Want to see San Francisco attractions, but not follow crowds of tourists? Some of the best San Francisco attractions aren’t on the beaten path. Tour the city like a local and explore the hidden gems each neighborhood has to offer. First up? Skip the Alcatraz tour and head over to the sunny Mission District, home of the oldest building in San Francisco and some of the hottest restaurants in the city. Start the day right with a jolt of caffeine from local institution Philz Coffee, near the 24th street Bart station. This location is the original Philz Coffee shop and you’ll soon understand why it has developed a fanatical cult following. Don’t linger too long on the comfy couches, though, there is more of the city to see.
Sightseeing on an empty stomach is never any fun. Head over to Tartine bakery and snap up a buttery croissant before they disappear. Don’t let the queue dissuade you, there is a reason why locals line up around the block for the freshly-baked treats. Walk off that flaky goodness with a quick stroll down the street to the urban oasis that is Dolores Park. On a sunny day you’re hard pressed to find an open spot on the grass. A microcosm of San Francisco, Dolores Park brings a diverse crowd together to relax in the sunshine—spread out a blanket and prepare to people watch! While you watch the hippies hula-hoop and the hipsters sip their Pabst beer, chances are likely you’ll be offered a wide array of items from vendors selling everything from marijuana-laced cookies to fresh coconuts brimming with rum. Stick with your coffee, as there is still more to see in the Mission District.
Time to get out of the sun and walk down the shade-covered Dolores Street. You’ll soon find yourself at Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco. Take the tour if you’d like, or continue down 18th Street and find yourself near the Sycamore, a gem of bar with a sun-drenched back patio. Sit outside and get some vitamin C with a bottomless mimosa. San Francisco locals love to have brunch, and this bar’s brunch menu rivals some of the tastiest restaurants around. Make like a local and indulge yourself with a pork belly donut or the chicken and waffles.
As evening approaches, head over to one of the best restaurants in San Francisco, Beretta. Their craft cocktails, hipster staff, and astronomical wait times are key indicators that this place is not to be missed. If you’re craving something more low-key, take in the Mission District’s iconic Mexican food at El Farolito. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant is home to some of the best burritos in the Mission. Grab a basket of the chips and load up on the guacamole to tide you over while you wait for your order to be called. No matter where you decided to go for dinner, head over to the Techo de Lolina for a nightcap. Take the elevator to the roof of this new San Francisco hotspot and you’ll be treated to some dazzling views of both the city and bay.
What are some of your favorite places in the Mission District of San Francisco? Leave a comment below.