Author Archives: Pam

15 Best California Coastal Cities: Sandy Beaches & Fun Activities

Coastline in Malibu with trees, houses, and buildings.

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting getaway, consider visiting one of California’s coastal cities. 

From surfing and sunbathing to picnics and sightseeing, these places offer plenty of activities to keep you entertained.

Plus, many of these places have charming downtowns and fun nightlife that is sure to please any adventurous traveler. 

To help you plan your trip, this guide will explore some of the best California coastal cities offering lots of great things to do.

For easier navigation, the destinations are sectioned starting from the north down to the southern region of the state.

If you want to visit more places in California, check out this guide.

Northern California Coastal Cities

Northern California is famous for its awe-inspiring redwood forests, but the region’s coastline is just as spectacular. 

From rugged cliffs and rocky coves to wide, sandy beaches, there are plenty of coastal cities and communities to explore in this corner of the Golden State. 

You may also like our guide to spring break in California featuring places in the northern region of the state.

Crescent City

Crescent City boasts stunning coastal views featuring rocky beaches and sandy shores.

Viewing the entire city from the top of Battery Point Lighthouse (235 Lighthouse Way) is one of the coolest things to do here. 

The lighthouse is an offshore island that is also a museum open to the public when the tide is low (April through September) and one of the most visited sites. 

Explore some of Crescent City beaches including Crescent Beach for a chance to spot seals and dolphins.

You can also head to Pebble Beach for surfing opportunities, bird watching or to simply enjoy the ocean views.

Lighthouse on a small island off the shore at Crescent City, California.

Bolinas

A small coastal community with a giant waterfall and panoramic views puts Bolinas on the list of California coastal areas worth mentioning.

Alamere Falls is a popular attraction that entices people here because it is one of only two waterfalls in California that flow onto a beach. 

The 13 miles hiking trail isn’t for amateurs but is worth experiencing a remote wilderness and a 39-foot-tall waterfall flowing off a cliff onto Wildcat Beach.

Caution is advised as the trail isn’t maintained and can be dangerous if you get too close to the cliff’s edge. 

Other recommended trails to take that are maintained and safe are Five Brooks Trailhead, Bear Valley Trailhead, and Wildcat Beach

Gualala

Gualala, Spanish for ‘where the water goes down,’ is a coastal community part of Mendocino county and has popular attractions such as the Arts Center, Studio 391 Fine Art Gallery, and Bower Park. 

The Gualala Arts Center (46501 Old Stage Rd) is overflowing with the works of incredible artists, sculptures, and writers who come here to ignite their creative juices. 

Also, for outdoor lovers, Gualala offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching, beach camping, and hiking. 

The Pygmy Forest is a must-visit for seeing century-old miniature redwood pine and cypress trees.

The trail loop of the Pygmy Forest is 3.8 miles and allows you to explore at your own pace.

Also known for the Dunes and Coastal bluffs, collect driftwood, sea glass, and shells as you walk the white sands of Gualala Point Regional Park. 

Whale Watch Point, along Bluff Top Coastal Access Trail (40101 Highway 1), is a fun place to explore and spy on the gray whales as they pass.

Carmel

Free-thinking, woke, creative types who march to a different beat will find Carmel, one of the best beach cities in California to explore.

With fairytale cottages and cobblestone streets, you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time. 

Local sources of food and tasting rooms to sip on local wines are an added treat if you are not a fan of fast food because you won’t find any in Carmel. 

Along Ocean Ave, you are greeted by caramel sandy shores of the Beach. 

With Bohemian shops, no street addresses or street lights, Carmel by the sea is a free-spirited coastal city in California that you must visit for history and peace.

Don’t leave before visiting Carmel Mission Basilica Museum (3080 Rio Rd), a historical landmark, to learn of its authentic rich history. 

You can light a candle for a loved one who’s passed, as an active church is open to the public. 

Sit in the Mission Gardens and take a moment to contemplate or embrace the quiet. 

Note the Mission is not open Monday and Tuesday and reinforces a strict closing time of 4:45 pm, so plan accordingly. 

Trees and architecture in Carmel by the Sea.

Cambria Village

Don’t let the size of this coastal village fool you; Cambria is where history meets adventure. 

Latin for Whales, Cambria is a coastal village midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

With Monterey pines and beautiful Moonstone Beach, Cambria is worth visiting if you want to chew on some history,  hike trails, explore charming shops or relax and unwind. 

Take a scenic stroll on the boardwalk or the sands of Moonstone beach and get lost in the ocean views.

Potential sightings of white dolphins and gray whales draw people to Whale Trail (5455 Windsor Blvd).

Fine art galleries, antique shops and boutiques, historic architecture, and fine dining make Cambria another hidden gem worth visiting for a day or weekend. 

Wooden walkway along the sea at Cambria, California.

Oxnard

Considered the new Malibu, Oxnard is for lovers of stunning beaches, good food, spectacular architecture, and funky-spirited nightlife, making it glide on the list of coastal cities in California worth visiting. 

Here you won’t find overpriced boutiques and restaurants; instead, you will experience an authentic experience without the unattainable price tag. 

Considered one of the most affordable beach towns to live in, Oxnard is a hidden paradise, slowly getting noticed as a great place to raise a family and start a business. 

The surfing community comes here for the intimate ways, and nearby Deer Creek Beach caters to inquisitive minds for its submerged treasures. 

Beach in Oxnard with views of buildings near the sea.

Central California Coastal Cities

If you’re looking for a fun and entertaining vacation spot, be sure to check out central California’s coastal cities!

Whether you’re looking for a place to soak up the sun or enjoy some beach-worthy activities, the following destinations listed below are sure to have something for you.

You may also like our guide to beach towns in California.

Pismo Beach

If you’re looking for a place that has all the charm of a small town with all the excitement of a big city, look no further than Pismo Beach, California.

Come here for surfing, fishing, camping, bird-watching, and Dinosaur Caves Park (2701 Price St).

If you’re coming with the kids, they’ll surely enjoy the sizable grassy area and playground, which features slides, ropes, and bars to climb as well as dinosaur eggs to hide in.

Ventura 

Explore the coastal city of Ventura Beach for some awesome activities and stunning views to take in.

You can find two major beach areas in this location which include City Beach Area 1, stretching from Ventura Pier- the city’s main central beach, to Surfer’s Point- one of California’s premier surfing spots.

The City Beach Area 2 includes Marina Park to Camden Lane.

Marina Park offers facilities for picnics, barbecues, and a children’s play area.

Ventura Beach also made it to our list of stunning US beaches to visit in December.

Ventura Beach coastline in California..

Redondo Beach

The city of Redondo Beach features a unique vibe and is known for its Pier with cute shops, oceanfront restaurants, and great views. 

Walk out to the end of the Pier and watch the boats set out to sail or watch the sunset.

