Top Attractions for First-Timers

Downtown Hayward

The heart of Hayward centers around its lively downtown area. Start your visit off by grabbing a coffee and pastry in the morning at Buckhorn Grill, a vintage diner that’s been serving the community since 1952. Then stroll down Main Street, popping into the unique boutiques and local businesses. Don’t miss Goodwill, an expansive thrift store housed in a former movie theater. The downtown area also features plenty of global cuisine, from Italian pastries at Dominic’s to Thai specialties at Bangkok Bay. Look out for the colorful, larger-than-life murals splashed across downtown buildings too.

Japanese Gardens

For a peaceful stroll surrounded by nature, head to the Japanese Gardens in Memorial Park. Stretching across 5 acres, these meticulously designed gardens feature stone pathways winding past maple trees, ponds, and pagodas. Pause on one of the red arched bridges and take in the tranquil scenery. The on-site teahouse serves traditional Japanese tea and snacks. Guided tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays to enrich your experience.

Address: 22373 N 3rd St, Hayward, CA 94546

Phone: 510-881-6700

Farmer’s Markets

Embrace Hayward’s focus on locally grown produce at one of its weekly farmer’s markets. The Old Town Farmer’s Market takes place every Saturday along B Street and features over 90 vendors selling organic fruits and veggies, artisanal cheeses, baked goods, and more. You can also browse arts and crafts from local artisans. Every Sunday, the South Hayward Parish Farmer’s Market brings another array of fresh finds.

Address: 777 B St, Hayward, CA 94541

Phone: 415-472-6100

Sulphur Creek Nature Center

Nature lovers of all ages will enjoy exploring Sulphur Creek Nature Center’s hiking trails, native plant gardens, and exhibits focused on wildlife conservation. Get up close views of hawks, owls, reptiles, and amphibians in the interactive Discovery Center. Sign up for a guided nature walk to spot local wildlife like deer and foxes. The center also hosts fun educational programs for kids like campfire singalongs.

Address: 1801 D St, Hayward, CA 94541

Phone: 510-881-6747

Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center

Situated where the San Francisco Bay meets the marshes, the Shoreline Center immerses you in the rich ecosystems of the Bay. Interactive exhibits detail the unique plants and animals found in the saltwater and freshwater wetlands. Outside, miles of scenic trails with shoreline views beckon. Birdwatchers can spot herons, egrets, ducks, and other species. Picnic areas make this a great spot for an al fresco lunch.

Address: 4901 Breakwater Ave, Hayward, CA 94545

Phone: 510-670-7270

Hayward Area Historical Society

Get acquainted with Hayward’s local history at this downtown museum focused on preservation. Check out the vintage photographs showcasing what Hayward looked like in the late 1800s. Exhibits highlight artifacts from Native American tribes and pioneers who settled the area. You can also tour the Meek Mansion, an ornate Victorian estate built in 1876 that now houses the museum.

Address: 22380 Foothill Blvd, Hayward, CA 94541

Phone: 510-581-0223

Pier 39

Pier 39 is a lively waterfront marketplace located at Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s one of the most popular attractions for first-time visitors to San Francisco. Wander through the shops, enjoy fresh seafood restaurants, and watch the famed resident sea lions lazing about the docks. Don’t miss the San Francisco Carousel, Aquarium of the Bay, and street performers. Finish off with a bowl of chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl.

Cable Cars

A trip to San Francisco isn’t complete without a ride on the iconic cable cars that climb up and down the city’s steep hills. These historic trolleys have been operating since the late 1800s and provide an exciting way to explore neighborhoods like Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and Nob Hill. Make sure to try to secure a spot on the running boards for the full experience. The Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines are popular for sightseeing.


The Exploratorium is a must-visit interactive science museum located at Pier 15. It has hundreds of hands-on exhibits to spark creativity and scientific curiosity in both kids and adults. Explore themes like weather, physics, perception, biology and more through innovative displays and art installations. Be sure to check out the Tactile Dome and walk through the human heart. There are also stunning bay views from the outdoor terrace.

Address: Pier 15 Embarcadero at, Green St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Phone: 415-528-4444

Golden Gate Park

Spend a day exploring the lush green open spaces of Golden Gate Park. Highlights include the stunning Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers (a historic greenhouse), Stow Lake for paddleboats, the meadows where locals picnic and fly kites, the bison paddock, and the Dutch Windmill. You can easily rent a bike or walk to get around. Don’t miss the famous Painted Ladies Victorian homes across the street and the iconic row of windmills above the park.

Address: 26780 Chiplay Ave, Hayward, CA 94545

Phone: 510-881-6715


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a must for art lovers and museum enthusiasts. The impressive collection houses important modern and contemporary works from renowned artists like Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. The striking building has seven floors of galleries and interactive installations. Make sure to visit the living wall, sculpture garden and rooftop terrace with stunning city views.

Ferry Building Marketplace

The Ferry Building Marketplace is a famous gourmet food emporium located along the Embarcadero. Browse the artisanal shops and boutiques for local chocolate, cheese, wine, bread and more. Sample fresh oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co, baked goods at Acme Bread, and Blue Bottle Coffee. The thrill is exploring the stalls, shops, cafes and restaurants inside this iconic building. Don’t miss the weekend farmers market along the waterfront outside.

How to Get Around Hayward

With its convenient location right in the East Bay, getting to and around Hayward is a breeze. Here are some of the best options for transportation during your visit:

Public Transportation

Hayward’s central BART station makes it easy to access Hayward via public transit throughout the Bay Area. BART trains connect Hayward to San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, and other cities. Once in Hayward, you can get around on AC Transit buses. Routes connect to key spots like Cal State East Bay, downtown Hayward, and South Hayward BART.

Taxis and Rideshares

Taxis and rideshares like Uber and Lyft are readily available for on-demand transportation within Hayward. Fares are reasonable, and the apps make hailing a ride simple. This can be a convenient option if you don’t have a set itinerary.

Charter Buses

For group travel or events, consider booking a charter bus. Hayward Party Bus Company offers a range of buses and vans to meet your group’s needs. Charter a mini coach for wedding shuttles or a party limo bus for celebrating a birthday. With leather seats, satellite TVs, restrooms and more onboard, you’ll ride in comfort and style. Our expert team knows the best routes for navigating Hayward and the surrounding region. Give us a call at (209) 718-7418 to check rates and availability.

Ready to Get Started?

With its diversity, natural beauty, and hidden local gems, Hayward is an underrated destination in the Bay Area. Follow this first timer’s guide to take in the top sights, get around with ease, and make the most of your time. From serene nature escapes to bustling downtown streets, you’ll find something for every interest. We look forward to welcoming you to Hayward soon!