Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Fortune cookies are a Chinese-American treat, probably invented in California. The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory went into business in 1962, and today it supplies restaurants throughout Chinatown and the world. A tour of the factory reveals how quickly workers must form the familiar shape on a steel rod, inserting the clairvoyant slips of paper before the dough hardens.
Dress up for the evening and head to the Redwood Room, a 1932 nightspot located inside the upscale Clift Hotel. This hotspot maintains its original art deco lighting and panelled walls, which, according to legend, originate from a single huge redwood tree. Today the joint also features Philippe Starck furniture, digital wall art, and DJs who spin house music.
Seward Street Slides
In the 1960s Noe Valley residents staged a sit-in to preserve a tiny piece of green space. Today, the Seward Mini Park is home to the concrete slides and a community garden. Although the sign says "Adults must be accompanied by children," the startlingly thrilling ride is too dangerous for very young kids. Bring a big piece of cardboard to fight friction and conserve your backside.
16th Avenue Tiled Steps
Climbing 163 steps can be great exercise, but these stairs at 16th Avenue and Moraga are also a sight to behold. In the early 2000s artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher enlisted the help of hundreds of locals to create stunning mosaic tiles. Viewed together, they depict blue swirls filled with fish, animals, and birds.
The Castro Theater is a 1922 movie palace. Although its eclectic architecture is an experience by itself, the theater still operates, showing a mix of classics, foreign films, and occasional live performances. Attending a sing-a-long showing of a well-known musical gives you a chance to mingle with the locals, who sometimes show up dressed as characters from the movies.
Cartoon Art Museum
The museum's mission began when a group of private collectors banded together to stage exhibits at other area museums. With help from Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, the museum was built in the Yerba Buena cultural district in 1987. Exhibits run the gambit from comic book art to Sunday funnies to animation. The gift shop has a comic store feel, and you can sign take a daylong cartooning class.
You'll definitely see the Golden Gate Bridge, but make sure you set aside time for some of these hidden gems, too.
(Photo by thesoupboy via Flickr)
Article written by Miles Y.