San Franciscans pride themselves on remaining in the know. Locals are always chatting about the biggest up-and-coming bands, unknown restaurants, and how to commute without getting caught in traffic. When talking to any Bay Area resident you are likely to be directed to some attractions that you won’t find in any guidebook. Yes, there are epic places in San Francisco that locals are keen to call their own, but luckily for you, we’ve got the inside scoop.
The Wave Organ
As if the Exploratorium wasn’t cool enough on its own, the venue had to go and create a wave organ. If you’re scratching your head and thinking “What the heck is a wave organ?” you are not alone. The sculpture was designed so that when water washes onto it from the sea, it plays noises similar to that of an organ.
Seward Street Slides
Who says kids should have all the fun? Take a crowd of any age to the Seward Street Slides and prepare to hear them screaming with laughter. The two concrete chutes travel high into the sky and serve as the main event at the mini park.
Lyon Street Steps
For travelers itching to walk through the city’s wonders, you’ll receive an excellent reward at the top of the Lyon Street Steps. Located in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, from the top of the steps you’ll see the expanse of the San Francisco Bay, the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts, Pacific Heights mansions, and a stretch of the Presidio Forest.
Lands End Labyrinth
You won’t find the Goblin King milling about, but you will enter a dreamy labyrinth that takes your mind off your earthly worries. Located off the Coastal Trail, this beautifully patterned walking trail is fashioned after those at ancient monasteries. It’s believed that walking a labyrinth helps one to focus on peaceful thinking and meditation. And with the Pacific Ocean in such close proximity, it seems difficult to have negative thoughts in this idyllic setting.
Lands End Labyrinth |© George Williams/Flickr
The Sutro Baths are beautiful pools overlooking the ocean, but their backstory is a bit sinister. During the late 1800s, the baths were part of a large public swimming pool. However, the pool house burned down, leaving only the sectioned-off swimming areas behind. Today, the baths are visited by San Francisco locals and tourists, but their dark history isn’t forgotten.
You never know what you might find inside Golden Gate Park, but you can expect to look on in wonder at the park’s casting pools. Residents gather around to launch their fishing line into the pools and try their best to perfect their fly fishing technique. Fall hook, line, and sinker into an afternoon watching the happy fishermen, or try your own hand at the sport.
San Francisco is known for its public art, but there’s no sculpture in town quite like the Spire. Built in 2008 by Anthony Goldsworthy, the 100-foot tall tower can be found while on the Bay Area Ridge Trail inside the Presidio.
Not many cities are cool enough to have a dedicated mural project, but San Francisco is. The Clarion Alley Mural Project has beautified the city from the outside in. Check out the vibrant works of local artists and snap a picture of the ever-changing street-side art.
Bernal Heights Park
Although there are many spectacular views in the city, perhaps none are as breathtaking as the one from Bernal Heights Park. Pack your comfiest shoes and hike up for a 360-degree view of the city. You’ll be able to see from the Golden Gate Bridge to the East Bay, all without leaving your hilltop vantage point.
16th Avenue Mosaic Steps
The colorful steps were inspired by a similar work of art in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Featuring dreamy constellations, bright flowers, and swirling abstract shapes, the 215 steps feel less like a work out and more like a work of art when you decide to make the journey to the top.