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.
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.
This impressive structure crowning Nob Hill was built on the site of the Crocker Mansion after the 1906 earthquake and fire. One of the main attractions of the cathedral are the stained glass windows. These windows showcase over 1000 figures, with some of them dating back as far as the 1930s. The gilded bas-reliefs that adorn the doors of the main entrance are cast from Ghiberti's original molds for the Gates of Paradise that adorn the Baptistery in Florence. The cathedral also boasts two labyrinths. The outdoor one is made of Terrazzo stone and the indoor one from limestone.
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.
Taube Center is the home of concerts and major events for Notre Dame de Namur University. The auditorium has hosted a couple concerts like Out Of the Box, A Light Night Music, Camerata and many more. The spacious seating and fine sound quality, will make your visit more fruitful here. Check their website to know more about upcoming plays and concerts.
Gospel Flat Farm is located about 30 miles (48.28 kilometers) north of San Francisco. Offering a great insight into organic farming, the farm is a wonderful mix of numerous activities, educational elements, outdoor fun and of course organic produce shopping! The vast organic farm is covered with lush green vegetable fields, and if you're lucky you'll also be able to spot sunflowers in full bloom. On offer are farm-fresh veggies such as zucchini, pumpkins, carrots, pickled vegetables and lots more that are vibrant and incredible to taste. But meat-lovers needn't frown, since they also sell a fine quality of pork from their farm-raise pigs as well as dungeness crabs that they breed just a couple of miles from Gospel Flat Farm. They also have an in-house field baker who bakes a storm of awesome-smelling bread loaves on a wood-fired oven, that are a work of art in themselves. Apart from all the food fun, Gospel Flat Farm also hosts a fun range of activities, workshops and programs throughout the year. Group tours are available along with lunch options; check the website for more details.
Located in Saint Mary's College of California’s campus, LeFevre Theatre is a performing arts center. With state-of-the-art sound and light systems, they host dramas, musicals and other cultural programmes. Along with academic programmes on performing arts, they offer camps and workshops to students so they can immerse themselves in creativity.