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41 places in San Francisco to take your out-of-town relatives

It's your town—show them more than Alcatraz or Fisherman's Wharf

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Thanksgiving is here. For many this means distant relatives, old friends, and new in-laws will drop by for a visit.

Naturally, you'll want to show them around town, and while most people show up in San Francisco with a checklist of things they want to see (sometimes one they've been working on all their lives), it's fun to steer them a bit off the beaten path—maybe even to a few places you haven't visited much yourself.

Here's a few of the city's lesser known but utterly worthwhile milestones to spark your imagination.

And don’t forget to check out what to do in the city with kids, things to see in Golden Gate Park, and the best design and furniture stores in San Francisco.

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1. Fort Point

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Long Ave & Marine Dr
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 556-1693
Visit Website

Everybody wants to see the Golden Gate Bridge. And who can blame them?

But comparably few people think to go downstairs to Fort Point, the army redoubt beneath its southern struts, an architectural gem in its own rights and an affordable alternative to Alcatraz.

A post shared by Fort Point (@fortpoint) on

2. Musée Mécanique

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45 Sausalito - San Francisco Pier 41
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 346-2000
Visit Website

Similarly, a lot of people come into town and want to see Fisherman's Wharf, but aren't even aware of the greatest waterfront attraction of all, just up Taylor Street from the wax museum. Here, a pocketful of quarters will take you into the hallowed halls of latter-day carnival kitsch.

3. The Wave Organ

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83 Marina Green Dr
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 528-4444
Visit Website

An artifact of the Exploratorium (and as such just around the corner from the Palace of Fine Arts), the Wave Organ not only makes beautiful (if deeply weird) music out of the motion of the ocean, but the oddball artificial peninsula near the Yacht Club provides one of the most intriguing panorama views of the city.

A post shared by lauri ラオリ (@raorissimo) on

4. Pet Cemetery

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667 McDowell Ave
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 561-4323
Visit Website

The nearby National Cemetery is peaceful and patriotic, but out of towners strolling in the Presidio are more likely to remember stumbling on the nearby pet cemetery. The practice of interring pets in the Presidio started with the families of officers stationed at the Army base, which makes the pet cemetery the best kind of landmark: the accidental kind, born out of everyday living instead of a conscious notion.

5. Golden Boy Pizza

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542 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 982-9738
Visit Website

For the life of us we don't know why Golden Boy's clam and garlic slice hasn't become famous the world over as a signature San Francisco dish. It's an authentic local treat for a handful of dollars and ideally situated in walking distance to other North Beach hot spots.

6. Yoda Fountain

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1 Letterman Dr
San Francisco, CA 94129

Size matters not, because although the Yoda Fountain is one of the smallest and most easy to miss Presidio icons, it’s the one visitors are most likely to remember and take endless selfies with.

7. Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

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56 Ross Aly
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 806-8243
Visit Website

So many visitors to Chinatown manage to overlook the Fortune Cookie Factory in Ross Alley. Again, why this isn't the very first place every tourist goes will forever be a mystery to us, but maybe sending bags of delicious, hand-folded San Francisco tradition home with your visiting relatives will up its credibility.

8. Sansome roof garden

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343 Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94104

Continuing the theme of local gems even locals usually miss, there are a ton of Privately Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS) with sparkling views of the downtown skyline. Of all of them, the Sansome rooftop garden is the most accommodating rooftop in the neighborhood, at least until the nearby Salesforce Transit Center park opens. Ideal for weekdays.

9. Andy Goldsworthy's Wood Line

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Presidio Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 561-4323
Visit Website

It took artist Andy Goldsworthy a year (beginning in 2010) to create this surreal, winsome, beautiful installation in the Presidio. Goldsworthy salvaged the 1,200 feet of eucalyptus used from the Presidio itself.

10. Statue of Sun Yat-Sen

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651 California St
San Francisco, CA 94108

St Mary’s Square has plenty to see, including the somber and moving “Comfort Women” memorial statue that has roiled headlines and international relations in 2017.

Often overlooked is a nearby icon dedicated to Sun Yat-sen, the Chinese physcian revolutionary who helped overthrow the Qing Dynasty and attempted to found a democratic Chinese state. Italian-American artist Beniamino Bufano created the memorial image in the late ‘30s.

