San Francisco Second Takes

California Palace of the Legion of Honor

Foggy view from the California Palace of the Legion of Honor

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)

San Francisco Chinatown

Chinatown, San Francisco

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

Buddhist deity Vajra Tara Asian Art Museum San Francisco

Buddhist deity Vajra Tara

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.

City Hall

San Francisco City Hall

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.

San Francisco City Hall Dome

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.

Dutch Windmills

San Francisco Windmill Golden Gate Park

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.

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7 Comments on “San Francisco Second Takes”

  1. Sarah Ann June 3, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Never been to San Francisco, but have always wanted to! Will definitely save this post for when I do travel there.


    • Brian June 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      It’s a great city with tons of cool things to do. You won’t regret the trip.


  2. Jane Lurie June 3, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Great reminder of some overlooked gems in San Francisco! Thanks.


  3. judlaw June 3, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Our trip to San Francisco is my favourite so far. Although we did do some self-guided walking tours, we missed all of these! We were simply not there long enough and will have to go back again.


    • Brian June 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      That’s the great thing about cities like San Fran, there’s never enough time to do it all.



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    […] other great thing about large cities is all that stuff you did the last time you were here is totally worth doing […]


  2. Terracotta Travelers | Everywhere Once - June 10, 2013

    […] not all of that could make the trip. Only about twenty figures made their way to San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum. To see the rest, or at least the two thousand figures they’ve unearthed so far, we’ll have to […]


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