Lands End Labyrinth

Lands End Labyrinth (©Jayms Ramirez)

Things to Do off the Beaten Path in San Francisco

By Zachary Clark on 04/11/17, updated 04/14/17
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You already know about and have likely visited the Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, Alcatraz and San Francisco’s other iconic attractions. Beyond the postcard destinations, the city’s 49 square miles are packed with hidden gems that most visitors don’t know about. Even many locals have never visited the secluded rooftop gardens in the Financial District, Andy Goldsworthy’s Presidio installations or the Lands End Labyrinth overlooking the bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

There’s always something new to discover in San Francisco. Our roundup of underrated and affordable destinations will each show you a side of the city you won’t find in most travel books. Read on for a look at some of the most memorable San Francisco sites and activities off the beaten path.

Fort Funston

(©Eugene Gumba/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Attractions

Fort Funston

On the city’s southern edge, Fort Funston is home to a beautiful beach and a network of hiking trails. On windy days (which are common), you’ll see numerous hang gliders circling above the 200-foot-high bluffs.

Precita Eyes Mural Arts & Visitors Center

("Apart from and a Part of the World" by Jet Martinez in Clarion Alley)

Attractions

Precita Eyes Mural Arts & Visitors Center

A Mission District mainstay since 1977, Precita Eyes has sponsored countless mural projects in the Mission and throughout the Bay Area. Tours take you to more than 80 murals in an eight-block walk.

Gregangelo Museum
Attractions

Gregangelo Museum

Truly one of a kind, this hidden museum—created by a San Francisco native in his home more than 30 years ago—features three floors of elaborate installations revolving around themes of mythology, circus arts and more.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

(©Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Attractions

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

Located in Chinatown's famous Ross Alley, this is one of the few remaining places in the country where fortune cookies—about 20,000 a day—are made by hand.

Your colorfully dressed guide will take you on a leisurely stroll along two fascinating miles of historic San Francisco.

Urban Putt

Transamerica Hole (© Kristen Loken)

Attractions

Urban Putt

This 14-hole minature golf course features imaginative handmade marvels and interactive, kinetic scultpures inspired by San Francisco's landmarks and architecture.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps

(©John Weiss/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Attractions

16th Avenue Tiled Steps

Inspired by the Selaron Steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the mosaic design covering this Golden Gate Heights staircase flows from sea to sky and is perfectly illuminated at sunset.

A hidden gem, the Seward Mini Park in the Castro neighborhood features two steep concrete slides tucked away between two homes. Be sure to wear pants and bring cardboard.

Musee Mecanique

(©Musee Mecanique)

Attractions

Musee Mecanique

The museum is home to one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of coin-operated mechanical music boxes and antique arcade games in working condition. Play the games, snap a picture in the photo booth and visit the gift shop. Free admission daily.

House of Air

(©House of Air)

Attractions

House of Air

Located in a historic airplane hangar in the Presidio, this expansive indoor trampoline park includes large trampoline decks with trampoline walls (dodgeball, anyone?) and a children's bounce house for ages 6 and under.

Map of Things to Do off the Beaten Path in San Francisco

The Where® Travel Guide to San Francisco