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15 Bay Area Attractions You Need To See Now

15 Bay Area Attractions You Need To See Now

These are the top 15 Bay Area Attractions you need to see now, from the coolest and the lesser-known to touristy hidden gems.


4 min read

January 08, 2022

Visiting Bay Area attractions is by no means a one-dimensional experience—it’s a blend of both the well-known as well as the unexpected. There are traditional touristy locations like the grand Golden Gate Bridge or the mysterious Alcatraz, the famous historic prison in San Francisco; there are also Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown offering up all the gastronomical delights you can ever dream of. But amidst all this are other spots that are equally stunning, yet so off the beaten path that not a lot of people know about them. So to have the whole shebang that is the incomparable Bay Area, make sure your itinerary has a bit of everything.

These Are The Coolest Bay Area Tourist Attractions

Baker Beach is part of the Presidio, which was a military base from the founding of San Francisco by the Spanish in 1812 until 1997.

1. Baker Beach

Located below the rugged cliffs on the Presidio’s western shoreline, Baker Beach is a picnicker’s haven—you’ll find tables, restrooms, and grills dotting the whole area. Pair that with picturesque views, sandcastles, and the wind blowing through your hair and you’ve got yourself an afternoon to remember at one of the best beaches in the Bay Area.

2. De Young Museum

A fine art museum smacks dab in the middle of Golden Gate Park—what else does an art aficionado need in their life? Visit the warrior masks upstairs, explore the sculpture garden outside, and take the elevator to the de Young Museum’s free observation tower for sparkling views of the city. 

3. Golden Gate Bridge 

Arguably the most iconic Bay Area attraction, the Golden Gate Bridge graces the whole of S.F. with the most unforgettable vistas. An orange architectural marvel backed by the water of pure turquoise peeking through low-lying clouds—no wonder this is one of the most photographed sites in the Bay Area.

4. Doran Regional Park

Doran Regional Park features a wide two-mile stretch of beach tailor-fit for walking, picnicking, flying kites, and playing in the sand. As far as Bodega Bay attractions go, visiting this Bay Area park is a given, especially if you take into account the whisking views.

As one of San Francisco's busiest tourist areas, Fisherman's Wharf is lined with restaurants and souvenir shops selling all sorts of trinkets.

5. Fisherman’s Wharf

If you’re visiting San Francisco and have only a day or two to see the sights, Fisherman’s Wharf is the best place to check out. This old section—once the Little Italy of San Francisco—is renowned for its shops, restaurants, and beautiful placement along the waterfront.

Bay Area Attractions for Families 

6. Aquarium of the Bay San Francisco

One of the most prized Bay Area attractions for families is none other than the Aquarium of Bay in San Francisco. Kids and adults of all ages flock to this aquarium in California to witness more than 20,000 species of marine animals—expect to marvel at sharks, rays, octopuses, jellyfish, river otters, and more.

The Bay is pooling with fun activities for kids and adults of all ages.

7. Bay Area Discovery Museum

Nestled by the waters near Sausalito, the Bay Area Discovery Museum offers a wide range of interactive, both inside and outside, activities tailored for children from six months to 10 years old. Be sure to explore Lookout Cove, a sprawling 2.5-acre outdoor playground featuring tide pools, gravel pits, fishing boats, shipwrecks, and a unique spider web installation.

8. House of Air 

Situated within a repurposed aircraft hangar, House of Air stands out as a favorite trampoline park at San Francisco's Crissy Field. Families are welcome to enjoy a variety of activities including free jump sessions on trampolines, engaging in dodgeball games, and the unique opportunity to observe Olympians during their training sessions, with the chance for a photo op.

The Coit Tower, standing at 210 feet and constructed from unpainted reinforced concrete, was crafted by architects Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard.

9. Coit Tower 

The towering 210-foot structure made of white concrete, perched atop Pioneer Park, is a must-visit on many Bay Area sightseeing lists, and for good reason. Visitors can take an elevator to the top for breathtaking 360-degree panoramas of the city. Insider tip: Don't miss the captivating murals inside.

10. Letterman Digital and New Media Center 

Nestled in the Presidio, the Letterman Digital and New Media Arts Center houses Lucas Film, making it a treasure trove for Star Wars enthusiasts. Children will be thrilled to discover the life-size Yoda statue; and as a fun fact, you can also find stormtrooper outfits displayed in the lobby.

Lesser-Known Bay Area Tourist Attractions

Enclosed by high, rugged cliffs, San Gregorio State Park features a wide sandy beach and a driftwood-strewn estuary.

11. San Gregorio State Park and Beach

When beach lovers visit this semi-hidden Bay Area attraction, San Gregorio’s uniqueness is the thing that strikes them first. With an area almost strewn with a vast array of driftwood and seashells, this state park near S.F. boasts grassy bluffs for days.

12. Pulgas Water Temple

Hailed as an engineering marvel, the Pulgas Water Temple sits in the exact spot where waters routed from the Sierra Nevada Mountains enter into the Crystal Springs Reservoir. This epic backdrop is so gorgeous it’s often used as a picturesque wedding location—you might not get hitched there, but a photo is a must.

13. Central Park

We know what you’re thinking, and no, this is not a landmark in New York City. Central Park is actually a much smaller yet still amazing destination in San Mateo. Just off the El Camino Real, this park has all the traditional amenities plus the stellar views you’ve come to expect from Bay Area attractions.

California's Great America is home to more than 40 attractions and rides, with Gold Striker being among its highlights.

14. California’s Great America 

If you have a personality type that’s overwhelmed by large crowds but still want to experience the amusement parks in the Bay Area; we highly suggest checking out California's Great America. With fun rides, special events, musical performances, and fireworks, this is the place to leave your worries behind and spend an unforgettable, fun-filled afternoon.

15. The Exploratorium 

San Francisco is home to a plethora of iconic Art museums in California, and they are all well worth visiting. The Exploratorium, though, is different from these traditional Bay Area attractions; it takes adventure to a whole different level. Curious young minds and adults alike revel in scientific and educational experiences—fun, fascinating, and with a refreshing hands-on approach.

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