Things to do in SFO: 10 Activities near & in San Francisco Airport

Ready to immerse yourself in the dynamic spirit of San Francisco? Uncover an array of unforgettable experiences with our list of things to do in SFO. Whether you have a layover or a few hours to spare before your next flight, there are plenty of attractions both near and inside the airport.

From exploring nearby landmarks to indulging in shopping and dining experiences within the terminals, SFO offers something for every traveler. Let’s dive into our guide on how to make the most of your time in and around San Francisco Airport.

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Things to do near San Francisco Airport


1. Visit Burlingame

Burlingame Avenue

The charming city of Burlingame is a must-try thing to do near San Francisco Airport. It’s a fantastic day out, where you can stroll down Burlingame Avenue to explore boutiques, cafes, and art galleries.

Immerse yourself in the local charm and vibrant culture of this picturesque city, offering a relaxing escape just minutes away from the airport.

Highlight: Historic Burlingame Train Station, a captivating example of Spanish colonial revival architecture, serves as a nostalgic reminder of the city’s rich heritage.

Location: Approximately 5.2 miles away. Find driving directions on Google Maps

2. Relax at Coyote Point Recreation Area

Close up rocks at beach during sunset - 
Coyote Point Recreation Area

Located just north of the airport, Coyote Point Recreation Area offers scenic views of the San Francisco Bay. Spend some time relaxing by the water and exploring the walking trails.

The park’s closing times change depending on the time of year; however, it opens daily at 8am. Activities you might like to try include the horseshoe pit, unwinding in the picnic site and playing at the volleyball court.

Highlight: CuriOdyssey science museum and zoo nearby offer captivating exhibits and interactive experiences; perfect for families and curious minds!

Location: Approximately 6.3 miles from SFO. Find driving directions on Google Maps

3. Explore San Francisco

A setting moon above the famous Painted Ladies - San Francisco

If you have a longer layover, consider venturing into San Francisco itself. There are a wealth of things to do near SFO here! Simply hop on the BART train from the airport for a quick ride into the city.

Once there, you can visit iconic landmarks such as the Fisherman’s Wharf and the Painted Ladies of San Francisco. Alternatively, treat yourself to a spot of retail therapy at one of the city’s shopping malls, like the San Francisco Centre or the Anchorage Square Mall.

Highlights: From the majestic Golden Gate Bridge to the historic allure of Alcatraz Island, each landmark promises a unique and unforgettable experience, encapsulating the essence of this dynamic city.

Location: Approximately 13.9 miles from the airport. Find driving directions on Google Maps

4. Enjoy Nature at San Bruno Mountain State Park

San Bruno Mountains at Night

Escape into the natural beauty of San Bruno Mountain State Park, where panoramic vistas and scenic trails offer an outdoor adventure. Embark on a journey of exploration amidst lush landscapes and wildlife.

This stunning place is ideal for those either looking for relaxation or wanting to burn off some energy before flying out of California. There are many trails to choose from in the park, including the Summit Loop, Old Guadalupe, Bog, Saddle Loop, Dairy Ravine, Old Ranch, Eucalyptus Loop and the Ridge Trail.

Highlights: Experience the thrill of birdwatching against the backdrop of sweeping Bay Area views, or simply unwind with a picnic amidst the surroundings.

Location: The state park is 9.5 miles away from SFO. Find driving directions on Google Maps

5. Discover Art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Woman standing in front of a painting

Last but not least on the things to do near SFO section is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Immerse yourself in a world of artistic innovation and creativity here!

Explore thought-provoking exhibitions and dynamic installations showcasing the evolution of contemporary art. The exhibitions at SFMOMA are ever-changing, however, a few on-going displays include Bay Area Walls and German Art After 1960.

Highlights: From avant-garde masterpieces to groundbreaking installations, SFMOMA offers a comprehensive collection that celebrates the diversity and complexity of modern artistic expression.

Location: SFMOMA is 14.1 miles away from SFO. Find driving directions on Google Maps

Things to do in SFO


6. Shopping at SFO

Person holding shopping bag

Indulge in a retail therapy session at SFO’s diverse array of shops, where luxury brands and local treasures await. Whether searching for the perfect souvenir or treating yourself to a designer indulgence, the airport promises a great shopping experience.

Highlights: From chic boutiques in the International Terminal to artisanal finds in Terminal 2, each shop offers a unique selection of merchandise, ensuring a delightful browsing experience for every traveler.

Locations: Harvey Milk Terminal 1, Terminal 2, Terminal 3, International Terminal A, International Terminal G, Ed Lee International Main Hall. Find more shopping spots on the SFO website

7. Dining Options

Brunching with friends - food on table

SFO offers a plethora of dining options to satisfy every palate. From grab-and-go snacks to sit-down meals, you’ll find a wide range of cuisines and eateries throughout the airport. Savor a taste of San Francisco’s vibrant culinary scene without leaving the airport.

Highlights: Don’t miss the opportunity to sample local favorites such as savory clam chowder or artisanal sourdough bread, crafted with the finest ingredients and culinary expertise.

Locations: Harvey Milk Terminal 1, Terminal 2, Terminal 3, International Terminal A, International Terminal G, Ed Lee International Main Hall. Find more dining spots on the SFO website

8. Aviation Museum and Library

Gray airplane propeller

When it comes to SFO things to do, be sure to take some time to explore the SFO Aviation Museum and Library. Captivating exhibits and archival treasures offer insight into the evolution of flight and the airport’s storied past.

Highlights: Explore interactive displays and rare artifacts that showcase the ingenuity and innovation of aviation pioneers, providing a fascinating glimpse into the world of air travel.

Location: Near Harvey Milk Terminal 1 A and B Gates. Find the location on Google Maps

9. Yoga Rooms

Man sitting on wooden floor meditating

Need to unwind and de-stress before your flight? Rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit at SFO’s tranquil yoga rooms, where travelers can find solace amidst the hustle and bustle of the airport environment.

Highlights: Designed to promote relaxation and well-being, these serene spaces provide the perfect sanctuary for travelers seeking moments of peace and mindfulness amid their journey.

Location: Terminals 2 and 3, post-security.

10. Admire Public Art Installations

SFO wall art - Red Lips

SFO is known for its impressive collection of art scattered throughout the airport. Take a self-guided tour to discover public art installations provided by SFO Museum, where captivating sculptures, murals, and multimedia artworks captivate the imagination and inspire wonder.

Highlights: From larger-than-life sculptures to thought-provoking murals, each artwork tells a story and reflects the unique cultural heritage and creative spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Location: Harvey Milk Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.

Whether you’re looking to explore nearby attractions or make the most of your time with SFO things to do, the airport offers a wide range of activities and experiences for travelers.

If you have a long layover or want to stay and explore the city for an extra couple of nights during your trip via SFO Airport, these San Francisco Airport hotels are the perfect choice, offering handy parking and shuttle service!

Photos by:
Sid VermaUnsplash | Javelinca – CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED | Cristina GlebovaUnsplash | Joshua SortinoUnsplash | Aaron LeeUnsplash | Bara Cross | Porapak Apichodilok | Ali InayUnsplash | Robert Stearns | Andrea Piacquadio | Kaja ReichardtUnsplash