4 Amazing Off the Beaten Path San Francisco Adventures

The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Pier 39, and Fisherman’s Wharf are some of the most well-known tourist attractions in San Francisco. However, they are far from the only ones. People who want to visit the city but do not necessarily want to deal with crowds of tourists are in luck. San Francisco has numerous other attractions that allow them to see it in a whole new light.

1. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps

The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps are on Morgana Avenue between 15th Avenue and 16th Avenue. In 2003, people living in San Francisco’s Golden Gate neighborhood came together to create a mosaic of seas and stars covering 163 steps.

Local residents Alice Lee Xavier and Jessie Audette came up with the idea as a way to inspire connections between neighbors and make the area more attractive. The Golden Gate Neighborhood Association held an Opening Day Ceremony and Dedication Event on August 27, 2005, to commemorate two years of hard work by artists Colette Crutcher and Aileen Barr.

2. Historic St. Mary’s Square and Cathedral

St. Mary’s Square, located near the city’s Chinatown district that spanned 24 blocks, provides a calm and serene environment that acts as a buffer between Chinatown and the Financial District. The square has stood since 1957 and is a garden and rooftop park sitting in the center of a parking structure. The open space is also a favored stop on walking tours of Chinatown.

Visitors with children can allow them to play at the park while they enjoy looking at a statue of Sun Yat-Sen. Although Sun Yat-Sen was a well-known Chinese statesman, the government later exiled him from his home country because he helped to orchestrate the Qing Dynasty overthrow.

St. Mary’s Cathedral sits on the north side of the square. When it opened in 1854, St. Mary’s was the first Catholic cathedral in San Francisco. The cathedral survived the 1906 earthquake that destroyed much of the city at that time, but it eventually succumbed to the fires that came after the earthquakes stopped. Workers repaired the damaged cathedral, and it re-opened to the public in 1909.

3. Sutro Baths Ruins and Caves

Approximately 125 years ago, silver mine millionaire and entrepreneur Adolph Sutro opened an aquarium, saltwater pool, and huge recreational facility on Point Lobos Avenue. Sutro also developed and built a public bathhouse on the property that spanned three acres. Although the bathhouse outlived Sutro, it met its demise in 1966 due to a fire. More than 50 years after the public bathhouse closed, visitors to San Francisco still have an opportunity to visit its ruins along with the remaining sea caves.

4. Telegraph Hill Parrots

Most people go to the zoo when they want to see tropical birds, unless they happen to be visiting San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. In 1990, two parrots escaped captivity at the zoo and made their home on Telegraph Hill. Within a few years, hundreds of parrots flocked to Telegraph Hill to live with the original two. With neighbors who plant and care for beautiful wildflowers and parrots flying overhead, visitors may feel like they are in a tropical paradise rather than a residential area of California.

These four destinations represent only a small portion of the alternative attractions available in the City by the Bay for tourists who want to experience something different.

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