If you’re heading to the cultural center of Northern California, you’ll want to fit right in and see the real San Francisco. Here are the top seven tips on how to enjoy this wonderfully eclectic city like a local.
Sunday Brunch Drag Show
One of the best ways to get to grips with any city you’ve just arrived in is to get up high and take it all in. Instead of making a beeline for the nearest dusty viewpoint, throw on something stylish and head to The Starlight Room in Union Square. This is one of the most opulent hotels in San Francisco which boasts 360-degree views of the city. If you’re around during the weekend, dine with glamorous divas at the Sunday’s A Drag Brunch.
The insane cousin of its Olympic relative, this must-see underground wrestling event goes down on the first Friday of every month at Oakland Metro Operahouse. $20 admission gets you into a truly awesome performance that has garnered a cult following in the city. Musical guests feature between the six-person tag team matches, which offer a mind-bending experience.
The Institute of Illegal Images
Speaking of altering minds, go and check out the psychedelic history on display at the Institute of Illegal Images. To understand Frisco, it’s worth knowing the roots of its controversial LSD movement, which is a big part of the city’s subculture. Don’t forget to schedule your trip by emailing them first, as the opening hours are a little irregular.
At just a dollar each, Bar Crudo on Divisadero has the most delicious oysters in the Bay Area. This modern raw-bar offers creative dishes using sustainable seafood with a happy hour from 5:00pm – 6:30pm. Go for the Crudo Sampler, which includes Arctic char, scallops, tombo tuna, and butterfish – available for one or two people.
Climb the Filbert Street Steps
These iconic steps descend the east slope of Telegraph Hill. They’re a challenge, but totally worth it and take you through a garden paid for by the residents of the street. It’s great exercise and offers an insight into the life of a San Francisco local.
See a Comedy Show
Any night is a great night to take a seat at Cobb’s Comedy Club, where you can catch some of the country’s best acts doing their thing. This iconic venue is first-come first-served, but table upgrades are available for a fee. You can also enjoy a great meal during the show.
The Wave Organ
Listen to the ocean make its very own music using the Wave Organ down in the marina. Using 25 PVC pipes partly submerged in the ocean, the waves create their own unusual sounds as the tide comes in and out. Gaze out over the bay and you’ll also see Alcatraz in the distance.
All the major sights on the tourist trail are great fun, but for a more unique experience it’s worth visiting these lesser known attractions. You’ll get an authentic taste of the city and see San Francisco through the eyes of a local.
Jake Holloway developed a wanderlust after he spent four months travelling South America after university. He has been a travel writer for five years now, and when he’s not on the road, he’s planning his next adventure. Jake lives in London.
Images by Jeff Gunn, Kevin Stanchfield and Christopher Beland used under the Creative Commons license.