Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in SoMa, San Francisco

  • Published 2022/12/22

SoMa in Sonoma County is a touristy waterfront neighborhood located in the northeastern corner of San Francisco, California.

The name “SoMa” stands for South Market, as it was established south of the city’s prominent Lower Market area in the mid-1800s.

Today, it’s home to many museums, restaurants, and other renowned recreational spaces, making this place a must-visit during your trip to the Bay Area.

There are also a lot of things to do nearby since this corner of San Francisco teems with all sorts of diverse urban cultures.

To get you started, here’s a list of the best things to do in SoMa, California:

Explore Salesforce Park

Paved trail at Salesforce Park

Lynn Watson /

Salesforce Park is probably one of the most unique attractions in San Francisco.

It’s a public park on top of the Salesforce Transit Center, one you’ll access via a quick but scenic gondola ride.

Owned by the iconic software company from Silicon Valley, Salesforce Park is a grand green space that’s erected 70 feet above and has a length that reaches four blocks in the neighborhood.

People walking along Salesforce Park

Suzette Leg Anthony /

Its size enables it to be the home of 600 trees and around 16,000 plants—making this a haven for botanical lovers.

There’s a lot more to do here besides exploring their botanical gardens, such as an amphitheater, fountain, and children’s playground.

This beautiful skyscraper park is located at the northern end of the neighborhood along Mission Street.

Playground at Salesforce Park

Suzette Leg Anthony /

Bring the Kids to Children’s Creativity Museum

Entrance to the Children’s Creativity Museum

1000Photography /

While the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art may be reserved for the grownups, kids can enjoy the next-door Children’s Creativity Museum.

A place dedicated to the young ones, there are a lot of interactive activities here that bridge art with fun.

There are a lot of creation stations here featuring music, robots, and even an animation studio.

Carousel at the Children’s Creativity Museum

Lynn Yeh /

Outside, you can find a nice playground that has a carousel as well, that’ll be a great addition for the more energetic kids.

Children’s Creativity Museum is a fun family activity that’ll surely bring a smile to children.

Go Shopping at Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center

Building sign of Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center

Michael Vi /

Located along Market Street is Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center, one of California’s largest and most prominent shopping malls.

Visited by millions of people annually, this shopping mall is a can’t-miss destination just for the sheer experience alone.

What makes this mall special is the gorgeous architecture and interior design inside that you won’t normally find in other American malls.

Interior of Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center

Toms Auzins /

This gives it a stellar ambiance fit for relaxed but lively shopping with friends or family.

There are many designer brands here, along with essentials and a fantastic food court if you’re looking to grab a nice meal.

With so much to offer, Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center is a no-brainer in your SoMa itinerary.

Shops in Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center

Pack-Shot /

Have a Blast at Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center

Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center is one of the best ways to have fun in SoMa, found beside the Children’s Creativity Museum.

They have a trendy bowling alley here that makes for a great respite with friends or family after a long day exploring the urban corners of the neighborhood.

The ice-skating rink is sizable and, if you’re lucky, is sometimes almost empty, which is great if you’re looking for solitude in the bustling city.

Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center is a part of Yerba Buena Gardens, so there are a lot more activities within the immediate vicinity.

You can access a children’s garden, carousel, visitor center, and a public square outside of the bowling and ice-skating center.

Take Photos of The San Francisco Mint

Facade of The San Francisco Mint

Anne Czichos /

Right next to Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center is a historical landmark that deserves to be part of your photo gallery—The San Francisco Mint.

It’s an 1847 classical revival mint building that’s now mainly used for events such as ballroom parties and company activities.

Check the schedule if something’s brewing up during your visit, otherwise, you can simply marvel at its glorious facade.

Front view of The San Francisco Mint

Sanfranman59, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can see a lot of age in The San Francisco Mint both inside and outside, which gives it a historical charm and a feeling of authenticity.

If you’re a history or architecture buff, this place is a convenient stopover after checking out the other nearby attractions.

Be Amazed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Exterior of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Taner Muhlis Karaguzel /

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of the prime attractions in SoMa and the city in general.

It’s home to thousands of paintings, sculptures, and other artworks, making this a delightful destination for both the casual goer and the art aficionado.

You can find many works from contemporary artists here, most prominently Andy Warhol, Diego Rivera, Rene Magritte, and Frida Kahlo, to name a few.

There’s a lot to unpack at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as it boasts multiple levels that each feature unique mediums of art.

A trip that can easily take a whole day, visit this grandiose museum along the neighborhood’s 3rd Street.

Attend an Event at Moscone Center

People on the grounds of Moscone Center

Suzette Leg Anthony /

Within Yerba Buena lies the Moscone Center, deserving of its own recognition because it’s home to major expos and events in San Francisco.

A state-of-the-art building, Moscone Center is a modern architectural marvel, so take the time to check its beautiful facade.

Still, the best way to experience this is by attending an event.

Exterior of Moscone Center

Celso Pupo /

During your stay, check its schedule, as this center is home to iconic events like Comic Con and FanExpo.

If there are no public events that pique your interest, there are a lot of restaurants and bars within the area as well.

An event in Moscone Center

drserg /

Have a Sip of Exquisite Coffee at Sightglass Coffee

San Francisco is renowned for having a vibrant coffee culture, and Sightglass Coffee is up there as one of the most famous in the city.

While it has several branches in San Francisco, you can find one in SoMa, along 7th Street.

This is not your average cafe or coffee brewery, as the aesthetics of Sightglass Coffee separates it as a tourist destination on its own.

You can see live coffee roasting in their rustic, factory-style interiors—giving this place a unique ambiance that only coffee lovers can fully grasp.

Of course, beyond its interiors, the coffee they serve here is exquisite and refined, accentuated by their delectable pastries as well.

Watch a Play at the Orpheum Theater

Marquee of the Orpheum Theater

Let Go Media /

Located along Market Street as well lies the Orpheum Theater, an ornate architectural marvel built in 1926.

If you have a thing for beautiful theater plays and architecture, this historical building is a can’t-miss in your itinerary because of its grandiose design.

The plays hosted here are some of the most iconic you’ll find as well, spearheaded by none other than Hamilton and Moulin Rouge.

Grand chandelier in the Orpheum Theater

David A Litman /

While grandiose, the theater isn’t particularly big compared to others in the country, which is a positive as it gives you an intimate ambiance as you watch the amazing plays.

One of the most beautiful theaters on the West Coast, even casual goers would greatly appreciate the beauty and excitement found in Orpheum Theater.

Exterior of the Orpheum Theater

Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn about Jewish Culture in the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Exterior of the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Tiago Seither Afonso /

Located along Mission Street is the Contemporary Jewish Museum—a great addition to your itinerary if you’re passionate about contemporary history.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum has various exhibits that give you a glimpse of Jewish life from the 19th to the 21st century.

They have various rotating exhibits throughout the year, so check their website for the schedules of their current and upcoming exhibit.

Entrance door of the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Jeffery Edwards /

Besides Jewish history, the Contemporary Jewish Museum also has many interesting art exhibits that are a great complement to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

If you’re in search of a souvenir, they also have a great gift shop here, so go check it out.

Gift shop of the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Eug Png /

Visit the Museum of the African Diaspora

Exterior of the Museum of the African Diaspora

Anne Czichos /

The Museum of the African Diaspora is another great museum in SoMa dedicated to the African-American communities and their heritage.

Like the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Museum of African Diaspora harmonizes historical exhibits with art exhibits as well.

You can find all sorts of artworks here themed after the diverse and complex culture of Africans.

Entrance door of the Museum of the African Diaspora

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The layout of this museum is very spacious, making this a great place to enjoy both art and history while taking a breather after a long day in the busier areas of SoMa.

Located along Mission Street adjacent to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, this is a convenient addition to your SoMa itinerary.

See the San Francisco Skyline at Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar and Lounge

If you’re looking for an intimate place to bring your spouse or lover, Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar and Lounge is a great place to consider.

Not only is the ambiance and vibe here romantic, but it also doubles as a fantastic place to get beautiful views of the skyline in San Francisco.

Their outdoor seating on the rooftop is best enjoyed at night, where you can see the beautiful skyscrapers, all lit under the night sky.

Even if you choose not to visit at night, sunsets here are also beautiful.

If you’re worried about the cold, one of the best things that visitors rave about this bar is the gas-lit fire pits that add a unique and serene touch to the place.

Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar and Lounge can be found along Market and McAllister Street.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Get Waterfront Views at Rincon Park

Night scene at Rincon Park

Nickolay Stanev /

A trip to SoMa isn’t complete without seeing the San Francisco Bay and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, something you can both do at Rincon Park, which is just a 5-minute drive from Salesforce Park.

Located at the northeasternmost corner of the city, Rincon Park is a scenic place fit for relaxation and scenic photography.

This is the best place to take photos of the massive San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, which is part of the two engineering marvels of the city, the other being the Golden Gate Bridge on the opposite end of the city.

Aerial view of Rincon Park

Anton Pestov /

Beyond its beautiful waters and the bridge, Rincon Park also has a giant landmark called Cupid’s Span—an art installation featuring a bow and arrow that now serves as the icon of the park.

One of the best places to just simply stroll and take in the gentle breezes of San Francisco, Rincon Park is a can’t-miss if you’re already in SoMa.

A person playing with a dog at Rincon Park /

See the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park

Exterior of Oracle Park

Michael Vi /

Oracle Park is just right outside the border of SoMa, located at Willie Mays Plaza, just a five-minute drive from Salesforce Park.

A sports icon in the United States, Oracle Park is home to the beloved San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MBL).

Whether you’re a baseball fan or simply wish to marvel at this gigantic sports arena, Oracle Park is too good to pass up on in your visit to SoMa.

Interior of Oracle Park

Sundry Photography /

Besides the stadium, tons of restaurants are found near here, along with views of Mission Bay as well.

Always vibrant and lively, Oracle Park embodies the rich sports culture of San Francisco.

Baseball game in Oracle Park

Conor P. Fitzgerald /

Watch the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center

Exterior of Chase Center

Sundry Photography /

Speaking of San Francisco’s sports culture, Chase Center is another iconic sports arena near SoMa, found in the city’s Mission Bay area, which takes around 10 minutes by car to reach.

Chase Center is home to one of the most dominant national Basketball Association (NBA) teams in the past decade—the Golden State Warriors.

It’s a great place for basketball fans to congregate, as the Warriors themselves are a symbol of the NBA’s global success.

Entrance gates of Chase Center

Sundry Photography /

Chase Center is also home to various concerts throughout the year, so check its schedule during your visit.

Having only opened in 2019, this modern, state-of-the-art sports arena has a lot in store for you.

Basketball game in Chase Center

Américo Toledano, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

SoMa is one of the best places to be in San Francisco if you’re searching for fun and knowledge.

Teeming with so many museums and historical landmarks, this neighborhood embodies the rich diversity of San Francisco’s culture.

Beyond that, you can find many modern attractions here, such as the state-of-the-art Salesforce Park and Westfield Shopping Center.

Best of all, it’s also surrounded by the top two sports icons of the city, along with waterfront parks that overlook San Francisco Bay.

With so much to offer in this globally renowned city, the best things to do in SoMa, California, should be on your West Coast bucket list!

© All rights reserved.