10 San Francisco Secrets Travelers Should Know

We've narrowed down a few unique experiences that every tourist should be aware of when visiting San Francisco. Plan for an unforgettable trip with these 10 local tips, which include fun things to do and best ways to experience the Golden Gate City.

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Maui
Maui

Maui

With more than 120 miles of coastline, Maui tops Mandy Ingber's list. Channel your inner roar, and strike a warrior pose, as you take in the sights and sounds of the deep blue Pacific splashing against the island’s rocky headlands. 960 1280

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Ibiza

Ibiza

“This is one of the most beautiful, soulful spots I have been to,” says Ingber of this Mediterranean island off the coast of Valencia, Spain. “Bohemian, a place where living and enjoyment are an art -- even just sitting on the beach feels like yoga here!” 960 1280

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Viceroy Bali

Viceroy Bali

“I have wanted to travel to Bali, and have seen the pictures of the Viceroy -- luxury resort!” says Ingber. Luxury, indeed: The family-owned-and-operated property on the Indonesian island of Bali is home to 25 villas, nestled on a hill overlooking the “Valley of the Kings.” 960 1280

Viceroy Bali  

Harbour Island, Bahamas

Harbour Island, Bahamas

This island, located off the northeast coast of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, may be a trek to get to, but it’s worth it for the “quaint, sweet town [vibe] and casual, beachy feel,” says Ingber. We’re betting you’ll agree as you stroll past colorful rows of homes and “om” away on the island’s pink sand beaches. 960 1280

Adam Nowek, flickr  

Ganeshpuri

Ganeshpuri

This small village, about 50 miles north of Mumbai, is “very poor, but soulful and where many gurus have lived and died,” says Ingber. Explore the village’s Siddha yoga tradition at the local ashram, then while away the hours in one of the hot springs near the area’s Tansa River. 960 1280

Nadine Incoll, flickr  

Chiva-Som Resort

Chiva-Som Resort

This world-class resort in Hua Hin, Thailand, is on Ingber’s travel wish list. “They have programs tailored to detox, weight loss and rejuvenation here,” says Ingber. “Sign me up! Sometimes I want to be the one on the retreat!” 960 1280

Chiva-Som International Health Resort   

Kauai

Kauai

“Incredible setting!” says Ingber of this Hawaiian island. “Not only were we in a gorgeous, Bali-style house but the boat ride up the Na Pali Coast is dreamy. Waterfalls and beautiful hikes. So much wild nature here. One of the most bountiful and beautiful places I have been to and taught in.” 960 1280

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One & Only Palmilla, Mexico

One & Only Palmilla, Mexico

Ingber gives this Los Cabos resort overlooking the Sea of Cortez high marks. “I have been here twice, and have had some lovely yoga sessions in this beautiful setting,” says Ingber. “Many of my clients love Mexico because it’s sandy and close -- and we love the sunny weather!” 960 1280

One&Only Resorts  

Tulum, Mexico

Tulum, Mexico

This ancient city, one of the last inhabited and built by the Mayans, appeals to Ingber for many reasons: “The ruins and the blue of the ocean. The open-night sky. This spot is a dream … we were at a private estate. Heaven.” 960 1280

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Sha Wellness Clinic

Sha Wellness Clinic

This medical and luxury spa, overlooking Spain’s Costa Blanca coastline, also makes Ingber’s shortlist. A big draw is the surrounding natural beauty; the resort is situated in the Sierra Helada Natural Park, home to protected areas of plants as well as vibrant marine wildlife such as bottlenose dolphins. 960 1280

Sha Wellness Clinic  

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence

This region in southern France is another personal favorite; Ingber stayed at a private estate in the country. “We had fresh eggs from the chickens on the property and practiced yoga daily,” she says. “A little sweaty in the summer, but with a farmers’ market and incredible architecture!” 960 1280

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Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat

Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat

This posh oceanfront hotel, built on a stretch of sand near the Costa Rican town of Santa Teresa, came recommended by a friend. “It’s on my wish list,” says Ingber. With 2-story villas built around a saltwater pool, a restaurant with organic fruits and veggies, and tropical gardens, we can see why. 960 1280

Pranamar Villas Yoga Retreat   

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas
Encore at Wynn Las Vegas

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas

Opened in December 2008, the 2,034-room Encore is all about pure opulence, including the gorgeous European Pool. The classically elegant pool surrounds a unique outdoor casino. 960 1280

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Mondrian Los Angeles

Mondrian Los Angeles

This ornately designed Sunset Strip hotel has an exclusive pool and poolside lounge, and more scene than even the Sunset Marquis. The Mondrian Los Angeles’ white walls and hanging potted plants gives this pool a beachy feel -- despite it being several stories above bustling Sunset Boulevard. 960 1280

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La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences

