An Outdoor Journey Through All 5 Senses In SF

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

An Outdoor Journey Through All 5 Senses In SF

In San Francisco, there’s always something to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

Whether you’re tasting your way through Fisherman’s Wharf, or enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scent of damp trees in the forest, there’s no shortage of places to keep your senses stimulated–even in lockdown!

For anyone who dealt with taste or smell loss from Covid, you’ll know how important it is to appreciate the little things. That’s why we’ve chosen a unique outdoor installation to stimulate each of the five senses around the city.


1. Sight (and smell): Wood Line


Andy Goldsworthy’s Wood Line is a peaceful, graceful sculpture that winds through the Presidio’s man-made eucalyptus grove. In the 1800s, the army planted eucalyptus and Monterey cypress here in the hopes of creating a beautiful canopy. The cypress eventually died out, but the eucalyptus remained, and in 2010 Goldsworthy placed his twisting, elegant sculpture in the gaps. Walk among the Woodline trail and take in the breathtaking sight of towering eucalyptus trees, as well as their characteristic fresh scent.

Location: Presidio Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94129


2. Hearing: Wave Organ


In the Marina district of SF, you’ll find a unique outdoor installation that appeals to your sense of hearing. The Wave Organ, created by artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez in 1986, is an acoustic sculpture activated by the waves of the San Francisco Bay. Its haunting  music comes from 25 different organ pipes placed at different levels around the sculpture, changing with the rise and fall of the tides. Make sure you go at high tide to experience the Wave Organ at its best.

Location: 83 Marina Green Drive, San Francisco, CA 94123


3. Smell (and touch): Garden of Fragrance at San Francisco Botanical Garden

The San Francisco Botanical Garden has dozens of different garden sections and thousands of plants from around the world. But if you’re looking to appease your sense of smell, the Garden of Fragrance is a veritable cornucopia of beautiful scents including lavender, mint, rosemary, and much more. It was first designed in 1965 for visually impaired visitors, and has since expanded into a full experience designed specifically for your senses of smell and touch.


Location: San Francisco Botanical Garden, 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122


4. Taste: Soma StrEat Food Park/District Six SF

There are quite literally thousands of food options in the city, but Soma StrEat Food Park/District Six SF is our pick for an outdoor experience catering to your sense of taste. Their rotating independent food trucks include delicious high quality cuisine from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and much more. Not to mention craft beer and wine options! Stop by for a unique outdoor meal with the comfort of heat lamps, TVs, WiFi, carnival games, and more, especially at the Sundaze Brunch and Marketplace. And while you’re at it, consider getting a haircut at the Bus Stop Barbershop, the first outdoor and Covid-compliant barbershop in SF!

Location: 428 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103


5. Touch (well, mostly sight): Firefly

All right, we’ll be honest – in the era of Covid, art installations for your sense of touch are few and far between. But when it comes to textural art pieces, FireFly is one of San Francisco’s tallest hidden gems. Ned Kahn created this 12-story kinetic wind sculpture in 2012 as a testament to the power of wind energy in the Public Utilities Commission headquarters. And although this texture is too big to touch, the movement of wind through the sculpture creates constantly changing, rippling textures that can be seen both by night and by day. The best part? The entire sculpture takes less energy than a 75-watt light bulb.

Location: Public Utilities Commission, 525 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102

Featured Image: @mr.point.and.shoot

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