San Francisco is the official American capital of counterculture, possessing the largest percentage of hippies and wacky folks per square hectare. And while that's not actually a real fact, it is true that there is no shortage of quirky gems and points of interest to explore in the Golden City. The Bernal Slides are cool, the Billy Goat Rope Swing is awesome fun, and the Owl Man has reached local legend status – but why stop there? Delve deeper into West Coast eccentricity with these spots that the locals might not even know about.
What's San Francisco without the Beat Generation? It's almost impossible to hear North Beach or Big Sur without calling Allen Ginsburg or Jack Kerouac to mind. As the original birthplace of hipsters, you can either roll your eyes or have the time of your life at one of the Beat Museum's Beatnik Shindigs, listen to vinyl recordings of William Burroughs' poetry, and ogle original black-and-white photographs of Bob Dylan hanging out in the Bay.
Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze
We've probably all been in a mirror maze at some point in our childhood, stumbling about in the standard carnival attraction and smacking our faces into the walls on a wrong turn. Well if you thought regular mirror mazes were trippy, they've got nothing on Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze. Labeled as "one part art, one part science” by its creators, blacklights, flashing neon lights, and rave music make this the most disorienting fun you'll have in a while. Look for the sign hidden within Pier 39.
Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum
Since its inception in 1869, the vibrator has transitioned from a medical device used to treat 'female hysteria,' into a consumer good whose market is worth billions of dollars. Good Vibrations has the full story of the vibrator on display, from its beginnings to today with a solid collection of sex toys to back it up; from terrifying metal appliances to curiously-shaped plastic massagers, staff sexologist Dr. Carol Queen is also on hand to answer any burning questions you might want to have answered.
Audium Theatre of Sound-Sculptured Space
For the physics and music nerds, the Audium Theatre is a unique opportunity in North America –if not the entire world– to experience what is called 'space-sculpted sound'. The entire building is an instrument, each surface and angle a careful composition. Created by two professional musicians, each live performance on Friday and Saturday evenings is conducted through the 169 speakers, resulting in a concert you've never experienced before.
A gallery-meets-library-meets-museum, the Letterform Archive is every typophile's dream-come-true. Located in an airy loft, browsing the 30,000-plus artifacts of typography, calligraphy, and graphic design feels like spending time in a well-read friend's hip apartment. Makes sense, as the archive was originally started as a personal project by enthusiast Rob Saunders. Thankfully, he had decided to open his collection spanning from ancient times to modern day to the public – the only caveat being that a reservation in advance is required.