La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences

La Reunion Antigua Golf Resort is an outstanding luxury pick, located in the shadow of 4 volcanoes -- 2 of them active -- about 30 minutes from the colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala. Rooms have private patios with infinity-edge swimming pools, but the resort also has a main pool as well as a separate kiddy pool. These gorgeous volcanic views are hard to beat. 960 1280

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Gansevoort Turks and Caicos

Gansevoort Turks and Caicos

The Gansevoort Turks and Caicos is without a doubt the sexiest resort on Grace Bay, and a large part of its appeal is thanks to its stunning pool surrounded by palm trees. The pool features 4 hard-decked islands. 960 1280

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The Joule

The Joule

The Joule is one of the coolest -- and most luxurious -- hotels in Downtown Dallas. And it features one of the most talked about pools in the states. The Joule's cantilevered pool juts out over Main Street, so swimmers can get a glimpse of pedestrians below. 960 1280

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Biltmore Coral Gables

Biltmore Coral Gables

Built in 1926, the iconic Biltmore, a national landmark, brings timeless luxury to Miami’s hotel scene. Though far from any beaches, it offers -- among many other luxuries -- an amazing pool. This 22,000-square-foot pool is the largest in the continental U.S. Actor Johnny Weissmuller, better known as Tarzan, was a swimming instructor at the pool many years ago. 960 1280

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Gansevoort Park Avenue

Gansevoort Park Avenue

This 249-room hotel with flashy decor, lots of bars, and an outdoor pool is the uptown sister to the original, once wildly popular Hotel Gansevoort. The Gansevoort chain knows how to do their pools. One of only a handful of rooftop pools in New York, this is the only one that features a sexy pin-up mural. Plus, the pool has an underwater sound system and is a popular scene during the summertime. 960 1280

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Ventana Inn & Spa

Ventana Inn & Spa

Situated on more than 200 acres of picturesque land -- in Big Sur, CA -- , the Ventana Inn & Spa looks like a rustic cabin nestled in the woods -- yet it features a long list of on-site amenities, including 2 pools. This pool is in a secluded spot for a reason -- it's the resort's clothing-optional pool. So forget your bathing suit and enjoy a dip au naturel. 960 1280

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Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa

Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa

The beautifully designed, 780-room Grand Wailea has one of the top US spas, a prime location on one of the best US beaches, and 9 pools -- including arguably the best one in Hawaii. The massive main pool has several fun features, including volleyball nets, a waterslide, and a rope swing. Dive in! 960 1280

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Four Seasons Maui

Four Seasons Maui

An immaculate, art-filled property fronting Wailea beach, the Four Seasons Miami stands at the pinnacle of the area's resorts, offering spacious rooms, a top-notch staff and a slew of amenities, including three high-design pools. The poolside cabana staff refills guests' free glasses of ice water, and employees patrol the lounge chairs with cold towels and spray-bottles of Evian to spritz guests' faces. 960 1280

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Royal Corin Resort

Royal Corin Resort

For Costa Rica’s Royal Corin Resort & Loto Spa, this 54-room boutique hotel has a lot to offer, including great views of Arenal volcano, a lovely spa, a bar with an outdoor terrace, an on-site restaurant and a beautiful pool. This hot springs pool features natural thermal waters that help guests relax and take in the scenery. 960 1280

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The Raleigh Hotel

The Raleigh Hotel

Some things at the Raleigh Hotel are vintage-bordering-on-dated, but not the stunning free-form pool. This pool became a Miami landmark when former swimmer and movie star Esther Williams leapt from its waterfall diving board in a sequined bathing cap. 960 1280

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12 Amazing Pools  12 Photos

Photos

Grab a Burrito Nightcap

Grab a Burrito Nightcap

El Farolito is the unofficial post-bar nightcap in the Mission District. This burrito joint is popular local hangout on Saturday through Wednesday until 2:30 a.m., and on Thursdays and Fridays until 3:30 a.m. 960 1280
Go Bowling

Go Bowling

Knock down some early-morning pins at Presidio Bowling Center, which is open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, or try Lucky Strike, which closes at 1 a.m. on Thursdays and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Both bowling alleys serve alcohol, but Presidio Bowling Center serves beer and wine; whereas Lucky Strike is the place to go for an after midnight cocktail. 960 1280
Witness the City’s Midnight Glow

Witness the City’s Midnight Glow

Drive up to the top of Twin Peaks and park to see San Francisco’s bold skyline light up the sky, including, including the Bay Lights art installation on the Bay Bridge. 960 1280
Play Miniture Golf

Play Miniture Golf

Mini golf offers a different kind of late-night clubbing. Open on Fridays and Saturdays until 1 a.m., Urban Putt combines beer, wine and gourmet bar bites with a high-tech, 14-hole course for the ultimate mini-golf experiencing. 960 1280

