, but perfect, gift you could give her. She can actually learn to fly on the trapeze like a real circus trapeze artist.
The instructors teaching her have over 40 years of combined experience, and the company itself has been operating for 15 years. She’ll warm up on the stationary bar before heading up the ladder to actually fly on the trapeze.
Her session will include a spotting belt and safety lines, so she’ll be 100% safe the entire time she’s there.
A Little Bit of Everything: Russian River Kayak, Bike and Wine Tour, Sebastopol, CA
This experience includes several different, exciting activities all rolled into one great package. Your friend will get to enjoy the beauty of California wine country in three separate ways: while riding on a bike through the vineyards, by enjoying the scenery while kayaking down the slow-moving Russian River and while eating a delicious gourmet picnic featuring premium, local products.
Her tour guide will give a great lesson on the history of wine-making in the area, and she’ll be able to visit up to four different wineries for tastings. In addition to the lovely vineyards, great wine and delicious food, she’ll also enjoy seeing lots of local wildlife and birds.
A Romantic Evening at Home: Romantic Dinner, San Francisco, CA
As much fun as it is to go out and experience new things, there’s a lot to be said for having a nice, intimate, romantic night in the comfort of your own home. This is especially true if you have couple friends who never seem to get enough time together.
Purchase them this experience, and give them the gift of staying at home and having some great, stress-free, quality time together. They’ll have their own personal chef for the night. She’ll come with groceries, cook their food, set their table and serve them a delicious, four-course, gourmet meal.
It’s the perfect evening for two people in love.
A Scenic Tour: San Francisco Segway Tour, San Francisco, CA
For the friend who’d love to take a walking tour of San Francisco but doesn’t really want to do the walking part, give him the opportunity to explore the City by the Bay while riding a Segway instead. This is one of the most fun tours in the entire state, and the company leading it has been in operation for over six successful years.
Your friend will see some of San Francisco’s most famous sights including Aquatic Park, Municipal Pier and Ghirardelli Square. He’ll also see Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, the National Maritime Museum and so much more on this two-hour tour.
Tickle Their Taste Buds: Historic Mission District Food Tour, San Francisco, CA
This is another great San Francisco tour, especially for the friend who loves food. She’ll enjoy dishes from some of San Francisco’s most famous restaurants and most well-loved hidden gems. She’ll also have the opportunity to visit the bustling markets and see some fantastic street murals.
The tour lasts about three hours and will give your friend access to delicious, authentic Mexican tacos, Latin American pupusas, thin crust pizzas and so much more. There’s also a lot of great culture and heritage on display in these neighborhoods that she’s sure to enjoy.
Get in Touch with Nature: Muir Woods Tour, San Francisco, CA
If your friend loves seeing the sights and taking tours but isn’t really into it for the food, hook him up with this gorgeous, nature-filled tour of Muir Woods. There he’ll be able to see California’s famous Redwood Sequoias, many of which are over 300-feet in height.
It’s a small, intimate tour, and he’ll only share it with about a dozen other people. He’ll also make a stop at the Ferry Building where he can buy such local San Franciscan originals as sourdough bread, chocolate, coffee, delicate pastries and more.
There’s also a photo op on the Golden Gate Bridge before the tour ends at Fisherman’s Wharf.
For the Golfer: Golf Lessons with a PGA Pro, Foster City, CA
If you’re looking to bring your friend’s golf game up to a whole new level, buy her a private, one-on-one lesson with PGA Class A professional Joby Ross, who has over 25 years of teaching experience when it comes to the sport.
He’s also been named one of California’s best golf instructors twice. Together, the two of them will work on adding distance to her drive, ensuring she has the proper posture, grip and alignment, improving her swing mechanics and short game and more.
Get Their Blood Pumping: Urban Jungles Hike, San Francisco, CA
This three-hour, five-mile hike is unlike anything your friend has ever experienced. On it, he’ll climb three different hills, visit Twin Peaks and Sutro Tower and be led to a hidden eucalyptus forest.
He’ll have optimal views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park, as well as a stunning view of downtown San Francisco. This is an Urban Hike through some of San Francisco’s most stunning areas, and he won’t be disappointed in the experience.
For the Outdoorsman: 3-Day Yosemite Camping Adventure, San Francisco, CA
If you have a friend who loves to hike, camp and experience all things outdoors, this is the experience for her. It’s a guided camping tour that starts in San Francisco and ends in gorgeous Yosemite National Park.
