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.
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.
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. This 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 call 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.
An architectural masterpiece, The Fillmore itself is as worth seeing as any band that plays here. Stand on the main floor next to the historic stage and look up at soaring ceilings, embellished with carvings and gold paint, while the booming speakers rattle your bones. If you choose the tranquility of the balcony instead, sink into velvet-covered seats, sip cocktails, and eat French fries. With posters representing almost every group that has ever played here, the history of American music is on full display.
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.
The Rickshaw Stop is one of the trendiest spots in the city's club scene. While the club has cheaper admission prices than most of its competitors, the Rickshaw Stop still manages to pull in an eccentric range of renowned musical acts, such as Grimes, Katy B, Jonathan Richman, The Mooney Suzuki, and The Pipettes. The Rickshaw Stop has a full bar and serves delectable food to its guests.
The pride of the SFJAZZ Center, Robert N. Miner Auditorium is built just for jazz performances, with its classy ambiance, intimate seating areas, and softly-tuned acoustics. Its steeply-positioned seats make for amazing viewing experiences.
Since 1923, San Francisco Opera has debuted the performances of several well-respected artists including Marie Collier, conductor Silvio Varviso, and director Francis Ford Coppola. Founded by Gaetano Merolo, the War Memorial Opera House, housed in the War Memorial & Performing Arts Center, has been the home of the Opera since 1932. Tours are available only during the opera season. The concert is held on the Sunday following opening night of the Fall Season. San Francisco Opera is the second largest opera company in North America. The Opera's mission is to enrich, be creative and innovative, take leadership and present opera performances of the highest international quality.
Hayes Valley is San Francisco's scene for small, trendy boutiques, cafes with endless outdoor seating and green parks. A product of the 1989 earthquake when the destruction required a portion of the freeway be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere, the Hayes Valley has blossomed with the construction of a beautiful park where the freeway once was. There are shops and restaurants selling everything from furniture to messenger bags. Try Absinthe for a bite to eat or a cocktail. This is truly an easy place to get lost on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
In 1981, the Orpheum Theatre opened under new management with the hilarious musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Sixteen years later, a massive and privately funded renovation took place at the Orpheum, unveiling an ornate and stunning theater that has become synonymous with elegance in San Francisco. Blockbuster musicals have been housed here, and continues with its tradition of entertaining and inspiring awe in its audiences.
Large and spacious, the Folsom Street Foundry is a versatile event space that hosts a plethora of local concerts, art exhibitions and hosts game nights. It also doubles up as a bar, serving beers and wine to its adoring visitors. Designed with industrial-chic interiors that lend it the expansive look of a large living room den, the Folsom Street Foundry also features television screens in its confines, ideal for watching sports games. You can choose to plop yourself on the couch or head over to nearby tables to play ping pong or beer pong! Whatever you do, Folsom Street Foundry has something for everyone that walks in.