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9 Unusual Places to Visit in San Francisco

9 Unusual Places to Visit in San Francisco

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, you get surprised with all the unusual places to visit in San Francisco. Team


5 min read

April 18, 2024

No matter how many times you visit San Francisco, there’s always something new to see. This is what makes the City by the Bay such a unique and dynamic place to be. Even when you think you’ve seen it all, there are fun things to do in San Francisco that are just around the corner, waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. San Francisco has plenty of not-so-popular, hidden gems that make S.F. quite a unique city in many respects. Here are just a few of the most unusual things to do in San Francisco as on your next visit to the majestic Golden Gate City. Who knows, your favorite lifetime might just be waiting for you and one of these unusual places to visit in San Francisco. 

Stow Lake is a popular location among residents and brings ghost-hunting enthusiasts from around the state.

Stow Lake 

Location: Stow Lake Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118

Boating on Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park offers a unique experience in San Francisco. This stunning lake is not only one of California's most picturesque spots, often chosen for marriage proposals, but it also has a more mysterious side. Stow Lake isn't just about romance and beauty; it's steeped in urban legends that add a thrilling edge to its charm. Among the tales, there's a haunting story about a woman, often referred to as the "White Lady" by locals, who is said to have drowned while attempting to rescue her baby. Legend has it that her spirit still wanders the lake, searching for her child.

The Audium-Theatre of Sound is a unique and mind-blowing experience.

Audium-Theatre of Sound 

Location: 1616 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

One of the San Francisco activities we cannot recommend enough is Audium—Theatre of Sound. This unusual theatre was constructed in the late 1950s to host audio performances on a sound-space continuum. The 49-seat spot offers an experience unlike any other, with 176 speakers and a 32-channel sound system designed to boost perceptual awareness through sound and space. 

Get acquainted with the beauty of sound art at this unusual place to visit in San Francisco. The show is just forty minutes long but is guaranteed to be unlike any other show that you have been to. After all, what other theater can you go to where the audience sits in a circle and sound reverberates around you? If high-concept art experiments are to your taste, we highly recommend this San Francisco must-see.  

Manson’s Mansion 

Location: 636 Cole Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

Curious about the eerie history of San Francisco? Your starting point should be Haight-Ashbury. During the Summer of Love in 1967, California’s most notorious cultist Charles Manson lived here before moving his group, known as the “Manson family,” to the San Fernando Valley. Built-in 1903, the house once had regular, family-next-door residents, but now it will always be known for its part in one of the strangest and most horrific stories in American history. 

While you cannot go inside the house, you can go take a look at it from the outside. There is nothing especially remarkable about the home’s design, but this is nevertheless a great unusual thing to see in San Francisco if you’re into the horror stories of cults. Nowadays, especially on Halloween, people walk past the house, trying to guess what happened behind its walls. 

Cayuga Park

Location: 301 Naglee Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112

Looking for a unique place to visit in San Francisco? Cayuga Park has all the charm to enchant you with its beauty. This small neighborhood park is a walk-through wonderland of wood carvings, making this a delightfully unique place to see in San Francisco. Small winding paths snake throughout the park, leading you to amazing art pieces. 

There are about fifty wood carvings within the park’s premises, most of which were created by Philipino immigrant Demetrio Braceros, an employee of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. From religious figures to eerie forest silhouettes, you’re bound to encounter beauty and contrast in this unusual place to visit in San Francisco. 

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Balmy Alley's art represents the deep stories woven in the fabric of San Francisco.

Balmy Alley

Location: 50 Balmy Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

A walk through the streets of the Mission District is the free art tour you always dreamt of taking. This San Francisco must-see has the widest range and concentration of colorful murals in the city by far and away. The artworks feature themes honing the district's diverse residents' cultural heritage and artistic statements that tackle pressing social and political issues. 

The very first mural was created in the early 1980s in Balmy Alley in response to human rights abuses in Central America. The artistic statements continued to increase in number. New murals are added all the time, and the old ones remain as relevant today as they were more than three decades ago. All of this vibrant history makes the Mission District a wondrously unique place to see in San Francisco and a perfect encapsulation of the diverse and eclectic history of the City by the Bay.   

Enjoy great views of the city from the observatory in Jack Early Park.

Jack Early Park 

Location: San Francisco, CA 94133

This may not be one of the most unusual places to visit in San Francisco, but it is certainly one of the more scenic. Named after Jack E. Early, this city park is the best place to admire San Francisco from up on high in all its glory. Back in the 60s, contemporary American artist Jack Early wanted to create a San Francisco tourist spot with unparalleled views of the city. 

He found an intimate spot on the top of the northern side of Telegraph Hill and decided it was the perfect place for this vantage point. Soon, Early started planting trees, and built stairs, and two small seats to make the area as scenic as possible. Climb the 60 stairs with your beau to catch the sunset and treat yourself to breathtaking views of the Golden Gate, Bay Bridge, and beyond. 


Location: Pier 45, San Francisco, CA 94133

Fog City has a fair share of strange museums to visit, but the Musée Mécanique remains one of the most unique places to go in San Francisco. Although it has been around since the 1970s, the Musée Mécanique relocated to Fisherman’s Wharf in 2002, where it remains today. The museum has one of the world’s largest private collections of coin-operated arcade machines and mechanical musical instruments. Featuring more than 300 machines, each of the exhibits explores the cool history of mechanical wonders. Grab a handful of coins for the most fun outing you’ll ever have in one of San Francisco’s must-see places. 

Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers

Location: 335 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118. 

Located in the iconic Golden Gate Park, the Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers is a large collection of colorful blooms handpicked because they were mentioned in the works of the most famous playwright in the English-speaking world. The garden was established by Alice Eastwood, who once served as the director of botany for the California Academy of Sciences. The Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers features more than 200 flora and plants that transport visitors into the pages of the famous bard’s comedies, tragedies, and sonnets. No wonder this cute romantic garden makes the list of San Francisco must-sees. 

Experience the rich history and stunning architecture of The Columbarium.

The Columbarium 

Location: 1 Loraine Court, San Francisco, CA 94118

For a spooky thing to do in San Francisco, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Columbarium. This crypt was founded in 1898 and run by the Neptune Society, a national “death care” company specializing in committing your final remains to eternal memory. Since the Columbarian is over a century old, it houses multiple generations of San Franciscans and is a showcase of the city’s rich history. The place is filled with luxury jade urns, photos and articles about the deceased, and gorgeous stained-glass windows. All this makes the crypt one of the most unusual places to visit in San Francisco and also one of the most beautiful.

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