San Francisco: Off the Beaten Path Things to Do

Fun, Irreverent, Quirky, and Different

Every year, millions of visitors descend on San Francisco. While many of them visit the same iconic landmarks and do similar activities, it's also very possible to get away from the touristy things to do and find something off the beaten path. That's what the list below is all about - you'll find those places that are not as visited, but still have something interested to show or experience. They still have that fun SF vibe to them as well, so check these places out and you won't be disappointed.
Sutro Baths
Sutro Baths
Once a grand public swimming area, the Sutro Baths are now just ruins of a burned-down building, of which visitors can see the old pools built out of cement into the side of the hill overlooking the ocean. The beach here is small but beautiful. The hill above is Point Lobos which has a nice walking trail and views of the surrounding hills and coastline.
1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, California
Balclutha
Balclutha
This steel-hulled full rigged ship was built in 1886. It's a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is located at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
Russian Hill, SF, California, 94133-1312
Planning a trip to San Francisco? You might also be interested in San Francisco for Music Lovers and San Francisco: What to See and Do in the Spring.
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology is a natural history museum that is part of the University of California, Berkeley. It was founded in 1908 and is a major center for vertebrate studies on the West Coast.
Campanile Way, Northside, Berkeley, California, 94720
Treasure Island
This artificial island was built between 1936 and 1937 for the Golden Gate International Exposition. Many buildings on the island are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
449 Avenue H, SF, California, 94130
Japan Center
Located in the fascinating Japantown neighborhood, The Japan Center is a shopping center that highlights the area's Japanese culture. It first opened in 1968 and includes the Kinokuniya Mall, Kintetsu Mall (Japan Center West), and Miyako Mall (Japan Center East).
1613 Geary Boulevard, Japantown, SF, California, 94115
Angel Island State Park
Catch a ferry from Pier 41 to explore this beautiful state park. Nature lovers will enjoy the peaceful setting and photography enthusiasts will appreciate the views looking back at the city. This is the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay and it has a number of great biking, hiking, and running trails. There are five different picnic areas, eleven campsites, and several nice beaches as well. There's also a casual restaurant on the island.
San Francisco, CA
Musée Mécanique
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
China Beach
This is one of the most scenic beaches in the San Francisco area. As it faces north looking towards the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, beachgoers here will have nice views looking onto some classic San Francisco scenery as well as out to the ocean. The beach here is flat and somewhat wide with room to lounge, or play, although it's not very long. Bring a chair and you can enjoy a good book in a quiet setting. It was once frequented by Chinese fisherman which is where the name came from. To get here head to the parking lot on Seacliff Ave between the Presidio and Land's End park. And try not to gawk at the expensive houses on your way in.
Seacliff Ave, San Francisco, California
If you're looking for more information about San Francisco, read The Best Science Museums in San Francisco and Activities and Things to Do in the Fall in San Francisco.
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
Legion of Honor
From it's beautiful Beaux-Arts building to its impressive collection of ancient and European art, this museum is a must-see in San Francisco. The limestone, marble, and chevron wood building is a beautiful work of art and inside there is a collection of more than 800 European paintings (with 250 available to view).
Lincoln Park | 100 34th Avenue (at Clement Street), Lincoln Park, San Francisco, CA, 94121
How much does it cost?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $25 to $853. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $169. A few of the best options are below.

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