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. Home to over thousands of treasures spanning 6000 years of history, the museum serves as a portal to the rich artistic cultures throughout Asia. Renowned architect Gae Aulenti oversaw the dramatic transformation of the building, which now features a massive gallery space. This majestic destination leads a diverse global audience towards the exploration of the unique, aesthetic and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture.
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.
A mere 1.25 miles (2.01 km) off the coast of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island boasts a fascinating history that extends far beyond its stint as a federal penitentiary from 1934 to 1963; it is also the site of the West Coast's oldest operating lighthouse, the remains of a historic military fortress, and a bird sanctuary. Although within sight of the city, Alcatraz is isolated from the outside world, surrounded by the frigid waters of the bay, the perilous currents making escape virtually impossible. This very fact made Alcatraz an apt choice for a prison meant to house some of the country's most notorious criminals, including the likes of Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud and Alvin Karpis. The year 1969 marked the beginning of another intriguing chapter in the history of Alcatraz when a group of Native American activists occupied the island for 19 months, signs of which are still visible to this day. Amid this turbulent narrative thrives a vibrant habitat for native flora and fauna, creating a miniature world of startling contrasts where the haunting remains of the prison stand amid a striking landscape of rock pools, rugged coasts and lush flora. The isle is now a tourist attraction, one of San Francisco's most popular, with self-guided and guided tours that delve into the past of the island as a whole and the prison in particular.
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.
Gain a deeper insight into San Francisco and its heritage and discover all that the city has to offer by embarking on tours offered by San Francisco City Guides. Sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library, the organization conducts several diverse tours which focus on different aspects of the city's culture, including its history and architecture. Tours include a walking tour of the Mission District, where you can admire striking murals, and an Art Deco tour of the Marina. All tours are free, though donations to benefit the library are requested. Departure locations and times vary.
College Avenue stretches from deep within Berkeley to Oakland, and along this bustling boulevard numerous restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and much more are waiting for your enjoyment. Near the Rockridge end of the street you will find many eclectic restaurants serving an enormous variety of cuisines, as well as other small boutique shops selling anything from yoga mats to antique brass bedposts. Near the University, College Avenue takes on a funkier spirit, and incense shops allure you with their intriguing scents. Shopping is a major attraction of this East Bay hot spot, yet there are not many chain stores. Rather, locals prefer to support local businesses instead of national chains. However certain stores, such as Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, and Hot Topic, can still be found conveniently nearby. Great for a Sunday walk where you can leisurely stroll down this beautiful avenue - stop and have a coffee at one of many cafes, or buy a unique present for a special someone!
This adobe structure was built in 1849 and is part of the John Muir National Historic Site. Although John Muir never lived here, he did spend a lot of time here when his daughter and her husband and children occupied the dwelling. The original owner, Don Vincente Martinez, son of the commandante of the Presidio of San Francisco, built the house but only lived there for four years. After visiting the historic adobe home, visit Muir's 17-room mansion and take a walk on the John Muir trail that runs through a majestic oak forest.
Paintings are the main feature of Don Soker gallery's oil, acrylic and watercolor palette. Proudly showing mostly Bay Area artists, the contemporary expression of these abstract works caters to big artists from back East. Find an eclectic but challenging mix of styles and media at this upscale gallery that caters for the collector and the first time buyer. The knowledgeable staff can give you the complete history of any of the works on display as well as the artist who created it.
Eth-Noh-Tec is the charismatic Asian-American Storytelling theater, duo of Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo and Nancy Wang. They create and perform interdisciplinary theater which incorporates elements of poetry, choreography, rhythm and humor to relate fables and folktales from around the world. 25 Lights the Night carried the audience through twenty-five stories traditionally told during the longest night of the year, many requiring audience participation. Some stories, like the tale of a creator, God teaching his people the foolishness of war are incredibly pertinent to today's world; others lead humorously to a clever proverb or relate back to an oral refrain.
Montgomery Gallery is an international art gallery that deals with 19th and 20th century European and American art works. Special attention is paid to the art of California and other unique master pieces. The entire collection available here spans Impressionist, Modernist and Contemporary works. Montgomery Gallery brings buyers and sellers together at different levels. You can have a private showing of their collected works on the web in the comfort of your home.