What to Go to and What to Skip

English Whether or not you’ve lived within the Bay Space for 2 years or 20…

What to Go to and What to Skip


Whether or not you’ve lived within the Bay Space for 2 years or 20 years, likelihood is there are a handful of San Francisco locations you’ve by no means visited. The vacations—when many people have buddies or household visiting from out of city—will be the best time to take a look at a few of the locations most individuals solely ever see on postcards.

We’ve compiled this overview of town’s most iconic factors of curiosity—being attentive to people who stay as much as the hype and providing alternate options to overrated vacationer traps. So get out of the home and see some sights. Or, you realize, simply cross this record on to your company and purchase your self just a little time to make amends for all of the reveals you’ve been lacking.

What to Go to and What to Skip
Prospects benefit from the ambiance on the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar in San Francisco. | Wally Skalij/LA Instances/Getty Photos

✅ The Tonga Room: Price It

📍 950 Mason St., Nob Hill 
☎️ (415) 772-5278
🔗 fairmont-san-francisco.com

The Tonga Room, situated contained in the Fairmont Resort on the prime of Nob Hill, would be the most touristy of native tiki bars—and it delivers! Each half hour, sheets of rain fall from the ceiling, re-creating the ambiance of a tropical thunderstorm. Many nights, the institution’s home band, The Island Groove, performs from a thatch-roofed boat that floats across the bar’s central lagoon. Combined drinks are sturdy and steep ($18+), however we really feel it’s definitely worth the splurge for this one-of-a-kind SF spot that the late Anthony Bourdain dubbed “the best place within the historical past of the world.” (CJC)   

Skip Ghirardelli Sq.
✅ Go to Dandelion As a substitute 

📍 2600 sixteenth St., Mission
☎️ (415) 349-0942
🔗 dandelionchocolate.com
🎟️ $20+

Regardless of a significant transform of its chocolate store earlier this 12 months, we discover that the general expertise at Ghirardelli Sq. shouldn’t be definitely worth the trek and the value of parking (which begins at $18 and creeps up from there). The sq. is chockful of overpriced eating places and Ghirardelli’s $15 ice cream sundae, within the opinion of our employees, shouldn’t be tasty or mind-blowing sufficient to warrant the extravagance. 

As a substitute, if you happen to’re trying to sate your candy tooth, head to Dandelion’s sixteenth Road chocolate manufacturing facility, which is now internet hosting excursions and tastings ($20+), or considered one of SF’s many small-batch ice cream retailers. (CJC)

✅ Coit Tower: Go 

📍 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd., Telegraph Hill
🕑 Each day 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
🔗 sfrecpark.org
🎟️ Free-$10

The view from Coit Tower, particularly on a transparent day, is difficult to beat and the historical past of the landmark is intriguing as effectively. Constructed with funds bequeathed by firefighter fanatic and heiress Lillie Coit, the tall and slender concrete tower presents 360-degree views of town and San Francisco Bay and boasts a formidable and invaluable array of WPA-era murals deeply influenced by the work of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Artwork historical past buffs could take pleasure in including on a $5 or $10 docent-led tour of the murals.   

Adventurous and match relations could take pleasure in climbing to the bottom of Coit Tower through the Filbert Road Steps. You too can hail a automotive or Muni’s 39 Coit bus to the bottom of the tower. 

In case you’re on the lookout for extra top-notch views of town with a drink in hand, we advocate the High of the Mark. Certain, the drinks hover round $20, however what you’re actually paying for is the view. The tower is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New 12 months’s Day.

You’ll be able to (principally) skip Fisherman’s Wharf, although there are a handful of spots to take a look at if you happen to do determine to go.

Skip (Most) of Fisherman’s Wharf
✅ Go To Musée Mécanique

📍 Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf 
🕑 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
☎️ (415) 346-2000
🔗 museemecanique.com

Most issues at Fisherman’s Wharf are completely skippable, but when your loving household insists on going there, you need to insist on a cease at Musée Mécanique—an old-timey arcade and museum with an array of amusing coin-operated machines and classic video games that may tickle and delight nearly anybody’s internal baby. The assemblage of over of 300 “mechanical leisure gadgets” is likely one of the final vestiges of San Francisco’s Playland on the Seashore, and it has a spot in movie historical past as effectively. 

