Curious Baby Sea Lion in San Francisco. Visiting these sea lions is one of the best things that you can do in the Bay Area for free!

30 of the Best Free and Affordable Things to Do in the Bay Area

Whether you love history, art, wine, or dining, there are so many things to do and places to see when you plan a Bay Area getaway. The best part of all is that many of the area’s greatest attractions won’t break your vacation budget. Below, we’ve created a comprehensive list of fun, affordable, and free things to do in San Francisco, Livermore, San Jose, and Oakland. Although some of these attractions may have an admission fee, we’ve stuck with activities that are $10 or less.

Afterward, if you are looking for more ways to save on your Bay Area vacation, take advantage of our all-inclusive packages at The Purple Orchid Resort & Spa. From romantic escapes to friends weekend getaways, we’ve thought out every detail of your vacation so you can spend less time planning and more time having fun!

The Best Things to Do in the Bay Area are Free


  • Indulge in free wine tastings at one of the valley’s best wineries. 
  • Spend a day in the great outdoors at Lake Del Valle where you can fish, swim, boat, and more!
  • Take a ride through California\’s first wine country on any of the area’s lovely bike trails.
  • Dress to impress and dance the night away at one of Livermore’s top dance clubs.
  • Book a tee time at Pleasanton Golf Center, only a few minutes away from Livermore. Tee times typically cost $14 per person, but often drop as low as $5 for last-minute bookings.
  • Go hiking at Brushy Peak Regional Preserve, and enjoy sweeping views of the valley!
Vineyard and bike trail at sunset in Livermore Wine Country, California
  • Spoil yourself with wine, olive oil samples, and light hors d’oeuvres each evening at The Purple Orchid Resort & Spa. Our complimentary, gathering hour is just one of the many amenities included in your stay.
  • Take a trip to First Street Ale House in downtown Livermore to sample some of the valley’s best craft beer

San Francisco

  • Enjoy free music, artistic performances, and other cultural programs at Yerba Buena Gardens Festival (May through October). 
  • Visit the Sea Lion Center for free educational programs on the natural history of California’s sea lions. Remember to stop Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf to hang out with some sea lions afterward!
  • View a movie under the stars at night with Film Night in the Park (August through September).
  • Get touristy and take a stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Indulge in free chocolate samples at Ghirardelli Square.
  • Grab some cheap, clean eats at Le Cupboard Cafe, and head over to Billy Goat Hill for a lovely picnic in the park.
  • Delve into history at the Cable Car Museum. Admission is free, and cable car fare is only $7!
  • Wander over 55 acres of extraordinary gardens at San Francisco Botanical Garden.

San Jose

Flowers in downtown San Jose.
  • Stop and smell the roses on a romantic date at San Jose’s five acre garden, Municipal Rose Garden
  • Relax and dip your toes in the sand at Santa Cruz’s Main Beach. It is only about 30 minutes away from San Jose.
  • Pack a picnic basket and enjoy Free Shakespeare in the Park at Willow Street Park (spring).
  • Take a walk downtown and visit the San Jose Farmers Market.
  • Head over to Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park for free events throughout the year. See their activities calendar for a full list of upcoming festivities.
  • Head to West Wind Capitol Drive-In for a movie under the stars by night. Admission is $1 to $8 per person.
  • Grab a beer and some cheap, tasty eats at one of the city’s great breweries.


man enjoying hiking in gorgeous redwood park in oakland.

Plan an All-Inclusive Getaway at The Purple Orchid Resort & Spa

A bed with soft sheets. A wine and cheese board sits atop the middle of the bed in our Meadowlark Room at the Purple Orchid Resort & Spa.

One of the most important aspects of any vacation is relaxation. Return home feeling completely refreshed when you take advantage of our all-inclusive vacation packages! Whether you are planning a romance retreat or a friends getaway, our vacation specials have everything you need to plan the perfect trip. Daily breakfast, a complimentary wine and olive oil hour, full concierge service, and easy access to the Bay Area’s top attractions are just a few amenities that our guests can enjoy. When you are ready to plan your trip, check our availability and book your stay. We can’t wait to host you at The Purple Orchid Resort & Spa!

If you are looking for more fun things to do in the Bay Area, our free vacation guide is our gift to you!

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