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Top Rated Attractions in San Francisco

Search Radius (Miles)
Golden Gate Park

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.

Ocean Beach

Located at the western end of Golden Gate Park is San Francisco's biggest beach. It extends from Fort Funston in the south, to the Cliff House in the north. Typically, the cold winds, fog and low San Francisco temperatures deter any regular beach activities (unless you're lucky enough to be there on a hot day) but visitors fly kites or just walk along and admire the views of Seal Rocks and Point Lobos. Adventure seekers love surfing here. There are also bonfire pits provided on the beach for the general public; to claim one, go early in the evening.

Legion Of Honor

The Legion of Honor houses more than 87,000 paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and tapestries. Some pieces date back 4000 years. The main floor is dedicated to the museum's permanent collection, much of which features the works of Rodin. European and ancient art are also on display at the Legion of Honor. The lower garden level features temporary exhibitions, ranging from Andy Warhol to Francis Bacon. Take a break in the museum cafe, which features light snacks and meals and has outdoor seating. The gift shop, though small, has a nice selection of postcards, books, posters, jewelry and some reproductions from this and other fine arts museums. Admission is free the first Tuesday of each month.

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.

Grand Lake Theater

This grand old movie house, located just a block from Oakland's Lake Merritt, has four screens for your viewing pleasure. Before select Friday and Saturday evening shows, guests are treated to the bombastic sounds of the theater's famous "Mighty Wurlitzer Organ." For a most enjoyable experience, sit back and relax with popcorn and a soda from the refreshment stand. Make sure to check the marquee for some of the owners now famous political commentary on the issues of the day.

University of California Botanical Garden

University of California Botanical Garden is located within the campus of University of California Berkeley. Open to the public since 1890, this is no less than an outdoor living museum that boasts over 12,000 species of flora and fauna. The garden can be rented for private events, wedding receptions, twilight tours, summer walks and concerts.

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