A few of Musée Mécanique’s most iconic contraptions, the Arm-Wrestling Machine and a gap-toothed animatronic generally known as Laffing Sal, made appearances within the first installment of Disney’s Princess Diaries, starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. (And if you happen to’re curious to know, Andrews truly did beat the arm wrestler.) 

Admission is free, however video games vary from 1 cent to $1, with most video games costing 25 or 50 cents, so you’ll want to convey cash and money.

As for Pier 39, until you’ve gotten a hankering for unhealthy mall vibes, gimmicks or a glimpse of the ocean lions, skip! (CJC)

🔎 Chinatown: Be Selective  

Chinatown is chock-full of touristy memento retailers on Grant Avenue, however the really hidden gems are a bit off the overwhelmed path. The lengthy line for dim sum at Gong Mok Kok Bakery is price it. And stopping for a fortune cookie pattern on the tiny Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Manufacturing facility is a enjoyable apart. The neighborhood has no scarcity of nice eating places and lots of kinds of Chinese language meals to select from. There’s additionally a captivating exhibition in regards to the lifetime of martial arts icon Bruce Lee, presently on view on the Chinese language Historic Society of America, which is certain to excite children, mother and father and grandparents alike. (CJC)

Skip Haight Road
✅ Go to the Decrease Haight

📍 Between Divisadero and Webster streets

Whereas industrial heart of Haight-Ashbury, Haight Road, is carefully related to the hippie motion and the Summer season of Love, the neighborhood’s glut of flower energy memento retailers and stylized bohemian shops can really feel like its making an attempt just a little too arduous.

As a substitute, we advocate the hall between Divisadero and Webster streets within the Decrease Haight. Alongside this part of Haight Road, you’ll discover some superior document shops, together with Rooky Ricardo’s, Vinyl Desires and Groove Service provider Data. Cease in for an genuine German sausage dish at Berliner Berliner, and get some vacation purchasing executed at OG streetwear store Higher Playground or dwelling items boutique Earthen, each simply off Haight Road on Fillmore. In case you’re feeling adventurous, head even additional down Haight Road towards the Haight Road Artwork Middle, which normally has a thoughtfully curated show of rock & roll photographs and graphic arts on view. (CJC)  

Vacationers {photograph} one another and the view on Lombard Road, the well-known windy streets vacation spot in San Francisco on Nov. 21, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Customary

🤷‍♀️ Lombard Road: You Kinda Have To 

🚗 Lombard and Hyde streets 
📸 Lombard and Leavenworth streets

“Doing” Lombard Road—which is to say, using the brakes down the absurdly curvy and fantastically landscaped block between Hyde and Leavenworth streets in Russian Hill—is about as enjoyable as driving two miles an hour in gridlock will be. It’s compulsory for guests, sure, however the traffic-clogged method will be formidable to drivers unfamiliar with town’s steep topography. Your complete expertise is commonly crushingly anticlimactic, particularly if you happen to’re caught within the backseat, though after all, you’ve bought to do it as soon as. 

To not be an enormous downer, but it surely’s not even the squiggliest avenue within the metropolis, which locals know to be Vermont Road between twentieth and twenty second streets in Potrero Hill. Neither is it the steepest: twenty second Road between Sanchez and Church streets in Noe Valley will be really terrifying for the unprepared. (Sure, it’s one-way.)

One of the simplest ways to do Lombard is to leverage pictures’s skill to encourage envy in others. Stand on the backside (close to the intersection of Lombard and Leavenworth streets) with the curve of it seen behind you, take a gaggle image, and marvel that the crabby neighbors who selected to stay alongside a world-famous landmark truly tried to cease vacationers from visiting. (PAK)

✅ The Painted Women: Price It 

📍 Steiner and Hayes streets, Alamo Sq. 

Finest identified for his or her recurring cameo look within the intro of the favored sitcom Full Home, the Painted Women are popular culture icons and a longstanding image of San Francisco’s Gold Rush wealth and beautiful Victorian structure. 

