A woman looks at the San Francisco skyline from Twin Peaks.

Why San Francisco Is A Great Place to Travel Alone

Who said you can't have a great vacation going solo? In San Francisco, you'll never feel alone as you explore the city.

San Francisco's scenic beauty, out-of-this-world dining, and welcoming spirit can make the city feel especially romantic—but we're not just a city for lovebirds. San Francisco is a terrific destination if you're traveling solo, coming with a group of friends, or looking for things to do alone. Here are some of the experiences that we think best exemplify why San Francisco is a great place to visit, whether you're single or just want to explore the city alone.

Tour the City

If you only have a short time in the Bay Area or want to get acclimated to the city early in your trip, the iconic hop-on/hop-off Big Bus Tours San Francisco is a great solution. The tour starts in Fisherman's Wharf and takes you to 20 of San Francisco’s most-frequented attractions. It even travels across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Want to see the city on foot and maybe meet some new friends along the way? Book a journey with Wild SF Walking Tours. These anything-but-ordinary explorations of San Francisco promise music, laughs, and some insights into the parts of city history other tours might not tell you about.

If you want a little thrill in your guided tour, sign up with the San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour. You'll explore some of the city's most storied neighborhoods and learn about the strange and spooky things that have happened in the past.

Want to try something a little out of your comfort zone? Take a full-day or multi-day tour of the Bay Area by motorcycle with Native Moto Adventures. They offer authentic, customizable tours that'll take you through San Francisco and beyond on two wheels. Along the way, you'll be able to meet other riders, connect with the outdoors, and see the Bay Area like never before.

Get Outdoors

On a free afternoon, you can’t go wrong with a picnic at Golden Gate Park. Before you eat, work up an appetite with a bike ride or go back to basics with traditional roller skates. Golden Gate Park Bike & Skate (3038 Fulton St.) rents bicycles, roller skates, and in-line skates, along with all of the safety equipment you need. You can also rent bike locks, and there are lockers to store your valuables while you explore.

From the western edge of Golden Gate Park where it meets Ocean Beach, take a ride to the Sutro Bath ruins (1090 Point Lobos Ave.) to explore what's left of the old bath house and enjoy magnificent panoramic ocean views.

Later, you can live like a local and get your Golden Gate selfie at Baker Beach. Though the surf is too rough for swimming, it’s a gorgeous spot for an oceanside walk. You're likely to come across nude sunbathers while you're there. Feel free to join them; it's completely legal.

For those that want to get that perfect postcard shot of San Francisco, you can either head to Alamo Square Park to gaze upon the Painted Ladies, Bernal Heights Park to the south of the Mission District for a bridge-to-bridge view, or hike up to Twin Peaks and get rewarded with a jaw-dropping view.

Visit Our Museums

World-class aquariums, interactive science exhibits, and some of the country’s most diverse art collections make San Francisco’s museums a must for any visitor. Here are just a few perfect for the solo traveler.

SFMOMA

Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, the transformed San Francisco Museum of Modern (SFMOMA) Art re-opened in 2016. The Snohetta-designed expansion includes 170,000 square feet of new and renovated galleries, enabling SFMOMA to display more of its 33,000 modern and contemporary artworks, with an entire floor dedicated solely to photography. Free access to 45,000 square feet of ground-floor galleries makes SFMOMA more welcoming and connected to the city than ever before.

Walt Disney Family Museum

The Walt Disney Family Museum (104 Montgomery St.) celebrates Walt's creativity and innovation with a variety of interactive exhibits. Get a closer look at original drawings and cartoons that formed the foundation of Disney’s animated empire. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the museum is an in-depth look at Walt Disney himself. You will learn about the life experiences and events that inspired this creative genius.

California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences (55 Music Concourse Drive) is your opportunity to indulge in an array of scientific topics. Inside, you will discover a natural history museum, a rainforest, an aquarium, and a planetarium. Visit with the free-flying birds in the 90-foot rainforest dome, or watch penguins eating, sleeping, and playing. The planetarium offers unique views of the night sky, and you can look forward to a selection of special exhibits that explore secrets of the universe.

