Low-key destinations to check out in the Bay Area

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Summers at Cal present the perfect time to explore the Bay Area, but finding cool sites to visit that aren’t crowded with tourists can be a challenge. Luckily, we’ve highlighted four lesser-known spots in the Bay Area worth visiting with friends and family alike that will provide a more laid-back experience than most tourist spots.

Pacific Pinball Museum

In the middle of the city of Alameda lies a place that thrives on nostalgia, vintage art and classic fun. Hosting more than 75 pinball machines spanning decades from the late ’40s to the late ’90s, the Pacific Pinball Museum is the perfect place to spend a hot summer afternoon. For $15, you can play all the pinball you want for as long as you want (the machines are on free-play mode). Featuring classic boards such as Black Knight, Twilight Zone, Revenge from Mars and Blackwater 100, the Pacific Pinball Museum is the perfect gateway into the art of pinball and the peak of its popularity during the ’80s. And Pacific Pinball Museum’s title as a museum is well earned: Playing through tables of different decades is an interactive refresher on the history of entertainment.


Mission Dolores

Located in the Northwest corner of the Mission District on 16th Street just north of Dolores Park, Mission San Francisco de Asis — or Mission Dolores, for short — is a historical landmark. The oldest surviving structure in San Francisco, Mission Dolores is a relatively small and contained historical monument containing two main chapels and a connecting cemetery. Made famous in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece “Vertigo,” Mission Dolores’s iconic internal architecture is still as beautiful as when James Stewart and Kim Novak braced its grounds more than 50 years ago. Church services do not run anymore except on certain holidays, so your visit will be wholly spent on appreciating the church’s beautiful interior design. Overall, Mission Dolores is the the ideal motivator for a trip through the Mission on a nice Sunday.


Mt. Olympus

Once thought to be the geographic center of San Francisco, Mt. Olympus holds the remains of a forgotten landmark. Located in Ashbury Heights on a hill elevated above the rest of the city, Mt. Olympus once held Sutro’s Triumph of Light Statue, erected in 1887 as a symbol of liberty triumphing over despotism. But as the decades passed, the public forgot its purpose and presence, and at some point during the ’50s, the statue was taken down. As of today, the statue’s 30-foot base is all that remains, as its plaque has eroded. But the ruins of this deserted monument still hold one of the best views in the Day, and the place is not crowded with an obscene number of tourists. It’s also relatively close to Haight Street, in case you are inclined to visit a more crowded San Francisco tourist spot.


Indian Rock Park

Ask any Berkeley student about Indian Rock, and they will have no idea what it is. But ask any native Berkeley resident, and they’ll tell you it’s a landmark of the city. Located north of the Gourmet Ghetto, near the Marin Circle Fountain, Indian Rock is the perfect place to visit, especially at sunset or at night. Although sometimes used as a practice site for rock climbing and bouldering, there is plenty of space to relax and enjoy your surroundings on Indian Rock. Though the park itself is relatively small — about the size of a football field — and the rock covers most of the ground, the space never feels cramped. Holding one of the best views in the East Bay — easily paralleling that of the Big C — Indian Rock is a soothing place to go after a dinner at the Gourmet Ghetto.



Contact Art Siriwatt at [email protected]