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Top 7 Off The Beaten Path Things To Do In San Francisco in 2023

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The northern California city of San Francisco is a great place to visit. Known for some iconic sites such as the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz, the city is also home to countless hidden gems. If you’re looking for some off-the-beaten-path things to do during your next trip, this is the list for you. Here are seven such hidden gems to add to your itinerary for your next trip to the city.

View of city streets at sunset in San Francisco.

1. The California Academy Of Sciences

The California Academy Of Sciences is anything but a boring, stuffy museum. This museum features some truly unique, memorable, and interactive exhibits. Explore a three-story indoor rainforest, for example, and learn more about the reptiles, insects, and fish that call such environments home. Tickets can be purchased online or in person.

Aerial view of the California Academy Of Sciences.

2. Experience Entwined

If you’re visiting San Francisco in the next few months, head over to Golden Gate Park to explore a far less well-known attraction than the bridge itself: an enchanted forest. Entwined is an art installation featuring life-size LED sculptures that wind through the forest. The exhibit runs until March 12th, and it’s free to experience.

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A green tree made out of LED lights.

3. Relax At A Botanical Garden

If you’re looking for a relaxing way to spend an afternoon during your trip to San Francisco, this is the option for you. The San Francisco Botanical Garden is a 55-acre garden that’s home to thousands of gorgeous plants. The perfect place for a relaxing stroll or taking some vacation photos, tickets can be purchased in person or online.

Dock overlooking a pond surrounded by lush greenery at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

4. Take A Helicopter Tour

If you’re looking for a truly unique way to see the city, consider a helicopter tour. Such a tour will offer an all-new perspective — literally. There are also a variety of tours offered for different budgets and desires. San Francisco Helicopters, for example, offers a shorter scenic tour (starting at $235 per person), as well as longer tours such as their wine country tour (starting at $485 per person)

Inside view of helicopter cockpit looking out over San Francisco.

5. Explore The Exploratorium

If you’re traveling with kids, you definitely won’t want to miss the Exploratorium. This interactive museum has exhibits that will entertain all ages, however. A few examples of their educationally geared, fun exhibits include the anti-gravity mirror and a living, colorful bacterial mat encased in glass. Tickets can be purchased online.

Young girl looking up at an exhibit in a science center.

6. Grab A Drink At The Pawn Shop

If you’re looking to grab a drink in San Francisco, the pawnshop is the perfect off-the-beaten-path option. This hidden speakeasy-style tapas and cocktail bar is located where an actual Pawn Shop used to be. Reservations – as well as how to “find” this elusive bar – can be made by calling ahead at the number on their website.

Barman making a fresh and cool orange summer cocktail using professional bar equipment on the counter

7. Visit The Muir Woods

If you’re looking to enjoy a peaceful retreat into nature, you don’t have to go far from the heart of San Francisco to find one. The Muir Woods is located only about a 30-minute drive from the main area of the city and offers some serene hiking trails winding through old-growth redwood trees. While they might not be as well known as other wilderness areas in California, such as Yosemite, they are perfect for an afternoon trip while visiting the city.

Forest trail lined by redwood trees.

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