SF for Free

Free Things To Do Near Downtown San Francisco Hotel

Despite what your general impression might be, there’s an awful lot to do in San Francisco that doesn’t break the bank. In fact, you can whip up a fantastic sightseeing and entertainment itinerary composed entirely of destinations and events that don’t cost a red cent. Here are eight options for free fun in the City by the Bay as you enjoy the perfect downtown home base at the Tilden Hotel!

(1) Free Museum Days

A whole slew of topnotch museums in San Francisco offer free admission on a monthly basis, or at least several times a year. These include the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the Asian Art Museum, and the California Academy of Sciences.

Certain San Francisco museums well worth tracking down don’t charge admission at all, among them the Cable Car Museum and the Chinese Historical Society of America.

(2) Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

This roots-music celebration, which draws hundreds of thousands to Golden Gate Park for performances by big names such as Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle, has been free since it launched back in 2001. The 2019 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass goes down October 4ththrough 6th.

(3) Fillmore Jazz Festival

While this year’s Fillmore Jazz Festival (the 36th) has already passed, it’s not too early to start planning your Tilden escape to coincide with next year’s edition of the biggest free jazz event on the West Coast!

(4) Enjoy the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for Free

The Bay Area boasts its own ravishingly beautiful unit of the National Park Service in the form of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Many sections of the National Recreation Area are always free, including the beautiful seascapes of Lands’ End. Those parts of the park that do normally cost money to experience, including the redwood groves of Muir Woods and the historic Presidio of San Francisco, are free to enjoy on the select fee-free entrance days offered by the Park Service.

There are still several of those free days on the calendar: August 25th (which marks the Park Service’s anniversary), September 28th (National Public Lands Day), and November 11th (Veterans Day).

(5) Walk or Bike the Golden Gate

Though you need to pay a toll to drive across the world’s most celebrated bridge, you can walk or bicycle the Golden Gate for free!

(6) Watch Some Distant Giants Baseball

If you don’t have a ticket for a home game of the Orange and Black, you can still soak up part of the experience by watching the action for free (three innings’ worth, anyway) from the archway at the Giants Promenade waterfront.

(7) Take a Free Walking Tour

Thanks to the sponsorship of the San Francisco Public Library, you can take a fascinating and educational walking tour of one of America’s greatest cities courtesy of the engaging, knowledgeable volunteer docents with SF City Guides.

(8) Take a Free Sail on the Bay

On its occasional Open Houses—usually one Sunday a month during the summer—the Cal Sailing Club offers free sailing tours out of the Berkeley Marina onboard its keelboats and dinghies. Upcoming Open Houses include August 18thSeptember 15thOctober 20th, and November 17th.