Special Places Where Most Visitors Don't Go
San Francisco is a big city with lots of little, out of the way cultural places. Whether it's a small park, a mural, a hidden viewpoint, or that special restaurant, SF has plenty of hidden gems and unique spots. In this article, we've put together the best list of hidden gems and unique spots that San Francisco has to offer to get you started on your next trip.
Walt Disney Family Museum
This museum is dedicated to the life and work of Walt Disney. It was founded by the Walt Disney Family Foundation and is overseen by Diane Disney Miller. The museum features historic photographs and other paraphernalia from Walt Disney's life as well as rotating exhibits on various animators and stylists who have worked on the Disney movies.
104 Montgomery Street, Presidio, San Francisco, CA, 94129
The Charles F. Hagar Planetarium
Located at San Francisco State University, the Charles F. Hagar planetarium is open to the public as well as school groups. While it's a smaller venue with only 75 seats, the events and shows teach everyone about the stars in a fun and educational way.
Thornton Hall, 4th Floor,, Room 422, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California
This museum was created by local celebrity Edward Galland Zelinsky in 1933. It features his unique collection of antique mechanical creations including coin-operated musical instruments, antique arcade machines, and other unusual contraptions. If you bring your own coins, you can try out many of the machines as they still work.
Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA, 94133
Kirby Cove Beach
On the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, in the Marin Headlands area, this small southern-facing beach has fantastic views looking out towards the bridge and the city, as well as the ocean. You'll have to walk about a mile and climb some steps to get down here, but when you do, you'll be alone for the most part.
San Francisco, California
Japanese Tea Garden
This garden is designed specifically to create a zen experience. It offers a wonderful retreat from the chaos of the city and you can sit and relax or wander through the pagodas, koi ponds, and bonsai trees. The blooming cherry blossoms and the native Japanese plants create an authentic experience where you can immerse yourself in tranquility. For a light snack, head to the teahouse.
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 94118
Ina Coolbrith Park
This small park is perched on a small piece of land in the Russian Hill neighborhood. It's a bit removed from the main tourist areas, so it's a nice place to rest your legs and enjoy a peaceful setting. It is a bit of a climb to reach it, but for those who put in the effort, the park's stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge, and the city's skyline are a spectacular reward.
Vallejo & Taylor, Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA, 94133
Fort Funston Beach
Located at the southern end of the city limits of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast, here visitors will find an old fort along with a nice stretch of beach. This section of land is now part of the Golden Gate National Rec Area. On the beach itself and the surrounding hills, you'll find some ruins of a WWII gun battery and fort, much of which can be climbed around and through if you're looking to explore. This is also a popular spot for hang-gliding and a gathering place for people with dogs. Public restrooms and picnic areas area also provided.
Skyline Boulevard, San Francisco, California, 94166
Cartoon Art Museum
This unique museum is the only museum in the Western US that is dedicated exclusively to cartoon art. There are about 7,000 pieces of work here.
650 Mission Street, Union Square, SF, California, 94105
Cable Car Museum
This free museum is all about the history of the cable car system in San Francisco, and is also home to the actual machinery that powers the cable cars themselves! Visitors can see historical exhibits about how the cable cars were once used much more frequently in the city, what they looked like, and how they work. It's also possible to go down under the street level to see the gear machinery, and gaze upon the large engines and wheels that move the cables.
1201 Mason Street, Nob Hill, SF, California, 94133
Alta Plaza Playground
Alta Plaza Playground is in Pacific Heights and it's on top of a hill, so you can enjoy spectacular city views while the kids play. There are number of cafes nearby on Fillmore Street as well.
Jackson St. & Steiner St., Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA, 94115
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $5 to $4,755. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $271. A few of the best options are below.
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