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San Francisco

How to see San Francisco like a local?

I'm visiting SF just for two days in July. Any recommendations about what to see or do except for the well known sights? I'd like to see some hidden gems that locals do and would love some "off the beaten path" places. Thanks!!

9 Answers

top answer by

Something off the beaten path are the ruins of Sutro Baths. An interesting part of SF history. Great location for photos. And if you walk along the paths you'll get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Sutro Baths (attraction)
10 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Serena from San Francisco

Hi Anna!

I've lived in San Francisco for more than 7 years - you will love visiting! I'm not sure how "off the beaten path" some of my recommendations are, but these are some of my favorite non-touristy things to do in the area when people visit:

Off the Grid: San Francisco - Check out the food trucks at Off the Grid! It hosts some of the best food trucks in the nation, and based on which one you attend, there is usually live music and a lot of other fun stuff going on. My favorites are Friday night's at Fort Mason, and the Sunday Picnic in the Presidio.

Sausalito - Take the ferry over to Sausalito. You get great views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge, and you can explore the adorable waterfront town. 

Filbert Steps - Walk the filbert steps in North Beach. You'll walk through a beautiful telegraph hill and when you make it to the top, you are greeted with stunning panoramic views of SF, the Bay Bridge, and Golden Gate Bridge  - and get a nice workout to boot! 

Have Dim Sum in Chinatown - it's cheap, delicious, and full of life. It's the oldest (and largest) china town in the United States, and you really feel transported to a different world. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Off the Grid: San Francisco (attraction)
  2. Sausalito (city)
  3. Filbert Steps (attraction)
  4. Chinatown (attraction)
9 thanks

answered by
John from San Francisco

One of the things I always recommend is to rent bikes at Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals.   You can ride up the waterfront, past Crissy Field and Golden Gate Bridge making your way over to Sausalito you can see a view of the SF bay and have lunch on the water on a number of restaurants then catch the ferry back to SF or ride back.  

Awesome day.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals (attraction)
  2. Crissy Field (attraction)
  3. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  4. Sausalito (city)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Mark from Boulder

Alcatraz tour at night is way better than the ones in the day and you get a beautiful view of the City.  A walking tour I would recommend would be to start at the Ferry Building for breakfast.  Then head through The Embarcadero to the Filbert Steps. These are stairs that wind their way up through a cool neighborhood up to Coit Tower. (With great views.)  Then you can head down through North Beach and San Francisco Chinatown.  At some point you can take a cab back to wherever you want to go.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Alcatraz (attraction)
  2. Ferry Building (attraction)
  3. The Embarcadero (attraction)
  4. Filbert Steps (attraction)
  5. Coit Tower (attraction)
  6. North Beach (neighborhood)
  7. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by

Depending on what days you are here, the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings is worth checking out.  Grab a bite at one of the food stalls the restaurants set up, get a coffee from Blue Bottle Coffee, people watch and walk through the building after.

Otherwise it really depends on your interests.  Check out some of breweries if you're a beer person, wander the different neighborhoods (Hayes Valley for hipsters, Noe Valley for strollers, the Haight-Ashbury for hippies, the Fillmore Street and Marina District for posh shops, the Richmond District for killer ethnic food) if you're a city person. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market (attraction)
  2. Blue Bottle Coffee (restaurant)
  3. Hayes Valley (neighborhood)
  4. Noe Valley (neighborhood)
  5. Haight-Ashbury (attraction)
  6. Fillmore Street (attraction)
  7. Marina District (neighborhood)
  8. Richmond District (attraction)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Ben from Portland

I lived in San Francisco 20 years ago, and haven't been back to visit in at least 12 years, but my favorite museum there is the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. It has paintings, sculptures, furniture, clothing, craftwork, and a lovely location in Lincoln Park.

The view from USF - Lone Mountain Campus is pretty great -- you can see the Golden Gate Bridge from there.

I used to love to wander San Francisco's cozy neighborhoods, especially Clement St, which was a 20 minute walk from my neighborhood.

The Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral is neat, and the stairway gardens scattered around various parts of the city are really fun to explore.

If you want quirky, check out the Musée Mécanique—I haven't been, but I've heard it's very interesting.

The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park has some neat old ships you can check out.

Oh, and make sure to bring a sweater. San Francisco can be chilly in the summer.

3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Russell from San Francisco

If you've got access to a car, I highly recommend Fort Funston if you feel like escaping the city without spending most of your time driving.

Best views if you're walking around: 

Cityscape/Downtown/Bay Bridge: Ina Coolbrith Park

Golden Gate Bridge: Baker Beach

Pacific Ocean: Lands End

Classic SF: Huntington Park

Urban Hiking: Buena Vista Park

Best Dog-Watching: Crissy Bridge at East Beach

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Fort Funston (attraction)
  2. Ina Coolbrith Park (attraction)
  3. Baker Beach (attraction)
  4. Lands End (attraction)
  5. Huntington Park (attraction)
  6. Buena Vista Park (attraction)
  7. Crissy Bridge at East Beach (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by

Check out Atlasobscura for some cool off the beaten path stuff.  The The Wave Organ is pretty cool if it's high tide.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Wave Organ (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Nitin from Copenhagen

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project (attraction)
1 thanks

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