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Parking round Alamo Sq. could also be a headache—we advocate public transit or rideshare to get there as an alternative—but it surely’s price setting your sore eyes on this architectural eye sweet, particularly with a cup of Girl Falcon espresso in hand. The San Francisco-born espresso membership units up store with its iron grey truck on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to three p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m. to three p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The park overlooking the Painted Women can be a perfect spot for a picnic if you happen to’d choose to dine al fresco, and if you happen to’re on the lookout for a extra substantial meal to accompany your sightseeing, Divisadero Road, with an assortment of outlets and eating places, is a brief stroll away. (CJC)

Miriam Petsch (proper), who’s visiting from Copenhagen, and Shruti A. (left), who’s visiting from Chicago, browse books in Metropolis Lights Bookstore and Writer, on Columbus Road in North Seashore on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Customary

Metropolis Lights & Vesuvio Cafe: Go 

Metropolis Lights
📍 261 Columbus Ave., North Seashore
☎️ (415) 362-8193
🔗 citylights.com

Vesuvio Cafe
📍 255 Columbus Ave., North Seashore
☎️ (415) 362-3370
🔗 vesuvio.com

Whereas the hustle and bustle of North Seashore’s bars and eating places could also be an excessive amount of for locals, there are some true gems in San Francisco’s Little Italy, together with literary beacons Metropolis Lights and Vesuvio Cafe.  

Go to these venerable North Seashore institutions the place the beat motion bought its begin. Vesuvio Café, which is housed in a 1913 Italian Renaissance Revival constructing, was began in 1948 by artwork fanatic Henri Lenoir with the intention of creating a bohemian gathering place. Artists, chess gamers, off-the-clock unique dancers and folks from all walks of life will be discovered right here.

Synergy between the 2 institutions was sparked by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s 1953 opening of Metropolis Lights bookstore throughout the road as extra folks flocked to the world looking for freedom of creative expression. Hundreds of books can be found at Metropolis Lights, lots of that are surrounded by photographs of well-known San Francisco authors and different historic artifacts. The alleyway between the 2 companies, Jack Kerouac Alley, is roofed in murals. (MM)

✅ Twin Peaks: Go 

📍 501 Twin Peaks Blvd., Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is a spot liked by locals and, in some methods, seems like their favourite secret place, regardless of its reputation. It’s the best backdrop for an Instagram photograph, a romantic vacation spot to finish a date, or perhaps a good mountaineering spot. Whether or not you go to in the course of the day or at night time, this 360-degree panoramic view of San Francisco from almost 1,000 ft up is not going to disappoint. The Twin Peaks are two hills within the geographic heart of San Francisco. A stroll, bus journey or drive to the highest will can help you see many of the metropolis’s landmarks, together with the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, Alcatraz and the Transamerica Constructing. (MM)

Vacationers stroll alongside Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 on Feb. 28, 2022 | Camille Cohen

🤷🏽‍♂️ Alcatraz Island: You Determine

📍 Pier 33 Alcatraz Touchdown, Embarcadero
🕑 Excursions Each day, Some Holidays Excepted
☎️ (877) 443-5547
🔗 cityexperiences.com
🎟️ $25+

Alcatraz Island has our employees cut up on whether or not a ferry journey throughout the bay is definitely worth the go to. On the one-hand, you possibly can say it’s only a former jail on a rock. On the opposite, the island is a nationwide park with a number of historical past to share. On excursions of the previous jail, which housed notorious mobsters similar to Al Capone and James “Whitey” Bulger, park rangers do an excellent job of contextualizing the island’s Native American historical past and its 1969 occupation by indigenous activists. Displays of thought-provoking performs, showcases of labor by world-renowned artists, an award-winning audio tour and thoughtfully curated exhibitions, similar to a present one on mass incarceration within the U.S., have additional enriched the island’s cultural programming. 

Whether or not you select to go for a day, night time or behind-the-scenes tour, you’re prone to study quite a bit! However we additionally perceive if you happen to don’t wish to go to an ex-prison on your loved ones vacation, so the selection is yours! 

Whereas there isn’t any federal entrance price for Alcatraz, you have to a ferry ticket to get to and from the island from the Nationwide Park Service’s licensed concessioner. (Whereas some legendary prisoners have tried escape, you doubtless gained’t have a lot luck swimming throughout with out some critical coaching.)  (CJC)