San Francisco is truly a city of treasures. Just when you think you’ve explored every nook and corner of this beautiful city by the bay, you are proved wrong. This growing collection of adventures and hidden gems is a treat to your eyes and you get the local flavor of the city likewise. So embrace yourself as you pin these hidden treasures on your maps for some awesome family time with your munchkin!
Lands End Labyrinth
The Lands End Labyrinth has been in existence since early 2004, but being a half-mile from Sutro Baths and a quarter mile off the main Lands End walking path most would never know it. Equally surreptitious, until recently, was the identity of the person behind the labyrinth. The Labyrinth was created by a local artist and also offers great views of the Marin Headlands across the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. This labyrinth (off of the Coastal Trail) is made with grapefruit-sized stones and inspired by traditional walking labyrinths from monasteries, where the goal is contemplation and meditation. Take your time to walk the maze, but don’t cheat!
You know there are buffalo (wait… you do know that, right?), but you probably don’t know there are these pools over by the Golden Gate Park Fields, which MacNiven describes as a “great place to practice your fly fishing without the hassle of flying to Montana”.
Secret Mosaic Staircase
A stairway cloaked in colorful tiles, some mirrored, embedded with the names of donors as well as fanciful creatures from the sea. The colorful stroke known as the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps is an unexpected sight amid the quiet blocks of Golden Gate Heights, the last ridge before the hilly center of the city descends to what once was a plateau of shifting dunes. Local artists covered 163 precipitous steps with mosaic tiles, portraying a shimmering path from the sea to the sky and took almost two years to ornate these steps.
Secret Seward Playground
With their high walls and sharp turns, the journey down the Seward Street Slides is an adrenaline rush of epic proportions. Take a trip down the famed steep slopes and see kids cheering each other and squealing with fun and excitement.
This brilliantly white sundial is secluded in Ingleside in the midst of a mini garden — and chances are, you’ve never seen it. Synchronized to the summer solstice, the sundial works best on sunny days, but even in the fog it acts as a playground for kids (and kids at heart) as a sky-high slide.
Tom And Jerry Christmas Tree
Every December 12th-25th, Tom Taylor and Jerome Goldstein bring Noe a 65 feet, brilliantly illuminated Christmas tree. Oh and also, “human-sized teddy bears, bathroom-sized presents, and a nightly visit from St. Nicholas himself”.
This acoustic sculpture constructed on the shore of San Francisco Bay provides a panoramic view with cool noises. Through a series of pipes, the wave organ interacts with the waves of the bay and conveys their sound to listeners at several different stations. The effects produced vary depending on the level of the tide but include rumbles, gurgles, sloshes, hisses, and other more typical wave sounds. The structure incorporates stone platforms and benches where visitors may sit near the mouths of pipes, listening.
Garden Of Shakespeare’s Flowers
The expansive public garden showcases many of the flora Shakespeare rhapsodized about. This location transports visitors into the pages of historic comedies, tragedies, and sonnets, bronze plagues engraved with notable quotations accompany the floral arrangements. There are more than 200 flowers and plants for locals and visitors to get mesmerized by.
It’s truly said: San Francisco itself is an art…every block is a short story, every hill a novel, every home a poem, every dweller with immortal. So why wait, plan now and unravel these hidden gems with your kids now.