There’s also the Seaside Lagoon (200 Portofino Way), a saltwater facility where you can swim, and comes with a large sand area for sunbathing.

Redondo Beach also has plenty of parks for you to explore with picnic areas and recreational facilities like the Hopkins Wilderness Park (1102 Camino Real) and Czuleger Park (Plaza Park).

Southern California Coastal Cities

Southern California is home to some of the most picturesque and famous coastal cities in the country.

Visitors have the chance to enjoy all that these places have to offer- from swimming and sunbathing on the beach to experiencing the local art and culture.

You may also like our guide to California in fall featuring destinations and activities in southern California.

Malibu

West of Los Angeles, where A-List celebs come for the summer, Malibu is 30 miles of gorgeous beaches and one of the best coastal cities in California.

The Malibu sunsets are exceptional, and secret waterfall hikes put it higher on the list of California’s favorite places. 

Escondido Canyon Park (27200 Winding Way) is one of many that has waterfall hikes for every level. 

Wine tasting, art galleries, and great weather make Malibu a highly favored destination. 

Coastline in Malibu with trees, houses, and buildings.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica is one of the best California coast cities to visit when you come here. 

With over three miles of shoreline, Santa Monica has a laid-back, artsy, upscale vibe. 

Everyone takes an active role in their appearance by biking, walking, and skating. 

You can head to Santa Monica Pier (200 Santa Monica Pier), a popular spot for games, rides, good food, and the beach. 

The Third Street Promenade (1351 3rd Street Promenade) is a great people-watching place with many cool cafes, shops, and eateries. 

Santa Monica also features in our list of warm places to visit in the USA in December.

Aerial view of the beach in Santa Monica

Venice Beach

California’s Venice Beach (1800 Ocean Front Walk) and Santa Monica are like Peanut butter and Jelly; they just work together, and you can’t have one without the other.

Although these two coastal cities are within walking distance from each other, Venice Beach’s vibe is more of a free spirit. 

People come here from around the world to experience the street performers, local artists, eccentric shops, and Muscle Beach (1817 Ocean Front Walk), where muscle heads work out in real-time. 

Be sure to visit Venice Canal Historic District and feel the inspiration of Venice, Italy, in California. 

Venice Beach also features in our guide to California in December.

Venice Sign in LA

Hermosa Beach

The city of Hermosa Beach, part of a trio (Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach), has a laid-back surfer thing going on. 

Here you are more likely to see people on a skateboard cruising the small populated area and relaxing and lounging on the beach enjoying the perfect weather. 

Still, Hermosa makes the list of beach cities in California worth visiting and is almost a nice secret and an excellent staycation location. 

Stroll, skate, or bike The Strand (1500-1598 The Strand), which runs parallel to the beach and stretches to Manhattan and Redondo Beach.

Hermosa Beach has a Pier (1 Pier Ave) where you will find people hanging out, walking, rollerbladers, and fishing, and it presents impressive sunsets.

La Jolla

If you have the opportunity, you must visit one of California’s coastal cities and San Diego’s gems by the sea, La Jolla

Known for its stunning beaches, magnificent cliffs, and caves, La Jolla is a popular destination during the weekend.

Black Beach is one beach that takes you away from the crowds as it is more challenging to get to, but the dramatic cliffs and calmer waters are worth the effort. 

Some areas of the beach are so remote that clothing is optional.

Take a sea tour to one of La Jolla’s seven caves (Little Sister, Clam Cave, Arch, Sea Surprize, Shopping Cart, White Lady, and Sunny Jim)

Sunny Jim is the only cave accessible by land and water. 

Each cave is unique and boasts fantastic formations, and on the way, seeing sea lions, seals, sea birds, and other aquatic creatures is an additional bonus. 

Serious hikers come here to explore the tight and narrow grips of the Ho Chi Minh Trail (2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr.) as they know that the reward at the end is fantastic views, sunsets, and unique photo opportunities. 

If you’re on a budget, you can explore La Jolla for free along with other places around San Diego by checking this guide.

People at La Jolla Beach during daytime in San Diego, California.

Carlsbad

Be prepared to wear your wetsuit most of the time, as watersports make Carlsbad one of the best coastal cities in California. 

Although Legoland (One Legoland Dr.) is here with rides and a water park for the entire family, many people come to bask in the great weather and seek out all the fun adventures after the kids are grown. 

Take a 3-hour local food tour and stroll around Carlsbad Village, learning about the history while you experience the best food and wine tasting ever.  

Carlsbad offers a cozy and safe atmosphere that pre- and post-retirees flock to for the welcoming community. 

You may also like our guide to the best places to visit in the USA in January featuring Carlsbad.

Del Mar City Beach

Established in 1885 as a coastal resort, the city of Del Mar in San Diego once attracted Hollywood A-Liners and continues to make the list of best beach cities. 

One of the most favorable things is how you can explore Del Mar’s rich collection of shops and boutiques on foot. 

Everything is accessible and worth visiting, and a vehicle isn’t necessary. 

The local events hosted in Del Mar make this city a favorite for residents and visitors alike, as they have a Farmers Market, Racetrack, and themed events throughout the year. 

Del Mar Beach is a natural beauty with a playground for the kids and is dog-friendly.

Aerial View of Del Mar Coastline, California.

Final Thoughts

No matter what your interests are, we hope you find a coastal city in California that suits your taste through this guide.

Let us know which one you liked best in the comments below.

16 Beach Towns in California for a Fun Getaway

Aerial view of the beach in Santa Monica

California’s coastline is nothing short of stunning- stretching for more than 800 miles, it features some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. 

And thanks to a good number of gorgeous beach towns dotting the coast, it’s easy to find the perfect spot to relax and soak up the California sun. 

If you’re planning to visit, this guide explores some of the best beach towns in California- whether you’re looking for a fun-filled vacation or a peaceful getaway.

Aside from swimming and beach activities, many of these places are also full of exciting things to do including shopping, dining, and nightlife. 

For more places to visit in The Golden State, check out our California bucket list.

Northern California Coastal Towns

While northern California is mostly known for its wine, redwoods, and vineyards, its breezy ocean coastline is also a must-visit.

Listed below are some of the best northern California coastal towns you should experience featuring sandy beaches and gorgeous seashores with lots of activities to enjoy.

You may also like our guide to California coastal cities.

Crescent City

Eight hours from San Francisco, Crescent City is nestled along a sandy crescent coastline, hence the name, with stunning coastal views and is one of the best small beach towns in California.

A seafood lover’s haven and a vital port for vessels and commercial fishing.

Viewing the entire city from the top of Battery Point Lighthouse (235 Lighthouse Way) is one of the coolest things to do here. 

The lighthouse is an offshore island that is also a museum open to the public when the tide is low (April through September) and one of the most visited sites. 

Note that there are no restrooms on the island, only in the city parking area, so plan accordingly. 