11. See Diego Rivera's "Allegory of California"

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10, 155 Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 362-2480
Visit Website

It's a myth that Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted the scenes in Coit Tower; those murals are an attempt to capture Rivera's style and working class politics, but they're not the real deal.

Instead, a genuine Rivera piece titled "Allegory of California" is on public display in the last likely of all places: the stairwell of the ultra exclusive City Club.

A post shared by Fredrik Papp (@fredrikpapp) on

12. Swan Oyster Depot

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1517 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-1101
Visit Website

Like Golden Boy, the oyster depot should be famous the world over as one of San Francisco's single most prestigious culinary credentials. As it stands, the little fish market bar slings Nob Hill grandeur at least as memorable as Grace Cathedral, albeit on a smaller scale.

A post shared by MiaZhou (@miazhou86) on

13. Pier 24 Photography

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24 Pier
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 512-7424
Visit Website

Immediately beneath the Bay Bridge you’ll find Pier 24 Photography, a quiet, classy, truly sophisticated photo gallery in an old cargo warehouse originally built to connect two other piers together. Now it affords a truly remarkable view of the bridge and a secluded spot to enjoy the exhibition imagery; the gallery is free to the public, but visitors do have to schedule their visit in advance.

14. Audium

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1616 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 771-1616
Visit Website

Audium doesn’t look like much, being just a hole in the wall theater near Japantown and the edge of the Tenderloin, but the point is how it sounds. The venue uses terms like “sound sculpture” and “sound labyrinth” to describe the show, but really the only way to a figure out what’s going on here is to check it out yourself.

15. Walk Lands End Labyrinth

Copy Link
Lands End Trail
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 426-5240
Visit Website

A true labor of love, maintained and occasionally rebuilt by artist Eduardo Aguilera for years. While there are plenty of spots to take in the grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge and accompanying Pacific, few will give your guests quite the same sense of tranquility as you get from wandering the stony paths at Eagle's Point.

16. Go Instagram wild at Museum of Ice Cream

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1 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108
(855) 258-0719
Visit Website

Extended once again, the Museum of Ice Cream is essentially a sugar-crazed toddler's coma fantasy rendered in three dimensions and positioned for maximum Instagram appeal. Still, guests are certainly not going to forget the visit anytime soon.

17. SF SPCA Window

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170 O'Farrell St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 397-3333
Visit Website

The winter holiday season brings the Stockton Street winter walk and the tree and skating rink in Union Square, which is all well and good.

But the true marker of seasonal good tidings are the adorable and adoptable kittens and puppies in the window at Macy’s around the block, which it’s nearly criminal not to sneak a peak at while you’re in town.

18. Mary Ellen Pleasant Park, SF’s smallest park

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1501 Octavia St
San Francisco, CA 94109

Drop a little local historical know-how on your guests at Mary Ellen Pleasant Park, San Francisco's smallest park. Of course, being so small, there's not much here to see, but now that you're here you're in walking distance of some of San Francisco's biggest and oldest Victorian homes. They might not make the postcards as often as the Painted Ladies, but they're well worth showing off.

A stone plaque on a sidewalk with some words that read Mary Ellen Pleasant Memorial Park. Photo by Brock Keeling

19. Museum of the African Diaspora

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685 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 358-7200
Visit Website

Of course you'll want to take people to the freshly expanded SFMOMA while you're downtown. But as remarkable as the museum’s modern art collection is, the Museum of African Diaspora offers a one-of-a-kind survey of culture dating back even to the earliest reaches of human history, and it's just a few blocks away too.

20. PianoFight

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144 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 816-3691
Visit Website

A few blocks south of Union Square, Beach Blanket Babylon, and the big theaters in their classic buildings, PianoFight is the little bar and theater that could, named after the local improv group and staging weird, funny, locally-sourced performances in the back or even sometimes for free right in the middle of the bar itself up front.

21. Neptune Society Columbarium

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1 Loraine Ct
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 771-0717
Visit Website

Between this and the pet cemetery you might be worried that your visitors think you're being a little morbid, but the fact is the oft-overlooked columbarium is one of the most startlingly beautiful buildings in the entire city, liable to leave you dumbstruck upon entry.

22. Camera Obscura

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1096 Point Lobos Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 750-0415
Visit Website

Lots of visitors stop by the Cliff House and the nearby Sutro Bath ruins and then blow right past the Camera Obscura, a weird, leftover bit of Victoriana that produces a beautiful and strange view of nearby Seal Rock.

