My first impression of San Francisco from a few years back was how it resembles a lot of our hometown Melbourne, Australia – a completely magnified version of it. The trams (trolleys), the streets, the buildings downtown and even the coffee culture. But after having been in San Francisco a number of times, there are many aspects of San Francisco that are quite unique to itself and it’s no wonder why people keep going back to this picturesque bay city.
Ghirardelli Square – San Francisco
I am sure you’ve heard of all the typical must-visit places such as the Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square and Union Square. But after a few visits or perhaps when you have some extra days to spend in San Francisco, you’d probably enjoy a taste of living like a local… just like the Airbnb slogan “Don’t go there, Live there”.
Union Square – San Francisco
Here are the Top 5 Things To Do and See in San Francisco that are not way too touristy:
1. The Hills
Almost everything about the hills in San Francisco. No, not ‘The Hills’ reality show. But the moment you drive into SF you’ll notice the city’s beauty mark has to do a lot with the hills. The houses on the hills, the roads, the greenery, the views and to top if off – the tip of San Francisco is surrounded by scenic water views where San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean.
The most crooked & steepest road in SF – Lombard Street (priceonomics.com)
Where can you get the best views of San Francisco?
Check out these places:
- Twin Peaks Summit
- Coit Tower
- Bernal Heights Park
- Alamo Square (where the colorful Painted Ladies are)
- Vista Point
- Battery Spencer
- The View Lounge, Marriott Marquis
2. The Parks
Golden Gate Park is a large urban park in downtown San Francisco, a great place for any age to relax and do all sorts of activities from boating, biking, running, segway-ing or even a picnic.
The park also has a lake, a Japanese Tea garden and a Museum. There are also other less-oversized parks such as the Alamo Square, Mission Dolores Park, Palace of Fine Arts, Maritime National History Park (by Ghirardelli Square) and Lake Merced Park.
Mission Dolores Park
Alamo Square – The Painted Sisters
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Palace of Fine Arts (tripandtravelblog.com)
Sausalito is a city in the San Francisco bay area located just right across the Golden Gate Bridge. There are several waterfront restaurants with stunning views and would make you feel like you’re having lunch in Capri, Italy (sort of).
Salito’s Crab House
Some of the waterfront restaurants:
- Salito’s Crab & Prime Rib House
- Venice Gourmet
- Le Garage
4. Brunch & Coffee Places
San Francisco probably has one of the biggest brunch scenes I’ve ever seen (another similarity to Melbourne) and if you come in early enough or pick the right ‘hidden’ spots you could probably avoid the 1-hour (and sometimes 2-hour) wait. I’m just not into waiting for tables that long anymore, with or without kids, we’re not exactly getting any younger here.
Here are some suggestions apart from the well too-established places like Plow, Zazie or Sweet Maple (PS: some of these places takes reservations, so try to call ahead if you can):
Sightglass Coffee – 270 7th Street
5. Golden Gate Bridge
Ok, so this one isn’t exactly a secret or anti-tourist, but the sight of this magnificent 80-year-old bridge would never fail to take your breath away and it would be wrong if I didn’t include the Golden Gate Bridge on this list.
There are a number of spots where you can view and take your best Golden Gate Bridge moments:
By taking a cruise or boat tour around the bay
- Vista Point
- Battery Spencer
- Baker Beach / Presidio
- Fort Point
Playing Tourist – Ghirardelli Square(2016)
Boating at Stow Lake – Golden Gate Park (2013)
Do you have your own favorite & secret spots in SF? Message me!