Off The Beaten Path: San Francisco, CA
One of my favorite things about visiting the Bay Area, no matter how many times I’ve been, there is always something interesting and unique to see and do. I’ve created a short list of some favorite off the beaten path activities to include on your next trip to “The City”.
Walk Along Lands End
Lands End is a great place to visit if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the downtown area. The park is located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and features breathtaking views and numerous hiking trails along the cliffs and down to the shore. This is recent favorite of mine, as it’s rock labyrinth near Mile Rock beach creates great photo opportunities of something, dare I say, cool.
This location has slowly been growing more popular, but still many San Francisco locals haven’t walked the beautiful bluffs. If you’re interested in taking a stroll, the beginning of the trail starts at the parking lot near Sutro Baths.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse hit the San Francisco scene in late 2014, with their creation of Cruffins. Aside from the croissant/muffin, the small but stylish storefront also serves a range of pastries from brioche donuts and tarts to the California Croissant thats stuffed with salmon, nori, ginger and wasabi. The store has recently expanded into Los Angeles and most recently, Orange County. Before you leave with treats in hand, make sure to strike a pose against their “I Got Baked in San Francisco” marquee.
Kirby Cove is located just west of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. This scenic area and campground features a 2 mile lightly trafficked trail. Reservations to the campground are by prior reservation only, but that doesn’t mean it’s hands off to the public. Anyone can walk down the road to enjoy the vistas and picnic on the bluffs or beach. It’s worth the two mile trek, as I am not sure any other beach in the world has a view like this one!
‘The Mission’ is a vibrant and populated area in east-central San Francisco and is often noted as one of the warmer parts of the city, yet it’s most often skipped over by tourists. It’s considered the main Latino neighborhood which means hello taquerias and Mexican Restaurants! This is also the original home to the Mission burrito - locals swear by it. Like most other San Francisco neighborhoods, the streets are also filled with local artisan shops, street art, and music.
Fortune Cookie Factory
I’m sure you’re thinking, “why the heck do I need to visit a fortune cookie factory in California?!” Well, I’ll tell you. Most people assume that Fortune Cookies were imported from China, but that’s actually not correct. Fortune cookies were born in San Francisco’s Chinatown long, long ago. So why not pay homage to those delicious cookies and stop in and visit one of the first factories. As an added bonus, the factory usually hands you a cookie on your way out. You can find this cookie factory tucked away in Chinatowns Ross alley - just follow your nose.
Seward Mini Park
The perfect place to tap into your inner child! You can find this mini park tucked away in the Castro District. This park features a steep slide that continues to draw in both adults and children. If you’re searching for a fun way to let loose in the city, grab a piece of cardboard and make your way up there. The slide was built in 1973 as a sculpture competition but is still standing for all to enjoy.
Located in ‘the Mission’ a few blocks from Dolores Mission, this park is what I consider the all around culture of San Francisco. Although it’s a park, be weary of bringing young children here as many locals flood the park on sunny days to hang out with friends, drink and smoke a joint. Don’t be surprised when a stranger strikes up a conversation with you and wants to know ‘your’ story, music taste, or wants you to join them in a round of flip cup.
Muir Woods can be found 12 miles north of San Francisco in an isolated canyon. This vast and beautiful area is known to outdoor enthusiasts as a redwood forest playground. With numerous hiking trails, and 1,000 year old giant trees towering 260 feet high, it’s no wonder why many SF locals take a day trip away from the city to enjoy what John Muir called, ““…the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.”