In the late 1800s, California's first state engineer, William Hammond Hall, and his assistant, a Scotsman named John McLaren, transformed more than 1000 acres (405 hectares) of sand dunes into a wondrous haven in the midst of the city, christened Golden Gate Park after the eponymous strait nearby. Stretching over 50 blocks from Stanyan Street to the Pacific Ocean, the lush landscape is etched with numerous trails for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding, alongside a golf course, bowling greens, a lake with paddle boats, soccer fields and a baseball diamond. From the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers to the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park encompasses a wealth of scenic beauty and cultural intrigue within is expansive embrace. There are also several playgrounds, a quaint carousel, an aquarium, a buffalo reserve and an outdoor bandshell where open-air concerts are hosted each summer.
The Asian Art Museum is one of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art. Its holdings include nearly 15,000 treasures spanning 6000 years of history, representing cultures throughout Asia. Renowned architect Gae Aulenti oversaw the dramatic transformation of the building: it now features 40,000 square feet (3716 square meters) of gallery space, allowing the museum to better fulfill its mission of leading a diverse global audience in discovering the unique material, aesthetic and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture.
Developed by physicist Frank Oppenheimer and opened in 1969, this innovative and interactive museum is dedicated to art, science and human perception. Relocated from the Palace of Fine Arts to Piers 15 and 17, the modern space features plenty of new green technologies including the largest solar panel roof in San Francisco and offers over 600 hands-on exhibits. These hands-on displays unveil the mysteries of science and language, and present these theories simply and succinctly. Webinars, special events and seminars occur throughout the year. This San Francisco gem is a must visit.
Built in 1922, The Castro Theatre is San Francisco's only remaining movie palace. When it's not hosting film festivals, this 1400-seat house runs a repertory calendar heavy on film classics; there is no better place to see The Wizard of Oz. The interior reflects the elegance of a bygone era with its red velvet seats and walls that feature molded plaster and fresco detailing. The fanciful ceiling, from which an imposing art deco chandelier hangs, is designed to evoke the interior of a Bedouin tent. A mighty Wurlitzer organ plays between evening shows and completes the antique feel of the theater.
Named one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Golden Gate Bridge spans the eponymous strait that links the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Designed by Joseph Strauss, Irving Morrow, and Charles Ellis, the bridge opened in 1937 as the world's longest suspension bridge, its main span measuring at an impressive 4,200 feet (1,280 meters) in length. The bridge is not quite golden, but is instead a bright orange, its Art Deco towers looming through the dense fog that often mires the bay; a sight that has come to be emblematic of the city of San Francisco. The bridge ferries vehicular and pedestrian traffic between San Francisco and Marin City, the vista points on either side boasting awe-inspiring views of the Golden Gate, while the bridge itself promises unmatched views of the bay.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a must-see for San Francisco visitors. This multi-million dollar development has an abundance of activities for the entire family. The marvelous building was designed by renowned architect Arthur Page Brown in Beaux Arts Style. Similar to that of the iconic Giralda Bell Tower in Seville, the clock tower of this building is a popular landmark and can be seen from afar. Take a tour of the historic Ferry Building, browse through antique shops, enjoy a view by the bay and a bowl of chowder at Ferry Plaza Seafood or buy organic produce at the Farmer's Market. Enjoy the sights and sounds of what makes the Ferry Building one of the Bay's most popular destinations for entertainment, food, and fun.
The Rickshaw Stop is one of the trendiest spots in the city's club scene. While the club has cheaper admission prices than most of its competitors, the Rickshaw Stop still manages to pull in an eccentric range of renowned musical acts, such as Grimes, Katy B, Jonathan Richman, The Mooney Suzuki, and The Pipettes. The Rickshaw Stop has a full bar and serves delectable food to its guests.
Featuring performances from a diverse range of professional artists and bands from across the world, SFJAZZ Center is a modern concert venue in San Francisco. Located on the corner of Fell Street and Franklin Street, the center comprises the flexible Robert N. Miner Auditorium which has a capacity to host a maximum of 700 spectators, a smaller 80-seat rehearsal room and a cafe. The auditorium is equipped with latest infrastructure amenities where spectators can sit back, relax and watch the scintillating performances on stage.
This gleaming, mirror-walled, glass-enclosed cylinder seats 2,743 and the acoustics are phenomenal. If the minimalist look of the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall is somewhat disquieting, given the Beaux Arts look of the rest of the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center, never mind. Like the symphony itself, the 9,000 pipes of the Ruffati organ that looms behind the stage makes quite a statement.
In 1981, the Orpheum Theatre opened under new management with the hilarious musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Sixteen years later, a massive and privately funded renovation took place at the Orpheum, unveiling an ornate and stunning theater that has become synonymous with elegance in San Francisco. Blockbuster musicals have been housed here, and continues with its tradition of entertaining and inspiring awe in its audiences.
Discover the true spirit of San Francisco in this all inclusive, eclectic SoMa nightclub. Everyone from head banging punk rockers to polo-wearing yuppies can be seen here on any given night, and all are welcomed with equal enthusiasm. Nightly themes range from the underground 1980s music scene to New Wave to karaoke. Inside, the red lights cast a sexy glow on all of the club goers and the vinyl bench seating, silver go-go cage, and over-sized mirrors create a fun and energetic atmosphere that have helped make this club a staple in San Francisco's nightlife.