Kristen Loken  

Keep the Party Going

Keep the Party Going

Head to Mighty or Public Works to dance until 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. (respectively) on Fridays and Saturdays. In San Francisco, these are 2 of the most popular spots to hear the best live acts and DJs, spinning hip-hop and electronic music.   960 1280
Eat Tasty Korean Food

Eat Tasty Korean Food

Korean “grill-it-yourself” havens are open longer than most restaurants in town. Every day, patrons at Korean Village Wooden Charcoal Barbecue House can get a meaty protein fix until 3 a.m. Cocobang is another option that serves hungry night owls on Sundays through Wednesday until 2 a.m. and on Thursdays and Fridays until 4 a.m. 960 1280

Missy Buchanan  

Catch a Midnight Flick

Catch a Midnight Flick

Consult the Clay Theatre’s calendar to find out what the movie theme is for Midnight Madness on Saturdays. The theme changes each week. 960 1280
Order Pizza at the Window

Order Pizza at the Window

After the bars close on Friday and Saturday in North Beach, the action migrates to the Golden Boy Pizza window, which serves up enticingly thick square slices until 2:30 a.m. For some, it’s the perfect place to stop after a long night of drinking beer, wine or cocktails.   960 1280
Devour Fresh Donuts

Devour Fresh Donuts

Prepare for the lines at the 24-hour Bob’s Donuts after midnight on weekends. It’s well worth the wait to sample these tasty fried treats, including the raised sugar donut, French cruller, cinnamon roll and apple pandowdy. 960 1280
Laugh Until You Cry

Laugh Until You Cry

Tickle your funny bone! Stay up and laugh into the wee hours of the morning at PianoFight, where locals and out-of-towners can enjoy Night Moves, San Francisco’s only weekly midnight comedy show. The laughs begin on Saturday at 1:30 a.m. 960 1280

Pianofight  

Unwrap a Burrito

Unwrap a Burrito

Locals are addicted to bulging burritos stuffed with endless ingredients. Splurge on Papalote’s massive Triple Threat burrito, which packs in nearly two pounds of shrimp, chicken and steak  — a perfect share for a pair of ambitious eaters. Smaller appetites can check out the one exceptional exception to the rice inside the burrito standard at La Taqueria 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Graze at a Farmers Market

Graze at a Farmers Market

San Francisco is full of farmers markets big and small where locals go to sample and score a wide variety of produce  -- for the kitchen or even a quick bite. The most bountiful of the year-round weekly affairs takes place at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays, but don’t overlook the smaller neighborhood farmer’s markets like the Castro Farmers’ Market 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Patronize Old-School Taco Trucks

Patronize Old-School Taco Trucks

Stalwart Mexican taco trucks like El Gallo Giro and Tacos San Buena pre-dated the current proliferation of trucks that serve every type of food imaginable. At $2 or less apiece, they also offer one of the last remaining bastions of extreme food value in the area. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Try New School Food Trucks

Try New School Food Trucks

If you can dream up a meal, it’s probably available on wheels. Off The Grid offers a vast number of weekly truck gatherings with an ever-growing array of international vendors, while converted parking lots like SoMa StrEat Food Park and G Food Truck Lounge provide permanent places for trucks to rotate through. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Seek Ice Cream in All Weather Conditions

Seek Ice Cream in All Weather Conditions

San Franciscans are not fair-weather friends to ice cream; we devour both classic and experimental flavors with passion no matter the temperature. A tin roof sundae at Humphry Slocombe or an avocado milkshake at Mitchell’s Ice Cream warms our hearts all year long.  960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday

Let’s face it: San Francisco is a food town and Sunday brunch is not a spectator sport. Expect crowds and long lines. We’ve found that Bluestem Brasserie and Foreign Cinema are solid go-tos. They accept reservations and are generally accommodating to larger groups.  960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Top Ramen

Top Ramen

San Francisco’s obscure Japanese noodle soup shops were once the speakeasies of the food world, but now one can’t sling a lucky cat without hitting one. Try homeland exports like Men Oh Tokushima Ramen and Yamadaya (which has locations all over California) for a true taste of different styles. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Two for Me

Two for Me

Afternoon tea isn’t just for old ladies anymore. Fancy it up on a Saturday at the Fairmont or take the guys along on a Sunday picnic on the patio for a hearty tea at Charles Chocolates. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Be Animal Free

Be Animal Free

Vegan restaurants remind us that food can be made without cruelty and still satisfy. Most popular are Asian spots like Golden Era and Cha-Ya, which have achieved cult-like status without using animal products. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Go Off Menu

Go Off Menu

If you grill it, they will come. Secret items are a fun way to keep locals feeling connected to a restaurant. Some, like the off-menu burger served on Tuesdays at Rosamunde Sausage Grill’s Haight Street location, keep insiders wanting more.  960 1280
Dip in a Hot Pot

