Here in San Francisco we like to embrace the weird and push the envelope as much as possible, so this list is really just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, if you’re a true San Franciscan, some of these places may not seem all that weird to you anyway. Art made of acid? Antique adult toys? A floating island built by a millionaire? It’s just another day in the City by the Bay.
1. Institute of Illegal Images
In his Mission District home, LSD fan Mark McCloud has amassed a large and impressive collection of “blotter art,” alongside rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, acid-inspired artifacts, and psychedelic literature. Yes, it’s truly a trip.
2. Good Vibrations’ Antique Vibrator Museum
Yep, you read that right. Located on Polk Street, San Francisco’s favorite adult toy shop showcases the evolution of the vibrator, from the late 1800s when it was used as a medical device to cure “female hysteria” through to the more female-liberating 1970s.
3. Red Door Café
Order up the Suck My Cuban and dine amongst scary troll heads, deformed dolls, and some very NSFW toys and trinkets. Best to keep the kids at home for this brunch.
4. Loved To Death
This Haight Street shop fully embraces the macabre art of taxidermy and does its best at creeping you out with the weirdest of oddities, including (real) stuffed animals, antique medical equipment, exorcism kits, jewelry made of teeth, vintage dolls that will give you nightmares, and lots and lots of skulls.
5. Forbes Island
Built by self-made millionaire Forbes Thor Kiddoo, Forbes Island offers “fantasy fine dining aboard the world’s only floating island.” Learn more about the restaurant here.
This is like no other concert you’ll ever go to. At Audium, you’ll get bathed in 176 speakers worth of sound, all while sitting in the dark.
Opaque also finds the idea of sight to be terribly distracting. This spot lets you dine in the dark so that you can truly focus on every note and nuance of what dances on your tongue. No need to see what you’re eating, right?!
8. Cayuga Park & Playground
Located next to the freeway and BART tracks, Cayuga Park may not grant the prettiest views in the city, but it does offer some weird and whimsical wood-carved sculptures that were created by Demetrio Bracero to make the park a more inviting spot for everyone.
9. The Vaillancourt Fountain
This huge concrete fountain created by Armand Vaillancourt in 1971 is a bit of an eyesore, especially given its prime real estate: right in front of the beautiful Embarcadero and Ferry Building. Even U2 singer Bono spray-painted it back in 1987. But it does exactly what art is supposed to do: give you a powerful reaction, whether you love it or hate it.
10. San Francisco’s Pet Cemetery
This may not be all that weird given San Franciscans’ obsession with their pets. Just south of Crissy Field is a small cemetery for Presidio residents’ furry, gilled, or feathered loved ones. Tiny plaques and tombstones are dedicated to Cutie, Lady, Smoochy, Mr. Twister, and more.
Do all of these weirdest places in San Francisco freak you out, or just make you love San Francisco even more?