Ultimate Bay Area Bucket List

To celebrate and prepare to welcome guests from around the globe to the San Francisco Bay Area this month, the Host Committee launched its call to all residents to help build the Ultimate Bay Area Bucket List. Here are the local favorites and must do-see-eat as shared by the people who know our region the best – our residents! 

  1. Walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  2. Visit Alcatraz (the audio tour is well worth it).
  3. Go wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma.
  4. Ride rollercoasters at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo.
  5. Explore San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House.
  6. Wander through San Francisco’s colorful and historic Chinatown.
  7. Learn something new at Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center.
  8. Pay homage to our greatest athletes at the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame at SFO.
  9. Spot a shark at the California Academy of Sciences.
  10. Hike the top 5 peaks in the region: Tamalpais in Marin County, Mt. Diablo in the East Bay, Mission Peak in Fremont, Mt. Hamilton in San Jose, and Sugarloaf Hike in Sonoma.
  11. Warm up with an Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Café.
  12. Indulge in a Bay Area original bite! Crack open a Fortune cookie in Chinatown, gulp down some Cioppino in Fisherman’s Wharf, lick on a San Francisco original Popsicle, get your sweet fix with an It’s-It ice cream sandwich, sip an East Bay original Mai Tai, or grub on a Mission-style burrito.
  13. Hit some balls at historic Pebble Beach Golf Links.
  14. Take a whale watching tour around the Farallon Islands.
  15. Brave a SkyRide at the Oakland Zoo.
  16. Take in a game at San Francisco’s first gay sport’s bar, Hi Tops, in the Castro.
  17. Dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean at Half Moon Bay, Capitola, or Pescadero.
  18. Listen to the changing sounds at the majestic Wave Organ built on a jetty into the San Francisco Bay.
  19. Rent a kayak in sunny Sausalito.
  20. Shop the Ferry Building’s Farmer’s Market on a Saturday.
  21. Say hello to Yoda at Lucasfilm’s Presidio headquarters.
  22. Eat an amazing breakfast at Archetype in St. Helena.
  23. Spot a masterpiece at the de Young Museum of San Francisco or the San Jose Museum of Art.
  24. Wait in line for a pastry at Tartine Bakery.
  25. See the city from the top of Coit Tower.
  26. Stroll the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz.
  27. Catch a performance of San Francisco’s legendary Beach Blanket Babylon.
  28. Indulge in a world-class dinner at Michael Mina SF.
  29. Hike Angel Island, the Ellis Island of the West Coast.
  30. Visit Kezar Stadium, the original home of the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders.
  31. Shop historic Carmel (and see if you can spot Clint Eastwood).
  32. Check out Chef Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi’s in Santa Rosa.
  33. Take a golf cart tour of Stanford University.
  34. Eat the real deal at Oakland’s Home of Chicken and Waffles.
  35. Milk your connections for a tour of Google, Facebook, Pixar, or Apple.
  36. Grab some Gorilla BBQ in Pacifica.
  37. Celebrate Silicon Valley at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.
  38. Go windsurfing in Foster City.
  39. Visit  Levi’s® store on Market Street, then stroll down the street at browse Old Navy
  40. Toss a pigskin at Crissy Field.
  41. Take a tour of the (haunted?) USS Hornet aircraft carrier in Alameda.
  42. Eat Spanish tapas at Mountain View’s Cascal.
  43. Enjoy a picnic and wine tasting at Sonoma’s Scribe Winery.
  44. Hop on a cable car for a romantic evening ride.
  45. Indulge in some clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
  46. Wine and dine at Napa’s world famous Michelin three star restaurant, Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry.
  47. Treat yourself to some handmade ice cream at Oakland’s “sweetest landmark” Fentons
  48. Reserve a spot for a group picnic at Lake Solano in Solano County.
  49. Visit the most technologically-advanced stadium in the world: Levi’s® Stadium Tour Program and the 49ers Museum presented by Sony are must-sees for fans of football, technology, architecture, art, history and more.
  50. Explore every inch of Super Bowl City, presented by Verizon in San Francisco.Pick up a Bay Area original sourdough baguette for a picnic at Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo.
  51. Hike through a canopy of hundred foot tall redwood trees at Muir Woods.
  52. Take a tour of the foodie neighborhoods of Oakland with Savor OaklandRockridge Food TourEdible ExcursionsEat.Love.
  53. Grab a friend and hit the Livermore wine trail to explore some of the vino the East Bay has to offer.
  54. Visit Lake Merrit in Oakland, America’s first official wildlife refuge.
  55. Walk around the UC Berkeley campus, home of the Free Speech Movement in America.
  56. There’s a lot to see along the Landsend hike in San Francisco. Make sure to stop by the visitor center to get a dose of Bay Area culture, walk the ruins of the Sutro Baths, and spot a historical chef-d’oeuvre at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum.
  57. Day trip to Monterey and enjoy the famous 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach.
  58. Get a scoop of ice cream with delectable homemade toppings at the Mission District’s Bi-rite creamery.
  59. Immerse yourself in the Bay Area’s newest culinary craze by eating at a food truck. You can find anything from tacos to curry at food trucks in many Bay Area communities, including the East Bay and the city.  
