You’ve seen the Golden Gate Bridge and ridden the cable cars. You’ve driven the crookedest street in America, ferried to The Rock, and climbed Coit Tower. You’ve been here before and so had we. But that doesn’t mean you’ve “done” San Francisco. Not even close.
The wonderful thing about large cities is that their main attractions are really only appetizers for dozens of other lesser frequented sites, streets, neighborhoods and activities. Here are four that occupied us during our most recent trip to the City by the Bay (five if you count the Legion of Honor pictured above).
Free Cityguide Walking Tour(s)
Whether you’re interests veer toward the bawdy and naughty or more heavenly pursuits, San Francisco’s Cityguides has you covered. Discover the scenes and settings of Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco, tour the Art Deco architecture of the Marina District, explore the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, or follow ghosts and sinners to their secret hideouts. With 91 completely different, and totally free, guided walking tours to choose from, you can spend anywhere from hours to days delving into San Francisco side streets and back stories.
Asian Art Museum
My, how she’s grown. What originally began as a mere wing of San Francisco’s de Young fine arts museum has expanded to become the largest U.S. museum dedicated exclusively to Asia. It contains over 17,000 works that hail from all major Asian countries and originate from as far back as 6,000 years. As a special bonus the Asian Art Museum is free the first Sunday of each month.
In the wake of the 1906 earthquake and fire San Francisco set its sights higher than merely replacing its destroyed city hall. Instead, they built a structure grand enough to rival any state capitol building or, indeed, even the national one in D.C.
Occupying two full city blocks and sporting the fifth largest dome in the world, San Francisco’s City Hall stands 19 feet higher than the United States Capitol.
With over one thousand acres to explore it’s easy to miss things hidden within Golden Gate Park; even things as large as a Dutch style windmill. Visitors to the western section of the park, however, will find two of these 75 foot behemoths standing regally, if incongruently, within a short walk of the city proper.
It could be said that Golden Gate Park owes its very existence to these structures. At the turn of the century this now lush urban oasis was little more than windswept sand dunes. The city built the first windmill in 1902 with the hopes of harnessing the sea breeze to pump fresh water for irrigation. The North Windmill was such a success a second one was built a short distance to the south.
Today, with their work done, the retired mills stand silently at the edge of the sprawling city garden they helped create.