Exploring the Golden Gate City: Hidden Gems in San Francisco

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Getting away from the noise and clamor of the crowds in a place as densely-populated and highly visited as San Francisco can be challenging! The latest data from April 2023 available through San Francisco Tourism states that in April 2023, the original occupancy for hotels in San Francisco was a stunning 65%, with the seasonally adjusted occupancy sitting at 64%. In an article published by Axios San Francisco in March 2023, San Francisco received 21.9 million visitors! Take a peek at our list of five hidden gems in San Francisco that can help you get away from the heat and chaos of the crowds, but miss none of the beauty and grace of the Golden Gate City.

Hamon Observation Deck, de Young Museum

If you’re already at Golden Gate Park, don’t forget that you can go look at a free, gorgeous, 360-degree view of downtown San Francisco from the Hamon Observation Deck. While you’re there, visit the de Young Museum, which charges $15 for adults. Seniors 65 and up get admission for $12, while students with valid ID get entry for $6. Youngsters seventeen and under are free admission. Please note that the actual Hamon Observation Tower does not require an entrance fee, and is open TUesday through Sunday, from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

If you’re interested in going through the de Young Museum, you’re welcome to take a look at current exhibits on their website, which includes information about the exhibit, what you can expect from your visit, where to get snacks and dine-in, and more comprehensive pricing information for groups or tours.

Kirby Cove Campsite, Alison Taggart-Barone/Parks Conservancy

Now, this might make you nervous since you might have already gotten a hotel or Airbnb lodgings for your visit to the Golden Gate City, but the Kirby Cove Campsite is a great place to visit regardless of camping or not camping. This place has a beach with absolutely gorgeous views of the city, located just west on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge itself.

If you’re a fan of walking trails or hiking, there are two trails available – Kirby Cove Road, which is 2.25 miles round-trip and rated at moderately strenuous, along with Julian Trail, which is 3.26 miles round-trip and is rated the easiest of the two.

If you are interested in camping here, you can book a site for $40 a night, per site. This site is open April through October, so get your reservations in quickly. You can make reservations for the campsite online

Treasure Island, a San Francisco Neighborhood

The name might strike you because of a popular movie named Treasure Island, which was adapted from a book written by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. Much like that movie and book, this place is a hidden gem, a perfect place to visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city without losing the view.

The entire northern waterfront from bridge to bridge is picture-perfect at Treasure Island, along with being a home to public art, flea markets, and festivals throughout the year. While you’re there, you can eat at Aracely Cafe, which is touted off as a great place to get a bite to eat while having a grand adventure. If shopping is more your speed, then you can partake in the variety of small, locally-owned businesses in this nestled secret of a neighborhood!

Sutro Baths, part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area

History lovers will adore this small spot. Sutro Baths were developed in 1894 by Adolph Sutro, a self-made millionaire. This man built an ocean pool aquarium along the rocks north of the famous Cliff House, which is now closed. He expanded it, constructing a massive public bathhouse covering three acres, with impressive engineering and gorgeous artistic details otherwise unseen in the city.

At one point in time, the Baths could hold 10,000 people, and offered 20,000 bathing suits and an accompanying 40,000 towels for rent. Unfortunately, they weren’t commercially successful long-term, with Adolph dying in 1898. His family did their best to maintain his properties, but they became less popular during the Great Depression. In 1964, developers planned to replace the Baths with high-rise apartments, bought the site, and began demolition. However, in 1966, a fire destroyed whatever was left, and the city abandoned plans for the high-rises.

Now, the concrete ruins just north of the Cliff House are the remains of the great Sutro Baths, and have been part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since 1973 and are available for the public to tour and visit.

Albion Castle, Brewery and Historic Site

The Albion Castle became a historical landmark in 1974, with a grand history spanning 147 years. It’s currently owned by the Gilbert Family in San Francisco. John Hamlin Burnell is praised for the foundation of the castle, built in 1870 with a state-of-the-art brewery in mind during the planning and building process. There are two stone cisterns in the castle’s underground, which are still producing 8,000-10,000 gallons of natural spring water per day.

This castle was purchased in 2012 by former San Francisco Police lieutenant and real estate investor, Bill Gilbert, and his wife, Lee Ann. It’s currently being used as a rental for small, select events, though plans are underway to bring back the water bottling business in order to utilize the fresh, natural spring water from the cisterns.

You can check out their reservation policies online, and send in an inquiry if you want to book a stay for yourself and your group!

It doesn’t matter if you flew to San Francisco, or drove all the way there. With convenient, cheap parking for airports and cities, On Air Parking covers all the bases. Free cancellations up to the start date of your reservations, and complimentary shuttle services at most airports, On Air Parking offers the cheapest, highest-rated parking. You can contact customer service Monday through Friday, 10am to 7pm ET, by calling 888-487-2754 or by texting 424-532-8940. You can also reach customer service by emailing hello@noson.io. Don’t forget that reservations can be made online or through the Apple and Android compatible app!