5 Essential Places in San Francisco You Must Visit


Last updated on September 12th, 2016

As one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, San Francisco gets a lot of visitors every year. There are the usual attractions that everyone tends to see in this city: the zoo, the Full House park, and of course the world’s curviest street. There’s nothing wrong with taking in these sights! If you really want to get the traveleering perspective of this fantastic city, however, we have some travel tips for you.

5 Essential Places in San Francisco You Must Visit:

#1. Feast at Fisherman’s Grotto

5 Essential Places in San Francisco You Must Visit

Founded in 1935 as a corner stand, Fisherman’s Grotto is the first sit-down restaurant that was opened on the wharf. It’s founder was a Sicilian fisherman himself and the whole goal of opening this restaurant was to bring fresh seafood, the “catch of the day” if you will, to the city. His name was Mike Geraldi and he had a saying about the restaurant business that still rings true today.

Good service, supercilious quality foods, spotless cleanliness, and a sincere appreciation of customers patronage are the golden formula for success.

Today you’ll get a fantastic meal with a fantastic view. The Golden Gate Bridge sits in the foreground and you’ve got a peek-a-book look at Alcatraz. Make reservations online if you’re planning on going – you’ll need them! Make sure to try the crab-stuffed avocado and don’t forget about the catch of the day!


#2. The Sea Lions


Over on Pier 39, make sure you stop to see the world famous sea lions that have called this area home for years. You can even see them right now with their dedicated webcam! After the earthquake hit the city in 1989, famously interrupting the World Series, a few sea lion “holdouts,” as they’re called, decided that they didn’t want to leave the area. The next year, dozens of sea lions began to migrate to the Pier 39 area and they’ve called it home ever since!

If you head over to Pier 39 between 11-4, there’s a naturalist on duty who will answer literally any question as long as it is sea lion related. I asked about the likelihood of a sea lion hitting a home run for the Giants in town and the naturalist looked at me, quirked an eyebrow, and said, “Assuming you could get one to hold onto a baseball bat, I’d say you’d be more likely to see a sea lion bludgeon its dinner with the bat for easier eating than play baseball with it.”

Well played. There’s an entire center dedicated to the sea lions. You can touch a pelt, find out why they love San Francisco Bay so much, and even discuss migration patterns if you wish.


#3. Starfleet Headquarters


Ok Star Trek folks. J.J. Abrams might have moved part of Starfleet’s headquarters over to London for Star Trek Into Darkness, but any Trekkie knows that the heart of Starfleet Command and even Starfleet Academy is in San Francisco. It is, in fact, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area that you’re going to be visiting. It’s got 80,000 acres of protected space and is one of the largest urban parks in the entire world.

The park stretches out along the coasts both north and south of the Golden Gate Bridge, giving you plenty of opportunities to explore. Camping is allowed in certain portions of the park as well. Much of it was initially utilized by the US Army, so there are several historically significant sites within the park to explore as well. Make sure you bring along your authentic Star Trek uniform too!


#4. The Audium


What’s the point of going to an art complex if you can’t see the art? At The Audium, you don’t see the art because you’re actually listening to the art itself. It is the only theater in the world that “sculpts” space with sound, positioning over 170 different speakers around an auditorium that seats just 49 people. The first Audium concerts were held in 1960, and although the concept is over 50 years old, it is still going strong today.

The performances today are interactive and happen just twice per week: Friday and Saturday at 8:30pm. Tickets are $20 and only a small percentage are available in advance from the city box office.


#5. Loved to Death

Loved to Death

To be fair, you can get quite a few unusual items throughout the city. Most unusual, however, is the store Loved to Death. After all, who doesn’t want to wear jewelry that’s made from the eye of a raccoon? Or earrings that were made from the wings of a swallowtail butterfly? If that’s not your style, you could spring for the necklace that was made from a seahorse that was dipped in 24k gold.

There are also taxidermy dioramas on display, set to specific scenes like a 3D painting. If you don’t want a full-sized piece of taxidermy art on your wall, there’s always the weevil beetle riding a bicycle! My personal favorite here, however, are the shrunken heads. You can’t leave San Francisco without a shrunken head!

What do you like to do when you visit San Francisco? Do you have any unusual stories to tell? Have you visited these places in San Francisco before? Share your stories below!

1 Comment

  1. Deborah Hodgson on

    Tour operators and travel writers always forget San Francisco’s Victorians, yet they are one of the most famous sights of San Francisco that are a favorite for locals. They deserve to get World Heritage listing. I wrote a book about the coded Victorians of Haight Ashbury with a real Holy Grail in America twist.

    Deborah Hodgson
    Investigative Writer and Art Historian

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