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Like A Local: The Top 5 Off The Beaten Path Spots in San Francisco
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Like A Local: The Top 5 Off The Beaten Path Spots in San Francisco

Picture of Alexis Stewart
Updated: 9 February 2017
With the rise of new San Francisco apartment complexes, buildings that seem to be getting bigger every time, and the booming hi-tech industry, a lot of smaller places in San Francisco seem to not be getting as much appreciation as they should be. Sure, the usual tourist attractions, such as Pier 39 and Union Square, are almost always crowded, but what about the little guys? Here, find five under-appreciated gems in San Francisco that are worth a visit.
California Poppies © Doug Dolde/Wikimedia
California Poppies | © Doug Dolde/Wikimedia
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Shakespeare Garden

To be, or not to be…on this list? Definitely the former. Golden Gate Park attracts hundreds of tourists and locals, especially during the summer. Snugly tucked away in the park is Shakespeare Garden. For fans of the English playwright, or for those on a romantic date, this garden should not be skipped. It may not be as scenic or vast as the Botanical Gardens, but Shakespeare Garden is equally, if not more enchanting. Since Shakespeare used flowers as symbolism in his works, plants such as poppies, mandrakes, and roses are grown inside of the park to make visitors feel as if they were walking through one of his plays. It’s easy for viewers to imagine Romeo calling out to his Juliet or fairies up to mischief on a midsummer’s night in this garden.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94121

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Bird and Beckett Books

Located just steps from Glen Park Bart Station, Bird and Beckett is the definition of the cozy neighborhood book store. Bookstores are becoming increasingly under-appreciated with every year, yet Bird and Beckett is sure to rekindle even Kindle enthusiasts’ love of real books. It even contains a spark of San Francisco within it by promoting the city’s rich literary culture. Bird and Beckett proudly hosts poetry readings, music events (especially jazz), and book club meetings, to name just a few.

653 Chenery St San Francisco, CA 94131, +1 (415) 586-3733

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera © Carl Van Vechten/Wikimedia Commons
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera | © Carl Van Vechten/Wikimedia Commons
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The Pan American Unity Mural

Few people outside of City College know that Ocean Campus is decorated with one of artist Diego Rivera’s murals. A famed Mexican artist, Diego Rivera was the husband of Frida Kahlo and a realist painter. His Pan American Unity Mural, entitled “Unión de la Expresión Artistica del Norte y Sur de este Continente” (The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on this Continent), was a gift to CCSF in 1961. The fresco itself was painted in 1940. Rivera’s five mural panels include three self-portraits and one of Frida Kahlo. Admission is free of charge and the mural is open to the public.

50 Phelan Ave San Francisco, CA 94112

Grace Cathedral © Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons
Grace Cathedral | © Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons
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Grace Cathedral

If you’re a lover of art history, Grace Cathedral is certainly a gem in San Francisco worth visiting. This Episcopalian house of worship was built at the height of the gold rush in 1849. Some of its main features include a replica of the Gates of Paradise by Renaissance artist Lorenzo Ghiberti, as well as mosaic stained glass windows and Neo-Gothic architecture. The most renowned part of the cathedral, however, is its two labyrinths where visitors can experience spiritual candlelit walks. Its architectural grandeur is illuminated at night, as the lights around the cathedral create a glowing orb around the building. Visitors come during the day to stroll around inside, but seeing it at night is especially magnificent.

1100 California St San Francisco, CA 94108, +1 (415) 749-6300

Chocolate Frozen Custard © stu_spivack/Flickr
Chocolate Frozen Custard | © stu_spivack/Flickr
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The Velvet Scoop

San Francisco has its share of delicious ice cream places, but what about custard? This small treasure is tucked away in the Mission District on the corner of Valencia Street. The Velvet Scoop is tiny inside, with only about four chairs for guests. The most innovative part of this establishment is not just the custard, but the iPads attached to the wall. While customers are waiting for their delicious dessert, they can take goofy selfies with as many filters as their heart desires. The custard is perfectly creamy and the store also offers Nutella as a topping. It goes without saying, but be careful as you can easily get hooked.

3280 22nd St San Francisco, CA 94110, +1 (415) 757-0735