San Francisco – Like a Local

Tips to Avoid the Tourist Track

Three Non-Touristy Things to Do in San Francisco


Here’s the thing. Tourists come to San Francisco and do all these stereotypical tourist-y things, and it’s sad to witness because those things are overrated, overpriced… and really not that much fun.

For example: I’ve lived in San Francisco for the past several years, and I’ve never once ridden a cable car. Neither have most of my friends. Why? Because they cost $6 and go really slow, and I can get around much faster by paying $2 to ride MUNI (the bus). So every time I walk past the massive cable-car line at Powell and Market, I scratch my head in confusion. Why are these people wating in line to ride an overcrowded cable car? Don’t they know about MUNI?

I mean, I guess I get it. Cable cars are an important part of San Francisco’s history. But I’m just saying… when I see a bunch of tourists crammed onto a cable car, frantically sticking their heads out of the window in search of fresh air… well, it doesn’t look like very much fun.


Look how silly you guys look.

Anyway, if you’re tired of doing what mass media advertising tells you to do, try these things instead.

Awesome Thing #1: Spend a Saturday Afternoon in Dolores Park

I am a girl of many varied interests, and I hang out with a lot of different groups of people. But no matter how different some of my friends may be, we can all agree on one thing: Dolores Park is awesome.

Stop by on a Saturday to witness some serious San Francisco culture. You’ll see talented hula-hoopers, teenagers playing kickball, sketchy guys selling pizzas and cold beer, groups of kids drinking, cute nerdy girls reading books, stoners passing a bowl around, homeless folk taking naps in the sun, and people playing all kinds of instruments. I’ve also seen dancing robots, silent discos, drunken girl-on-girl fights, and couples getting a little too close under their blankets (Couples, take note: the blankets aren’t fooling anyone).

Also, you didn’t hear this from me, but Dolores Park is your number one place for scoring drugs. But please, don’t go asking around and making a fool of yourself – wait for someone to approach you. If you’re lucky, you might even run into the Truffle Guy. But hey, you didn’t hear that from me.

Oh, and you get bonus points for getting a cone at Bi-Rite Creamery before you head to the park. With unique flavors like Basil and Honey Lavender, it’s a popular local spot – a little too popular, in fact. The line is always out the door, but that’s part of the fun. After you’ve sweated it out in line for half an hour, when you finally get your ice cream, you’ll appreciate it more.

Awesome Thing #2: Visit Baker Beach

Most tourists go Ocean Beach, which, to be fair, is a pleasant spot. But if you want to have an adventure and get off the tourist track, head to its lesser-known cousin, Baker Beach.

Baker Beach has everything that Ocean Beach has: sun, sand, the beautiful but freezing cold ocean, great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, groups of locals drinking beer and hanging out. There’s just one tiny difference: many of the people at Baker Beach are naked.

That’s right, it’s a nude beach. And in true San Francisco style, you won’t just see people just lying around sunbathing – you’ll see them playing volleyball, making out, and engaging in all the other activities people normally do at a beach – sans clothes.

Oh, and you get bonus Cool Tourist points for getting naked.

Awesome Thing #3: Visit a Kinky Coffee Shop

Tucked into an unassuming block of the SOMA district is a tiny coffee shop called Wicked Grounds. From the outside, it doesn’t look any different from all the other coffee shops in the city. But step inside and you will step into a whole different world: a kinky coffee shop!

That’s right, folks. They sell whips, chains, handcuffs, condoms… oh yeah, and coffee. They have sexy board games to play, and regular ones too, if you want to be vanilla. (Ask the barista what ‘vanilla’ means). They reguarly host all kinds of interesting events, including rope bondage workshops, free massages for coffee-buyers, and classes on topics such as Erotic Hypnosis. They also have a cage in the corner, where you can threaten to lock your date if she is being a bad girl.

The coffee is really good, but that’s not why people go here. They go here for the atmosphere. If you stop in to get a brew, and stick around long enough, I guarantee that you will experience some of the best people-watching you have ever seen in your life. Just please, come with an open mind. This place is not for the faint of heart.


(Note: this will probably soon become Five Awesome Things to Do in San Francisco, or maybe even Ten Awesome Things to Do in San Francisco, once I get around to writing more stuff.)

Note #2: The photo you clicked on to read this post was taken in Dolores Park by the good people at SF Gate.


3 comments on “Three Non-Touristy Things to Do in San Francisco

  1. aj vosse
    November 3, 2013

    Fun… why not? Just don’t get yourself hurt while you’re at all the fun! 😉

  2. Juliann
    December 11, 2013

    I think we wandered into a coffee shop like this. It was someplace in the Castro district, so probably not the same place.

  3. sflocal
    December 18, 2013

    Hi Jillian, it probably wasn’t the same place, but SF has tons of funky coffee shops, especially in the Castro!

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