Sure, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, visit Alcatraz, or ride a genuine trolly, but there’s more to San Francisco than the popular sights that draw millions of tourists each year. There are many strange and wonderful places that don’t get as much attention but are worth checking out. Step off the beaten path and explore San Francisco’s lesser-known places for a nice change of pace and some fascinating discoveries.
Musee Mecanique, The Mechanical Museum of San Francisco
You’ll be giddy with excitement as you stroll through this museum and reminisce about your childhood days. Here you’ll walk among one of the world’s largest private collections of musical instruments and antique arcade machines. The collection features turn-of-the-century hand-cranked music boxes and modern video arcade games that kept kids busy in a time before the internet and home video games. Bring the kids and watch their expressions as they see how mom and dad once played. You’ll find the museum on Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 45.
Safeway on 16th Street
Going shopping at Safeway wouldn’t normally be considered anything out of the ordinary, but this Safeway store has more than groceries in its aisles. There have been many reports of apparitions of baseball players wandering the aisles and at least one account of a young boy sitting in the empty hallway leading to the storage room. The store was built on the site of Seals Stadium, a minor league stadium that was demolished in 1959.
Located in the Mission District, Balmy Alley is known for having the largest concentration of murals in San Francisco. Several Latin American artists have contributed to the murals since the mid 80’s to protest human rights and political offenses in Central America. Today, new murals are put up to address more recent issues of human rights abuses including the failures in bringing help to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Brain Wash Cafe and Laundry
If you’ve ever had to lug your laundry to a laundromat, you know it can be a long and boring waste of a perfectly good day. This is an experience not to miss if you just have to do some laundry while in San Francisco. Throw your clothes into the washers and sit down at the cafe for a great burger or sandwich and enjoy the quaint atmosphere. As you’re switching your clothes to the dryers you can enjoy open-mic night with entertainment that will keep you from slipping into a coma. You can also take advantage of other laundry services like professional laundry and dry cleaning and a wash and fold service. Doing your laundry will suddenly seem less like drudgery and something to look forward to.
Lyon Street Steps
Put on your comfortable shoes and be sure to stretch before you hit the Lyon Street Steps of San Francisco. Cue the Rocky theme music and you’re ready to ascend three sets of steps that seem at first to be a cinch. Once you hit the top of the first set you’ll probably have to re-evaluate your initial assessment of the situation. Though the next two sets will likely be a little slower going, the prize at the top is well worth the effort. The view is spectacular. Start at Broadway or Green Street and prepare for a workout followed by amazing views of the marina, Alcatraz, and the Palace of Fine Arts.
Have fun while in San Francisco by seeking out the lesser-known gems that make this one of the greatest cities in the US. You’ll have the best experience and lots of great stories to tell.