I recently was asked contribution a short piece for an ebook put together by TheDepartureBoard.com. The idea was that travel writers and travel professionals from around the world would share a fun and interesting fact about their home town. Being a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, I chose to write about a historic fire hydrant. (Sounds weird? Read on to get the full story!) There are lots of amazing places in San Francisco – some on every tourist’s must-see list, and others a bit more obscure. Here are a few strange and wonderful things that I think should be on everyone’s list of unique things to do and see in San Francisco.
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Alamao Square Park Shoe Garden
Most tourists head to Alamo Square to snap a picture or two of the famous Painted Ladies, a row of beautiful Victorian style homes that many will recognize as being featured in the opening credits of the popular TV show, Full House. But turn your back on the houses and walk directly toward the center of Alamo Square Park, towards the bathrooms, and you’ll find the Shoe Garden. It’s nothing more than a few shoes and boots, re-purposed into pots for plants and flowers – a strange and quirky tradition, and well worth the one-minute detour from the Painted Ladies.
Seward Street Slides
There is a community run park on the corner of Seward St & Douglass St in San Francisco where you’ll find some unique slides, built into the hillside. Bring a large piece of cardboard with you – you’ll sit on it as you ride down the smooth concrete slides. This might sound like one for the kids, but it really is fun for all ages – and a great, wholesome way to reconnect with your inner child!
The Golden Fire Hydrant
The Great Earthquake of 1906 destroyed much of San Francisco, but the subsequent fire continued to ravage the city for days afterward. The fire raged, unopposed, because most of the hydrants in the city were dry, and using horses to haul tankers of water up San Francisco’s steep hills was slow and tedious. In the Mission Delores district, locals discovered that one miraculous hydrant at 20th and Church St still had enough pressure to help the Oakland Fire Watch Company firefighters stop the fire from destroying anymore of the district. To commemorate the event, Every year, local residents paint this hydrant gold in memory of the lives and homes that it saved. You can still see the Gold Fire Hydrant on the corner of 20th and Church St.
There are hundreds of other cool things to do in San Francisco, so it’s worth spending some time there to explore all the nooks and crannies this great city. If you’re traveling to SF from another state, or another country, it’s easy to find good deals on flights to San Francisco, since it’s such a major travel hub. So, come spend some time in one of my favorite cities in the world (I’m admittedly biased here), and discover your own secret off the beaten path spots in San Francisco!