One of San Francisco’s best features is that it can instantly transport you to distant countries without ever leaving its hilly, picturesque streets. From the Japanese Tea Garden filled with koi ponds and bonsai trees to the narrow alley of Belden Street that serves as the center of the city’s French-American community, there are hidden cultural escapes all over the City by the Bay.
Dutch Windmills at Golden Gate Park – The Netherlands
Upon seeing two Dutch-style windmills on the far west end of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, you might forget that Holland is more than 5,000 miles away. These two windmills, known as the Dutch and Murphy windmills, were built over one hundred years ago as water irrigation systems for the park. The carefully maintained gardens surrounding these windmills are filled with various tulips and other plants, most of which are similar to those found in the Netherlands. Visitors can take leisurely strolls through the gardens, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, smell the flowers, and truly feel as though they’ve been carried away to the Dutch countryside.
Clement Street – China
Clement Street in San Francisco’s Richmond District is a vibrant neighborhood offering an authentic Chinese culture taste. Often dubbed the “New Chinatown,” the street is dotted with bustling markets where you can find exotic ingredients, aromatic spices, and traditional herbs, mirroring the lively atmosphere of Chinese marketplaces. It’s a culinary haven where dim sum restaurants, noodle shops, and tea houses serve delicious Chinese dishes. Come here to enjoy the qualities and flavors of China, all without leaving San Francisco.
Japanese Tea Garden – Japan
Modeled after traditional Japanese gardens, the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco–and it’s not hard to see why. For starters, it features meticulously manicured landscapes with koi ponds, stone lanterns, zen gardens, and meandering paths. On top of that, in the heart of the garden is a charming tea house where people can partake in ancient Japanese tea ceremonies. Plus, the grounds surrounding the Tea Garden feature classic Japanese elements such as an arched drum bridge, pagodas, and native Japanese plants.
Belden Place – France
Belden Place, a quaint alley in the Financial District, has an unmistakable French ambiance that makes it well worth the visit. The narrow, cobblestone street, which is often referred to as San Francisco’s French Quarter, is lined with cozy outdoor cafes, bistro-style restaurants, and string lights that create an atmosphere reminiscent of Paris. The culinary scene here is a highlight, with restaurants that offer mouthwatering French cuisine. Whether you’re noshing on a croissant at a café, indulging in escargot, or simply enjoying a glass of fine wine, the experience of visiting Belden Place is something you won’t forget.
Schroeder’s – German
Schroeder’s, a historic beer hall on Front Street, has the fun and welcoming atmosphere that most German beer halls possess. The restaurant’s communal spirit and emphasis on beer and hearty, pub-style cuisine mirrors the camaraderie found in many German watering holes. It has a spirited ambiance (thanks to live music and loud chatter), making it a gathering place for locals and visitors alike. Plus, it has an extensive selection of German beers, from lagers to wheat beers, allowing visitors to explore the depth of Germany’s renowned beer culture. Pro tip: Go on a Monday since happy hour lasts all day.
Filoli Historic Home and Gardens – England
Filoli Historic Home and Gardens, also known as the Bourn-Roth Estate, is located in nearby Woodside, just 25 miles south of San Francisco. With its elegant Georgian-style mansion and expertly landscaped gardens, this grand property is similar to the stately homes and gardens that dot the English countryside. The extensive gardens offer a glimpse into English aristocracy, providing a true taste of the dreamy countryside.
Sutro Baths – Ancient Greece
One of San Francisco’s most incredible gems is the remains of the Sutro Baths. Built by millionaire Adolph Sutro in the 1890s, this massive public bathhouse was once the largest indoor swimming pool in the world. In addition to the main pool, it had smaller saltwater pools, an ice-skating rink, restaurants, and even a museum. However, the baths eventually closed in the mid-1900s and were destroyed by a fire. Now, they’re nothing more than ghostly ruins that look like relics from Ancient Greece—but they make for a gorgeous and dramatic photo op overlooking the ocean!
San Francisco Travel x Hotels Above Par Partnership