B Street Pier is another worthy stop to stroll out to the end to witness incredible ocean views.

On a good day, you can see hundreds of sea lions swimming. 

You can’t leave before visiting the beach that the city is named for, as it sits at the midway point of Crescent City. 

A popular site for surfing makes it another one of California beach towns to visit if you are up this way. 

Lighthouse on a small island off the shore at Crescent City, California.

Trinidad, California

One of the best Northern California coastal towns is Trinidad if you love the outdoors without the crowds.  

Located in Humboldt county, Trinidad, Ca, is one of the quiet beach towns in California. 

It has redwoods and peaceful beaches and safeguards its Native American cultural and historical heritage.

If you prefer remote beaches, go swimming on Trinidad State beach and have a beach that feels like you have it all to yourself.

Hike to the nearby hilltop for a vantage point that delivers amazing ocean and harbor views. 

Spend a weekend exploring one of the best coastal towns in California solo or as a couple.  

Fort Braggs

Fort Braggs is one of the best beach towns near San Francisco and just 10 miles north, Seaside Beach is one of ten beaches near Fort Bragg and a big reason people come here. 

Once reserved as a military base and lumber yard, Fort Bragg is the largest city on the Mendocino Coast and is known for the famous Glass Beach (W Elm St and Glass Beach Dr) and the Skunk Train (100 W Laurel St).

The steam locomotive Skunk Train is a popular tourist attraction where individuals can ride by rail bikes on the track or the traditional way inside the train.

Several parks, trails, and the Botanical Gardens (18220 CA-1) are other tourist interests worth visiting. 

Make it a weekend girls’ trip and drive Highway 101 from San Francisco, which is only 3.5 hours to get there. 

Hike the trails in Russian Gulch State Park to visit the 36-foot waterfall. 

Dress according to the time of year, as the far north temps can vary.

Shelter Cove

Shelter Cove features black sand beaches, tidal pools, and hiking trails.

Getting to this quaint and remote coastal town requires a detour from Highway 1 to a meandering road that spans 25 miles. 

Well worth the treasure hunt to land in one of the best beach towns in California, which offers a variety of outdoor fun such as biking, hiking, wine tasting, and dining at beachfront restaurants. 

The Lost Coast trail takes two-four days to complete and entices serious hikers from all around. 

Non-hikers can also walk the coast trail and explore at their own pace. 

Stargazing is easy to do as there are no lights at night, which makes for a lovely relaxing evening for stargazers.

Sacramento 

Sacramento is the state capital and one of the safest and cheapest places to live (surrounding suburbs) and teeming with stuff to do. 

Once wrapped in Gold Rush history, Sacramento has transformed into a cultural Mecca draped in the arts, music, breweries, and 5-starred restaurants.

Although there are several beaches near Sacramento, Paradise Beach (5211 Carlson Dr), although small, is peaceful and pleasant and a hidden gem. 

Sand Cove Park (2005 Garden Hwy) is a public beach near Sacramento that is a treat as there is fishing, a place to barbecue, and the kids can play safely in the sand and water. 

From the history buffs to the outdoorsy types, you are welcome here as there is something for everyone in Sacramento.

View of Sacramento's skyline with building and trees from the water.

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach is one of the beach towns near San Francisco, just 20 miles north of the city- and worth visiting if you are looking for a beautiful coastline and forested slopes. 

A century ago, the location wasn’t even in the running for best beach towns in California, but in 1906 refugees migrated to the area, and the foundation for the free-spirited location was laid. 

With its secluded vibe, Stinson beach is one of a few hidden California beach towns worth visiting.

The beach is the main attraction and a surfer’s playground.

Red Rock Beach is Stinson’s little secret and within walking distance is frequented by locals sunbathing in the nude.

Planning to visit San Francisco? Read our San Francisco bucket list.

Coastline at Stinson Beach, California.

Central California Coastal Towns

Whether you’re looking for a small-town feel or want to be in the heart of all the action, central California has coastal towns that will fit your needs! 

Check out some of the places featured below, offering incredible views, stunning beaches, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun.

You may also like our guide to spring break in California featuring places and beaches from the central part of the state.

Pismo Beach

The Monarch butterflies, beautiful beaches, and wineries make Pismo Beach popular. 

Pismo beach stretches 17 miles and is one of the best seaside towns in California for families. 

Come here for surfing, fishing, camping, bird-watching, and Dinosaur Caves Park (2701 Price St).

Plan a family road trip from Los Angeles (3.5 hours) and Santa Barbra (1.5 hours) and include a picnic, as the park has multiple tables and benches. 

The vast grassy area and playground with slides, ropes, and bars to climb and dinosaur eggs to hide in will keep the kids happy for hours.

Carpinteria

About 12 miles south of Santa Barbara and Northwest of LA, Carpinteria is considered one of the safest beach towns in California, in fact, in 1982, the slogan “World’s Safest Beach” was embraced.

It may have a small locale but has a large celebrity presence, as it is said that Ellen, Aston Kutcher, and Kevin Costner own homes here. 

There’s a choice between Carpinteria City and Carpinteria State Beach to visit here. 

Water sports are a popular pastime.

A great getaway in a very good part of California for picnics, barbecues, and dunes. 

Amtrak service is available, making Carpinteria even more accessible.

Ventura 

Ventura may not be the cheapest coastal town in California, but it is undoubtedly one of the most reasonable.

Most people are attracted to the beautiful beaches and great weather, but living costs stop some in their tracks- Ventura is one of California’s most affordable beach towns worth exploring.

Adventure seekers will find Ventura’s proximity to the harbor appealing, along with Surfer’s point beach being a must-visit.

The place also delivers so many spots to visit, including Ventura Pier (750 E Harbor Blvd), Channels Island National Park, and Mother’s Cove (1878-1998 Spinnaker Dr), to name a few.

Ventura Beach is also included in our list of USA beaches to visit in December.

Ventura Beach coastline in California..

Redondo Beach

If you are looking for LA beach towns to visit, consider Redondo Beach, as it has a unique vibe and is known for its Pier with cute shops, oceanfront restaurants, and great views. 

This is one of the cutest beach towns in California where you can walk out to the end of the Pier and watch the boats set out to sail. 

Take in the view of the sunset from this vantage point while you are here you won’t be disappointed.

A few miles from the beach is Hopkins Wilderness Park (1102 Camino Real), a family favorite for tent camping.

Long Beach

Long Beach is underrated as it is one of the most affordable beach towns in California.

An affordable suburb in California compared to other beach towns, Its diverse economic class contributes to the rich cultural experience.

The hosts of the Pride Festival and Parade, the Grand Prix, weekend vendor fairs, and farmer markets make Long Beach a great place to live or visit. 

Long Beach is a great place to build relationships and raise a family.

You may also like our guide to California in December which features Long Beach.

