San Francisco tourism is in a bit of a slump, though over 25 million people visit every year.
Visitors might be drawn to the obvious attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and the“Full House” home, but San Francisco has more to offer than tourist traps and trolley cars.
To help you experience the best of the city, we surveyed Business Insider employees based in San Francisco on their favourite local spots. From the nature trails at Lands End to happy hour at the Tonga Room, these off-the-beaten-path destinations showcase the best of the city.
The best cure for a sweet tooth is a visit to Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, a bakery that’s famous for its hybrid desserts and drool-worthy Instagram. We recommend the sushi croissant.
1042 Larkin Street
Some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge are to be had on the rocky and windswept shoreline trails at Lands End. Wear sneakers. The hike includes many stairs.
680 Point Lobos Avenue
And don’t miss the rock labyrinth at Lands End for a memorable photo.
Forget the “Full House” home. Take a stroll down Billionaires Row in San Francisco’s most exclusive neighbourhood to see the homes of tech titans like Larry Ellison and Jony Ive.
On Thursday nights, the California Academy of Sciences stays open late for adults-only special events. Take a yoga class in the aquarium, see the stars at the planetarium, or grab a cocktail and mingle with the nearly 46 million scientific specimens on site.
55 Music Concourse Drive
Church of 8 Wheels is a roller disco like no other. On Friday and Saturday nights, skaters (many in costume) fill the rink located inside a 120-year-old former Catholic church.
554 Fillmore Street
Cost: $US10 for admission and $US5 for skate rental
Allbirds, the startup behind the “world’s most comfortable shoes,” has a small pop-up store in Jackson Square. You can try on the wool sneakers to see if they meet the hype.
27-99 Hotaling Place
GameVibes at the Folsom Street Foundry is a gamer’s paradise. Thursday and Friday nights, players flock to the bar for video games, board games, and everything in between.
1425 Folsom Street
Drink your way through history with a tour at Anchor Brewing Company, San Francisco’s original craft brewery. The tour ends with a beer tasting in the taproom.
1705 Mariposa Street
Sing Alongs at the historic Castro Theatre are possibly the most fun you’ll have at the movies. The theatre screens musicals, ranging from “Mary Poppins” to “Moana,” with subtitles so the audience can join in. Dress up as your favourite character to win prizes.
429 Castro Street
Cost: $US16 for adults and $US11 for seniors and kids ages 12 and under
San Francisco may not have invented the burrito, but it arguably perfected it. Wander the Mission District for the best shopping, people-watching, and burritos the city has to offer.
We recommend Papalote Mexican Grill or Taqueria Cancún for a less touristy experience.
Papalote Mexican Grill address:
3409 24th Street
Taqueria Cancún address:
2288 Mission Street
The Alemany Farmers’ Market is sometimes referred to as the “people’s market,” for its laid-back atmosphere and low prices. It was the first farmers’ market in California.
100 Alemany Boulevard
It may be touristy, but happy hour at the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar is not to be missed. Enjoy the Pacific Rim cuisine and umbrella drinks in this sprawling tiki-themed lounge.
950 Mason Street
People of all faiths gather to practice yoga in the darkened Grace Cathedral on Tuesday nights. Get there early to nab a spot in the center labyrinth.
1100 California Street
Cost: $US10 to $US20 donation suggested
Locals know the best way to get to know the city is through the free walking tours offered by volunteers known as the San Francisco City Guides. Each tour lasts about two hours.
Cost: $US10 to $US20 donation suggested
The original Philz Coffee location in the Mission is a San Francisco institution. This venture capital-backed chain offers 30 unique blends. Order it “Phil’s way” for sweet and creamy.
3101 24th Street
Fort Funston sits on 200-foot bluffs on the western edge of San Francisco. High winds make it a top hang-gliding spot, while others come for the dog-friendly walking trails and beach.
Fort Funston Road
Musée Mécanique is the only acceptable reason for venturing to Fisherman’s Wharf. The museum contains 20th-century music boxes and penny arcade games you can play.
Cost: 1 cent to $US1 to play the coin-operated games