She’ll get to hike through the giant sequoias, visit the sites of several stunning waterfalls, scale granite cliffs and enjoy the beautiful scenery on all sides. Plus, there’s nothing quite like sleeping beneath the starry sky in Yosemite.
She’ll see such stunning sights as Half Dome, May Lake, Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan and more. The campground is full-service, so she’ll have access to running water and other modern conveniences.
On the second day of the trip, she’ll stop to have a picnic lunch before heading off to explore Mount Hoffman. While the rest of the tour is guided, the last day is hers to do with as she pleases. She can hike, swim, rent a bike or just sit out in nature and enjoy her day.
It’s the perfect experience for nature lovers.
For the Friend with a Sweet Tooth: Gourmet Chocolate Tour, San Francisco, CA
This is a guided tour of all the best gourmet chocolate boutiques in San Francisco. With her guide, your friend will have a nice stroll through the Ferry Building Marketplace and into Union Square. She’ll learn a little about the history and traditions of the area and a lot about chocolate making and what makes the most delicious chocolates.
She’ll visit six different boutiques and get to sample the very best chocolates each one has to offer. Afterwards, she’ll be given a “Chocolate Lover Card.” This will give her discounts and other VIP perks at 10 different chocolate boutiques in the area.
For the Techies: Guided Tour of Silicon Valley, San Francisco, CA
If you have a loved one in your life who’s intrigued by anything related to technology, this guided tour of Silicon Valley – the tech capital of America – is the perfect gift experience. He’ll get to visit the headquarters of tech and media giants like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Oracle, Google and Uber.
He’ll also be able to visit the Computer History Museum and learn about the technical revolution. Getting to see the very first Apple computer, the Cray-1 supercomputer and Google’s original servers will also get his techie flag flying.
Put Their Heads in the Clouds: Sonoma Valley Hot Air Balloon Ride, Healdsburg, CA
This experience will take your friend about an hour and a half outside of San Francisco, but it’s absolutely, 100% worth the drive. After a brief orientation and a little history of ballooning, she’ll be taken to where the balloons are being readied for lift-off.
Once the balloon’s ready, she’ll climb in and lift off from the ground, gently floating through the air, seeing San Francisco, many of California’s vineyards and the Pacific Ocean from an entirely new vantage point.
It’s one of the most beautiful, peaceful trips she’s ever likely to take.
A Very Interest Site: Alcatraz Sailing Adventure, San Francisco, CA
This sailing adventure lasts about an hour and a half and will take your friend on a narrated cruise down the water around Alcatraz Island. While he won’t actually go into the prison, he will sail all around it on a 55-foot catamaran.
He’ll also see Coit Tower, the Ferry Building and more. It’s the perfect way to experience Alcatraz for those with a love of sailing and little time to spare.
If you have a buddy who’s never ridden a Tuk Tuk, now’s the time to change that. He’ll pile into the Tuk Tuk and have a guided tour through 15 different neighborhoods in San Francisco before taking a ferry to visit Alcatraz.
There he’ll be equipped with an audio headset and can take a self-guided tour through the cell house of the famous prison. Additionally, he’ll get to see Golden State Park, Fisherman’s Wharf and other notable San Francisco sights.
All told, it lasts about two and a half hours, and he’s sure to have a blast.
For the Lover of Brews: Craft Beer Crawl, San Francisco, CA
This is another Tuk Tuk guided tour, only this one will take your friend to experience some of the best beer San Francisco has to offer. She’ll ride the Tuk Tuk through the city, taking in all the beauty of San Francisco, before stopping at three different, award-winning breweries, where she’ll learn about the history of brewing and get to taste some of their most delicious brews.
In between stops, she’ll get to continue the tastings, and she can even sing a little karaoke if she’s brave enough. The tour lasts about three hours, which includes three, 45-minute stops at each brewery.
A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: Cable Car Photo Safari, San Francisco, CA
For the friend in your life who loves to post everything to Instagram, Tumblr and other social media sites, you can’t pass up this opportunity to send her around San Francisco with professional photographer Elle Gamboa.
She’ll get a 30-minute orientation with Gamboa, where she’ll go over how to pick the best lighting, how to get the best exposure, etc. Then they’ll pile into a cable car and spend half the day exploring and snapping beautiful photos.