Port in Long Beach with palm trees, boats and buildings, California

Southern California Beach Towns

The following list will explore some of the best beach towns in southern California featuring a beautiful coastline, opportunities to shop and dine, and other entertaining activities.

From the laid-back person looking to relax on the seashore, to the adventurer searching for waves to catch, southern California beaches have something for everyone.

You may also like our guide to California in fall featuring destinations and activities in southern California.

Santa Monica

As a tourist destination and an area with a thriving local culture, Santa Monica is one of the coastal towns in southern California you must visit.

Santa Monica beach features plenty of fun outdoor and water-based activities to enjoy including swimming, beach volleyball, watching the sunset, and surfing.

You can also head to Santa Monica Pier which will keep you entertained with games, rides, and food options- as well as see its famed solar-powered Ferris wheel.

If you’re interested in arts, this coastal town has plenty of art galleries and museums for you to check out- like the Bergamot Station (2525 Michigan Ave) featuring contemporary art exhibits, workshops, and performance.

Santa Monica also features in our list of warm places to visit in the USA in December.

Aerial view of the beach in Santa Monica

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is a well-known beach community featuring seven miles of sandy beaches.

The Laguna Beach town is best explored on foot; strolling Laguna’s paved beaches or winding trails is the best way to take in the fresh ocean air and experience the town’s natural beauty. 

Downtown Laguna is an eclectic mix of hotels, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries.  

The area comes alive in the summer with art festivals like Sawdust Art & Craft Festival and Festival of Arts as well as live music performances. 

There are simply so many things to enjoy here, whether you are an art lover, an outdoor adventurer, a beachgoer, a family, or a romantic.

Laguna Beach with visitors in California

Encinitas

Encinitas is a beach town that revamped itself and is a sort-after destination for beautiful beaches and incredible surfing.

With celebrity chefs, luxury resorts, and incredible views, Encinitas is one of the best beach towns in California. 

Stroll into town and visit the cafes and farmer’s markets when you aren’t relaxing on the beach. 

Just nine minutes down the road in Solana Beach, take a hike on Annie’s Canyon trail (498-450 Solana Hills Dr).

Wear shoes with good traction and finger gloves, as sections of the canyon can be slippery.

View of the ocean and buff covered in greens at Beacon's Beach, San Diego, California

South Mission Beach

San Diego beach cities include South Mission, perfect for its central location near bike paths and other outdoor activities, shops, and an alluring beach.

A great couple’s getaway spot with a laid-back vibe and one of the safest beach towns in California.

The beach has everything for a fun day, great waves, sand, volleyball, fire pits, picnic areas, and plenty of lifeguards. 

You may also like our guide to free things to do in San Diego if you’re looking to explore the city on a budget.

Ocean Beach 

Ocean Beach is a less populated San Diego beach city with beautiful cliffs and tide pools.

A great place to relax, slow down and enjoy the magnificent view.

Besides the relaxing sands, Ocean Beach offers fishing and hiking trails along the cliffs.

There’s also a fully playful beachfront nightlife.

Final Thoughts

Which beach town in California is your favorite? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Spring Break in California: 23 Destinations & Fun Activities

Avalon Bay at Santa Catalina Island, California.

Looking to spend the spring break in California? Well, you’re in for a treat! 

From world-famous theme parks to stunning beaches, there’s something for everyone in the Golden State. 

To help plan your trip, this guide features destinations and activities you need to try so you can have the best spring break in California.

Whether you’re looking to hike, swim at the sea, visit Disneyland, or eat great food, there’s just a lot to do and enjoy.

And if you’re wondering when is spring break in California, most universities and colleges have theirs around the month of March and early April, which lasts for about a week.

The weather around these months are generally sunny and mild, with average temperatures ranging from the 50s to low 70s Fahrenheit- making it perfect to explore many of the state’s stunning destinations.

You’ll find places and activities below arranged by regions or cities where they are found for easy navigation.

You may also like our California bucket list.

Northern California Spring Break

Listed below are northern California spring break destinations.

There are plenty of fun vacation activities available, from scenic train rides and sightseeing to hiking and skydiving.

Mendocino Coast

If you are looking for Bay Area spring break ideas for you and the kids, Mendocino is an ideal option because there’s plenty to do, and it’s just a few hour’s drive North of San Francisco but far enough to feel like you are on vacation. 

The kids will marvel at the sightings of cows, horses, and goats along your drive toward Bodega Bay.

If you are an oyster lover, the Bodega Bay Oyster Company (12830 Valley Ford Road) is a deserving stopping point for rest and beautiful views. 

Cliff by the sea at Mendocino, California.

Russian Gulch State Park

Take a hike to the waterfall and visit the Devil’s Punchbowl at Russian Gulch State Park (45051 Brest Rd, Mendocino), a 100-foot wide, 60-foot deep partially collapsed sea cave

There’s a less-than-a-mile loop trail in the area that’s easy to hike and takes around 8 minutes to complete.

This is also a popular spot for walking, running, and biking and can be accessed at any time of the year.

Skunk Train

Another one of the main attractions for your spring break in Northern California is riding the Skunk Train. 

Take a 2-hour round trip train ride to Noyo River Canyon while enjoying the beautiful views of nature along the way.

The kids can also enjoy riding the rail bikes, two-seater recumbent bikes with power-assisted pedals that rest on the train tracks. 

Drink Lots of Wine

California spring break ideas for couples or yourself must include a Napa Valley Wine train.

Leave the driving to someone else while you enjoy the fast winery experience. 

Take a ride over Napa Valley in a hot-air balloon and learn about the vineyards that produce fantastic wines. 

Take a guided kayaking tour down the Napa river and experience the valley from a different perspective. 

Napa Valley also features in our San Francisco itinerary and bachelorette party ideas.

Napa Valley welcome sign

Go Skydiving in Monterey

Thrill seekers looking for spring break ideas in California will have fun skydiving in Monterey Bay.

While here, check out the glass boat tours that highlight underwater habitats. 

Another fun activity is to go on a 17-mile bike drive to see scenic Monterey and the Peninsula Recreational Trail.

Plus, early spring is when you can also sight some dolphins in the area.

Put Monterey on your list for spring break ideas for couples, as it offers fantastic beaches, majestic natural parks, and many outdoor activities.

Dolphins swimming at Monetary Bay in California

West Coast Spring Break 

If you love nature and exploring the outdoors, the West Coast has plenty of destinations where you can enjoy such activities.

Listed below are one of the most popular places to visit in the region located in California.

And the spring season allows you to make the most out of your time here as the weather is generally mild, making it comfortable to go outside.

Ease Over to Yosemite

This spring break, take a hike in Yosemite National Park and reconnect with yourself and nature.

The breathtaking views, vast forest, and mountains to explore with picturesque landscapes and giant sequoias will help put it all back into perspective.

For camper outdoorsy types, Yosemite is paradise.

