10 Shockingly Cool Things to Do in San Francisco

February 21, 2019 0 0

Like the best things to see and do in San Francisco, CA constantly remind us, the city is one of the biggest tourist epicenters in the country. It’s no surprise given that there’s no shortage of world-class attractions and eateries nearby for both visitors and locals to enjoy. Some, like hiking the Lands End Trail, or taking a tour of the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, are free, while others like Alcatraz or Church of 8 Wheels require some cash (and a little perseverance). But whatever you’re in the mood for, from sea lions to Irish coffee, we’ve got you covered: Check out the following list, which details many of the best things to see and do in San Francisco, the next time you’re ready to get out and have some fun.

Name Location Description
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory 56 Ross Alley If you’ve ever wondered how fortune cookies were made, then you’re in luck. This fortune cookie factory is open daily until 6PM and has no admission fee, so you can stop by, explore the intricacies of the process, and see watch sweet-makers hard at work preparing tiny treats. Visitors can try free samples throughout, and have the opportunity to buy fresh cookies at the end to take home. You’ll also get a complimentary tote bag to remember your experience.
Musee Mecanique Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf Musee Mecanique offers an entire museum’s worth of attractions to play with, easily making it one of the best things to see and do in San Francisco. At this vintage arcade, you’ll find over 200 coin-operated games dating back to the 19th century and sourced from San Francisco’s now abandoned amusement park, Playland at the Beach. After you make the rounds through the fortune tellers, giant dioramas, old-school photo booths, player pianos, and arm-wrestling gambits, be sure to check out the classic pictures of San Francisco along the wall that shed some light on the city’s history.
Lands End Trail 680 Point Lobos Ave The Lands End trail allows you to stretch your legs while enjoying the natural beauty of San Francisco at the same time. The journey isn’t as rigorous as some hikes, so you don’t have to tire yourself out, but you will find a lot of hidden gems along the way like scenic rock labyrinth, the Mile Rock Lighthouse, and the octagon house. Plus, nothing can beat the view you’ll get of the Golden Gate Bridge at the end.
Church of 8 Wheels 554 Fillmore St This funky roller-skating rink is located in an old church and is home to the “Holy Rollers.” You can join the club on Friday and Saturday nights, too, and it costs just $15 to cover your admission and rent skates. Get your late-night disco on and take lessons from the pros, or swing by Saturday afternoons from 3-5PM when kids are allowed to join in on the festivities so you can make it a family outing.
Alcatraz Island San Francisco Bay Since 1870, this lone citadel in the San Francisco bay has housed some of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century. Guests can visit “The Rock” via a ferry from Pier 33, and can take a self-guided tour upon arrival that’s narrated by former inmates and guards, making it all-the-more spooky and authentic. Stop by to learn about the history surrounding the prison including riots, escape plots, and the 19-month occupation by Native Americans. If you’re really feeling brave, try the night tour.
Pier 39 Beach St & The Embarcadero Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist-attraction packed with things to do, but Pier 39 is where you’ll find most of the magic. Ever since the earthquake in 1989, sea lions have been congregating at K-dock ready to show the world their adorableness. If you’re there between 11AM and 4PM, you’ll even find a trained naturalist ready to answer any question you could have and provide commentary on the cute creatures. Afterwards, you can grab some sourdough at Boudin Bakery and call it a day.
Painted Ladies Steiner St & Hayes St While San Francisco boasts a ton of pretty Victorian style houses, there’s only one official row of “Painted Ladies” from 710-710 Steiner St. at the corner of Hayes. It’s also known as postcard row, or as the sometimes backdrop for the famed Full House intro. While you can’t actually go in the houses, you can grab a great picture in front of them and cross off a must-see from your SF itinerary.
Japanese Tea Garden 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr If you or anyone you know is in need of some unwinding after a long day visiting the best things to see and do in San Francisco, there’s no better place to head than Japanese Tea Garden. Here, you can take serene strolls down winding paths to appreciate koi ponds, native Japanese plants, pagodas, a Zen garden, and the famous “Drum Bridge.” After you’ve toured the grounds and snapped plenty of pictures, head inside the actual tea house to try a traditional cup of Jasmine tea with some sweet cookies.
Buena Vista 2765 Hyde St A visit to Buena Vista is historical as much as it is refreshing. This place is actually the first spot in the entire country to serve what is now known as an Irish Coffee, so you definitely can’t miss an opportunity to pay homage to the legendary drink in its place of conception. The menu also features other staples like potato skins and crab cakes, plus corn beef hash and other breakfast foods served all day long.
Anchor Steam Tour 495 De Haro St This three-floor tour of a brewery is one of the best ways that any beer lover could possibly spend their day in town. You can make a reservation up to three months in advance if you need extra time for planning, and can register 10 people along with you. After the tour, there’s a tasting session where you can sample different brews, and then you can visit Anchor Public Taps where you can put your newfound knowledge to the test.



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Tags: Culture, Top 10 Guides, Travel Categories: Culture, Top 10 Guides, Travel
Christina Elia

Assistant editor Christina Elia is currently pursuing her BA in Art History Communications at Fordham University, and writes about various topics ranging from arts and culture to practical tips and how-to advice. She has been published on online platforms such as The Odyssey. You can follow her on Twitter via @stinaelia

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