San Francisco may be small, but it’d take a lifetime to uncover all of its incredible places and hidden gems. In fact, one may be just around the corner—you just have to be a little adventurous to find it. Even San Francisco’s most touristy spots should not be ignored—there’s always something new to discover when you’re an explorer at heart.
1. Golden Gate Park
Exploring San Francisco's largest park could take days. This gorgeous strip of land takes up much of the city's western side and is actually 20% larger than New York's Central Park! There are so many things to explore here, from the De Young Museum to the Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Garden to the Conservatory of Flowers. There's also the Dutch windmills, Stow Lake, and even some roaming bison.
A look around at the abandoned ruins of what was once a luxurious facility holding the world's largest indoor swimming pool is a truly unique San Francisco experience. Located on the edge of the Pacific at Lands End, Sutro Baths offers the urban explorer everything they could possibly want: dramatic sea views, perilous ledges, and a haunted cliffside tunnel.
3. The Ferry Building
This bayside wonder is for the insatiably hungry explorer looking for every type of Bay Area culinary delight you could dream of, including chocolate, cheese, ice cream, vegan donuts, "tasty salted pig parts," wild mushrooms, olive oil, bread, and so much more. Come starved. Leave completely satisfied.
These 15 Spectacular Stairways
The unquestionably best way to explore San Francisco is via foot, and a real urban explorer will want to seek out and climb each one of these steep wonders, many of which are beautiful pieces of art and architecture in their own right.
5. Mission District Murals
A good walk around the Mission is an absolute must for any explorer looking for good food and fine drinks, dive bars and hipster havens, vintage shops and cutesy boutiques, symbols of the new San Francisco and signs of the old never letting go. A walk through Clarion Alley and Balmy Street are an absolute must, too, for some of the city's most intricate, gorgeous, and provocative murals and street art.
6. The Labyrinths
There are actually more than a few labyrinths that can be spotted around San Francisco, including two at Grace Cathedral, one in John McLaren Park, and,
this scenic one
along the coast.
7. The Presidio
There are so many nooks and crannies to discover throughout the scenic and historic Presidio. Catch breathtaking views of the Pacific, the bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge; take a stroll down Lovers' Lane; sunbathe on the beach; pass by military landmarks and the San Francisco National Cemetery; and hunt for interesting sculptures like this Spire constructed from the trunks of cypress trees.
These 10 Incredible Trails
San Francisco has nearly 30 miles of trails (pretty impressive for it's small size!), which means there are plenty of epic hills to climb and fertile forests, lush parks, and sandy beaches to trek through. You'll find plenty of natural treasures, quirky manmade gems, and unparalleled views along the way.
Once America's most isolated and secure prison, Alcatraz is now overrun by tourists ferrying over from Pier 39. But don't let that stop the explorer side in you: There are so many places to wander (and even nature to enjoy!) on The Rock, outside the well-beaten tour-guide paths. Just be careful: It's haunted!
You'll need to hop on another ferry for this one, but it's definitely worth it. Angel Island is dotted with abandoned buildings and historical sites from when it was a U.S. Army post and an immigration station. But it's also filled with natural beauty: hiking trails line the island and grant pretty spectacular views.