Layer up, as it is still quite chilly during the spring break season.

Yosemite National Park also features in our guide to California in December.

Falls at Yosemite national Park

Mammoth Mountain

Spring break is the best time to get in some late-season time on the slopes in Mammoth Mountain. 

At 11,000 feet of elevation, it is an ideal skiing opportunity. 

Make it a family camping trip and stay at Mammoth Mountain RV Park & Campground (2667 Main St), which has good reviews. 

Go hiking in Mammoth to see green pines, pristine lakes, and beautiful mountains.

Sequoia National Forest 

Sequoia National Forest (1839 South Newcomb Street) is one of the best spring break spots if you want to do something other than go to the beach.

There is much to do here if you enjoy the outdoors and spectacular scenery. 

Your senses will come alive with the scent of fir trees all around.

The Sequoia trees will have you questioning how you measure up as you walk inside the fallen trees.

Looking to visit more destinations like this? Check our guide to the best national parks to visit in March.

Central California Spring Break

Take advantage of the spring break in central California by visiting the places listed below.

Whether you’re looking to see the beach, taste delicious food, or take a museum tour- you’ll find plenty of activities to keep you busy.

Also, planning to visit California at a much later date? You may want to check our guide to California in fall.

Drive Down the Central Coast

If you are seeking ideas for spring break destinations for kids, take a drive down Highway 1 and bask on any of the epic California beaches during spring break (Pismo, Avila, and Cambria), as they are a short distance from each other. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the elephant seal pups sunbathing this time of year. 

You can also spend an afternoon at Sea Chest Oyster Bar (6216 Moonstone Beach Dr, Cambria) to taste their oyster Rockefeller and fried calamari steak while enjoying the views of the sunset near the beach.

With farm adventures, beach days, and delicious food options, the Central Coast is a great destination for spring break in California for the entire family. 

Wooden walkway along the sea at Cambria, California.

Take the Family to San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is one of the finest spring break destinations for families in California.

The parents love the weekly farmer’s markets, with live performances by local street artists, and the children’s museum is a hit with the kids. 

College students come for an abundance of nightlife activities.

The nice weather makes the free breaches a popular location, along with hiking and biking for everyone. 

Santa Barbara

With so many activities to offer, Santa Barbara is one of the best April vacation spots for spring break. 

For indoor activities, you can spend time at MOXI (125 State Street), a museum featuring not only art exhibits but also interactive programs for both children and adults.

If you want to enjoy the outdoors, go on a beach kayaking tour at Santa Barbara Channel to take in the sights of California’s coastline or learn more about the marine ecology in the area.

You can also take a wine tour in Santa Barbara and taste some of the best wines. 

Whale watch over a glass of wine on a catamaran cruise, as there is something special to see every season.

Aerial view of buildings and houses in Santa Barbara, California.

Spring Break in Southern California

Whether you’re looking to relax or get your adrenaline pumping, southern California is one of the best places to be this spring break.

This region in California is home to world-class theme parks like Disneyland, Legoland, and Universal Studios- perfect for families going on a trip.

If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll also find plenty of beaches to swim, camp, or enjoy some water-based activities.

Go Beach Camping

Looking for a beach getaway in California during spring break?

Head to Silver Strand State Beach (5000 CA-75) for beach camping.

College students needing to get away from the crazy demands of classwork and exams can rent an RV, reserve a spot in the park, and have the waves outside their door.

Universal Studios

Spring break in Los Angeles makes sense with all there is to do and see, like Universal Studios Hollywood (100 Universal City Plaza).

Droves of people arrive here, college students and families alike, for the heart-pumping fun. 

You might even see a celebrity or two as some frequent the park for the massive theme attraction. 

At the entrance of the Park is Universal City Walk, where if you didn’t know better, you could mistake it as the main attraction, with fun games, a cinema, and plenty of places to eat, and entry is free. 

Santa Monica Beach

A popular destination is Santa Monica beach for spring break, as the beach lures you in, and the Pier keeps you here with lots of games, rides, and various food options so everyone will be happy.

You can take the family here often, as there are so many fun things to keep everyone entertained, not just for spring break in Los Angeles.

Santa Monica also features in our list of the best beach towns in California.

Aerial view of the beach in Santa Monica

Venice Beach

Down the boardwalk from Santa Monica is the famous Venice Beach, where you can walk, skate or bike to get to.

The place is teeming with people who come to Santa Monica for spring break to relish the live music, local vendors, and street artists. 

People come from around the world to be a part of the energy of Venice Beach, and spring break turns that energy up even more. 

Venice Beach also features in our guide to California beach cities.

Venice Sign in LA

Disneyland

It may be no surprise that Disneyland is at the top of the spring break destinations for families in California, as it has something for everyone. 

Take advantage of the spring break Disneyland passes to plan easy maneuvering through the crowds. 

Consider a private transfer to Anaheim to make your trip easier.

Corona del Mar State Beach Park

Corona del Mar State Beach Park has several access points and is a great destination to visit during spring in California for families, couples, and college students. 

A two-minute walk will land you at Pirate’s Cove Beach. 

Volleyball, snorkeling, sunbathing, and bonfires make this an excellent place for college kids to let loose. 

The beach can get crowded so arrive early to mark your territory. 

Head to Catalina Island

Southwest of LA, Catalina Island is on the top ten list for spring break destinations for college students and families taking a trip to California in spring, as the boats and ships on the ice-blue waters are inviting. 

Catalina Island delivers if you want parasailing, scuba diving, hiking, or fishing.

There are also casinos, museums, and restaurants to enjoy.

Avalon Bay at Santa Catalina Island, California.

Laguna Beach

Laguna beach spring break is the best spot to lay on a beautiful beach and take advantage of the great restaurants and art galleries. 

They also have a great club scene with good music and good vibes. 

Laguna beach attracts a good crowd for spring break and is one to keep on the list if you are planning a trip. 

Laguna Beach with visitors in California

Visit Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a go-to destination for any time of year but especially spring break for its great weather, beaches, and many things to do and see.  

If you are thinking of going to Palm Springs for spring break, take a ride on the aerial tramway for unbelievable views. 

This city is known for its architecture and public art.

Purchase a day pass to soak in the hot springs and relax during a Greater Palm Springs spring break, about 20 minutes away. 

Palm Springs also features in our guide to warm places to visit in the USA in December.

Saguaro Colorful Hotel Palm Springs California.

Legoland, San Diego

San Diego is one of the best spring break destinations in California because it has the beach, great food, and several things to see and do.

One popular destination that attracts families here for spring break is Legoland (One Legoland Dr).

The place is filled with kid-friendly activities like rides, space-themed playgrounds, and a water park.

Visiting San Diego on a budget? Check out our guide to free things to do in San Diego.

