Top 5 things to do in San Francisco this summer

July 2, 2013, 9:00 a.m.
Entrance to the Exploratorium at Pier 15. Image by Amy Snyder © Exploratorium, all rights reserved.
Entrance to the Exploratorium at Pier 15. Image by Amy Snyder © Exploratorium, all rights reserved.

While seeing the Golden Gate Bridge or riding the cable cars may top the list of many tourists visiting San Francisco for the first time, the city also offers a wealth of lesser-known alternatives to explore. Here are our picks for the best things to do off the beaten path in San Francisco this summer.

Be sure to visit the (still relatively) new location of the Exploratorium if you haven’t already! Bring a group of friends to see if you can beat the “Team Pac-Man” exhibit, in which teams of two to four players work with limited controls to beat the classic Pac-Man arcade game. Stop by the SEAGLASS Restaurant and sample locally sourced seasonal dishes, including entrees like tacos, Welsh rarebit and sandwiches. The Exploratorium is located at Pier 15 and general admission tickets are $19 for students with ID.

Interdependence exhibit at the Rare Device Gallery

Artwork at the Interdependence Gallery. Photo by Julia Lacey
Artwork at the Interdependence Exhibit. Photo by Julia Lacey.

Looking for something a little different to do in July? Visit the “Interdependence” gallery at Rare Device, a store and gallery that features different art and design galleries every couple of months. The “Interdependence” exhibit presents etchings and aquatints by Fairfax artist Julia Lucey, focusing on how North American wildlife lives as a community. The exhibit opens on July 5 and runs through August 30. Rare Device is at 600 Divisadero St.

Pier 23 If you’re craving delicious local seafood, look no further than Pier 23. From the classic fish and chips to the unique bacon fried oysters, you won’t leave disappointed. During the weekend, there’s almost always live music, ranging from reggae bands to ragtime pianists. In addition, from July 4 all the way through mid-September, Pier 23’s outdoor patio provides the perfect viewing spot for the America’s Cup, an international sailing race featuring elaborate wing-sailed multihull boats. Pier 23 is located on the Embarcadero.

Bernal Heights For the best view of the San Francisco skyline, take a hike up Bernal Heights Hill. As of June 28, a random piano had been hauled up to the summit, complete with an oddly shaped remnant of a tree trunk as its chair. Wouldn’t this be a great place to “accidentally” stumble upon this piano and show off your Mozart skills to that special someone? Don’t worry — you can thank us for the tip later. Bernal Heights Hill is at Bernal Heights Boulevard.

The Bay Lights. Photo by  Lucas Saugen.
The Bay Lights. Photo by Lucas Saugen.

The Bay Lights To end your day in San Francisco, travel to Yerba Buena Island to watch the LED light show on the Bay Bridge. It’s currently the world’s largest LED light sculpture with 25,000 hand-wired LEDs, 60,000 zip ties and 100,000 linear feet of armored cabling. Although the lights have been on display since March, Leo Villareal, the artist behind this project, created a custom algorithm so that the light patterns won’t repeat for two years. Yerba Buena Island can be found at 300 Nimitz Drive.

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