Cake icon

We’re celebrating 10 years of Wanderu by giving away $10,000 in free travel!  See details ››

Your Ultimate Travel Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most visited urban areas in the United States. Both naturally stunning and charged with cultural diversity, historic sites and modern areas, the city of San Francisco and its surroundings make a great destination for travelers of all interests and all ages – check out top San Francisco activities for kids here. As always, we’re here to help you make your trips awesome, and if you choose to adventure to the San Francisco Bay Area, here’s our customized guide featuring the best activities and places to visit.

What to See in San Francisco

San Francisco, California, we dare say, is perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in America, where heavenly oceanside views blend with wooded areas and lively neighborhoods packed with street art and fantastic eats. Nicknames like the City by the Bay and the Golden City don’t even begin to do justice to the beauty and cultural spirit of this hub, a place where people from all backgrounds coexist. The city is packed with really cool things to do and below we’ve listed some of our favorites.

The Yard at Mission Rock

A pop-up village created out of shipping containers, The Yard at Mission Rock brings the community – and visitors! – together for food, drinks and events. You can sip a pint at the Anchor Steam beer garden and enjoy a delicious meal from Belcampo Meat Company or Creperies Saint Germain.

Visit Golden Gate Park

If you have a day to spare, get outside and explore Golden Gate Park. Larger than Central Park in NYC, this 1,017-acre park is home to a botanical garden, a Japanese tea garden, a rose garden, a museum and lots of open space to simply wander and play outside. Besides, you’ll get a view of one of the most famous bridges in the world, the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge.

What to Do in Santa Clara

Santa Clara, just a few miles north of San Jose and around 40 miles outside of San Francisco, is another part of the Bay Area you can’t miss, especially if you are looking to spend some fun time with family.

Sample Santa Clara’s best food

One of the marquee eateries in Santa Clara is Athena Grill, a classic Greek diner. Try not to drool too much over the killer gyros, souvlaki and mousaka.

Koreatown in Santa Clara is also worth a visit, and even more so if you are a foodie. The cluster of restaurants on El Camino Real – Koreatown’s main street – offers Korean favorites like bulgogi, bibimbap and Korean-style fried chicken.

Ride the Roller Coasters at Great America

Looking for a thrilling adventure while you vacay in Cali? Then California’s Great America is the place for you. Go for a spin on the 360-degree vertical loop of Flight Deck, fall head over heels – literally – on Firefall, or try out the tallest wooden roller coaster in Northern California on Gold Striker.

A visit to the Boomerang Bay Waterpark is also included in the park admission. If you’re in Santa Clara in the summer, you can get a deal on the Weekday Saver pass for only $40 online, which lets you come back to the park Monday-Friday through Labor Day. More admission information can be found here.

Relax in Ulistac Natural Area

To get away from the crowds and the city life, walk to the Ulistac Natural Area, a lovely park located along the Guadalupe River. Wander the trails through the 40 acres of open space highlighting the seven distinct natural habitats of the area. It’s a great place for both bird- and people-watching!

Where to Stay

If you are looking to get the most bang for your buck, you will probably want to stay outside the city limits of SanFran. Staying in Santa Clara is way cheaper, and you will be able to choose from a variety of good accommodation options. Click here to find the best deals on hotels and hostels in the Santa Clara, CA area.

Some of our Top Picks

The boutique Avatar Hotel in Santa Clara fits right in the tech mecca that is the Bay Area, with its modern decor and hi-tech amenities. The interactive Commons Lounge is a great space to enjoy drinks and snacks while you relax.

Both the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara and the Hilton Santa Clara are also good options if you want to relax outside of San Francisco. If you are someone who appreciates grandeur and luxury, you are going to love the cloud-like Hilton pillows and feather-soft beds. Their rooms are decorated in soft, calm tones that create a welcoming experience for the guests.

Book a ticket to San Jose or San Francisco on or by downloading the Wanderu app and enjoy your adventure to the Bay Area!

Like what you read?
Spread the word:

About the author
Karina Barriga Albring

Karina Barriga Albring

I'm a writer, journalist, soccer lover and hot sauce enthusiast born and bred in the mighty Andes. Wanderlust hit me hard at a young age and since then, it keeps me up at night. NYC and Modena, Italy changed my life, but my favorite destination is still Rio de Janeiro – and not only for the 'futebol'!

Wander with us!

No monkey business, just cheap deals on bus & train travel, straight to your email inbox

Come wander with us!

Follow us for travel hacks, inspo, and deals right in your feed: