Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Daly City, CA

  • Published 2023/02/02

As the second-most populous city in San Mateo County, California, Daly City is an important regional economic and cultural hub.

The city was named after the industrialist and landowner John Donald Daly.

It is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and borders South San Francisco.

Daly City is known for its multicultural population and abundance of Asian shops and restaurants.

You won’t have to break the bank exploring its beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes.

Here are some free things to do in Daly City, California:

Go Hiking at Mussel Rock Park

Aerial view of Mussel Rock Park

Alexandre Olive /

Even though it has a reputation for its rocky shoreline, Mussel Rock Park also has beautiful ocean views, a small sandy beach, and a network of trails perfect for exploring the area.

Mussel Rock Park is a hillside park in southern Daly City with many trails leading to paragliding launching areas.

Below the park, the beach is rocky, with only a tiny patch of exposed sand.

However, you’ll find a sandy beach towards the park’s northern end.

Daytime view of Mussel Rock

Own work, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mussel Rock and its surrounding area are geologically significant because they mark the northwest incursion of the San Andreas Fault onto the continent.

Close to Mussel Rock, there is a beautiful lookout point where you can see the surf, birds, seals, and other sea life without competing with many people.

Mussel Rock Park in Daly City is a terrific place to enjoy some urban flora and the fresh air without spending a fortune.

You can access the park at the Parking lot, Skyline Dr & Westline Dr, Daly City, California.

Watch the Stunning Sunset at Northridge City Park

Daly City is home to Northridge City Park, perfect for picnics and nature walks.

It covers an area of around 0.8 acres and features playground equipment, a basketball court, and open grass areas.

The Daly Parks Department is responsible for maintaining this gorgeous beachfront park.

Northridge City Park is a beautiful place to spend time with loved ones, with its plentiful greenery and convenient seats.

There are two sets of swings, one for younger and older children, making it suitable for kids of all ages.

There are also newly installed play structures that kids of all ages can enjoy.

Bring the kids to witness the stunning sunsets and beautiful ocean views.

When the weather is just right, parasailers and hang-gliders fill the skies.

You can reach the park from Northridge Drive in Daly, California.

Relax at Mission Hills Park

There are a variety of outdoor activities for both children and adults to enjoy at Mission Hills Park, a small neighborhood park.

Mission Hills Park has a children’s playground with a climbing wall, swings, and slides.

The park is a community attraction managed by Daly’s Parks Department and is accessible to the public.

There are also benches, a drinking fountain, and a lighted basketball court at this park.

Feel free to invite your pals over to play some hoops.

The open areas and playground equipment should be a hit for you and your kids.

You can take it easy under the park’s fabulous foliage and tree canopies.

Drive down Mission Hills Drive in Daly, California, to enjoy the park.

Stroll around the Daly City Farmers’ Market

The Daly City Farmers’ Market has served the community for over two decades.

The Daly City Farmer’s Market is well-known for its high-quality products.

Twenty-two farmers founded the market in 1991, and they’re still going strong, thanks to the patronage of their faithful customers.

This market, which takes place twice a week, features the freshest and most delicious local goods.

More than 200 table feet of Asian vegetables and a wide assortment of French, German, Indian, and Italian food and bakeries reflect the community’s rich cultural mix.

The farmer’s market is a great place to soak up the local culture and see some spectacular sights for free.

They are located at Southgate Ave., Daly City, California.

Have a Picnic at Thornton State Beach

Daytime view of Thornton State Beach

User:Juliusz Gonera, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Daly City is home to Thornton State Beach, a 58-acre park on the Pacific Ocean.

This area is known for its secluded beach and towering hills south of San Francisco.

Established in 1955, the park is well-known for its trails that perch among bluff terraces above the ocean.

It’s an easy route that takes about 28 minutes to complete.

However, be very careful since you must go down a cliff.

Nevertheless, you can enjoy lunch or a picnic while taking the ocean scenery.

Turn west along Thornton Beach Road from the corner of Skyline and John Daly Boulevards to reach the beach.

Breathe the clean air and take in the stunning ocean views on your leisurely hike with friends or family.

Thornton State Park is located at Thornton Beach Rd., Daly City, California.

Have Another Picnic at Palisades Park

Palisades Park is a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike, thanks to its breathtaking vistas of the ocean and the beach beyond.

Palisades Park is the place to go to let your kids run around and play.

Enjoy the outdoors and exercise by taking a stroll down nearby trails.

The park has a grassy area perfect for picnics and a playground with monkey bars and swings for youngsters.

Their small, secure dog play area significantly draws many visitors.

Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and explore the park.

They are located at Palisades Dr., Daly City, California.

Visit the Broderick-Terry Duel Site

The Broderick-Terry Duel Site is a modest memorial commemorating the infamous duel between Senator David Broderick and California’s Chief Justice David Terry on September 13, 1859.

U.S. Senator David Broderick was a vocal opponent of expanding slavery into the western territories.

On the other hand, David Terry pushed for California to join the Union as long as it was a slave state.

Once close friends, the two men were now at odds because of their opposing beliefs on slavery.

Broderick fired first but completely missed Terry.

However, Terry retaliated and hit Broderick in the chest, killing him three days later.

Learning about the duel at the Broderick-Terry Duel Site more than a century ago should be fascinating for history buffs.

Shoot Hoops at Gellert Park

The 20.9-acre Gellert Park is the second-largest park in Daly City, California.

It’s a great spot to take a breather, stroll, or get in a fast run before returning to the office.

Gellert Park is a well-kept green space with various recreational amenities, including a basketball court, a soccer field, and a lawn tennis court.

Your kids will have a great time playing on the park’s sizable playground.

