San Francisco Secret Spots: A Guide to SF Parking & Hidden Spots San Francisco (Mar 2023)

San Francisco

San Francisco is a stunning destination known for its vibrant culture, scenic beauty, and rich history. With hidden spots San Francisco there’s more to the city than just its’ famous landmarks. The city has an endless list of famous landmarks, from the renowned Golden Gate Bridge to the colorful murals in the Mission District. But beyond the obvious attractions, San Francisco has a plethora of hidden spots that are worth exploring. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, the city offers countless opportunities to discover something new and exciting.

Here’s some of the best local attractions and a guide to hidden spots San Francisco that you may not have heard of before:

Table of Contents

Why San Francisco is a popular tourist city

With many TV shows and movies filmed in San Francisco, it’s no wonder why San Francisco is a popular tourist attraction. Recognize the photo above?

The photo above is of the Painted Ladies – a group of historical homes in San Francisco – also seen in the opening credits of the popular TV show that defined a generation, Full House.

With scenes of popular tourist destinations like Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Painted Ladies, San Francisco featured in the shows, it’s a treat to visit the places where these star actors and actresses once filmed the shows.

Take a look at the opening credits of Full House. Can you guess which locations are which?

Hint: If you want to see the Painted Ladies in the opening credits of Full House, skip to the timestamp of 1:11 in the video below. In the clip, are there any other San Francisco secret spots you recognize?

While visiting scenes where popular TV shows were filmed is one thing to do during your visit to San Francisco, there are many more places to see and things to do that entice excitement just as much as visiting the scenes from Full House.

Things to do in San Francisco that tourists and locals love to see and do

If you’ve ever started planning a trip to San Francisco, of any destination for that matter, you probably have been stumped over what to do and what to see in the city.

Admire the Golden Gate Bridge 🌁

If there’s one thing that both locals and tourist love to do is to admire the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge lines San Francisco’s backdrop and can be seen from various parts of the city. From the distant hills in the Sunset District to Crissy Field – both locals and tourists alike enjoy the breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Need pointers on where to have the best views of California’s most popular landmark? Check out these San Francisco Secret spots and locations for the absolute best views of the Golden Gate Bridge:

Crissy Field
Battery East
Baker Beach

Stroll the streets of Haight-Ashbury

Looking for other ideas on how to fill the day in San Francisco? Aside from admiring views of the Golden Gate Bridge we absolutely love strolling down the neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury.

Known for its historical rock music and flower power music scene the neighborhood still displays remnants of its rock legacy with its vibrant atmosphere and artsy murals showcasing the community’s continued culture.

Rich History Fact:

During the 1906 Great California Earthquake and Fire the Haight-Ashbury district was one of the few communities that persevered the destruction. As a result the community has the highest concentration of Victorian-style homes in San Francisco.

Walking along the streets of the community, you’ll find many shops and homes match the fun feel of the ‘flower-power’ community that has persevered through the decades.

Closeup shot of a drawn street sign leading to Ashbury and Haight

Sample food from the Ferry Building

Since San Francisco a large metropolitan city it’s common for people to commute into the city for work and sightseeing. At one of San Francisco’s many piers, the location that caters to both tourist and locals alike is the Ferry Building.

At the Ferry Building commuters and visitors alike have easy access to Downtown San Francisco and many of its quirks and also connects to other surrounding bay cities and communities. With many people passing by, there are charming food vendors that cater to the appetite of all travelers.

Enjoy Hidden gems in the city that's not seen by regular tourist

Whether it’s your first time visiting or you’re a seasoned San Franciscan, there’s something for everyone in this city. Looking for more San Francisco secret spots that’s not usually on regular travel plans?


Lands End Labyrinth

First on our list of hidden gems is Land’s End in the Sunset District. With all the noise of every day (say – San Francisco traffic and blaring horns), Lands End serves as a nice escape from the city chaos.

With breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean to the amazing Golden Gate Bridge, Lands End is a destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike.

The Wave Organ

Following the common theme of places by the Pacific Ocean, up next in our hidden gems in San Francisco is the Wave Organ. The Wave Organ is one of our favorite hidden gems because unlike any other instrument, the Wave Organ is entirely powered by the Ocean.

The Wave Organ is made up of a series of pipes and chambers that extend into the water, allowing the movement of the waves to produce musical tones. The sculpture is not only a work of art but also a fascinating scientific phenomenon that amazes us and also allows visitors to experience the power and beauty of the ocean in a new and unique way.

Have you ever been to the Wave Organ? Does it sound beautiful or eerie to you? Let us know by sending us a message or posting below! (We’ve attached a video of the Wave Organ in action – but of course its best to go see it for yourself to come to your own conclusions)

16 Ave Mosaic Steps

Ever scroll down Instagram and see people post beautiful photos of themselves with a stunning backgrounds of the Mosaic steps? Guess what? The photos were taken at the 16th Avenue steps.