Mission Bay & Beaches in San Diego, California

Coronado Beach 

When planning your family’s California spring break trip, check out Coronado Beach (100 Ocean Blvd), as it checks all the boxes for one of the best beach vacations in California.

Families love coming here for one of the safest places to swim, clean sand, and pristine facilities. 

While your teens are surfing or paddle boarding and your younger ones are making sandcastles, you can relax on the soft sand.

San Diego's skyline seen from Coronado Island California.

Baja California 

College students, pack your bags and head to Baja California for spring break if you are looking for top-of-the-line resorts, stunning beaches, and fun night-time activities.  

The closest thing to a tropical getaway and one of the best warm places for spring break, you will capture some of the most Instagram-deserving images here.

Baja California Coastline

Final Thoughts

We hoped you enjoyed the activities and destinations we featured for spring break in California.

Let us know your favorite spots or activities in the comments below.

26 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in San Francisco

Rainy day in San Francisco, California.

If you’re visiting San Francisco and it’s raining, don’t worry – there are plenty of things you can still do! 

While the city is known for its mild climate, you can expect some drizzle, especially during the winter season, with December being one of the wettest months.

But there’s no need to stay home or spend the day curled up inside your hotel room and let the wet weather spoil your trip.

Discover all the things to do on a rainy day in San Francisco featured in this guide.

Whether you’re looking for some fun indoor activities to try or visiting the city’s fantastic destinations, there are plenty that will keep you occupied and entertained. 

You can also check out our San Francisco itinerary if you are looking to spend several days exploring the city.

Fun Things to Do on a Rainy Day in San Francisco

Visit Alcatraz Island

A tour of Alcatraz Island on a rainy day adds to the already eerie experience. 

Explore the history of the infamous people who once walked the halls of this famous prison, now turned into a museum. 

Although most people know about the prisoners who tried to escape Alcatraz, very few are aware of the Native Americans who ‘escaped to Alcatraz‘ in 1969, taking over the island for 19 months, creating a national debate on Native American rights.

Alcatraz Island is one of the most popular things to do in San Francisco and its impact on The City has many layers.

Pack a lunch, as there aren’t any food vendors on the island. 

Covered seating is available on the ferry ride but still bring an umbrella for the uncovered areas. 

This is also ideal if you want to brave the rainy weather and go outdoors as the tour also takes you to explore the views of San Francisco’s waterfront.

Alcatraz also made it to our San Francisco bucket list.

Prison cells in Alcatraz D Block,San Francisco, California

Bowl

A perfect way to spend a rainy San Francisco day is bowling at Plank (98 Broadway), with its waterfront views and state-of-the-art lanes.

Play, eat, drink and repeat for the best way to get out of the rain and have fun with the entire family. 

Take Selfies at Madame Tussauds 

Madame Tussauds (145 Jefferson St) is a wax museum that features wax features of famous movie stars, politicians, and sports stars and entertaining indoor activities. 

Spend an afternoon taking photos with your favorite wax sculptures as a fun way to beat the rainy day blues. 

Sip Irish Whisky at the Buena Vista Cafe

If you require ideas for indoor activities in San Francisco when it is raining, you must visit Buena Vista Cafe (2765 Hyde St) for its Irish Coffee and friendly surroundings. 

Watch while they prepare your Irish whiskey, coffee, sugar, and floating cream; shouts come out of the rain.

Buenavista cafe also features in our guide to San Francisco in fall.

Watch While San Francisco’s Famous Sourdough Bread Is Made

Spend your rainy day in SF watching the bakers at work at Boudin At the Wharf (160 Jefferson St)

Not just a bakery; you can have lunch and coffee. 

If you are a clam chowder lover, you must indulge in their bowl on your rainy day visit. 

Explore the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture

Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (2 Marina Blvd), once a military base, is now open to the public and makes for a nice place to pass the time on a rainy day. 

With various cafe bars and restaurants, you can grab something to eat and walk around indoors. 

Fort Mason has a lot to offer throughout the year, with incredible views of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz Island.

Historic houses at Fort Mason San Francisco, California.

Visit the Exploratorium

Over one million people visit the Exploratorium (Pier 15 Embarcadero at Green St) annually, making for an excellent indoor activity for a rainy day. 

This scientific house of fun will help you forget it’s raining outside.

The After Dark taking place every Thursday evening comes with a full DJ and drinks and is a great activity to experience in San Francisco at night.

Chinese Fortune Cookie Factory

One of the landmark locations in San Francisco’s Chinatown is the Chinese Fortune Cookie Factory (56 Ross Alley).

Since 1962, the factory has been making 10,000 fortune cookies every day, and visitors can tour of the premises, a perfect way to escape the rain and learn more about the city’s culture.

You can also taste different flavors of freshly baked fortune cookies!

Chinatown red lanterns hanging San Francisco USA

Take Some Wine Closer to Home

Skip the drive to Napa Valley if you are wondering what to do in San Francisco on a rainy day, and go to Chateau Montelena Tasting Room (335 Powell St).

Just one of several tasting rooms in the city, this one is located in the lobby of the hotel St Francis; it feels like an extension of the Napa winery, where you can sample wines nearer to home on a rainy day.

Experience The Flyer

Fly over San Francisco and bask in the fantastic realistic scenery as the floor drops away to add to the experience at The Flyer (2 Beach St Pier 39).

This indoor virtual reality experience is great for kids and the kid-at-heart, and there is something for everyone.

If you are into horror (not recommended for kids), check out the 7D experience.

The escape room will have the entire family in a real pickle of trying to figure things out. 

Explore the Painted Ladies Tour 

Leave the driving to the Painted Ladies Tour Company (427 Post St) on a rainy day as you go where the big tour buses can’t. 

This locally owned and operated family business wanted to share a love for the city with others.

Tour the city in a vintage Volkswagen van with lashes as you and your tour buddies (seat 6-7 people) form lasting memories. 

Read a Book

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers (261 Columbus Ave) is a great place to spend a rainy day snuggled up with a good book.

The bookstore is legendary for having unique volumes not found anywhere else. 

Something is entertaining in every nook and cranny, and you can say you’ve sat where some of the best writers’ careers have begun. 

Go to the Theater 

Going to the San Francisco Theater is one of the best indoor activities for a rainy day, and the city has plenty of options. 

With something on the calendar each month, from musicals to standup to family shows, you have several options from which to choose. 

Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum

The Walt Disney Family Museum (104 Montgomery St) will be a great fit if you are a Disney fan scouting for things to do on a rainy day in San Francisco.

Learn about Walt Disney’s vision and how Disney World came to be.

The location for this museum in Presidio is ideal, as views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge are in the foreground. 

Go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (151 3rd St) has seven floors to explore, is filled with modern and contemporary art, and is a terrific place to visit in San Francisco on a rainy day.

The entire family will love the variation of art on display, from the levitating meteorite and the living wall.

You can easily spend four hours exploring, so remember to grab something to eat at the Cafe on level five. 

