San Francisco Tourist Attractions
San Francisco Tourist Attractions
Are you looking for some of the best and most unique San Francisco Tourist Attraction? Here are 5 top San Francisco Attractions that people prefer if you’re not following the crowd! San Francisco is filled to overflowing with wonderful things for visitors to see and do. You’ll absolutely want to spend some time at Golden Gate Bridge and Park (walk the bridge on foot, if at all possible), and you’ll also want to visit the amazing sea lions at Pier 39, as well as the twisty, winding Lombard Street and the spectacle that is Fisherman’s Wharf.
But don’t stop with the ones you know about! There are some truly amazing sites to enjoy here that most outsiders (and even a fair share of locals) don’t even know exist. Add these hidden SF gems to your travel itinerary when you tour San Francisco.
Telegraph Hill Parrots
Parrots thrive in warm climates, such as those in Mexico, Central and South America, and Australia. They aren’t native to the chilly hills of San Francisco. Except, these are. Though no one is entirely sure where they came from, there’s a colony of feral parrots at Telegraph Hill that can also be seen occasionally in neighboring communities. Most probably, these birds descended from exotic pets who were intentionally or unintentionally let go by their owners in the Bay Area, taking up residence and carrying on the bloodline of cherry-headed conures and blue-crowned conures far outside their native habitats. The parrots were immortalized when a jobless musician by the name of Mark Bittner noticed them and wrote a book about them, entitled The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. His interactions with the birds changed his life. Later, filmmaker Judy Irving secured funding and made a documentary about Bittner and his parrot friends. Later, the documentary aired on PBS’s series Independent Lens and is available on DVD. You’ll definitely want to watch it before your visit, so you can get to know (and most probably love) these unintentional and unconventional inner-city missionaries.
Presidio Pet Cemetery
If you like your tourist attractions on the macabre side, consider a visit to Presidio Pet Cemetery. Founded at least as early as the 1950’s by military personnel and their families stationed at the Army base there, some maintain it was probably started to bury Calvary horses in the 1800’s, others believe it began as the final resting place for K-9 dogs during WWII. Either way, it eventually became the go-to cemetery for all the military animals and family pets, including dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, turtles, and even the occasional iguana. By the 1970’s, the cemetery had fallen into a sad state of disrepair, and it is rumored that a Naval officer restored it, repairing little pet headstones and painting the fence. He is also credited with placing the caution sign at the entrance of the cemetery. Though no longer accepting pet burials, and currently blocked by construction, you can still see the headstones, lovingly placed by owners bereaved of their pets many years ago. Visit the final resting place of Trouble (who, according to his headstone, was no trouble), Inky the Cat, Bilbo Baggins, Charlie the Bird, Raspberry the Bassett, Silver the Fish, Woody the Wiener Dog, Frodo the Turtle — and learn a different but interesting history of the Bay Area from the vantage point of our military personnel and the furry, feathery, and scaly friends who kept them company in times past.
The Cable Car Museum
Cable cars are as much a part of the scenery and history of San Francisco as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Yet the Cable Car Museum somehow managed to get left off the “beaten path” of the hectic SF tourist industry. Here you can see the incredible engines and wheels that pull the city’s cable cars today, as well as the history of these cars in the Bay Area. There are three antique cars for viewing, dating back to the 1870’s, as well as numerous displays of cable car mechanics and exhibits explaining the various challenges the cable car industry underwent during its history. There’s also a cool gift shop, and many, many fewer tourists than you’ll run into at Fisherman’s Wharf or the Bridge.
Even among hardcore SF natives, Albion Castle is virtually unknown. But the history here is positively amazing — and it adds richness to the craft beer and wine industry of Northern California. Albion Castle was built in 1870 by English immigrant and beer brewer, John Hamlin Burnell. He acquired the property for a specific purpose. He wanted access to the underground aquifer that delivered pure water, ideal for brewing beer, and absolutely free for the taking. Though forced to close in 1919, due to Prohibition, it was rebranded as Albion Water Company, producing bottled water from 1928 until 1947. It then became just another San Francisco living and working residence, until the 1960’s, when urban sprawl threatened to demolish it. It was saved, again for its natural water source, which was highly valued during an era when the threat of nuclear war, which could have decimated other clean sources of drinking water in the area, was constant and very real to San Francisco residents. It’s now listed as Local Landmark #60. Though not tourable, it’s definitely worth a drive by to see this eccentric historic beauty.
Mount Sutro Eucalyptus Forest
If you think that the Redwoods and Sequoias are the only trees worth visiting in Northern California, then you just haven’t heard of the eucalyptus forest, right in the middle of San Francisco. This 80-acre forest is over 100 years old, featuring trees as tall as 200 feet. Eucalyptus trees are famous for being the sole culinary preference and home to the adorable koala bear. This particular eucalyptus forest is located on the side of Mount Sutro, visible across much of San Francisco, but if you happen to visit on one of the Bay Area’s frequent and notorious foggy days, it seems quite like a place where fairies and elves are real and just might appear right in front of you at any moment. Go on a weekday and you’ll practically have the place to yourself, even in the midst of one of the busiest cities in the country.
These are the gems of San Francisco — but there are some lackluster aspects of visiting the big city. Traffic. Impossibly snarling streets that make navigation a real pain. Tourists that make traveling anywhere in the Bay area a nightmare. And, of course, rental car companies that make big promises on the phone, but deliver scant little once you arrive at the airport. Instead, may we recommend touring San Francisco the easy and luxurious way? Schedule an airport pickup with Elite Limousine, and let us handle your tours and commutes. Whether you’re visiting clients, attending a seminar, honeymooning, or just in town to see the sights, Elite Limo can help. Contact us to schedule your San Francisco Limo Tour today!