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Travelling to San Francisco on a budget? Here are 10 free things to do

Watch films, hike, get your art fix and more, for free. Check our guide for the details.

travel Updated: Oct 30, 2017 16:30 IST
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of its major landmarks.
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of its major landmarks. (Istock)

San Francisco is, of course, famous for its exotic locations. The city is also known for having more green spaces than any other municipality in the US. With fantastic weather to boot, it is not hard to find free hidden gems. So, take a look at the list below:

1. Bundle up at the Presidio

You can catch Off the Grid’s popular Twilight at the Presidio campfire party. Every Thursday, from April to October from 5 pm to 9 pm, there are cocktail services, food trucks, fire pits, live music and cabanas illuminated with lanterns that take over the Presidio’s lavish lawn for appreciative crowds.

2. Catch a flick, Alfresco

Catch a free film in the screenings that happen in parks across the Bay Area each summer, spanning from the Mission to Napa. Picnic and blankets are advised for the best experience; after which one can kick back beneath the stars. You can catch films like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma, and classics like Ghostbusters.

Coit Tower offers a breath-taking 360-degree view of San Francisco and the Bay. (Shutterstock)

3. Hike inside the city limits

When you’ve had enough of hauling it up and down San Francisco’s concrete hills, go for an urban hike through the city. Definitely one of the best, it is the Lands End trail, which begins near the Ritzy Sea Cliff neighbourhood, then winds around the craggy coast along the Pacific, dropping you at the foot of another urban treasure: the Sutro Baths.

4. Scale the city’s most scenic stairway

From Sansome Street, make your way up the Filbert Street Steps, which is a steep wooden staircase that meanders through fairytale gardens and past candy-coloured cottages to the top of Telegraph Hill, where you’ll find Coit Tower and a breath-taking 360-degree view of San Francisco and the Bay.

5. Get a local art fix

Crossing the pond to Oakland is worth it , especially for the monthly Art Murmur event, where you’ll find dozens of local galleries opening their doors to the art-curious. Food trucks and street performers take over the streets. It goes down the first Friday of each month, from 6 pm to 9 pm.

Wave Organ is an acoustic metal sculpture that the Exploratorium installed nearly 30 years ago in San Francisco. (Shutterstock)

6. Listen to the waves

Most people do not know about the Wave Organ. Wave Organ is an acoustic metal sculpture that the Exploratorium installed nearly 30 years ago in San Francisco. It is found at the end of a jetty stretching out of the Marina Green. When the tide comes in, the waves push wind through the massive instrument, as if the ocean is serenading you.

7. Sneak into a Giants game

Well, not exactly sneaking, but it is the only stadium in the US that offers a designated space where fans can watch the games for free. Sneak around the ticket office to the promenade on the east side of the building and you’ll find the ‘hole,’ where security guards allow non-paying patrons to catch an inning or two from a ground-floor viewing area.

8. Catch a comedy night

Milk Bar, a small trendy bar in the Upper Haight, hosts a free comedy night every second and third Tuesday with local and national comics. There’s no cover charge, but that shouldn’t stop you from tossing back a few.

9. Dance it out

The annual People in Plazas festival begins at squares across the city from July to October. During the festival, more than 140 free lunchtime micro concerts sound off, celebrating music and culture from around the globe that represents the diversity of the Bay Area.

10. Learn about the iconic cable car

You can get a free crash course in the lore of San Francisco’s most Instagramable transport system at the Cable Car Museum, which houses a trove of cable cars and historic photographs, also you can have a look on their mechanical displays with their free admission.

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