22 San Francisco Tourist Attractions That Aren't Bridges!

We know about Big Attractions — the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz and Pier 39 and… you know, that other bridge. But, for covering such a small area, San Francisco has a treasure trove of other attractions that are less well know. Hidden, you might say.

We're not sure we can call the San Francisco zoo hidden, really, but it's such a long way from downtown that too many visitors are inclined to skip it. But, we will tell you, that's a mistake. There's the library, which is architecturally interesting. But, let's start things off with a list of seventeen attractions in SF that you may not find on your own.

line

17 Hidden San Francisco Tourist Attractions

Hidden San Francisco Tourist Attractions

You knew about the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, Pier 39, maybe even the Ferry Building and the Presidio. But did you know about the world's largest sundial? The Garden of Fragrance? The Japanese communal baths? These are just a few of the fascinating hidden attractions of San Francisco. Learn about our top 17 secret things to see and places to go.

Diego Rivera Frescos

Diego Rivera Frescos

Diego Rivera is probably the most famous Mexican artist ever (but don't tell his artist wife, Frida Kahlo, we said that!). San Francisco is fortunate to have three fine examples of his fresco works, including the massive & famous Pan American Unity. The frescos are a little hard to find. One, for example, is in a private club and there are only a fews hours each month it's open for viewing. Don't worry, though, we'll tell you all about them, where they are, and how to get in.

Telegraph Hill & Coit Tower

Telegraph Hill & Coit Tower

Telegraph Hill is hard to miss — it rises high above the popular North Beach neighborhood and Coit Tower, found on the top, rises even higher. From here you get some of the best views of the city and of the bay. You can climb the tower or ride the elevator to the top, but be sure not to miss the 1930s murals painted inside the tower.

We'll also tell you about local parks, steep stairways, and a flock of wild parrots. That's right, parrots!

World War II Ships at Pier 45

Pier 45 San Francisco

Part of the Fishermans Wharf complex that stretches along the waterfront, Pier 45 in San francisco is known for the two World War II navy vessels that have been restored and are not berthed there. It's a wonderful opportunity to explore an actual US Navy submarine, the USS Pampanito, that operated in the Pacific theater, sinking six Japanese ships.

Also on view is the Liberty ship, SS Jeremiah O'Brien, that make eleven crossings carrying troops and equipment during the D-Day operation on June 6, 1944.

City Lights Bookstore

City Lights Bookstore

San Francisco Bohemian Central has got to be City Lights Bookstore, and it's been that way since 1953 when poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded one of the most important independent bookstores in America. Even today, sixty years on, City Lights retains its Beats and radical roots.

City Lights is more than a bookstore. It's a quirky mix of bookseller, foundation and publisher. It's a true institution. Discover the then and the now.

10 Amazing Reasons to Go to the SF Zoo

SF Zoo

We love the amazing things we see at zoos. But with recent improvements, the San Francisco Zoo is even more amazing!

In fact "zoo" doesn't really describe what it's transformed into. More like "wildlife recreation center" with specially designed habitats mixing species usually found together in nature. There are also demonstrations by zoo animal handlers to help you get to know the animal better.

line

Find Hotel Deals for Your Dates in San Francisco

Check with Booking.com to find today's sale prices on hotel rooms in every neighborhood of SF. Save 20% to 30%… or even more!

Booking.Com SF Hotel Deals
Find hotels at Union Square, near Fisherman's Wharf, in North Beach, the business district, even in the Wine Country.
Search for your hotel

The Haas-Lilienthal House

The Haas-Lilienthal House

This grandiose 1886 structure is the only Victorian house in San Francisco open to the public. It's a great trip back in time to a grander era, since the Haas-Lilienthal House is still in its original state.

This life of the rich and famous in the late 19th-century SF was different from ours. At 11,500 square feet the Haas-Lilienthal House boasts twenty-four rooms, including a ballroom, parlor, dining room, bedrooms, playroom, a vast kitchen, and even a train room. William Haas was a great-nephew of Levi Strauss who made his fortune in the grocery business before building this lavish Queen-Anne-style mansion in 1886.

Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park

Located on the extreme western edge of the city, up against the Pacific Ocean, Lincoln Park is 100 acres of natural beauty in the urban jungle. Perhaps best known for its golf course with stunning views, it's also where you find the art-rich Legion of Honor. And let's not forget about the miles of hiking trails.

Yerba Buena Gardens

Yerba Buena Gardens

After years of controversy and planning, and a budget of $87 mil, this site was transformed from urban decay into one of the most wonderful parks and art centers in the country. Featured is a 20-foot-high waterfall in fromt of a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr.

Discover the art installations, the pedestrian walkways, the gardens, and the annual festivals in our guide.

The San Francisco Library

The San Francisco Library

The San Francisco Library features two million books, lots of cool spaces, a rooftop terrace, and a stunning design. But what's of special interest to visitors is that this Civic Center institution offers free walking tours of the neighborhoods of the city. Find out more in our guide.

line

Japanese Tea Garden

Japanese Tea Garden

Located in Golden Gate Park, and an enduring draw, the Tea Garden is a peaceful repose in the busy life of a modern city.

Over a century old, the tea garden has the maturity and serenity of the gardens of Kyoto. In the small tea house you can contemplate while you sip traditional brews, including matcha.

The Octagon House San Francisco

The Octagon House San Francisco

The Octagon House has more that eight facets. First off, it's also a museum displaying American decorative arts and furniture dating from 1700 to the 1840s. And then there's the fascinating history of the house, dating back to 1861, when the Civil War was just getting started.

How do we know so much about its history? Because of a time capsule that was discovered hidden in the house in the 1950s! Now, that's exciting. Find out more.

What's Quakin'?

Don't Miss a Single San Francisco Travel Tip — Sign Up For Our Newsletter Today