Artwork inside San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California

Play Ping Pong at SPIN SF

Ping-pong lovers will thrive in SPIN SF (690 Folsom St) on a rainy day for its bar, great food, and ping-pong tables. 

An excellent combination of table tennis and drinks as you socialize with friends.

The artifacts and artwork around the 5000 square feet of space are worth exploring. 

Go Shopping

Home to some of the city’s best shopping, Westfield San Francisco Centre (865 Market St) is multiplexed with nine floors and a covered atrium that offers several places to shop and other things to do on a rainy day in San Francisco.

With over 170 retail shops and places to eat, you can spend hours here out of the rain.

Go Brewery Crawling

Visiting 21st Amendment Brewery (563 2nd St) and a few other breweries in the same area make for an ideal rainy-day activity. 

A chill place to hang out before a game and when it’s raining if you like a laid-back atmosphere, good food, and craft beer. 

Play at the Emporium

Emporium (616 Divisadero St) is a popular spot for sipping your favorite drink and playing pool or an arcade game.

The rain won’t stop a night out with friends as this place offers comfort food and a dance floor so that you can spend hours here. 

Visit the Conservatory of Flowers

Come out of the rain and visit the Conservatory of Flowers (100 John F Kennedy Dr.), the oldest glass and wood greenhouse in the United States.

Take your time and explore the rare exotic plants, each distinct environment of full color and unique blooms.

The Conservatory is a great way to spend a relaxing rainy day and take selfies with beautiful giant lilies in the background. 

Different kinds of plants inside San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers.

Play Mini Golf

Urban Putt (1096 S Van Ness Ave) provides the solution for a fun way to get out of the rain and enjoy a good meal and drink. 

They put a unique spin on indoor mini-golf with fun themes and various scoring options. 

Golf is on the lower deck, where the bar is also located, with several areas to place your drink glass while you play.

You can stay for a meal on the second level and take a picture at the photo booth before leaving. 

Go Outer Orbit

For a more vintage Hawaiian feel, checkout Outer Orbit (3215 Mission St) if you are looking for San Francisco indoor activities.

A good family outing as their retro pinball machines is a hit, along with their craft beer and impressive food menu. 

Learn How Chocolate is Made

Dandelion Chocolate Factory (740 Valencia St) delivers a unique experience while you watch them make the chocolate firsthand.

With limited productions daily, you can grab a hot or frozen cup of chocolate or coffee, your choice, and a S’Mores or one of the other sweets stuff and engage in conversation with the chocolate makers. 

They even have chocolate classes for kids. 

Attend SF Sketchfest

If you are in town at the beginning of the year, you will laugh if it is raining when you attend the SF Sketchfest, an indoor sketch and improv comedy performance.  

Come and be entertained by local comedians doing skits, stand-up, and improv, and it takes place around town at different venues.

It’s Tea Time

Enjoy tea under a canopy with pink roses at K Cafe Patisserie & Tea House (923 S Bascom Ave).

It’s a nice way to spend time in San Francisco on a rainy day to enjoy a fusion of Asian-French cuisine.

The cozy pillow seating provides a great atmosphere for a good conversation with your friends or your date.

And speaking of dates, you may also like our guide to date nights in San Francisco for ideas on where to spend time with your special someone in the city.

Wine Tasting in Oakland

As mentioned above, you don’t have to travel to Napa to enjoy wine in SFA!

Head to the Black Arts Movement Business District in Oakland to sip on wine and sample small bites curated and created by BIPOC, POC, as well as Women Winemakers and Chefs in California.

Check out Coconoir Wine Shop for more.

The trip between San Francisco and Oakland takes less than 20 minutes by public transit and by car but remember to appoint a designated driver if doing the latter!

Pouring two glasses of fortified red port wine from a bottle in a close up tilted angle view over wood in a tavern

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our list of things to do on a rainy day in San Francisco that will keep you occupied and entertained. 

What’s your favorite rainy-day activity in the city? Let us know in the comments.

24 San Francisco Hidden Gems: Unique Places and Secret Attractions

Views of buildings and houses from Tank Hill Park in San Francisco, Ca.

San Francisco is a vibrant city where you can find world-famous attractions.

But there’s more to it than just the Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you’re looking for something different on your trip to the City by the Bay, away from the classic tourist hot spots, then this guide will direct you to lots of San Francisco hidden gems.

From surprising museums to lesser-known parks, discover all the unique attractions you can find in the city.

Find more things to do in San Francisco featured in this guide.

San Francisco Hidden Gems

Angel Island State Park 

Take the ferry 30 minutes to Angel Island State Park, learn the history, and experience some of the most jaw-dropping views. 

You can get food in the area before taking the Ferry.

On your way to the largest natural island, you pass historic Alcatraz and get impressive Golden Gate Bridge views. 

The Island is tent-camping friendly, so check in with the ranger for camping instructions and a map when you arrive. 

Hike to the top of Mount Livermore for amazing views, and for sunset, bring your flashlight to find your way back to your campsite.

Make it a day trip or a weekend getaway, this is one place you don’t want to pass up.

Dogs are not allowed, so that may be a turnoff for some.

View of Angel Island State Park in San Francisco from the waters.

Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze

Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze (Pier 39, 0-11 Beach St) is worth visiting for the young at heart as part of a fun date night

Play hide and go seek with friends.

Great photo-taking opportunity with friends or just yourself. 

Take the piano stairs down on your way out for an added musical treat. 

Musee Mecanique

Filled with nostalgic arcade games of all types, Musee Mecanique (Pier 49) is one of San Francisco’s hidden gems.

The arcade machines will take you back to your childhood days of spending time playing pinball or one of the other 300 coin-activated machines. 

USS Pampanito

Just a few steps from Musee Mecanique, the USS Pampanito was once an active US Navy submarine.

Now a floating history museum that you can count as one of the unique things to do in San Francisco as there are military gadgets, engine rooms, and torpedos on display.

Umbrella Alley

Fun for the entire family, Umbrella Alley was erected during covid to bring joy back to the community by local mural artists whose work is featured here. 

The location is attracting Instagram influencers as the murals make for Instagram-worthy images. 

Check out the Greetings from San Francisco sign that makes a great selfie option. 

Fay Park

Fay Park (2366 Leavenworth Street) is one of San Francisco’s hidden gems for taking engagement or wedding photos or just sitting under one of the two gazebos to read a book for the day. 

Nestled near Lombard Street, this small park is a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle. 

In her will, the property owner donated the park to SF to be used for public access. 

In 1996 the park was renovated and reopened. 

This quiet space is well maintained, and some people think they can’t enter, which is why it is a hidden gem.

Macondray Lane

Looking for secret places in San Francisco that look like something from a novel?

Macondray Lane is a small cobblestoned pedestrian lane with flower gardens, fruit trees, and a little zen fountain. 