There’s been a Camera Obscura near the Cliff House since at least 1896, although the neighborhood has gone through several and this is not the original one, instead dating to 1946.

A small building on a beach with a sign that has the words: Camera Obscura and Holograph Gallery. Photo by Sanfranman59/Shutterstock

23. “Venus” statue in Mid-Market

Copy Link
1190 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103

Before he died in 2017, sculptor Lawrence Argent unveiled his towering, nine-story, stainless steel take on the Venus de Milo in San Francisco.

Unfortunately, the statue and surrounding public plaza are hidden behind the Trinity Place apartments and almost invisible from the street at every angle, meaning most people still have no idea they're there. Take your visitors in for a glance at the gleaming goddess so they can get a piece of SF culture even many locals miss.

24. Bison in Golden Gate Park

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1237 John F Kennedy Dr
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 831-6818
Visit Website

In 1890, a bison cow and bison bull were transported from Wyoming and Kansas to Golden Gate Park. More were added, and the herd at one point reached up to 30. Go say hi.

A post shared by Pepe TheLizart (@thelizart) on

25. Free Gold Watch

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1767 Waller St
San Francisco, CA 94117

The Mission’s screen printing shop plus antique pinball arcade/museum is one of the more unlikely mashups in the city, but of course, that’s part of what gets a lot of people in the door.

26. Clarion Alley

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Clarion Alley
San Francisco, CA 94110

On the other hand, maybe your visitors really aren't art lovers. That's okay, you can still give them an infusion of genuine San Francisco culture with a quick jaunt down Clarion Alley, another local landmark that really should be more famous abroad than it is. Suddenly stepping into this vibrant and graphically dazzling corridor while going from one Mission dive bar to another will make for a profound San Francisco memory.

27. Paxton Gate

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824 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-1872
Visit Website

This is a lovely place to shop, of course, whether for gardening supplies, unique stones, or fossils—but the real reason out of towners will want to see it is the weird taxidermied animals in tiny little clothes. Say what you like, it’s a singular experience.

28. Mount Sutro forest

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Mt Sutro
San Francisco, CA 94131

A deeply gorgeous natural California forest with soaring, 200-foot-tall, 100-year-old eucalyptus trees as unforgettable as any in Northern California, hidden right in the heart of San Francisco itself.

29. Seward Street Slides

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30 Seward St
San Francisco, CA 94114

Definitely do: Take guests for a trip down the concrete Seward Street slides.

Definitley don’t: Attempt this without a box to slide on.

30. The Golden Fire Hydrant

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3899 20th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

Admittedly, a mere fire hydrant, no matter how well gilded, is probably not worth leaving the house over. But if you plan to be near Dolores Park anyway, don’t neglect to single out this historically heroic spigot, the oddest and most humble but perhaps most important landmark in the entire city.

And from the Dolores Park lookout, both tourists and the hydrant can look out with pride on what the city it saved has accomplished.

31. Minnesota Street Project

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Read Review |
1275 Minnesota St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 243-0825
Visit Website

If you know art lovers, they'll probably want to peruse the galleries around Union Square, the Mission, and maybe even a few on the edges of the Tenderloin. But a trip to the Dogpatch to see the truly enormous (150,000 square feet across three different buildings) art collective on Minnesota Street might leave an even bigger impression when push comes to shove.

The line to view the Leonardo da Vinci and other masterpieces from the @christiesinc exhibition at 1275 Minnesota. Thanks @portal_de_la_main for the

A post shared by Minnesota Street Project (@minnesotastreetproject) on

32. Balmy Alley

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50 Balmy St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 285-2287
Visit Website

Not to be outdone, the Balmy Alley murals predate those on Clarion and actually served as the other byway’s inspiration. But these days Clarion draws more scrutiny, making it worth a revisit to the original locale.

33. Peephole Cinema

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280 Orange Alley
San Francisco, CA 94110

Despite the name and alleyway location, Peephole Cinema is an entirely savory and whimsical affair, a “miniature theater” showcasing very short films for an audience of only one at a time.

34. Glen Canyon Park

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Elk St and Chenery Street
San Francisco, CA 94127
(415) 831-2700
Visit Website

If anyone fancies some light hiking, you don't have to drive to the Marin Headlands, as there are any number of trails tucked away right here. The Mount Sutro Reserve is a real looker, but we also recommend Glen Canyon, which is basically what Golden Gate Park might look like if it was the product of nature rather than human whims.