It’s an excellent way for youngsters to burn off steam and have a great time for hours.

After they’ve had their fill of playing, you can take them to the nearby library.

The clubhouse can accommodate more than 100 guests, making it perfect for parties and other gatherings.

However, you need to reserve it and pay rent.

Alongside the soccer fields is a grassy area where you can take your dog for a walk.

Gellert Park, located in Wembley Dr, Daly City, California, is a beautiful place to spend time with family or friends.

Go Window Shopping at Westlake Shopping Center

Building at Westlake Shopping Center

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Meet the locals and go window shopping at Westlake Shopping Center.

While strolling their tree-lined promenades, you will find an impressive assortment of shops and services.

Marvel at the different displays showcasing the specialty products of each shop.

Each store has arranged displays to highlight its unique wares.

Shops along Westlake Shopping Center

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Westlake Shopping Center is great if you stroll outside instead of in an indoor mall.

Unlike indoor shopping malls, which often consist of a single large building, Westlake Shopping Center is spread out over a large, green area.

Visiting Westlake Shopping center and taking in all its sights, sounds, and ambiance won’t cost you a dime, but you are welcome to buy from their stores.

They are located at Lake Merced Blvd & John Daly Blvd, Southgate Ave, Daly City, California.

Sidewalk at Westlake Shopping Center

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn from the Past at Daly City History Museum

The mission of the Daly City History Museum is to share the rich history of Daly City and the surrounding area with the local community.

You can find the museum on the east side of Mission Street, near John Daly Boulevard and Mission Street.

Before its formal public opening in 2009, the museum required major restorations with the assistance of hundreds of volunteers.

At the Daly City History Museum, you can discover more about the area’s early settlers, the Ohlone Indians, who established settlements along the coast at Mussel Rock.

This museum features photos and memorabilia that give visitors a sense of what early streetcars, trains, and classrooms were like.

Visit Daly City with your loved ones and relish its long and storied past.

Spend the Day at Hillside Park

Hillside Park is a lovely small park in a pleasant neighborhood.

The atmosphere is excellent for unwinding and having a bit of fun.

There’s a basketball court, a tennis court, playground equipment, and a sand area where the kids can run about and have a good time.

When you visit, you’ll see kids running around and having a blast and adults engaging in various outdoor leisure activities.

Have a little picnic with your loved ones on the lawn and take advantage of the warm weather and light breeze.

You will like the nice uphill and downhill terrain during your jogging.

Hillside Park can be found on Lausanne Avenue in Daly City, California.

Ride a Bike around Marchbank Park

Daly City is home to Marchbank Park, a lovely urban green space over 5.30 acres.

Marchbank Park is a community park with many recreational attractions, including sports fields, a clubhouse, a playground, and picnic areas.

It’s a tranquil spot to enjoy a picnic, lounge in the grass, or shoot hoops with pals.

There is a basketball court, swing sets, a small playground, picnic tables, and a short concrete track ideal for children to ride bikes throughout the Park.

You can take your dog for a stroll or do several laps around the track.

In addition, you may rent a small clubhouse with enough space for 30 people.

You can find the park at 10 S Parkview Ave, Daly City, California.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

Go Hiking at Fort Funston

Scenic view of Fort Funston

yhelfman /

Fort Funston is a park with 200-foot-high bluffs, hiking trails, and equestrian riding.

Fort Funston is widely recognized as a top location for hang gliding enthusiasts.

Trails run across the area, making it great for hiking, walking your dog, or riding a horse.

Many well-kept hiking routes and paths draw visitors to this area, which is famous for its cliffs.

Hikers at Fort Funston

Wirestock Creators /

The trails around Fort Funston are paved and accessible for wheelchairs, but the tracks going to the beach are unpaved.

It’s a perfect spot to breathe the fresh ocean air and relax.

Dog owners frequently visit this area to get some much-needed exercise with their pets.

Discover how the park’s plants have adapted to changing dunes by developing deep taproots and a high tolerance for drought and other weather extremes.

You can find this place in San Francisco, California, eight minutes from Daly City.

Observation deck at Fort Funston

Viriditas, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit Alta Loma Park

Alta Loma Park is a public park with outdoor sports facilities and a children’s playground.

Alta Loma Park is situated in a tranquil residential area.

It’s a superb low-key choice for parents who want a modest but uncongested place to stay with their kids.

The swings and slides at the playground are built low to the ground, making them more accessible for children learning to use them independently.

A larger one can accommodate you and your kids, along with the standard swing.

Picnic tables and barbecue pits can accommodate large groups, so bring the whole family.

In addition, the park has tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and a soccer field suitable for older children and adults.

Visit the park at Camaritas Ave., South San Francisco, California, seven minutes from Daly City.

Enjoy the Scenery at Sign Hill Park

Sign Hill Park is a hilltop preserve that provides a home for various birds and butterfly species and short hiking routes.

It is a landmark in North San Mateo County that also features several acres of open space, nearly two miles of hiking paths, and stunning scenery of San Francisco Bay.

Sign Hill is an essential ecosystem for the native flora and fauna of the area.

Several rare and endangered species call this area home, including the mission blue butterfly and coast iris.

In addition, Sign Hill’s slopes are carpeted with vibrant wildflowers like California goldfields, poppies, and hummingbird sage.

It is also home to various bird species all year long.

Regular visitors include red-tailed hawks, California scrub jays, hummingbirds, and other species.

You can visit the park at Poplar Ave, South San Francisco, California.

Final Thoughts

Daly City is a warm and welcoming community near the beach and a major commercial center.

Likewise, the city features several free activities that are well worth your time.

Explore the free things to do in Daly City, California!

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