Known locally as the Moraga Steps to the residents within the Sunset District of San Francisco this gem isn’t visited as heavily as the other tourist attractions (ex. Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, Alcatraz, etc). With the steps being a located within the residential neighborhood it’s common for locals to go and visit which definitely makes this one of San Francisco hidden spots. The steps are maintained by the community and within the 2 sections where the steps separate are beautiful gardens – each section maintained by a neighbor from the community.

When you decide to visit, let us know and snap a photo of yourself there! We’d love to see you having a good time.


When visiting the 16th Avenue Mosaic Steps (or Moraga Steps if you’re local) – be sure to TAKE ALL VALUABLES with you and LOCK YOUR CAR / RENTAL CAR.

While the community itself in the Sunset District is safe, tourist spots are easy targets for petty crime .

San Francisco is a beautiful city but it’s not without its own faults and crime. As always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.

Parking in San Francisco - What to Know and How to Navigate SF's Parking Situation

So you’ve decided to drive in San Francisco. That’s great! However, when visiting the city keep in mind of the many hills and limited parking spaces available – especially in high traffic areas.

San Francisco MTA (Municipal Transportation Authority) is notorious for giving out parking tickets like no other city. The locals are afraid of them and in the back of every local’s mind is the fear of getting a ticket.

But because you’re heading up on this ultimate guide to navigating San Francisco, we’re here to share with you the steps you NEED TO TAKE before driving in SF.

Curbing your vehicle’s wheels

San Francisco is built on many hills – some steeper than others but nonetheless, still built on hills. Because of the nature of the geography, San Francisco requires all vehicles to curb their wheels when parking on an incline or a decline. If you’re like us, you’re probably wondering – ‘wait – which way do we turn my wheels on a hill?’ The answer?

  • Turn your steering wheel all the way to the left when parking uphill.
  • Turn your steering wheel all the way to the right when parking downhill. 
  • Keep your steering wheel straight when on a flat road.

Keep in mind that if there is ANY slight incline or decline, turn your wheels to the appropriate direction. SFMTA WILL ticket you if you are on an incline if you don’t curb your wheels.

Parking in Residential Neighborhoods

San Francisco residents value whatever space they’re entitled to – and that includes driveways and sidewalks. With parking extremely limited in the city and with parking spaces small, parking in San Francisco may prove difficult. With each passing year it seems that cars are constantly increasing in size. Unfortunately for San Francisco the parking space sizes remain the same for cars designed back when the city was being developed.

If you drive in San Francisco with a larger SUV or even a medium sized sedan, parking may be a hassle since many of the parking spaces are shorter in length. Parking a SUV may seem near impossible and when you do find a space your car might not fit completely.  As a rule of thumb, as long as your car is parked before the curb slopes to make the driveway you’re in the clear.

If you are parking in the city and your vehicle blocks a resident’s driveway – be forewarned. Your car may be towed at your expense. When parking your car in residential areas, be sure not to block any of the neighbor’s driveways.

Getting around San Francisco using public transportation

During your trip to San Francisco you may be tempted to take Uber’s and Lyft’s everywhere. But what if we told you you can easily navigate San Francisco using public transportation?

Yes yes, we know that some locations will require travel by car but a good majority of the city is entirely walk-able! By taking public transit via the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) or SF’s MUNI Metro Rail you and your party can discover more of San Francisco without worrying about parking or getting tickets.

BART trains are incredibly convenient if flying into the city since San Francisco Airport has a connection directly into the main parts of the city. Instead of waiting for your Lyft or Uber from the airport, a BART ride from SFO to Embarcadero will only set you back a mere 30 minutes. That’s a lot quicker than sitting in stop-and-go traffic.

If you’re thinking about getting to the more residential areas of the city, much of the city is serviced by the MUNI Bus and Rail which is convenient to explore more of the city on-foot.

Benefits of asking private travel advisors for help navigating the city

Start Planning Your Trip with Strideley Travel!

During your planning have you ever thought to yourself — ‘If only I had someone to ask about San Francisco then planning would be so much easier”?

Good thing we’re a boutique travel agency and our team at Strideley Travel provides insider things to see at your favorite destinations. Not convinced? (Read our post above – yes, the same post as the page you’re currently on).

By asking travel advisors about your destination you’re sure to get Personalized Recommendations of the area, Local Knowledge of the culture, history, and customs, Expertise in how to navigate the cities, and all while Saving Time planning and arranging travel to have a Peace of Mind.

Wherever you’re planning to go, we’ve been there and the team at Strideley is more than happy to help you with your travel plans.

What are you waiting for? Reach out to our Strideley Travel advisors for things to do and what to see!

Looking for a direct line to us? (Call or text us at +1-310-359-6196)!


At Strideley, we are dedicated to creating unforgettable travel experiences that reflect the true culture of a destination. Strideley’s Travel Agents help busy professionals plan custom travel experiences. Strideley’s Travel Consultants advise on things to do, what to see, and provides exclusive access to member-only experiences.
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