A post shared by Lex (@followtheliede) on

35. Billy Goat Hill

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2442 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 831-6331
Visit Website

San Francisco is never short on either parks or killer views, but this quiet little spot overlooking the Eureka Valley combines them with its signature swing that, although out of commission more often than we'd like, provides a particular angle on the city that you cant' get anywhere else.

A post shared by Miles Otway (@sirskanksalot) on

36. Speakeasy Taproom

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1195 Evans Ave
San Francisco, CA 94124

There are lots of local breweries and distilleries to check out, but don't overlook this place down near India Basin, which itself is one of the most gorgeous (if sparsely populated) corners of town.

37. Sunnyside Conservatory

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236 Monterey Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 937-8899
Visit Website

Those who don’t live in Sunnyside probably have never seen this beautiful public garden with its century-old palm grove and octagonal conservatory. A tiny neighborhood alternative to Stern Grove, it remains a hidden gem in an out of the way spot.

38. Ingleside Sundial

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Yes, it turns out there’s a mammoth antique sundial right smack in the middle of Ingleside Terrace. In its day—1913--it was quite the landmark, but now it’s one of San Francisco’s most obscure, weird,and unforgettable places to visit.

39. Lake Merced

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Lake Merced
San Francisco, CA 94132

Some ocean gazing at Ocean Beach can be a tranquil way to wile away an afternoon with visitors, but don't forget that nearby Lake Merced offers some moments of Zen in its own right, usually with fewer fellow visitors underfoot than you'll find at the brink of the Pacific.

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40. Cayuga Park

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301 Naglee Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112
(415) 819-6138
Visit Website

San Francisco has no shortage of parks, of course, but this one is a true San Francisco success story, created almost entirely by a single extremely dedicated city employee over the course of decades, although the city overhauled the playground and clubhouse recently.

41. Broderick-Terry Duel Site

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1100 Lake Merced Blvd
Daly City, CA 94015

If your visiting relatives have seen Hamilton or are just big on colorful local history, they might be interested in visiting the spot where Senator David Broderick squared off against former California Supreme Court Justice David Terry near Lake Merced in 1859.

The two were fighting over slavery politics. Terry won, and both San Francisco and San Mateo County tried to prosecute him, but failed. The markers pointing to both men’s positions are actually in Daly City, just over the line.

Broderick–Terry Duel Site

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1. Fort Point

Long Ave & Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

Everybody wants to see the Golden Gate Bridge. And who can blame them?

But comparably few people think to go downstairs to Fort Point, the army redoubt beneath its southern struts, an architectural gem in its own rights and an affordable alternative to Alcatraz.

Long Ave & Marine Dr
San Francisco, CA 94129

2. Musée Mécanique

45 Sausalito - San Francisco Pier 41, San Francisco, CA 94133

Similarly, a lot of people come into town and want to see Fisherman's Wharf, but aren't even aware of the greatest waterfront attraction of all, just up Taylor Street from the wax museum. Here, a pocketful of quarters will take you into the hallowed halls of latter-day carnival kitsch.

45 Sausalito - San Francisco Pier 41
San Francisco, CA 94133

3. The Wave Organ

83 Marina Green Dr, San Francisco, CA 94123

An artifact of the Exploratorium (and as such just around the corner from the Palace of Fine Arts), the Wave Organ not only makes beautiful (if deeply weird) music out of the motion of the ocean, but the oddball artificial peninsula near the Yacht Club provides one of the most intriguing panorama views of the city.

83 Marina Green Dr
San Francisco, CA 94123

4. Pet Cemetery

667 McDowell Ave, San Francisco, CA 94129

The nearby National Cemetery is peaceful and patriotic, but out of towners strolling in the Presidio are more likely to remember stumbling on the nearby pet cemetery. The practice of interring pets in the Presidio started with the families of officers stationed at the Army base, which makes the pet cemetery the best kind of landmark: the accidental kind, born out of everyday living instead of a conscious notion.

667 McDowell Ave
San Francisco, CA 94129

5. Golden Boy Pizza

542 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

For the life of us we don't know why Golden Boy's clam and garlic slice hasn't become famous the world over as a signature San Francisco dish. It's an authentic local treat for a handful of dollars and ideally situated in walking distance to other North Beach hot spots.

