PHOTO: Golden Gate Bridge. (photo via Flickr/Luke Price)
San Francisco is a stunning city with breathtaking landmarks, cool year-round weather and plenty of historical sites. However, it’s also littered with tourist traps that make visitors forget there’s more to this city than eating mediocre seafood dishes at Fisherman’s Wharf and overindulging on chocolate at Ghirardelli Square.
Look past San Francisco’s tourist stomping grounds, and you might just find yourself in pretty cool locales that present new and memorable experiences. Give the offbeat trail a chance, and you’ll see a side of San Francisco that only mostly locals see.
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Mezcal Cocktails with a View at Cityscape
Cocktails infused with the delicious smoky flavor of mezcal are the latest trend in the world of mixology. (i.e It's what the cool kids are drinking these days.)
While in San Francisco, head to the newly opened Cityscape Bar & Lounge in Union Square. Set on Hilton San Francisco Union Square’s 46th floor, this beautiful space offers some of the city's best views as well as delicious cocktails and small plates.
Sunset and nighttime panoramas are best enjoyed at one of the seats facing the floor-to-ceiling windows with a Pineapple Express—a concoction of Fidencio Clasico Mezcal, pineapple and lime allspice dram—in your hand. Don't forget to add a cheese and charcuterie board to the table.
Sunrise Watch at Battery Spencer
Everybody’s flocking to Vista Point, fighting over spots just to see and take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. To avoid the crowds, take the less traveled road to Battery Spencer.
It’s still popular, yes, but more with locals and photographers. It’s also home to the ruins of an old battery that helped protect the city during the early 1900s. More importantly, it has a higher vantage point and a better panorama of the bridge and the bay.
Get up early, bundle up (as it can get very cold and windy), and head there a few minutes before sunrise. It is a perfect place for a stunning view of the early morning sun rising behind the city.
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Brunch at Treasure Island
While it’s only a few minutes away from San Francisco’s most popular attractions—and everybody passes by it each time they take the Bay Bridge heading inland—not many visitors actually make their way to Treasure Island.
Granted, there’s not a lot to do there, but it’s got some perks: decent jogging spots, nice views of the city and good spots to catch electric-type Pokemon (if you’re into that) to name a few.
There’s also a cute little brunch spot that makes good lattes and incredible dishes. Aracely Café is one of San Francisco’s best restaurants for a leisurely brunch and a good place to do something local.
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Indulge Your Curiosity at Exploratorium
The first thing that strikes you about the Exploratorium at Pier 15: How massive it is on the inside. It’s essentially a warehouse full of interactive exhibits, inventions and curiosities—many created in-house.
Here’s a place where you get to creatively learn about how machines, nature and science work, without getting overwhelmed by the technicalities. You can easily spend many hours here, getting lost among the several hundred hands-on exhibits and rediscovering things you may have learned (and/or forgot) at school.
Explore Deep Space at Morrison Planetarium
San Francisco’s California Academy of Science is so big and diverse in offerings that it might just be a destination in its own right. It is, after all, three things under one roof—an aquarium, a natural history museum, and a planetarium.
For a cool and immersive experience, secure free tickets for Incoming!, and take an amazing trip into deep space. You won’t only visit planets and see comets and meteors, you’ll also learn about NASA’s latest discoveries.
Isn’t that a better way to spend 30 minutes of your time than window-shopping at souvenir traps at Fisherman’s Wharf?