A cool way to visit San Francisco California would be to find several of the 131 vibrantly decorated San Francisco hearts scatted around the side streets, business foyers and windows, and staircases.
The hearts are decorated with painted mosaics, compilations of polaroid’s, abstract works, even portraits of San Francisco’s infamous wild parrots.
Inspired by the classic Tony Bennet song, I left my heart in San Francisco, the San Francisco Hearts Project began in 2004 for the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, raising money with artistic contributions from some of the world’s most notable artists.
Each year, San Francisco artists are invited to paint their very own Heart to be displayed in the city for that year.
At the end of each year, Hearts are auctioned off with proceeds going directly to the hospital foundation, which has raised over $10 million dollars through the hearts.
The most recognizable Tony Bennett’s heart titled, America’s Greatest City By the Bay resides permanently on the corner of Powell and Post Streets in San Francisco’s Union Square. The three other corners of the square also have hearts.
All of the ‘heartworks’ are privately owned and some are in easily discovered locations, such as the lobbies and storefronts of our generous corporate supporters, others are at the homes of private individuals
Find some in locations such as City Hall, Pier 39, San Francisco General Hospital, and AT&T Park.
Andy Goldsworthy Art, Presidio Park
Andy Goldsworthy is Andy Goldsworthy OBE is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist who produces site-specific sculptures and land art situated in natural and urban settings.
Several of his art installations are located in the Presidio.
Goldsworthy’s four Presidio pieces – Spire, Wood Line, Tree Fall, and Earth Wall – can be visited individually or explored together via a three-mile hiking loop
Spire, made from the trunks of 35 cypress trees towers 90 feet into the air and blends in with the surrounding Monterey cypress trees. It is located off the Bay Ridge Trail.
My favorite was Woodline, expertly camouflaged and in beautiful synergy with the surrounding forest landscape of Eucalyptus trees and fallen foliage.
It took me a moment of walking on the logs lying on the ground to realize they were the art installation and then I could follow their weaving pattern down the tree lined path and was quite astounded by its beauty.
Whereas Spire invites you to look up and ponder the rejuvenation of this beautiful city forest, Wood Line invites you to contemplate where the life of a tree begins…the fertile earth.
Tree Fall is within the red-tile roof of the Powder Magazine building southeast of the Main Parade Ground and Earth Wall is inside the Presidio Officers’ Club.
Both invite viewers to come inside and to contemplate the relationship between what is “natural” and what is “built.
Tin How Temple, Chinatown
Most people come to Chinatown looking for Golden Fortune Cookies, Ross Alley, and Dim Sum.
You can find many other treasures and San Francisco secret spots in the oldest neighborhood in the bay area.
Pop into Tin How Temple, the oldest extant Tao Temple in temple in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and one of the oldest still-operating Chinese temples in the United States.
It’s only a small space on the 4th floor of an apartment building on Waverly St and there is not much else to do but smell the incense, soak up the peaceful ambiance and marvel at something quite ancient and magical.
While walking around Chinatown, pay attention to the murals on the walls too. They are just as worthy of attention as the murals in the Mission District and can be classified as hidden San Francisco points of interest.
Jack Kerouac Alley
I thought this was one of the best places in San Francisco I saw.
Flanked by the Vesvuio café and beatnik book store, Jack Kerouac Alley is where the East meets the West.
Chinatown merges into Little Italy and as you walk from one end to the other, look down to learn a few nuggets of wisdom from Confucius to Maya Angelou.
Nearby is the steepest street in San Francisco, Caffe Trieste where Francis Ford Coppolla wrote the screenplay for the Godfather, and Vesuvio Café where Jack Kerouac and Allen Ghinsberg used to sit and ponder the meaning of life over a few cocktails.
For years it’s hosted writers, poets, artists, and musicians. Its original Beat-era Bohemian spirit is still very much alive, with little changes to its design and purpose since its establishment in 1948.
Add this to your list of secret places in San Francisco.
Transamerica Redwood Park
What local wouldn’t want to escape from their busy office to sit with a redwood grove on their lunch break?
Travelers are going to love it as well.
As you’re exploring the Financial District in Downtown San Francisco and gazing up at the Transamerica Pyramid shaped building you can see from all over the city, be sure to pop next to the small half acre pocket park next to it.
80 mature redwood trees brought in from the Santa Cruz Mountains were planted there in 1972. Fifty of the original trees remain, creating a shaded, green oasis amidst the area’s glass and steel skyscrapers.
With ferns and fountains it’s a tranquil place to sit for a while and one of the true San Francisco hidden gems.
Mark Twain once lived and wrote on this site. Contemplate that as you stare at the jumping frog sculptures in the fountain that are in remembrance of him.