Travel experts and San Francisco Locals Zory and Henry (This Life of Travel) know a thing or two about this iconic US city. Here are some of their favorite spots.
“Having lived in San Francisco for the past eight years, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite spots to show visiting friends and family.
Sometimes we take them to the tried and true, well trodden sights and other times we take them to the lesser known locals-only gems.
Today, we’d love to share with you some of those hidden gems that we love! They are also mostly frequented by locals, so you definitely won’t feel like a tourist!”
# Four Seasons Houses in the Haight
You’ve probably heard about and seen postcards of the famous Painted Ladies at Alamo Square. They’re probably one of the most photographed and visited spots in San Francisco.
But did you know there are some equally impressive Victorians in the Haight? These four houses are commonly referred to as the Four Seasons Houses as each house represents one of the four seasons. There is a beautifully decorated medallion adorning the front of each house. The Winter House has a winter medallion, for example.
You also won’t see many crowds here, which is a real treat!
# Marshall’s Beach
If you want to see some iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, instead of heading to the crowded viewing area near Battery East, you should head over to Marshall’s Beach for unadulterated, crowd free views of the famous red bridge.
On top of the views, the beach is mostly empty so you can spend a lovely afternoon here surrounded by the sounds of crashing waves and squawking seagulls.
To get here, park at Langdon Court Parking Lot, and then find the signs labeled Batteries to Bluff Trail. The signs will direct you to Marshall’s Beach.
There are a good number of steps to get down to the beach but trust us, it’s so worth it!
# Ina Colbrith Park
With so many stunning overlooks of the city in San Francisco, sometimes it’s hard to choose which one to go to!
But one of our favorite secret gems has got to be Ina Colbrith Park.
It’s tucked away in a green, terraced gem inside the Russian Hill neighorhood and has sweeping views of North Beach, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, Downtown SF, and the Transamerica Building.
There’s plenty of seating alongside beautifully landscaped flowers and bushes. It’s almost never crowded since it’s a locals-only kind of spot. You will have to walk up a hill to get to it though, but the best things in life are never easy right?
Pro-tip: When the sky is mostly clear with a few clouds visible, the sunsets from here are incredible.
# Wood Line
For a truly off the beaten path experience, check out the Wood Line art installation located in the Presidio.
Created by Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy – this snaking, serpentine art piece is comprised of long eucalyptus trunks in a zig-zag pattern.
The art piece is meant to decay over time, like most things in nature.
You can start at either the top, bottom, or middle – but the part we find most interesting is how cleanly it melds with the forest here.
# Washington Square
For a little bit of European flair in the city, make sure to stop by Washington Square park in North Beach.
Rarely crowded, this North Beach gem has ample green space with beautiful views of St Paul and Peter Cathedral. There is a perfect mix of dogs, picnickers, and sunbathers.
We love spending a sunny day here with a blanket, a bottle of wine, baguettes, cheese, and a good book.
# Dolores Park
On a perfectly sunny weekend day, few parks in San Francisco can quite match the youthful energy of Dolores Park. It’s the place to see and be seen, have an outdoor yoga class, play a game of frisbee, do some slack-lining or acro-yoga, watch a movie, hang out with friends, or just veg out and sunbathe.
It’s also one of the best places for views of the city, especially at sunset.
For the best views of the city, head for the corner of the park at 20th and Church. This is also where a large contingent of gay men sunbathe and congregate, but that’s because they have great taste like us!
# Cable Cars
When you think of San Francisco, the image of those iconic Cable Cars riding up and down the steep streets of the city comes to mind. What most people don’t see are the insane lines to get on the cable cars at Market/Powell and at Fisherman’s Wharf.
If you want to get that iconic shot with a cable car with no other tourists jostling and crowding you, there is usually a line of empty cable cars at Francisco and Taylor. The drivers don’t mind if you spend an hour posing and taking all the photos you want!
Otherwise, for a spectacular view of downtown San Francisco with the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge in the distance – hop on the California Line sometime before Grace Cathedral (Jones and California). The slope will start to dip down right at Fairmont Hotel, which is when you’ll see that amazing sloped view!
# Retail Therapy
Looking for something cute, trendy, and very San Francisco? Look no further than Therapy – a SF Bay Area chain selling everything from locally sourced craft earrings to vintage furniture – you’re sure to find what you need here.
There are two locations in San Francisco – North Beach and the Mission District.
# Liquid Therapy
San Francisco has no shortage of ultra hip, mixologist inspired drinking holes.
So when we don’t want to think about which one to go to, we end up going to Villon, which is a stylish restaurant bar inside the Proper Hotel. The decor, service, and drinks are all some of the best SF has to offer.
You also don’t need to eat here if you don’t want to – every time we’ve come here it’s just for the ambiance and cocktails!