As a wildly popular tourist hotspot, San Francisco’s major highlights and attractions are largely well known.
Though trips to check out the city’s icons – like the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf – are all but mandatory, skipping the selfie-snapping crowds in favour of the city’s lesser-known, hidden gems can really enhance your San Francisco adventures.
1. Lands End Labyrinth
Perched atop a rocky outcrop, off the beautiful Coastal Trail within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is the Lands End Labyrinth.
Offering visitors not only an opportunity for introspection and meditation, the labyrinth also provides unrivalled and spectacular views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. Be sure to bring your camera along.
2. Wave Organ
One of the city’s best-kept secrets is the wave organ: an acoustic sculpture that utilises the constant ebbing and flowing of the ocean tides to create hauntingly beautiful sounds.
Situated on a jetty near the St Francis Yacht Club, this is a perfect place to sit back and enjoy not only the varied sounds produced by the unusual instrument, but also the panoramic vistas of the surrounding bay and famous hills.
3. Farallon Islands
If you travel about 30 miles off the coast you’ll find the Farallon Islands, a cluster of craggy islands that lie well off the proverbial beaten track.
As a marine sanctuary that is home to abundant wildlife, a tour around the islands is a must for those wanting to catch a glimpse of the area’s magnificent fauna, including a number of species of marine birds, seals, whales and even the infamous great white shark.
There are several tour operators that take trips to the Farallon Islands, including San Francisco Whale Tours, who offer a full-day Farallon Island whale watching excursion from US$99.
4. Cayuga Park
Cayuga Park is a magical playground tucked away just off Naglee and Cayuga Avenues, filled with whimsical sculptures, themed gardens and totem poles.
A formerly grimy neighbourhood park, Filipino immigrant Demetrio Braceros uplifted the area over the course of more than two decades.