7 Unusual Things to Do in San Francisco
Upon hearing the words “San Francisco,” many people will conjure images of the Golden Gate Bridge, winding Lombard Street, the Painted Ladies, Alcatraz, fog lifting over the bay… But there’s more to this city than just its main attractions (although those are pretty spectacular). If you’re looking to expand your horizons on your next trip to San Francisco, then try to add unexpected activities to your itinerary. There’s so much to do and see in the Bay Area that you won’t have trouble trying something new. Here are seven lesser-known things to do in San Francisco.
1. Hike Grizzly Peak
No need to be alarmed — grizzly bears haven’t inhabited this area since the late 1800s, though they did inspire the name for this mountain, now known for its scenic vistas. You can either hike to the top or drive. Either way, once you arrive at the top, you’ll see why it’s a favorite for locals. From Grizzly Peak, you can look back on the entire Bay Area. While the view is spectacular all day long, you might want to try catching it as the sun begins to set for a truly awe-inspiring glimpse at San Francisco.
2. Ride the Seward Street Slides
If city developers had had their way, there would be no Seward Street Slides. Instead, the green space that they now inhabit would be apartment homes. Fortunately, neighborhood residents protested the potential loss of their local green space and ended up winning the fight, which they celebrated by turning it into what’s now known as Seward Mini Park.
The most popular attraction at this tiny little park is its two concrete slides, designed by a 14-year-old who won a competition. You’ll have to find a piece of cardboard or borrow one from a fellow rider in order to ride down; the park also recommends sturdy pants. Rumor has it that these slides are fast — time to find out for yourself!
3. Go Horseback Riding
A metropolis like San Francisco — and a hilly one, at that — doesn’t quite lend itself to rustic horseback riding. You’ll have to make your way out of the center to somewhere like Fort Funston, where local stables can saddle you up and send you on a peaceful path.
Fort Funston is known for its wind, which means it’s a hub for Bay Area hang-gliders. This will add even more interest to a horseback ride that comes with beaches, cliffs and potentially some dolphin sightings as well.
4. Bus the Golden Gate Bridge
Hear me out: you probably have considered making your way across the iconic Golden Gate all on your own, and it’s certainly worth the trip. That being said, if you drive there, being behind the wheel means that you can’t really take in the views of the bay and of the structure since you have to focus on the road. Seek out a San Francisco bus tour that lets you view the city while someone else does the driving. Your guide will provide lots of historical information on the Bridge and other landmarks, too.
5. Bike to Sausalito
This houseboat neighborhood has some of the kitschiest abodes in all of the country — there’s even one designed to look like the Taj Mahal–so it’s worth visiting. Start your journey on the Golden Gate Bridge. Protected bike lanes are open at specific times during the day, so be sure to time your journey right.
6. Kayak for baseballa… or for the Bay
If you’ve ever watched Major League Baseball, you’ve probably seen the kayakers who paddle out to AT&T Park in an attempt to catch baseballs knocked out of the park — and into the water.
You can do something just as cool on your trip. You can make your way to McCovey Cove, the area directly beyond the right-field wall of the stadium, or paddle the calm waters of Mission Creek to check out all of its residents’ houseboats. With so much water surrounding the city, there are tons of kayaking destinations to consider.
7. Hike the Presidio
A landscape as hilly as San Francisco begs you to take at least one hike. And, if Grizzly Peak feels too far from your trip headquarters, try an “urban” hike through the Presidio. I put “urban” in quotation marks because, despite the hiking area’s location, you won’t feel like you’re in the middle of a major city. It has 24 miles of hiking trails that take you through woods to the coastline.