Unusual Places to Visit in San Francisco, USA Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Unusual Places to Visit in San Francisco, USA

1 Conversation

Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco is full of wonderful, well known, and touristy places to visit. If you are on your very first trip to the city, then, by all means, visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Fisherman's Wharf (Pier 39), Union Square, Chinatown and Alcatraz.

But if you are adventurous, have some spare time, and would like a less crowded, more interesting San Francisco experience, then try the following:

  • The Columbarium can be found at 1 Lorraine Court, behind the corner of Geary and Stanyan. A columbarium, for those without a dictionary handy, is like a cemetery, but one solely for those who have been cremated. This one, owned by the Neptune Society, is one of only three places in the city of San Francisco where your remains can stay after you die. If you don't end up here, or the smaller (and much more expensive) columbarium in Grace Cathedral, or the Presidio National Cemetery, then it's off to the city of Colma, 10 miles or so south of San Francisco. The San Francisco Columbarium is a spectacular, beautiful building, lovingly cared for and full of fascinating history.

  • Fort Point is on Long Avenue and Marine Drive in the Presidio, below the southern anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is a former coastal defense battery. The view of the bridge is great, and the history behind this battery (and the others in the Presidio) is fascinating.

  • Twin Peaks on Twin Peaks Boulevard off Portola has an awesome view of the city. it is the only place in the city limits where you can see both Ocean Beach and the bay.

  • The Great Camera on 1090 Point Lobos Avenue is a camera obscura1, in a building that is shaped like a camera, found at The Cliff House at the northern end of Ocean Beach (on The Great Highway). If you've never experienced a camera obscura before, it is well worth the $1 admission price.

  • The Musée Mechanique is located at Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf2. This is a museum of working 'penny arcade' games, peep shows, etc, some dating back almost 100 years. They have, of course, been retooled to accept quarters!

  • Lands End and the Palace of the Legion of Honor on 100 34th Avenue, Lincoln Park is a beautiful spot where, on a pretty spring day, you are bound to come across a San Franciscan getting married. The palace is a museum featuring a spectacular sculpture garden, as well as a number of fine paintings. Out front, in the parking lot, you will find the San Francisco Holocaust Memorial.

  • Philo Television on 200 Green Street is an inauspicious building which, depending on who you ask, is the birthplace of television. It was here, in his lab, that Philo Farnsworth had his first success in transmitting images from a camera to a CRT screen.

  • VC Morris Gift Shop on 140 Maiden Lane is the only building in San Francisco designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Tucked away on Maiden Lane, just off San Francisco's Union Square, the VC Morris gift shop's distinctive arched brickwork was designed to lure passers-by into the shop's airy interior. The design of the shop clearly has similarities to the Guggenheim Museum, which Wright was designing at the same time. The shape of the curvilinear ramp is repeated in the display cases, tables and other furnishings. It is recognized by the American Institute of Architects as one of the 17 Wright buildings that are representative of his contribution to American culture. The shop is currently an art gallery. No formal tours are given, but visitors are welcome.

  • The Buena Vista on 2765 Hyde Street is the birthplace of the Irish Coffee. Watching the bartenders make this legendary drink is art itself. They typically make five to ten at a time, and it is very impressive how a flick of the wrist here, a quick pour of liquids there creates a hot, sweet drink which is alcoholic to boot. Visit the tiny gift shop too.

  • The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park was initially constructed for the California Mid-Winter Exposition of 1894. The garden has been lovingly cared for by the family of famed Japanese gardener Makoto Hagiwara for over a century. Lovely and contemplative, this is a slice of the Asian flair that San Franciscans hold dear and should not be missed.

Our thanks to Tav-Dad for the photograph.

1A building with rotating mirrors that project a landscape onto a horizontal surface.2This is officially a temporary location, and there are plans to move it back to its original location at Cliff House, 1090 Point Lobos Avenue, beside the Great Camera. As of 2012, this has not yet happened.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Written by

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more