Dip in a Hot Pot

The best all-you-can-eat action around can be found at the rapidly rising number of hot pot purveyors. Japanese places like Nabe and Shabuway present polite sets of vegetables and thinly sliced raw meat to swish-cook in hot broth, while Chinese spots like i-Pot and Dragon Beaux add dumplings into the mix. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Get Toasted

Get Toasted

The once humble slice of toast has been elevated to a meal requiring a knife and fork at joints like The Mill and Outerlands, where breads are baked on site and then covered in decadent smears or served as the base for open faced sandwiches. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Try a Pop-Up Meal

Try a Pop-Up Meal

A pop-up meal in a temporary location is a wonderful way for a chef to experiment with new ideas. Visit the Michael Mina Test Kitchen for the latest beta project from the popular restaurateur or consult the Feastly calendar and sample meals made by master chefs or tender novices.  960 1280

Kevin McCullough  

Room Service

Room Service

Gone are the days of waiting forever for lousy pizza. Services like Caviar, Seamless and Postmates deliver serious gourmet meals from anywhere in San Francisco to your mouth, typically within the hour.  960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Egg Topper

Egg Topper

Whether it’s a burger or a bowl of ramen, just about everything is better with an egg. Deviled eggs, a star on bar menus across town, might be at their most heavenly when topped with bacon and fried oysters at Hog & Rocks. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Dim Sum on the Fly

Dim Sum on the Fly

Locals love to nibble on the various bite-sized Chinese dumplings, noodle rolls and buns that make up the dim sum category. Delight in the delicious danger of impulse ordering off a roaming cart at City View or from a checklist at Dim Sum Club 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Experience an Exotic Plate

Experience an Exotic Plate

A local in San Francisco has a palate for global cuisine. Travel to exotic destinations without leaving the city limits. Try Laotian and Thai food at Champa Garden; sample Iranian delights at Anar; or sail away to Sri Lanka via 1601 Bar & Kitchen. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Worth the Wait

Worth the Wait

Waiting in line is a necessary evil at Tartine Bakery, where the queue starts forming daily around 4:30 p.m. to catch a baguette or specialty loaf hot and fresh out of the oven.  960 1280
Roll Play With Sushi

Roll Play With Sushi

Just about everyone in San Francisco eats sushi and its prices vary just as the clientele. Visit Ichi Sushi for a high-end experience at still-affordable prices or break the bank at Kusakabe, where a blowtorch provides endless visual entertainment to accompany the fresh fish. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

I Scream

I Scream

Sunny skies and happy lives breed a love for sweet treats in San Francisco. The granddaddy of all desserts here is the It’s-It, a chocolate covered ice cream sandwich that has been made since 1928. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

A prisoner can't wait to get to the other side of the bars. 960 1280

  

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

A shot of Alcatraz from the water. 960 1280

  

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Two prisoners plot their escape in the lunchroom. 960 1280

  

Lee Ehrlich, a paranormal diver

Lee Ehrlich, a paranormal diver

Lee Ehrlich, a paranormal diver, discusses his plans for the sea serpent investigation that he will conduct underwater. 960 1280

  

Investigator Jackie Ganiy

Investigator Jackie Ganiy

Investigator Jackie Ganiy searches the docks of Alcatraz. 960 1280

  

Bob and Bill Clark

Bob and Bill Clark

Brothers Bob and Bill Clark search the waters for the sea serpent. 960 1280

  

Paranormal investigator Jeff Dwyer

Paranormal investigator Jeff Dwyer

Paranormal investigator Jeff Dwyer prepares for his search with the help of Terry Brown. 960 1280

  

Louis Powell and Lee Ehrlich

Louis Powell and Lee Ehrlich

Louis Powell and Lee Ehrlich view sea serpent footage with witnesses Bill and Bob Clark. 960 1280

  

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

An interior view of Alcatraz. 960 1280

  

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

One of the many creepy hallways of Alcatraz. 960 1280

  

Actor Kenneth Feragen

Actor Kenneth Feragen

Actor Kenneth Feragen holds the kind of rope that so many prisoners used in their suicides. 960 1280

  

Sutro Forest

Sutro Forest

Crew members Terry Brown, Matt Parkinson, Brandon Todesca and John Whelchel run -- dressed as escaped prisoners -- through the Sutro Forest. 960 1280

  

Sutro Forest

Sutro Forest

Rex Bell, a witness of the ghosts of the Sutro Forest in San Francisco. 960 1280

  

Jennifer Brown recounts her experience

Jennifer Brown recounts her experience

Jennifer Brown recounts her experience with the ghosts at the docks of Alcatraz. 960 1280

  

The dive team

The dive team

The dive team works on their equipment for the sea serpent search. 960 1280

  

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