542 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133

6. Yoda Fountain

1 Letterman Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

Size matters not, because although the Yoda Fountain is one of the smallest and most easy to miss Presidio icons, it’s the one visitors are most likely to remember and take endless selfies with.

1 Letterman Dr
San Francisco, CA 94129

7. Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

56 Ross Aly, San Francisco, CA 94108

So many visitors to Chinatown manage to overlook the Fortune Cookie Factory in Ross Alley. Again, why this isn't the very first place every tourist goes will forever be a mystery to us, but maybe sending bags of delicious, hand-folded San Francisco tradition home with your visiting relatives will up its credibility.

56 Ross Aly
San Francisco, CA 94108

8. Sansome roof garden

343 Sansome St, San Francisco, CA 94104

Continuing the theme of local gems even locals usually miss, there are a ton of Privately Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS) with sparkling views of the downtown skyline. Of all of them, the Sansome rooftop garden is the most accommodating rooftop in the neighborhood, at least until the nearby Salesforce Transit Center park opens. Ideal for weekdays.

343 Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94104

9. Andy Goldsworthy's Wood Line

Presidio Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94129

It took artist Andy Goldsworthy a year (beginning in 2010) to create this surreal, winsome, beautiful installation in the Presidio. Goldsworthy salvaged the 1,200 feet of eucalyptus used from the Presidio itself.

Presidio Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94129

10. Statue of Sun Yat-Sen

651 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108

St Mary’s Square has plenty to see, including the somber and moving “Comfort Women” memorial statue that has roiled headlines and international relations in 2017.

Often overlooked is a nearby icon dedicated to Sun Yat-sen, the Chinese physcian revolutionary who helped overthrow the Qing Dynasty and attempted to found a democratic Chinese state. Italian-American artist Beniamino Bufano created the memorial image in the late ‘30s.

651 California St
San Francisco, CA 94108

11. See Diego Rivera's "Allegory of California"

10, 155 Sansome St, San Francisco, CA 94104

It's a myth that Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted the scenes in Coit Tower; those murals are an attempt to capture Rivera's style and working class politics, but they're not the real deal.

Instead, a genuine Rivera piece titled "Allegory of California" is on public display in the last likely of all places: the stairwell of the ultra exclusive City Club.

10, 155 Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94104

12. Swan Oyster Depot

1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Like Golden Boy, the oyster depot should be famous the world over as one of San Francisco's single most prestigious culinary credentials. As it stands, the little fish market bar slings Nob Hill grandeur at least as memorable as Grace Cathedral, albeit on a smaller scale.

1517 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109

13. Pier 24 Photography

24 Pier, San Francisco, CA 94105

Immediately beneath the Bay Bridge you’ll find Pier 24 Photography, a quiet, classy, truly sophisticated photo gallery in an old cargo warehouse originally built to connect two other piers together. Now it affords a truly remarkable view of the bridge and a secluded spot to enjoy the exhibition imagery; the gallery is free to the public, but visitors do have to schedule their visit in advance.

24 Pier
San Francisco, CA 94105

14. Audium

1616 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Audium doesn’t look like much, being just a hole in the wall theater near Japantown and the edge of the Tenderloin, but the point is how it sounds. The venue uses terms like “sound sculpture” and “sound labyrinth” to describe the show, but really the only way to a figure out what’s going on here is to check it out yourself.

1616 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94109

15. Walk Lands End Labyrinth

Lands End Trail, San Francisco, CA 94121

A true labor of love, maintained and occasionally rebuilt by artist Eduardo Aguilera for years. While there are plenty of spots to take in the grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge and accompanying Pacific, few will give your guests quite the same sense of tranquility as you get from wandering the stony paths at Eagle's Point.

Lands End Trail
San Francisco, CA 94121

16. Go Instagram wild at Museum of Ice Cream

1 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108

Extended once again, the Museum of Ice Cream is essentially a sugar-crazed toddler's coma fantasy rendered in three dimensions and positioned for maximum Instagram appeal. Still, guests are certainly not going to forget the visit anytime soon.

1 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108

17. SF SPCA Window

170 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

The winter holiday season brings the Stockton Street winter walk and the tree and skating rink in Union Square, which is all well and good.