Your friend will visit Ghirardelli Square, Market Street, Coit Tower, and Lombard Street, also known as “the crookedest street in the world.” She’ll have a great time, and you’ll enjoy her pictures when the day is done.
A Trip through the City: Sausalito Food & Drink Tour, Sausalito, CA
This is a must-take tour for the foodie in your friend group. It’s a guided walking tour through downtown Sausalito that takes about three and a half hours. There are four stops along the way, where your friend will get to experience chocolate, wine and delicious food.
The guide will also give him a little history of the area, and he’ll have a breathtaking view of the San Francisco skyline. With this mouthwatering tour, he’ll taste and sip his way through Sausalito.
Climbing the Stairway to Heaven: San Francisco Stairway Hike, San Francisco, CA
This tour/climb isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a 2.5-hour, 4.5-mile hike through San Francisco’s urban jungle. In addition to climbing the Filbert Steps and having a meet-and-greet with Coit Tower’s wild parrots, your friend will also get to visit Jack Early Park, Lombard Street, the spot where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe took their wedding photos and more.
He’ll descend the hill via the Greenwich Steps, and he’ll definitely feel the burn. Still, it’s a great trip for your fitness-loving buddy who would also like a little bit of San Francisco history and culture.
For the High Climbers: Intro to Rock Climbing, Berkeley, CA
This is another one for the more active member of your circle. Give your friend the experience of a lifetime with this exclusive, learn-to-rock-climb package that’ll actually have her scaling the side of a mountain in Northern California.
She’ll start by meeting her guide. Then she’ll learn some safety tips, how to tie knots and how the climbing system operates. Whether she’s a total beginner or an experienced climber, her guide will work with her level of experience and get her climbing before the day is done.
It’s a full-body workout that’ll leave her feeling exhausted and totally content.
Take them a Little Higher: Intro to Aerial Acrobatics, San Jose, CA
Send your friend a little higher with this introductory course to aerial acrobatics. He’ll be paired up with an FAA-Certified instructor who’s logged over 7,000 flight hours. Your friend won’t just be experiencing this flight from the passenger seat though.
He’ll actually be flying the plane! The instructor will provide him with an hour-long flight lesson that includes such techniques as stalls, hammerheads, rolls, Cuban eights, loops and more. Even if your friend has never flown a plane in his life, he’ll be flying like a pro in this Decathlon aircraft.
A Little Taste of Asia: Chinatown Food Tour, San Francisco, CA
If you have a loved one who’s always wanted to experience authentic Asian cuisine but can’t just hop on a plane and fly east, send her to Chinatown instead. She’ll visit some of Chinatown’s most popular ethnic eateries and specialty food stores.
She’ll enjoy egg tart, dim sum, baked buns and more, and the best part is because she’s part of the tour, she gets to skip all the lines! On this three-hour tour, she’ll even get to visit the Dragon Gate, the oldest Buddhist Temple in the city and the Chinese Fortune Cookie Factory.
She’ll be treated to the following Asian cuisines: Szechuan, Mandarin and Cantonese.
For the Music Lovers: Private DJ Lesson, San Francisco, CA
Whether your friend’s a professional DJ wanting to hone his craft or has never touched a turntable in his life, he can still have some fun and learn a lot with this private, one-on-one DJ lesson taught by world-renowned and well-known DJs.
He’ll learn about beat juggling and matching, scratching, sampling, music theory, key and flow and more.
Send them to Relax on the Ocean’s Waves: Romantic Sunset Catamaran Cruise, San Francisco, CA
This is another one for the couple friends in your life. Send them out for a romantic night on a catamaran, complete with wine, music and a gorgeous sunset. They’ll depart from Fisherman’s Wharf and take a cruise lasting a little over an hour past some of San Francisco’s most famous attractions including the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.
They’ll also be treated to a fantastic view of the San Francisco cityscape, as well as Treasure Island and Angel Island in the distance. It doesn’t get much more romantic than that.
The Most Beautiful Sight: Bioluminescent Kayak Adventure in Tomales Bay, Marshall, CA
This one is about an hour and 20 minutes outside of San Francisco, but if your loved one has the time to make that drive, she won’t regret it. This is one of the all-time favorite experiences for people who visit San Francisco.
