San Francisco Locals Share the 6 Best Things to Do

IMG_1330

San Francisco Locals love to tell tourists what their their favorite things to do are.

By Marybeth Bond/GutsyTraveler

The tourist season, when we have lots of out-of-town visitors is almost here and we’re gearing up for it.

 Here are our suggestions of where to go beyond “must see” tourist places: Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Ghirardelli, and The Golden Gate Bridge.

  1. Free Wildlife Viewing.

PIER 39  Watch mammoth sea lions cavort in the water, jump onto the docks and push each other off. They bark, growl and grunt to mark their territory and attract females. Pier 39 is a favorite haul out site, as well as one of the most popular spots in the city for shops and waterfront restaurants. The boisterous seals began camping out on the marina docks after the 1989 earthquake and have made it home ever since. Several years ago 1,701 were counted on a Thanksgiving weekend.   They are not visible from the street. Walk to the end of the pier on the left side of the shops to the K Dock and enjoy the free show. It’s always a hit for visiting families and friends. http://www.pier39.com  CLICK on the photo below to watch a sea lion scratch his neck and listen to them bark.

2. Spend an Afternoon in the Park   Where do locals go to jog, picnic, walk dogs, find culture, join a swing dance, hike or meditate? Golden Gate Park, with over 1,000 acres of gardens, picnic areas, lakes, museums and a carousel have something for everyone. Entrance to the park is free. My favorites free activity is to hike around Stow Lake, a man-made lake in the center of the park. Or rent a paddleboat and find the waterfall and Oriental gazebo along your way around the lake. There is an entrance fee, but well worth it, to visit the de Young Museum, the Academy of Science (with the aquarium), and the Conservatory of Flowers or to ride the carousel. www.goldengatepark.com

IMG_1145

Paddle boats are for rent on Stowe Lake in the middle of Golden Gate Park.

2. Free Swing Dancing in the Park  You’ll hear the music before you see the dancers. Jazz and The Charleston attract lively locals to dance in the streets, closed off to traffic every Sunday, on John F Kennedy Drive between 8th and 10th Avenue. No one is shy. You’ll see dancers of all ages and levels just having fun. Beginners lessons are free at 12:30pm every Sunday, weather permitting. www.goldengatepark.com/lindy-in-the-park.html

IMG_11194. Discover Magical Mosaic Steps    Animal, bird and fish mosaics take everyone by surprise in a residential neighborhood. Inspired by the world famous steps in Rio de Janeiro, an Irish artist and over 300 community volunteers worked for over two and half years to install the handmade tiles. The designs, made of ceramic tiles, pieces of mirror and glass decorate 163 panels on each step. The stairway is located in Golden Gate Heights at 16th Street and Moraga. Be sure to walk both sets of stairs and take a break for spectacular city and ocean views from Grand View Park at the top. If this wasn’t enough of a work-out and you want more views, hike the Lyon Street steps in Presidio Heights, an area packed with multi-billion-dollar homes of the rich and famous. There’s usually parking available at both the top and bottom.

5. Nibble your way through the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market

The variety of  goods will wow even the most spoiled connoisseur.

Shop for veggies, fruit, mushrooms, seafood, whatever and then leave your heavy shopping bags with the “Veggie Valet” and they’ll hold them for you while you continue perusing the market. The service is free and available on Saturdays during the operating hours of the Farmers market. It’s located at the front of the building.

Inside the Ferry Building we take visitors to slurp down Hog Island oysters, raw or grilled. We sample cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, taste fresh-baked bread from bread from Della Fattoria or Acme Bakery, gobble down charcuterie at Boccalone, enjoy almond bars or chocolate brownies from Downtown Bakery, and pork tamales from Pimavera.

Located at One Ferry Building, along the waterfront. And yes, there are lots of ATM machines. www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com

6. Musical Romps. Beach Blanket Babylon

Undoubtedly, some of the world’s largest hats are found at “Beach Blanket Babylon’s” legendary outlandish musical extravaganza. The long-running North Beach revue that combines topical humor, madcap sketches and enormous headpieces plays up commercial excesses with a wink and a nod (as well as some tap-dancing). Make reservations well in advance for weekend performances.   http://www.beachblanketbabylon.com

Check out the super informative San Francisco Visitors site too.

More from Gutsy Traveler:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: California, Cultural Exploration, Deals & Discounts, Family, Girlfriend Getaways, Recommended Travel Companies, San Francisco, Travel

About the Author ()

Marybeth Bond, National Geographic author, writer. Twelve books, explored overed 100 countries on 7 continents. Featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to National Geographic, Yahoo Travel, Travelgirl Magazine, CNN, CNN Airport Network. Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked 3,200 miles, two months across the USA, traveler to over 100 countries. Media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. I love Ferry Building Farmer’s Market so much. There are interesting restaurants and some shops to see. Great place to eat!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Menu