8 Unique Experiences You Can Only Find in San Francisco

It’s no secret that San Francisco is home to some of the country’s most eclectic neighborhoods, incredible restaurants, iconic landmarks, historic architecture, and so much more. It’s safe to say this dynamic destination is anything but cookie-cutter—-which is what makes it so special. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite hotels, restaurants, experiences, and attractions that you can only find in the City by the Bay.

Credit: Paul Dyer

The Presidio 

A former U.S. Army post-turned-national park, the sprawling Presidio encompasses about five percent of the entire city. It’s also home to some of the country’s best and most well-preserved military architecture. History buffs can—and certainly should—stay at the on-site Inn at the Presidio, a former military barracks-turned-boutique hotel. The bright and airy interiors breathe new life into this turn-of-the-twentieth-century brick structure. Best of all, 17 of the 22 rooms have en-suite fireplaces. 

Alcatraz Prison on a beautiful morning in San Francisco Bay, California


This former prison sits 1.25 miles off the coast of San Francisco and is accessible only by ferry. Visitors come here from all over the world to learn about its fascinating history. To explore at your own pace, plan your visit during the day; or, consider the night tour, which includes a handful of special activities and demonstrations, for a more guided experience. 

Club Fugazi 

Club Fugazi is a theater and nightclub nestled in the North Beach neighborhood, known for its rich Italian heritage. The venue dates back to 1913, when it first served as a social club for immigrants. Today, locals and travelers flock here to munch on cicchetti (small plates) and catch thrilling, high-energy performances like “Dear San Francisco,” a 90-minute circus show featuring jaw-dropping acrobatics you have to see to believe. 

China Live

The brainchild of chef George Chen, China Live is a sleek food hall in the heart of Chinatown. The buzzy, open-concept Main Dining Hall features eight specialized stations (i.e., dim sum, wok, and, yes, charcuterie) and a seasonal menu curated by Chen himself. For a more upscale experience, make a reservation at Eight Tables, known for its elaborate tasting menus and intimate ambiance. Cocktail aficionados will especially enjoy the speakeasy-style Cold Drinks Bar, a hidden haunt with an impressive collection of Scotches and whiskeys. 

Beacon Grand

This historic Union Square hotel dates back nearly a century. In June 2022, following a top-to-bottom renovation, it officially reopened under a new name. The Beacon Grand pays homage to its opulent, Old World charm with vaulted gold leaf ceilings, a grand marble staircase, and an original, still operable mail chute. The 418 guest rooms have been brought into the 21st century with a contemporary color palette of grays and blues, high ceilings, and oak flooring. Other highlights include a swanky all-day lounge and the aptly named Hidden Library, which is designed to transport guests back to the days of Prohibition.

Picnic at Dolores Park

Next time you find yourself in the Mission District, make your way to Dolores Park for a picnic lunch amongst the locals. Here, in-the-know travelers can take advantage of prime people-watching opportunities, epic skyline views, and plenty of space to spread out. You can easily spend an entire afternoon hanging in this dog-friendly park, which is comprised of grassy, palm-fringed lawns, a playground, tennis courts, and a basketball court. 

 Palace of Fine Arts

With its elaborate Roman-inspired architecture, the Palace of Fine Arts is one of the city’s most photographed landmarks. Initially constructed for the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition, it’s been completely rebuilt to stand the test of time. Its 162-foot-high domed rotunda is the spot for couples to snap romantic pics. In 1970, a 1,000-seat theater was added; today, it hosts events, performances, and festivals. 

Golden Gate Bridge

Known for its trademark International Orange color, the Golden Gate Bridge is arguably the city’s most iconic landmark. Whether you explore it on your own or sign up for a guided tour, there’s no denying the fact that this 1.7-mile-long suspension bridge is inimitable. Once you cross, go to the 923-foot-tall Hawk Hill to admire it from afar.

San Francisco Travel x Hotels Above Par

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