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Top Rated Attractions in San Francisco

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Asian Art Museum

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.

The Castro Theatre

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.

California Academy of Sciences

Located in Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is one of the greenest buildings in the city and has a platinum certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The museum features the newly renovated and expanded Steinhart Aquarium, complete with a hands-on tide pool and the well-known alligator swamp. Other exciting features are the Morrison Planetarium, the four-story rain-forest dome, and the Hall of African Mammals. In addition to these educational gems, the museum features other natural history exhibits as well as exhibits about global warming. The Academy Cafe offers international cuisine, while the elegant Moss Room restaurant is the only dining option available in the park past museum closing time.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art houses a permanent collection of over 15,000 works, including 4,700 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and 9,000 photographs. Originally opened in 1995, the museum has exhibited the works of Henri Matisse, Richard Diebenkorn, Dorothea Lange, Paul Klee, Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney and many contemporary artists. Designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, the space itself is a wonder to behold. After a major renovation completed in 2016, the SFMOMA now boasts seven floors of art along with exciting new features including a living wall, sculpture garden and impressive views of Yerba Buena Gardens.

Contemporary Jewish Museum

Founded in 1984, the Contemporary Jewish Museum presents scholarly and artistic programs that explore the Jewish spirit and imagination. The museum offers contemporary views and Jewish perspectives on culture, history and art, with programs reflecting global ideas that tie to the past and remain relevant to all people today. World-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind was commissioned for the project. The 63,000 square foot museum provides a welcoming space where people from all backgrounds may encounter, celebrate and debate artistic forms of all varieties.

Palace of Fine Arts & Theatre

Constructed as a temporary attraction for the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exhibition, Palace of Fine Arts & Theatre continues to enchant the city. The original plaster, which made up the monument's exterior, has been gradually replaced, with funds raised by the Marina's residents who wanted to preserve a graceful part of their landscape. Swans in the adjoining lagoon glide by the soaring ocher-tinted colonnades and the imposing dome rigged with panels of centaurs and warriors. Stroll inside the dome and marvel at the uncanny acoustics, then enjoy a picnic lunch on one of the park benches to provide an unparalleled view of this gem.

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