Weird, Unusual & Unique Things to Do in San Francisco

San Francisco Bay is an ideal location if you’re looking for anything out-of-the-ordinary. The area is somewhat infamous for its vibrant and colorful characters.

If you want more “weird” than a bit of people-watching can provide, the Bay offers plenty of offbeat attractions that will spice up any vacation or day trip to San Francisco.

Some of these attractions have become very popular with tourists, and some are still little-known treasures.

Here’s our selection of some weird and unique things to do in San Francisco.

You can save up to 55% on admission costs

The Go San Francisco Card includes admission to a number of these attractions, plus entry to tons of other popular things to do in the area.

Save up to 55% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate – learn more here.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! San Francisco

Ripley's Believe It or Not! San Francisco

With 17 themed galleries and over 400 exhibits and artifacts, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! San Francisco is, in my opinion, the weirdest and most unique attraction on Fisherman’s Wharf.

This place is packed full of odd and unusual yet true items.

Stop in here and you will find things like shrunken heads, an Egyptian mummified foot, pieces of duct tape art, a two-trunk elephant, a three-legged man, and much more. This place is the perfect fusion of edutainment and interactivity.

We’d suggest spending about 1 hour at Ripley’s to make sure you get to see all there is at this museum.

Getting In: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! San Francisco tickets are included with the Go San Francisco® Card.

San Francisco Dungeon

San-Francisco-Dungeons-1Featuring 200 years of Bay Area history, this delightfully campy attraction combines funky scares with fascinating historical context.

It’s one part thrill ride, one part theatrical experience. You’ll get to experience what life was like for Alcatraz prisoners while seeing if you have what it takes to escape ‘The Rock’ as you plunge into the depths of San Francisco’s underground.

Next, hop on a boat for a 60-minute cruise through San Francisco’s criminal history, as depicted in nine live performances based on the most notorious (and true) stories of the city’s most sinister past.

Where else can you find a legit dungeon in the middle of a modern city? (Outside of Europe, that is.)

Getting In: San Francisco Dungeon tickets are included with the Go San Francisco® Card.

Madame Tussauds San Francisco

Madame-Tussauds-San-Francisco-1
For those who love celebrity culture, music, and history of all kinds, Madame Tussauds is a must-see attraction.

A series of galleries filled astonishingly life-like wax replicas of everyone from the hottest pop starts to the most significant historical figures, this attraction has a lot to offer visitors.

Plus, there’s something inherently fun and bizarre about wax figures, right?

Getting In: Madame Tussauds San Francisco tickets are included with the Go San Francisco® Card.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

SFMOMA-3In addition to being one of the most unique architectural structures, this is actually one of the coolest attractions in the entire city.

This beautifully updated art museum features an extensive collection of curated artwork that spans the gamut from painting to performance.

With a new gallery expansion that tripled their exhibit space, the SFMOMA is able to offer one of the best collections of modern and contemporary art in the entire world. Bring the whole family and spend an entire afternoon!

Getting In: SFMOMA tickets are included with the Go San Francisco® Card.

The Beat Museum

For those of you who love reading Howl and anything by Kerouac, or even just lit and history lovers in general, the Beat Museum is a perfect destination in San Francisco to satisfy your culture cravings.

Learn all about the history of this distinctive and truly unmatched cultural movement in San Francisco and hopefully be inspired by their creative legacy.

Getting In: Beat Museum tickets are included with the Go San Francisco® Card.

The Musée Mécanique

A bit creepy, right?

The Musée Mécanique (or Museum of Mechanics) is among the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines.

All 300+ of the machines are owned by one collector who began his collection when he was 11 years old.

The machines range from player pianos to hand cranked music boxes to mechanical dioramas, picture shows, and automations. If you don’t think this sounds strange enough, you haven’t yet seen mechanical characters like “Laffing Sal” or “The Drinking Man.”

Getting In: Admission to the Musée Mécanique is free. For more information about the attraction, please visit the attraction website.

Winchester Mystery House

A beautiful shot of the interior.

This strange Bay Area amusement is a world-famous mansion. In 1884 it became the personal residence of Sarah Winchester and underwent 38 years of continuous construction under her watch. So what’s the story?

Sarah was the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester and believed the house was haunted by the ghosts of the people who had fallen victim to the Winchester rifles.

According to legend, she thought that the continuous construction would appease them. Now, people flock to see the enormous mansion-turned- tourist-attraction to explore its odd and allegedly haunted depths.

Getting In: Admission to the Winchester Mystery House is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go San Francisco® Card. For more information about this attraction and to purchase tickets, please visit the attraction website.

Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia & Classic Toy Museum

The Burlingame Museum is the only place in the world to see a model of every Pez dispenser ever made. That means over 550 unique Pez characters are housed in this museum, from Tweety Bird to SpongeBob. The museum also features the world’s largest Pez dispensing machine, a 7-foot-tall snowman dispenser.

And the machine actually works—it can dispense a clear plastic capsule that holds 6480 Pez candies! They’ve also got an additional section,, the Classic Toy Museum, which centralizes all your favorite childhood toys – and those of your parents, too!

Getting In: Admission to the Burlinghame Museum is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go San Francisco® Card. For more information about this attraction, please visit the attraction website.

Banned Toy Museum

After you’ve seen the classic toys, see what you missed out on at the Banned Toy Museum. (It’s an expansion of the same museum). This fun museum features a surprising surplus of toys that were taken off the market because someone decided they were a safety hazard or because they were too offensive.

You’ll see the Snacktime Kid Cabbage Patch Doll, the doll that got recalled because her mechanical jaws wouldn’t stop chewing…even when kids got their hair and fingers caught in her mouth.

And check out Aqua Dots, a fun craft set that created designs using small colored beads. The problem? When the beads were accidentally swallowed, they magically transformed into gamma hydroxyl butyrate, causing unconsciousness, seizures, and drowsiness. Oops.

Getting In: Admission to the Banned Toy Museum is included with Admission to the Burlinghame Museum.

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The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks so much for the wonderful write up about the Musee. It’s great to get such exposure. I wanted to let you know about a recent change that may affect your page.

    It’s a long story, but the old site museemechanique.org (a misspelling no less) is not owned, operated, or controlled by Dan Zelinsky, who owns the Musee. If you could change the link to Dan’s new site, at http://www.museemecaniquesf.com , we’d appreciate it.

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