Taking a driving tour of San Francisco (SF) can be a great way to explore the city if you are short on time or don’t feel like hiking up one of SF’s famous hills.
We have put together a list of 7 must-see sites for San Francisco visitors. Check them out below!
Table of contents
- Should You Go on a Driving Tour of San Francisco?
- 7 Sites to Visit on a Driving Tour of San Francisco
- Alternatives to a San Francisco Driving Tour
- The Haunt Experience
Should You Go on a Driving Tour of San Francisco?
If your time in San Francisco is limited, taking a driving tour of the city could be a good option for you.
It will let you visit a wide variety of tourist destinations in a short amount of time – and without walking up a single hill!
If you don’t spend too much time taking photos and waiting in bathroom lines, you could visit all 7 sites we talk about in this article in under 3 hours.
However, a driving tour may not be for everyone.
A large part of San Francisco’s charm is in the little quirky details. You will only notice when walking through its neighborhoods.
For example, you could easily drive past Tessie Wall’s infamous brothel without knowing about it!
7 Sites to Visit on a Driving Tour of San Francisco
You can’t visit San Francisco without flashing back to the hippie-dippie days of the 1960s.
Haight-Ashbury was once the favorite hang-out spot of “The Grateful Dead”, the famous rock band from the 1970s. Locals call it “the blast from the past”, and for good reasons.
It’s full of shabby-chic vintage stores, tattoo parlors, and beautiful Victorian houses for you to check out.
2. The Mission District
As one of San Francisco’s oldest neighborhoods, the Mission District is full of rich ethnic history.
It’s a great place to watch street performers, see some of the city’s most intricate vintage murals, and just soak in the atmosphere.
In case you get hungry while driving around, The Mission District also has some of the best authentic local restaurants in the city.
If you are craving a burrito, be sure to visit La Taqueria or Papalote.
Or, if you are in the mood for ice cream, the Bi-Rite Creamery salted caramel ice cream is worth waiting in line for.
3. The Castro District
The Castro District is a great place to visit on a driving tour, as it offers a little bit of everything that makes San Francisco the charming, quirky city that it is.
It is full of bright-colored homes, mosaic glass artwork, sex toy stores, and all the rainbow references you could ever ask for.
Visit the lavish Castro Theater building while you are there, or stop for the most delicious chocolate chip cookie you will ever have at the Hot Cookie Bakery.
4. Twin Peaks
This is where you come for some of the most gorgeous views of the city.
You can spot some of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks from here. These include the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Transamerica Building.
Twin Peaks are also typically less crowded than the Coit Tower, which is always a plus. Just remember to bring a jacket – it gets windy up there!
5. The Golden Gate Bridge
You can’t come to San Francisco and not set foot on the Golden Gate Bridge!
Perfect for photographers, the bridge offers stunning views of the city, even if the evening fog has already rolled in.
6. Nob Hill/Russian Hill
You know that San Francisco is famous for its hills, right? That is why these two adjoining neighborhoods are another must-see for your driving tour.
You don’t want to miss out on seeing the Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill. With its famous golden doors, beautiful stained glass windows, and gorgeous icons, you’ll be amazed.
If you are confident in your driving skills, you can even try navigating your way down Lombard Street, which is one of the windiest streets in the world.
7. Alamo Square
Alamo Square is the home of the Painted Ladies: the beautiful Victorian-era homes of the 1870s.
If you have ever watched Full House, you will know what we are talking about.
Make a stop here to take some photos, or simply drive by so you can tell your friends you saw them!
Alternatives to a San Francisco Driving Tour
While a driving tour is a decent option, if you want to visit as many tourist spots as possible, a walking tour is the best way to really get to know the city.
You can pick a topic that interests you, then find a walking tour that explores it more deeply.
Got a soft spot for the hippie-dippie days of the 1960s? Take a deep dive into everything Haight-Ashbury and the Castro District have to offer.
Interested in seeing as many gorgeous views of the city as possible? Spend more time at Twin Peaks, visit the Coit Tower, and take time to explore all the hilly, historical neighborhoods of SF.
The Haunt Experience
If you have decided that taking a stroll through San Francisco’s most charming neighborhoods sounds like a good plan, we’ve got you covered with our Walking Tours of San Francisco.
From tasting delicious food to feeling the hippy love, to exploring the haunted past of San Francisco, there’s something there for everyone.