But the true marker of seasonal good tidings are the adorable and adoptable kittens and puppies in the window at Macy’s around the block, which it’s nearly criminal not to sneak a peak at while you’re in town.

170 O'Farrell St
San Francisco, CA 94102

18. Mary Ellen Pleasant Park, SF’s smallest park

1501 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94109
A stone plaque on a sidewalk with some words that read Mary Ellen Pleasant Memorial Park. Photo by Brock Keeling

Drop a little local historical know-how on your guests at Mary Ellen Pleasant Park, San Francisco's smallest park. Of course, being so small, there's not much here to see, but now that you're here you're in walking distance of some of San Francisco's biggest and oldest Victorian homes. They might not make the postcards as often as the Painted Ladies, but they're well worth showing off.

1501 Octavia St
San Francisco, CA 94109

19. Museum of the African Diaspora

685 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Of course you'll want to take people to the freshly expanded SFMOMA while you're downtown. But as remarkable as the museum’s modern art collection is, the Museum of African Diaspora offers a one-of-a-kind survey of culture dating back even to the earliest reaches of human history, and it's just a few blocks away too.

685 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105

20. PianoFight

144 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94102

A few blocks south of Union Square, Beach Blanket Babylon, and the big theaters in their classic buildings, PianoFight is the little bar and theater that could, named after the local improv group and staging weird, funny, locally-sourced performances in the back or even sometimes for free right in the middle of the bar itself up front.

144 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94102

21. Neptune Society Columbarium

1 Loraine Ct, San Francisco, CA 94118

Between this and the pet cemetery you might be worried that your visitors think you're being a little morbid, but the fact is the oft-overlooked columbarium is one of the most startlingly beautiful buildings in the entire city, liable to leave you dumbstruck upon entry.

1 Loraine Ct
San Francisco, CA 94118

22. Camera Obscura

1096 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
A small building on a beach with a sign that has the words: Camera Obscura and Holograph Gallery. Photo by Sanfranman59/Shutterstock

Lots of visitors stop by the Cliff House and the nearby Sutro Bath ruins and then blow right past the Camera Obscura, a weird, leftover bit of Victoriana that produces a beautiful and strange view of nearby Seal Rock.

There’s been a Camera Obscura near the Cliff House since at least 1896, although the neighborhood has gone through several and this is not the original one, instead dating to 1946.

1096 Point Lobos Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121

23. “Venus” statue in Mid-Market

1190 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Before he died in 2017, sculptor Lawrence Argent unveiled his towering, nine-story, stainless steel take on the Venus de Milo in San Francisco.

Unfortunately, the statue and surrounding public plaza are hidden behind the Trinity Place apartments and almost invisible from the street at every angle, meaning most people still have no idea they're there. Take your visitors in for a glance at the gleaming goddess so they can get a piece of SF culture even many locals miss.

1190 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103

24. Bison in Golden Gate Park

1237 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94121

In 1890, a bison cow and bison bull were transported from Wyoming and Kansas to Golden Gate Park. More were added, and the herd at one point reached up to 30. Go say hi.

1237 John F Kennedy Dr
San Francisco, CA 94121

25. Free Gold Watch

1767 Waller St, San Francisco, CA 94117

The Mission’s screen printing shop plus antique pinball arcade/museum is one of the more unlikely mashups in the city, but of course, that’s part of what gets a lot of people in the door.

1767 Waller St
San Francisco, CA 94117

26. Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley, San Francisco, CA 94110

On the other hand, maybe your visitors really aren't art lovers. That's okay, you can still give them an infusion of genuine San Francisco culture with a quick jaunt down Clarion Alley, another local landmark that really should be more famous abroad than it is. Suddenly stepping into this vibrant and graphically dazzling corridor while going from one Mission dive bar to another will make for a profound San Francisco memory.

Clarion Alley
San Francisco, CA 94110

27. Paxton Gate

824 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

This is a lovely place to shop, of course, whether for gardening supplies, unique stones, or fossils—but the real reason out of towners will want to see it is the weird taxidermied animals in tiny little clothes. Say what you like, it’s a singular experience.

824 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

28. Mount Sutro forest

Mt Sutro, San Francisco, CA 94131

A deeply gorgeous natural California forest with soaring, 200-foot-tall, 100-year-old eucalyptus trees as unforgettable as any in Northern California, hidden right in the heart of San Francisco itself.