It has a 4.5-star rating, and everyone who’s tried it has loved it. Seeing actual bioluminescence in person is not something many people can claim to have done, but your friend can be one of those few who can.
She’ll kayak out to Tomales Bay, one of the largest protected coastal and bay areas in the state, and there she’ll get to see one of nature’s most beautiful natural occurrences. Living organisms in the water will light up the night, particularly on clear, moonless nights.
Every time she dips her paddle into the water, she’ll light up the surrounding waters. Watching these organisms swim through the black water is also a sight to behold.
Drinks and Dessert: San Fran Ultra Chocolate & Cocktail Tour, San Francisco, CA
Who doesn’t want to spend the day eating chocolate and drinking? With this experience, that’s exactly what your friend will get to do. This tour, which is about three hours long, will give her a great history lesson on San Francisco, the chocolate-making process and how to pair cocktails with chocolate.
She’ll get to experiment with different pairings, such as a chocolate and craft cocktail pairing, a Belgian beer and dark chocolate pairing, Hazelnut Parisian macaroons paired with wine and more. She’ll also leave the tour with a “Chocolate Lovers Card” that gives her VIP access to several chocolate boutiques.
A Tour of the Coast: Guided Tour of the Pacific Coast Highway, San Francisco, CA
If your friend’s the type who just loves to ride or drive, he’ll love this guided tour along the Pacific Coast Highway. He’ll get to visit several different iconic destinations on this 17-mile drive. These include Carmel-by-the-Sea, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey Bay, Lone Pine and Pebble Beach.
The pick-up and drop-off spots are both at swanky San Franciscan hotels, and he’ll have free WiFi during the entire trip. He’ll get to see some of California’s native wildlife, birds and trees, and he’ll love the feeling of the wind blowing through his hair as he cruises down the highway.
Food and the Forest: Redwoods & Wine Country Lunch Tour, San Francisco, CA
There are few things that are more Californian than wine and Redwoods. This fantastic tour combines both. This is a day-long tour that’ll allow your loved one to cross over the Golden Gate Bridge and then stroll through one of California’s most famous Redwood forests, taking in the serenity and beauty of the 300-foot trees.
She’ll then head to Sonoma and Napa Valleys to visit the vineyards and drop in on three boutique wineries. She’ll have lunch and get to taste some of the best vintages the boutiques have to offer. She’ll also get to see some of the more historic landmarks in the Valleys.
On the way home, she’ll stop at a local vista spot, where she’ll have a phenomenal view of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco as a whole. It’s a great photo op to cap off her amazing day.
Leave Your Heart in San Francisco
Believe it or not, San Francisco is consistently ranked among all U.S. cities as being one of the healthiest, happiest places to live. Maybe it’s because San Francisco has the best of everything.
It’s got plenty of open, natural places, but there’s also a bustling city life; it’s residents are known for their overindulgence in delicious food and drinks, but they’re also well-known for being very health conscious and exercising regularly; it’s home to some of the most booming aspects of technology imaginable, but there’s also a thriving arts and music scene. San Francisco really does have it all.
San Francisco is the fifth most visited U.S. city by foreign tourists, so the part of the city concerned with bringing in tourist revenue is always putting together something new and exciting. That’s what makes finding something to do there so hard. It isn’t because there aren’t enough choices; it’s because there are so many great opportunities for excitement and entertainment that it’s hard to choose one thing over another.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that no matter what you choose, it’s probably going to be great. Making a decision may be difficult, but once you’ve finally made it, you can rest assured that your friend, relative or loved one will be very likely to enjoy whatever experience gift you’ve purchased for him/her.
That’s because there’s nothing boring about San Francisco. When giving experience gifts in any city, the golden rule is simply not to purchase an event that’s absolutely foreign to the giftee’s interests. That means no heavy metal concerts for the conservative Christian friends in your life and no deep sea diving for the friend who can’t swim and who hates water.
As long as you follow that one golden rule, chances are you’re going to be fine. Experiences always make much better gifts than material things because you’re giving your loved ones the chance to experience something new and make beautiful new memories that will last them the rest of their lives. Try not to stress out too much over picking your gift. You’ve got this.
What is your absolute favorite thing to do in San Francisco? Is there a hidden gem in the city that we should know about but didn’t include in our list? Let us know about it down below in the comments section. Also, don’t forget to like and share our gift-giving guide.
Come back and see us again soon!