Places to Dine for the Solo Traveler

San Francisco's dining scene is in the top tier globally, and one of the best ways to experience it is alone. Surprised? Don't be. Not only do you get to taste more of the Bay Area's bounty and experience innovative creations from the best culinary talent, but you can also walk into almost anywhere and get seated much easier than if you were with a plus-one (or two or three!). Take note: here are places where it's easy to snag a spot if you're dining solo.

Rich Table

Rich Table has been a single's staple for more than ten years, known for its chips with entire sardines slotted through the middle; grilled pork chops glazed with pluot teriyaki; watermelon, chamoy, cheddar sorghumand salad; and bread infused with actual Douglas fir. This is the place where you want to snag a seat at the bar. It will be hard to know what to eat, but for those that can't make up their mind, the best way to go is the Chef's Pick menu.

NOPA

Thanks to a walk-in-only bar and communal table, people have been gathering at NOPA for more than a decade. There is always a long line due to hearty entrées like pappardelle with bolognese and butternut squash, and Moroccan-spiced fried chicken with chili honey. So saddle up to the bar, order a disco rodeo or another inventive cocktail, and get into their wood-grilled cheeseburger with duck-fat fries, which is one of the best in the city. Tell Chef Laurence we sent you!

Loló

If you are traveling alone and want an energetic atmosphere, you will fit right in at Loló (974 Valencia St.). The Mexican dishes have an authentic base, but the chefs add creative twists that are pure California. The décor is what makes this spot stand out; brightly colored wall hangings and a variety of unusual knick-knacks keep the conversation flowing and the mood spirited.

San Francisco Brewing Company

You could also visit Ghirardelli Square to hang out at San Francisco Brewing Company. This innovative craft brewery offers a one-of-a-kind beers, a full menu, live music, and games. It's steps from the waterfront and a great starting point for a night out in the Marina.

Spark Social

If fresh air and cheap eats is what you're looking for, Mission Bay’s Spark Social has a collection of food and drink options. While it’s an experience you can share with friends, the outdoor food park deserves your alone time, too. The park collaborates with more than 150 street food vendors like city favorites Señor Sisig, Los Kuyas and Koja Kitchen, so you can come back and have a different experience each time. 

Bubble Lounge

For a more sophisticated ambiance, check out the Bubble Lounge (714 Montgomery St.), which offers a champagne and sparkling wine list that touches every corner of the globe. The historical building is one of the oldest in the city.

Have a Night Out

San Francisco music venues have been a launching point for dozens of renowned entertainers, so no visit to the city is complete without taking in a show. The Saloon (1232 Grant Ave.) is a local favorite with a true dive-bar feel. Make sure to hit the ATM first, though; it’s cash-only.

If you are in the mood for a more elegant setting, enjoy a performance at the Great American Music Hall (859 O'Farrell St.). The packed event calendar offers something for everyone, from reggae beats to EDM. Whoever you are there to see, the biggest attraction might be your surroundings: marble columns, detailed frescoes, and classic Victorian décor.

And if you just want to cut loose on the dance floor, there are plenty of places to do that, too. For full, body-bumping sound, go to Audio (316 11th St.) and experience its Funktion One 3D sound system, the only set-up of its kind. For everything from live performances to drag shows to top DJs, visit Oasis (298 11th St.). This gay club welcomes everyone and there's no telling how many different performers you might hear in a given night.


Dan Rosenbaum Headshot
Dan Rosenbaum

Dan is the Vice President, Global Marketing, at San Francisco Travel. San Francisco has been his home for over a decade (that makes him a local, right?). On the weekends, you can find him with a cup of craft coffee in hand, a playlist of good vibes, a growing list of books to read, or out at the city's hottest new restaurant or bar.