A view of Alcatraz Island from San Francisco. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A view of Alcatraz Island from San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Iconic Bay Area Spots That Locals Don't Visit (According to You)

The Iconic Bay Area Spots That Locals Don't Visit (According to You)

We at Bay Curious often focus on the lesser-known corners of the Bay Area when we answer your questions about the region.

Yet for those who grew up here, it's often the most famous attractions — the ones tourists travel continents to see — that for whatever reason, people have just never visited.

So we asked locals on social media, "What 'iconic' Bay Area destination/landmark have you never set foot in?" and hundreds of you responded across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Reddit.

Read on for the local attractions that many Bay Area born-and-bred folks simply don't go to. And, if this inspires you to finally take the plunge and check them out, we've got tips on making your first visit to these places.

The Winner: Alcatraz

Why would anyone want to visit a federal prison?
Why would anyone want to visit a federal prison? (Tylerjswenson/Flickr)

Hands down, Alcatraz Island and its infamous former federal penitentiary was the answer we heard most.

Some people said they'd visited Alcatraz as a child with their school but hadn't returned as adults. Several commenters also wondered why anyone would want to visit a prison, even a decommissioned one.

Whatever the reason, based on the overwhelming response, "never visiting Alcatraz" might have to join saying "hella" as indisputable proof of ones Bay Area credentials.

Finally tempted to try it? Be sure to plan ahead. Tickets to Alcatraz go on sale 90 days ahead of time, and they often sell out weeks in advance.

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Riding a Cable Car

Cable cars have been roaming San Francisco streets for more than a century, but a lot of locals have never taken a ride.
Cable cars have been roaming San Francisco streets for more than a century, but a lot of locals have never taken a ride. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Finally tempted to try it? You can use your Clipper card or the MuniMobile app to take your inaugural ride. Otherwise be sure you have the single-ride fare of $7 in exact change.

Another tip: if you're at a super busy stop with a long line — like the Powell Street turnaround — try walking up a stop or two for a much better chance of climbing aboard.

Walking the Golden Gate Bridge

Check the weather before you head out or you might end up taking a foggy, misty walk across the bridge.
Check the weather before you head out or you might end up taking a foggy, misty walk across the bridge. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Finally tempted to try it? It may sound obvious, but check the weather on the bridge before you depart to avoid walking 1.7 miles (each way) in a sea of view-less fog. To be totally sure, try consulting a live bridge traffic cam.

The Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House is such a mystery that plenty of locals have never been.
The Winchester Mystery House is such a mystery that plenty of locals have never been. (Gentgeen via Wikimedia Commons)

Finally tempted to try it? On Reddit, user leicanthrope offers this advice for visiting San Jose's notorious "haunted" mansion: "Former guide here... I highly recommend going during the off-season. If you show up during spring break or the summer, they're likely going to be absolutely slammed...During the off season, it's much more comfortable inside the house, the tour guides aren't as fried from giving a ton of tours back-to-back, and you'll likely have a smaller tour group."

The Santa Cruz Mystery Spot

It's a mystery why so many locals have never been to the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz.
It's a mystery why so many locals have never been to the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz. (Tshrinivasan via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

Finally tempted to try it? As noted on Reddit, the wait times to buy tickets to Santa Cruz's self-described “gravitational anomaly” (and premier purveyor of bumper stickers) could potentially be long on arrival or even sell out. So consider buying your tickets online beforehand.

Coit Tower

You can see it from all over the Bay Area, but how many people who live here have actually been inside Coit Tower?
You can see it from all over the Bay Area, but how many people who live here have actually been inside Coit Tower? (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Finally tempted to try it? You can buy your tickets for the elevator ride to the top ahead of time, and San Francisco residents get a discount. But you don't even need to pay to check out the 1934 murals inside the tower's base.

The Great Depression-era murals might be even more impressive than the view from the top.
The Great Depression-era murals might be even more impressive than the view from the top. (Peter Roome/Flickr)

Honorable Mentions...

Angel Island, Grace Cathedral, the Transamerica Pyramid and the Palace of Fine Arts.

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