  60. Catch a show at the Palace of Fine Arts. See performances ranging from poetry readings to Beatles tributes.
  61. Looking for kid-friendly activities? Check out San Jose’s Happy Hollow park and zoo or Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland.
  62. Grub on some dim sum in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
  63. Be the ultimate tourist and take a double decker bus tour of the City.
  64. The Bay Area is home to a few unexpected yet amusing museums, including the PEZ museum in Burlingame, Grossman’s sticker museum and Charles M. Schulz Snoopy Museum in Santa Rosa, and the Jelly Belly museum in Fairfield. Channel your inner child and go explore!
  65. For all you airplane aficionados out there, visit the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos.
  66. Grab your fellow motor-head buddies and visit Sacramento’s California Automobile Museum.
  67. Enjoy the decadent libations, gourmet cuisine, and tropical décor at the iconic Tonga Room in Nob Hill.
  68. If you’re looking to get a California seafood fix, chow on some clam chowder in a Boudin sourdough bread bowl.
  69. Wave hello to hundreds of sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco.
  70. Because the Bay Area is known for their vino, cruise the Santa Clara Wine Trail.
  71. Get a sandwich at Ike’s, and make sure to ask for “dirty secret sauce.”
  72. For you bookworms, check out the “beatniks” at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, one of America’s only truly independent bookstores.
  73. Shop and eat at the lavish Santana Row in San Jose, and learn about California’s immigrant heritage at Cannery Row in Monterey.
  74. Visit the historic Fioli Mansion just 30 miles south of San Francisco to see one of the finest country estates of the early 20th century remaining.
  75. Breathe in the salt water air and travel to Alameda, Vallejo, Sausalito, Larkspur and more Bay Area cities in one day via ferry.
  76. The Bay Area is home to the Train Tour from Niles Historic Town near Fremont and the Napa Valley Wine Train. Travel through the area’s beautiful scenery while sipping on some quality wines.
  77. Take a page out of Jane Eyre and drive by the gorgeous Victorian Homes in San Jose.
  78. View the detailed architecture of some of the Bay Area’s historic cathedrals, including Joseph’s Cathedral in Downtown San Jose, Santa Clara de Asìs in Santa Clara, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, San Carlos Cathedral in Monterey, and more.
  79. Travel back in time to Old Town Sacramento.
  80. Walk (or drive) the famously steep, eight hairpin turns of Lombard Street in San Francisco.
  81. Travel to the Lick Observatory just east of San Jose to channel your inner astronomer.
  82. Exercise outside and enjoy some gorgeous scenery mountain biking in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
  83. Ride to the top of the 307 feet tall UC Berkeley Campanile and get an awesome view of the Bay. Just don’t look down!
  84. Search for banana slugs at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton.
  85. Arrive hungry to the Mission District’s La Taqueria, home of America’s Best Burrito.
  86. Take a movie location tour: start at Bodega Bay (Hitchcock’s The Birds), then travel to Fort Point National Historic site at the Golden Gate Bridge (Vertigo), cruise over to Grace Cathedral SF (Maltese Falcon), and finish at Mount Davidson (Dirty Harry).
  87. Check out the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas to commemorate your high school English days.
  88. If you only have the time for one hike, hit Marin’s Tamalpais and find some hidden treasures along the way including a music stand, wreckage from a 1945 plane and an outdoor theater.
  89. Head over to Bayview for some Soul Food and delicious drinks. Do not miss Auntie Aprils, Old Skool Cafe, Sam Jordans, or Yvonne’s Southern Sweets.
  90. Taste the fresh, local fruits and veggies at the Davis Farmer’s market, which is #9 on USAToday’s top farmer’s markets in America.
  91. If all of your railroad knowledge came from reading Thomas the Tank Engine as a kid, head over to Sacramento to learn more at the California State Railroad Museum.
  92. Visit the California State Capitol and Museum in Sacramento to learn about California history and politics.
  93. Take a hot air balloon tour of Napa Valley to get an aerial view of thousands of acres of vineyards.
  94. Go fly fishing with Napa Valley Fly Guides, who will take you about 20 miles east to Putah Creek.  Or, if you’re feeling adventurous and have the time, they’ll bring you two hours north to the Yuba River.
  95. Take a romantic vineyard trail horseback ride in Napa Valley.
  96. Educate yourself like a sommelier at Sonoma’s Imagery Estate Winery & Art Gallery.
  97. Catch a flick at Oakland’s historical movie palace, Grand Lake Theatre, established in 1926.
  98. Hit some balls or play a round at Tilden Regional Park golf course in Berkeley.
  99. Despite being an urban city, San Francisco has plenty of beautiful nature to see. Visit the Japanese tea garden, the Janis Joplin Tree, and the Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park.
  100. Explore the beautiful Fox Theatre’s concert schedule. Upgrade your experience with a “Telegraph Room” VIP pass.
  101. Stop and smell the Roses at Oakland’s Morcom Rose Garden.