Looking through pictures from my trip to San Francisco last month, I am reminded that the city offers a wide variety of activities, viewpoints (scenic and political), cuisine, cultures, and more. Countless resources show you the mainstream tourist spots (including me here, here, and here) but I hope to show some fun and quirky San Francisco scenes in this article.
My 8 Great Fun and Quirky San Francisco Scenes
- Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach is a secondary San Francisco attraction. It is historic, for among other things, Joe DiMaggio attending, being an altar boy, and marrying in it. The church is massive and is gorgeous inside and out. When visiting cathedrals and churches, I like exploring the periphery. Doing so here, I found this statue, which attracted my attention, although frighteningly. I am guessing the vision struck fear deep into my Catholic upbringing. Anyway, I searched online for “nun black habit” and was bombarded with Halloween costume links and images. Research is so difficult.
- All over San Francisco, I saw dozens of vans and a few cars with custom graffiti paint jobs. It must be sort of fun to decorate your vehicle like this. This was actually one of the least quirky designs I encountered but I did not take pictures of any others. Now there is a picture book idea. Can I find a sponsor?
- As you would expect, San Francisco has public art all over the city. Although I have pictures of quirkier San Francisco public art, I include this one as a homage to the San Francisco Giants currently playing in the World Series. Good luck! Besides, Juan Marichal had one of the quirkiest pitching motions, right? This statue is at the entrance to the currently named AT&T Park.
- Quirky and fun is one thing (two things?) but I would be remiss if I did not provide you with at least one McCool travel tip. “Go to the Ferry Building farmers market” says everyone: bloggers, tourist office, hotel staff, social media contacts, big media outlets, Yelp. Well, I went. I was not impressed. Skip the market unless you want to overpay for produce, artisan products, and food truck items. Hold on, that is not even the tip. On my early morning walks around Chinatown (esp. Stockton Street), I found a vibrant market setting with much lower prices and few Westerners. To compare, the farmers market standard price (at least 2 vendors) for red grapes was $3.49 a pound. Farmers market—boring, plain, expensive. Chinatown—quirky, fun, light on the budget.
- Speaking of morning walks, that is an interesting time to visit the Tenderloin area (aka the seedy area). Now, you do not want to just walk cold turkey into Tenderloin. Better to ease into it by walking down from Nob Hill through the border area called Tendernob (yes, it is really called that). Just after sunrise is an ideal time to catch glimpses of the previous evening’s nefarious activities with a minimum sense of danger. Sure, you may have to step over passed out people, trash, and unidentifiable stuff. How about this quirky scene?
- Not every independent bookstore has closed. One of the quirkiest, most fun bookstores in USA is City Lights in North Beach (close to Chinatown). I did not spend as much time here as I should have. I did spend a few moments checking out their selection of degenerate magazines (under the stairs) before heading up to the Beat literature section. Name another bookstore (well, outside of San Francisco) with a Beat section. Oh, and I bought a book from this section. First person to guess the title and author will receive, well, some kudo.
- You know I love my quirky signs! In fact, it was hard to limit this post to only one quirky sign, because San Francisco has so many quirky and fun signs. One of my favorite signs in San Francisco is this one from the Municipal Pier. Another McCool travel tip: amazing unobstructed views of Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the city. But this ominous sign? Is the pier unsafe? Is this a warning in case of earthquake? Is the model an Alcatraz prisoner? And why does he keep his arms raised after falling in the water? So many questions.
- Ever said to yourself, “gee, Dr. Seuss books are great and all but I would like a permanent reminder of his imaginative brilliance on my office or living room wall?” Well, quirky San Francisco to the rescue! Indeed, others go to SFMOMA, FAMSF, or fine art galleries. To satisfy your quirky and fun art craving visit The Art of Dr. Seuss on Geary street in Union Square. After all, you need a unique souvenir of your visit to quirky San Francisco, right?
It was certainly fun finding quirky San Francisco places and things. What is the quirkiest thing you have seen in San Francisco?