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San Francisco’s beauty is far from subtle. Surrounded by waterfront vistas, filled with iconic landmarks, and peppered with Michelin-starred restaurants, it’s an easy city to love. But what makes our heart skip a beat isn’t just the Golden Gate Bridge or the black truffle pastas – it’s the hidden gems that bring the city to life. Here, seven of SF’s best-kept secrets:
The canopy of eucalyptus in the open space reserve beneath Sutro Tower creates a rainforest-like escape in the middle of San Francisco. Hike to the beautiful picnic spot at the summit, and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying your very own urban retreat.
This hidden rooftop not only offers breathtaking views of the city, but it’s the perfect place to unwind amidst tiled fountains, koi, and timeless works of art, including an original fresco by Diego Rivera.
Way out by Ocean Beach is a tiny coffee shop with quirky décor and friendly surfers-cum-baristas behind the counter. While the coffee is perfect on its own, it’s the ‘Build Your Own Damn House’ breakfast trifecta that’s worth writing home about: a whole young coconut, a cup of coffee, and thick-cut cinnamon toast that will change your life.
A short drive from the city, the quintessentially Californian Bolinas Coast Trail is full of surprises. The 50-foot drop at the end, however, is by far the most awe-inspiring, as you can truly lose yourself in the sensory whirlwind where Alamere Falls takes the plunge to meet the ocean.
A few blocks from the hubbub of Dolores Park is a steep slide cut into the Castro hillside. Grab a friend and a piece of cardboard (there’s usually some sitting at the base), and scream your head off as you race to the bottom.
Summiting the 650-foot hill will reward you with sweeping views of the entire city that stretch all the way to Stinson Beach on a clear day. If you ever need to shake up your perspective on life, try looking down from up here.
You won’t find the city’s best burger on any menu. The salty-sweet époisses burger is only available after a little wink and a nudge to your server at Heirloom Café, the cozy Mission restaurant with seasonal dishes and warm, communal tables.
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