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.
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.
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 startling 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.
Conventional wisdom holds that this iconic monument is shaped like a fire-hose nozzle. It is not, at least not by design. The tower is the gift of Lilly Hitchcock Coit, an eccentric heiress who managed to stand out in a city that teems with eccentricity. Lilly's particular passion was for the San Francisco Fire Department. The money she left in her will for the city's beautification was used to construct the Art Deco tower on Telegraph Hill in 1932. The view from here is one of the most impressive in San Francisco, offering unrestricted sights of the scenic Bay, the neighboring bridges, and the Marin Headlands. Inside, the first floor is ornamented with excellent murals, commissioned in 1933, that depict San Francisco's history. The tower's summit can be accessed by taking its elevator for a small fee.
Don't leave San Francisco without a stroll through this legendary square nearby Fisherman's Wharf, which is named after San Francisco's original chocolate-maker. There is a bakery and several restaurants and, of course, there's the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop where you can savor the deliciousness of the old-fashioned Ghirardelli sundae or buy some sweet goodies to bring back. Take some time and visit the art galleries, gift and specialty stores, and shoe and clothing shops. Some practical services are available, including a dressmaker and tailor, film developing, an ATM and a Federal Express drop-off box.
This is a Port of Oakland attraction named after the famous author and Oakland native. The charming waterfront property is filled with numerous entertainment options and quality dining and shopping establishments. Some of the highlights include awesome views, strolls on the boardwalk, amazing restaurants, and the famous Yoshi's Jazz House. You may enjoy the selection of numerous great boutiques plus a movie theater, ferry cruises, and special events like a Farmer's Market every Sunday and an antiques and collectibles show the first Saturday of every month.
The War Memorial & Performing Arts Center is a series of cultural venues that make up the bulk of the Civic Center's events. The center is comprised of such architectural gems as the Veterans Building, the War Memorial Opera House, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall and Harold L. Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall. The Opera House is home to the San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Opera, whereas the Veterans Building houses both the Herbst Theatre and Green Room. Check the website for a list of each venue's upcoming events.
The city hall building is the site of some of San Francisco's finest moments. In 1954 Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were married here. In the early 21st Century, over 100 same-sex couples were married by Mayor Gavin Newsom in the foyer. The Renaissance architecture rivals some of the country's most historical structures. Two Parisian architects designed and constructed the building from 1913-1915, and the dome is based on the one crowning St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Visitors can pick up brochures and take a self-guided tour between 8a-5p, Monday through Friday. A small store, open during normal business hours, sells traditional San Francisco souvenirs including T-shirts, posters and postcards.
The United Nations Plaza of San Francisco can be found between Hyde Street and Market Street, and is the main access point for the historic Civic Center Buildings. Lined with columns that list the various countries that form a part of the United Nations and with floors that have been inscribed with the philosophies enshrined within the UN charter, the UN Plaza is a lovely memorial to the signing of the charter at the War Memorial Opera House in 1945. Today, the Plaza is best known as the location for the Heart of the City Farmers Market that is held here every Wednesday and Sunday. During lunch hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Plaza once more comes to life when the Off the Grid food trucks offer up a variety of gourmet and exotic dishes. The Plaza also hosts a variety of craft markets, with stalls selling wares that are as diverse as the countries represented by the UN. Although the Plaza itself is a lovely sight, it is best to visit during market hours, as it remains rather secluded at all other times.
This imposing Moorish Revival structure was a United States National Guard armory and arsenal from 1914 to 1976. The San Francisco Armory, though listed in the National Register of Historic Places was left unused for three decades before it was renovated to its former glory in 2007. Since then this majestic building is a veritable events hub in the city. Comprising of spaces like the Drill Court, General's Quarters, Studios and Armory Club, this state-of-the-art beautiful facility hosts concerts, galas, corporate events, dance parties, movie screenings and film shoots.
Often touted as San Francisco's Indie center and "Harlem of the West", as some might say it; Fillmore District is a prime neighborhood in San Francisco. The historical significance of this place goes back to the late 19th Century and the community is diverse. After it was hit by a massive earthquake in 1906 and post World War II, the district underwent a makeover. The jazz nightclubs you find on street have been blessed with some iconic performances from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Bille Holiday and John Coltrane. It has an iconic auditorium which hosts major concerts till date.