Mt Sutro
San Francisco, CA 94131

29. Seward Street Slides

30 Seward St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Definitely do: Take guests for a trip down the concrete Seward Street slides.

Definitley don’t: Attempt this without a box to slide on.

30 Seward St
San Francisco, CA 94114

30. The Golden Fire Hydrant

3899 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Admittedly, a mere fire hydrant, no matter how well gilded, is probably not worth leaving the house over. But if you plan to be near Dolores Park anyway, don’t neglect to single out this historically heroic spigot, the oddest and most humble but perhaps most important landmark in the entire city.

And from the Dolores Park lookout, both tourists and the hydrant can look out with pride on what the city it saved has accomplished.

3899 20th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

31. Minnesota Street Project

1275 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Read Review |

If you know art lovers, they'll probably want to peruse the galleries around Union Square, the Mission, and maybe even a few on the edges of the Tenderloin. But a trip to the Dogpatch to see the truly enormous (150,000 square feet across three different buildings) art collective on Minnesota Street might leave an even bigger impression when push comes to shove.

1275 Minnesota St
San Francisco, CA 94107

32. Balmy Alley

50 Balmy St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Not to be outdone, the Balmy Alley murals predate those on Clarion and actually served as the other byway’s inspiration. But these days Clarion draws more scrutiny, making it worth a revisit to the original locale.

50 Balmy St
San Francisco, CA 94110

33. Peephole Cinema

280 Orange Alley, San Francisco, CA 94110

Despite the name and alleyway location, Peephole Cinema is an entirely savory and whimsical affair, a “miniature theater” showcasing very short films for an audience of only one at a time.

280 Orange Alley
San Francisco, CA 94110

34. Glen Canyon Park

Elk St and Chenery Street, San Francisco, CA 94127

If anyone fancies some light hiking, you don't have to drive to the Marin Headlands, as there are any number of trails tucked away right here. The Mount Sutro Reserve is a real looker, but we also recommend Glen Canyon, which is basically what Golden Gate Park might look like if it was the product of nature rather than human whims.

Elk St and Chenery Street
San Francisco, CA 94127

35. Billy Goat Hill

2442 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94131

San Francisco is never short on either parks or killer views, but this quiet little spot overlooking the Eureka Valley combines them with its signature swing that, although out of commission more often than we'd like, provides a particular angle on the city that you cant' get anywhere else.

2442 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94131

36. Speakeasy Taproom

1195 Evans Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124

There are lots of local breweries and distilleries to check out, but don't overlook this place down near India Basin, which itself is one of the most gorgeous (if sparsely populated) corners of town.

1195 Evans Ave
San Francisco, CA 94124

37. Sunnyside Conservatory

236 Monterey Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94131

Those who don’t live in Sunnyside probably have never seen this beautiful public garden with its century-old palm grove and octagonal conservatory. A tiny neighborhood alternative to Stern Grove, it remains a hidden gem in an out of the way spot.

236 Monterey Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94131

38. Ingleside Sundial

San Francisco, CA 94127

Yes, it turns out there’s a mammoth antique sundial right smack in the middle of Ingleside Terrace. In its day—1913--it was quite the landmark, but now it’s one of San Francisco’s most obscure, weird,and unforgettable places to visit.

39. Lake Merced

Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA 94132

Some ocean gazing at Ocean Beach can be a tranquil way to wile away an afternoon with visitors, but don't forget that nearby Lake Merced offers some moments of Zen in its own right, usually with fewer fellow visitors underfoot than you'll find at the brink of the Pacific.

Lake Merced
San Francisco, CA 94132

40. Cayuga Park

301 Naglee Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112

San Francisco has no shortage of parks, of course, but this one is a true San Francisco success story, created almost entirely by a single extremely dedicated city employee over the course of decades, although the city overhauled the playground and clubhouse recently.

301 Naglee Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112

41. Broderick-Terry Duel Site

1100 Lake Merced Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

If your visiting relatives have seen Hamilton or are just big on colorful local history, they might be interested in visiting the spot where Senator David Broderick squared off against former California Supreme Court Justice David Terry near Lake Merced in 1859.

The two were fighting over slavery politics. Terry won, and both San Francisco and San Mateo County tried to prosecute him, but failed. The markers pointing to both men’s positions are actually in Daly City, just over the line.

1100 Lake Merced Blvd
Daly City, CA 94015