It’s located on the southeastern side of the Russian Hill neighborhood in San Francisco and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

You can go here for a leisurely stroll or snap some great photos.

The spot was even used as an inspiration for Barbary Lane in the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin.

Lyon Street Steps

The Lyon Street Steps (2545-2551 Lyon St) is another off-the-beaten-path attraction in San Francisco.

It’s located between the Pacific Heights neighborhood and Presidio, taking up two blocks on the side of a steep hill, with breathtaking views from the top. 

There are over 300 steps, so it’s a good workout if you want to get some exercise.

At the top, you’ll have spectacular views of the Palace of Fine Arts,  San Francisco Bay, and more. 

They are free to visit and open to the public 24/7- so there is no reason not to go.

The Wave Organ

Constructed in 1986 and free to visit, the Wave Organ (Pier 15 Embarcadero at Green St) interacts with the bay’s waves to produce unique sounds that listeners can hear at different stations.

The sounds of the wave organ are best heard at high tide.

Fort Point National Historic Site

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the cool places to go to in San Francisco and certainly one of the most popular. 

However, if you want to experience the Golden Gate Bridge differently, head to Fort Point National Historic Site (201 Marine Dr).

You’ll be able to get right underneath the iconic bridge where the site is located while discovering San Francisco’s military heritage.

Explore the site to see the old cannons and other historic items used by the military in the past- or you can watch a short film featuring the history of the port.

And the best part? Admission is free.

You may also like our San Francisco itinerary featuring the Golden Gate Bridge.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from below at Fort Point National Historic Site.

The Cable Cars

The city’s oldest manually operated icon, the Cable Cars, has to be added to the list of cool things to do in San Francisco because you get to cover so much ground when visiting and sightseeing. 

The museum is a bonus as it is one of the must-sees when visiting San Francisco.

And what’s great about this is it’s one of the fun things you can do even during the night in San Francisco.

Trolly riding in San Francisco c

Lands End Labyrinth

At the mouth of the Golden Gate, the Lands End Labyrinth is one of the secret places in San Francisco you must visit for breathtaking views and sunset. 

One of the most spectacular secrets of the city was created by artist Eduardo Aguilera.

Although destroyed several times, the Labyrinth continues to be rebuilt by locals. 

This area is not maintained by public works, and caution is necessary as it can be slippery and windy.

The hike is considered intermediate as there are a lot of stairs. 

Lands End lookout in San Francisco, Ca.

Queen Wilhelmina Garden

Queen Wilhelmina Garden (1690 John F Kennedy Dr.) is one of SF’s hidden gems, and you may feel like you were transported to Amsterdam with its Dutch windmill and ocean waves playing in the background. 

They open year-round, but the Tulips make an amazing display in the Spring.

The windmill backdrop makes this place Instagram-worthy for photos. 

Aunt Charle’s Lounge

Cheap drinks and veteran drag performers make Aunt Charle’s (133 Turk St) one of the best places for hidden things to do in San Francisco. 

Come see the Hot Box Girls and celebrate the fabulous history and proud culture.

Pirate Supply Store

The Pirate Supply Store (826 Valencia) is for avid Pirate fans looking for a unique and quirky place to visit. 

There are abundant hand hooks, peg legs, and treasure chests. 

Although free to visit and browse, a small donation will help students with inspiration and creative writing skills. 

Tank Hill

Tank Hill (Twin Peaks Blvd) is another secluded gem for amazing views of all of San Francisco. 

The place has few visitors and is pretty hidden, making it more special. 

You might even get an opportunity to swing on one of the rope swings locals put up throughout the city.  

Note the city does not authorize these rope swings, so they get cut down, but locals continue to put them back up anyway.

It gets extremely windy, so layer up. 

Views of buildings and houses from Tank Hill Park in San Francisco, Ca.

16th Avenue Title Steps

A community collaboration, 16th Avenue Tile Steps (Moraga St between 15th and 16th Ave) is a must-see for art lovers and if you can appreciate a collective project. 

From the top, the steps appear as normal stone steps but from the bottom up, you witness the incredible workmanship of the artists. 

Walk up 163 steps, admire the artistic energy, and experience one of the coolest places in San Francisco.

Mt Davidson Park

Mt Davidson (Myra Way) is one of the cool places in San Francisco at the city’s highest peak and delivers amazing panoramic views, a few hiking trails, and a serene location to hang out. 

One of the secret things to do in San Francisco is to view the huge hidden Mt Davidson Cross (125 Dalewood Way.

You don’t have to be religious to find the 103-foot-tall cross impressive.

Balmy Alley

Balmy Alley (50 Balmy St) is one strip passageway with the city’s most condensed everchanging collection of murals and could be considered one of the hidden things to do in SF.

Best viewed on foot at your one pace, the collection of artists’ expressions began in the mid-’80s and represents countless styles.

Seward Street Slides

Seward Street Slides (70 Corwin St) is one of the best secret places to visit in San Francisco and was inspired by a teenage girl who enter the idea for a huge slide back in the 70s in a design the park contest and won.

The area has grown to include a community garden and benches. 

Bring your cardboard box if you don’t want to dirty your clothes to experience the thrill of sliding down the steep concrete plunge.

Billy Goat Hill

Bill Goat Hill (30th Street and Castro) is a small park with big trees and big beautiful views of the skyline of downtown San Francisco by day.

Stay until the evening for incredible sunset views and to witness how the city beneath twinkles after dark. 

For even better views, continue the small steep climb to Walter Haas Playground.

Mildred Howard Frame

Mildred Howard is an African American artist, who resides in Oakland, and her 20-foot Frame (101 Horne Ave) was inspired as a way to pay homage to her parents, who worked in the area’s shipping yard. 

The frame is certainly one of the best offbeat things to do in san Francisco for photo optics.

Secret Side Walk

Not for the faint at heart, Secret Side Walk (1430 Old Canyon Rd) has several advanced climbing paths to get up to, and it is well worth saying you did it. 

Tunnel 1 is the easier access point, and you can explore to the end and back.

The ghost story associated with the Secret Side Walk is about the Nile Witch, who appears in a white dress on Feb 26 each year.

Tip: Cover up, as there’s lots of poison oak in the area.

Moss Beach Distillery

Moss Beach Distillery (140 Beach Way) is one of San Francisco’s hidden gems that deliver amazing views, good food, and a ghost story.  

The Blue Lady is said to have frequented this location in the 1930s but was killed and returns to search for her lover at certain times a year. 

There’s even a drink name after her. 

The distillery is a pleasant surprise for hikers coming off the beautiful walking trails nearby.

Dog-friendly patio seating fills up quickly, so reservations are recommended. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide helped you discover many of San Francisco’s hidden or lesser-known attractions that are definitely worth checking out. 

Any favorites? Let us know in the comments.

Looking to explore more places in San Francisco? See our guide below.