The Atlas Obscura Guide To San Francisco
208 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in San Francisco, California
Updated September 19, 2023
From the Gold Rush to Silicon Valley, the Bay Area has long attracted people from all over the country and the world. And thatʼs reflected in its collection of hidden wonders, from Japanese tea gardens to a 19th-century church with a second life as a popular roller rink.
Unusual Attractions in San Francisco
Cool Places to Eat & Drink in San Francisco
Plan Your Trip
Unforgettable Experiences Nearby
From the exploratorium after dark to a Chinatown culinary tour.Discover Experiences
Atlas Obscura Itineraries
In 1967, 100,000 artists, activists, and hippies gathered in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood for the Summer of Love. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix played free concerts for fields of college dropouts, and San Francisco established itself as a countercultural capital. More than 50 years later, in a city increasingly known for Twitter and tech rather than art and activism, travelers who come on a pilgrimage are often disappointed to find expensive, skin-deep psychedelia. But if you know where to look, you’ll find a walk down Haight Street to be wonderfully weird, full of historic links to hippiedom and modern takes on the vibe.
Recent San Francisco Activity
Stories About San Francisco
Podcast: Getting Lost in Golden Gate Park
A Day in the Life of a Fortune Cookie Maker at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Podcast: The Beat Museum
The Earthshaking History of San Francisco's Quake Shacks
San Francisco’s Famous Sourdough Was Once Really Gross
Why Birds Changed Their Tune During the Pandemic
Lists Featuring San Francisco
San Francisco's Top 8 Wonders of 2018
The strange and unusual places Atlas Obscura readers wanted to visit most in the “City by the Bay” in 2018.
Including Seward Street Slides, Labyrinth at Land’s End, and The Wave Organ
When Stairs and Slides Are Hiding in Plain Sight
Play real-life Chutes and Ladders at these obscure thruways.
Including Secret Tiled Staircase, Esmeralda Slide Park, and Howe Street Stairs
39 Places That Will Warp Your Perspective of Time
Some of these spots have been around for thousands of years, while others will exist for millennia to come.
Including Clock of the Long Now: Prototype 1, Crypt of Civilization, and Longplayer
A Rat Lover's Tour of the World
15 places where rodents are celebrated, feared, preserved, and studied.
Including Karni Mata Temple, Nutty Narrows Bridge, and Paxton Gate
19 Unusual Hotels in California
Remarkable places to stay—or at least visit—in the Golden State.
Including The Ahwahnee Hotel, Venice Beach House, and Hotel Vertigo