Best Things to Do in San Francisco on Mother’s Day 2023

Mother’s Day 2023 is rapidly approaching and if you haven’t already made plans in San Francisco for mom, there’s no time to waste. After all, although it’s not technically a holiday, it one of the busiest days for most Americans. In fact, Hallmark says it’s the third-biggest day for greeting cards, just behind Valentine’s Day …

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The center of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco

Mother’s Day 2023 is rapidly approaching and if you haven’t already made plans in San Francisco for mom, there’s no time to waste. After all, although it’s not technically a holiday, it one of the busiest days for most Americans. In fact, Hallmark says it’s the third-biggest day for greeting cards, just behind Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Although purchasing flowers is another top choice, don’t you really want to do something special this year for your mom? Fortunately, if you live in San Francisco or just visiting, you have many activities in which to enjoy with your mom.

Double decker, hop on, hop off Big Bus in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park
Big Bus San Francisco (credit: Randy Yagi)

Bus Tours

A great way to spend Mother’s Day in San Francisco is on a tour bus. Regardless of whether you live in the city or not, there are great tour options available. While tour buses are quite touristy, it can make seeing all the top sights  very easy. For instance, with Big Bus San Francisco, you and mom can see famous attractions like Chinatown and the Golden Gate Bridge. What’s more, the day tour runs every 15 minutes and there’s an optional bay cruise. As for the one-hour Sunset Tour, there’s just one departure so plan ahead if this sounds fun. Additionally, there are other tour operators like Gray Line and Dylan’s Tours.

Cook Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner at Home

Let’s face it, San Francisco is a very expensive city in which to live in and to visit. Therefore, if you want to keep your budget reasonable, why not cook at home? To put it differently, why spend more on dining than you can afford? The solution is to buy groceries and prepare a meal for you and your family. Indeed, while barbecues might be more of a Father’s Day thing, that could make for a fun day in your backyard. In the same fashion, you can do other fun things at home, like a spa day at home or baking cookies. Even if you’re just visiting, a picnic is a great idea, along with more affordable food options.

Mother’s Day Brunch

There is no question that Sunday brunch is among the most popular Mother’s Day activities in San Francisco. With that in mind, you should start looking for her favorite spot sooner than later. In fact, some of your top choices along with secondary choices may have already be completely booked. On the other hand, famous places like the Garden Court Restaurant at the Palace Hotel still had openings. Of course, that will change and might be sold out by the time you reach out to them. One excellent source to find available reservations in through OpenTable. In addition, you can always check directly with restaurants, as well as other online booking services.

Related: Best Vegan/Vegetarian Brunch in San Francisco

Mom’s Favorite Restaurant for Dinner

Sunday brunch gets plenty of attention on mom’s special day. Yet, mom just might prefer an evening out at her favorite San Francisco restaurant. At the same time, if you are looking for suggestions, there are plenty. But then again, like brunch reservations, seating for dinner is likely to be in very high demand. Fortunately, in a foodie like San Francisco, you have many options in which to dine. For steak or seafood, restaurants like Epic Steak, Waterbar and Fog Harbor are still taking reservations for Mother’s Day dinner. Of course, there are great places for French cuisine, Italian, Japanese, Mexican and more.


With many different neighborhoods to explore, your mom may want to go shopping in San Francisco. For one, Union Square is the premier shopping area in the City, although it will be crowded. By the same token, Westfield San Francisco is a fun spot as is the Ferry Building. In the same general area, you can also find the Crocker Galleria, Chinatown and North Beach. Equally important are the boutique stores in neighbors like Noe Valley, Fillmore Street and Haight Street. If that’s not enough, there are many other great spots like the Mission district, Japantown and Stonestown Galleria. Lastly, because it’s on a Sunday, you might like visiting a local farmers market, like at Thrive City and Fort Mason.

Related: Where to Buy Mother’s Day Flowers in Santa Cruz County

Spa Treatment

If you know that your mom loves spa treatments, why not surprise her with a luxury spa treatment for Mother’s Day? Yet again, you shouldn’t wait long to book an appointment since there will be high demand on May 14. What’s more, you can even join her for a mother-daughter spa treatment. As for suggestions, Kabuki Springs & Spa and Pearl Spa are great choices. If that’s not enough, you can also consider Siam Orchid, Burke Williams Spa Radiance. As for spa treatments in San Francisco hotels, you might have to be a guest so check with your hotel of choice. Either way, you have plenty of options that will fit within your budget.

Related: A Closer Look at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel

The Red and White Fleet's Royal Prince boat docked near Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco
Red and White Fleet (credit: Randy Yagi)

Take a Mother’s Day Bay Cruise

If you think a Mother’s Day brunch in a restaurant is great, how about brunch on the San Francisco Bay? To celebrate the occasion, City Experiences by Hornblower is offering special Mother’s Day brunch cruises starting at $105. On the other hand, if your mother wants to go on bay cruise, you have many more options. For example, the Blue & Gold Fleet and Red and White Fleet both have many spaces still available for 60 or 90-minute bay cruises. However, it’s goes without saying that demand will be high so book sooner than later. Above all, make sure to dress warmly, as it can get very windy and chilly while on the San Francisco Bay.

Visit a Museum

General admission tickets are still available for popular San Francisco museums like the de Young and SFMOMA. However, you should purchase your tickets in advance instead of hoping to pay when you arrive. While tickets may not sell out at major museums, you’ll save time simply by not having to wait in line for ticket sales. In addition, you don’t have to reserve a specific time for larger museums like the Asian Art Museum and Legion of Honor. On the contrary, smaller museums like the Walt Disney Family Museum have timed-entry tickets. If you have time to visit more than one museum, consider purchasing a San Francisco CityPASS. This convenient pass can save you up to 46% on four attractions, like the Exploratorium and Disney Museum.


It’s a guarantee that many city streets will be especially busy on Mother’s Day in San Francisco. In case you want to avoid crowded areas like Fisherman’s Wharf, why not go for a walk in a different part of the City? If you’re a local, you probably already have your favorite secret pathway in mind. But if you’re visiting, Golden Gate Park is an excellent choice, even on Mother’s Day. That’s because San Francisco’s largest park covers 1,017 acres, making it far bigger than New York’s Central Park. That’s to say nothing of other great hiking spots like the Presidio of San Francisco and Mt. Davidson Park. In like manner, you can also walk across Golden Gate Bridge yet only on the East sidewalk. On Mother’s Day, the hours are from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. but remember to dress warmly.

Wine tasting at the Winery Collective for Mother's Day in San Francisco
Winery Collective, San Francisco (credit: Randy Yagi)

Wine Tasting

If you and your mom love wine tasting, you don’t necessarily have to travel to Napa or Sonoma counties. In fact, you can enjoy wine tasting right in San Francisco, although choices are somewhat limited. That’s not to mention that not all tasting rooms will be open on Mother’s Day. In spite of this, the Winery Collective at the Argonaut Hotel has plenty of appointments available for booking on Mother’s Day. That’s not to mention the Chateau Montelena tasting room, inside the Westin St. Francis that will be open for walk ins.

Related: Best Restaurants for Easter Brunch in San Francisco

About the Author

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across over 20 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget,, and He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.