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.
By: Tamara Palmer

Photo By: Justin Ormont/Wikimedia Commons

Photo By: Wikimedia Commons

Photo By: Oren Rozen/Wikimedia Commons

Photo By: Daniel Ramirez/Wikimedia Commons

Photo By: Mia5793/Wikimedia Commons

Search For Wild Parrots

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is both a book and a movie set in San Francisco, but you don’t actually have to go all the way to Telegraph Hill to spot these beautiful birds. Head over to Sue Bierman Park near the Embarcadero in the evenings to find a flock.

Attend the Church of John Coltrane

The late great jazz player inspired the long-running Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church in San Francisco. All are welcome to attend the musical mass on Sundays at noon. Attendees are encouraged to bring an instrument.

See the City from Grand View Park

This adventure will require a leg-testing hike to the top of the diminutive Grand View Park, which is nicknamed “Turtle Hill.” Spectacular views of the ocean and the bay are the real reward from this amazing vantage point.

Listen to the Wave Organ

This wave-activated, acoustic sculpture has been located on a jetty in the bay for nearly 30 years. Bundle up and go to the Marina Green to hear what liquid music sounds like when played on the Wave Organ.

Take a Stroll Down Balmy Alley

The block-long Balmy Alley in the Mission District is home to the colorful and ever-changing Precita Eyes murals. Here you’ll find expressions of love, life and strife; and some touch on hard-hitting issues such as local gentrification.

Stretch Out With Grace

The most unusual place in town to do yoga is at the world-famous Grace Cathedral. Drop in on Tuesday nights for a gentle practice session for a suggested $10-20 donation.

Paddle or Row on Stow Lake

Visiting Golden Gate Park is a must, but not everyone knows they can float there. Rent a little electric boat, pedal boat or rowboat from the Stow Lake Boathouse in Golden Gate Park for a relaxing afternoon.  

Go for a Slide in Seward Mini Park

A tiny park in Eureka Valley – located near the Castro – has slides for people of all ages. Plan ahead and were thick pants and bring cardboard for a smoother ride in Seward Mini Park.

Enjoy an Afternoon KitTea

Cat cafes – that find homes for animals – are a new and thriving trend in the Bay Area. Call to reserve time at KitTea (or walk in and pay more) to have a cup of tea and a snack while hanging out and playing with felines that need a home.

Explore the City With a Clipper Card

Pre-order a Clipper Card online before visiting the Golden Gate City. The card functions as a debit card that works on all public transportation options in San Francisco and most of the Bay Area.

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