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San Francisco

176 expert recommended attractions

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The Exploratorium

San Francisco 96 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Adults as well as kids will enjoy blowing giant bubbles or entering a tiny room that scrambles one's sense of perspective. — Concierge

On a spectacular waterfront location on Pier 15, this educational center offers an array of interactive scientific exhibits and hands-on displays that stimulate the senses and minds of... — Where

Walking into this fascinating "museum of science, art, and human perception" is like visiting a mad-scientist's laboratory. — Fodor's

Ask anyone you know who grew up in the Bay Area about the Exploratorium, and they’ll likely be able to share stories of class trips and seeing their hair stand on end at an installation... — Afar Magazine

San Francisco's newly reopened hands-on science museum.  — Atlas Obscura

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

SoMa 96 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The museum's permanent collection houses the West Coast's most comprehensive collection of 20th-century art, including painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts. — Frommer's

The museum will draw from its collection to create joint exhibtions with the Asian Art Museum, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and other institutions. — Fodor's

Currently under construction until 2016... the museum's collection is on display in galleries and museums throughout the Bay Area. — Condé Nast Traveler

Mario Botta-designed modern art museum. Check out the new rooftop sculpture garden. — Not For Tourists

After a three-year hiatus, SFMOMA has unveiled a Snøhetta-led expansion that makes it the largest modern art space in the nation, easily housing entire floors of abstract American art and... — Where

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco 95 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

San Franciscans have passionate perspectives on every subject, but especially their signature landmark. — Lonely Planet

One of the most iconic landmarks in the world, let alone San Francisco, the magnificent international orange Golden Gate Bridge defines the city. The 4,200-foot suspension bridge was... — Where

Opened in 1937, Golden Gate Bridge is named after the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. — Concierge

The bridge looks more like a work of abstract art than one of the 20th century's greatest practical engineering feats. — Frommer's

With its simple but powerful art-deco design, the 1.7-mile suspension span that connects San Francisco and Marin County was built to withstand winds of more than 100 mph. — Fodor's

Oakland Museum of California

San Francisco 92 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

You can travel through myriad ecosystems in the Gallery of California Natural Sciences, from the sand dunes of the Pacific to the coyotes and brush of the Nevada border. — Fodor's

This collection of galleries, terraces, and gardens (collaboratively created in 1969 by architect Kevin Roche and landscape artist Dan Kiley) explores California art, social and natural history. — Travel + Leisure

Oakland Museum of California is a must-see. Relevant, fascinating exhibits have included knockout Yosemite photography and interactive Great Quake rooms. — Lonely Planet

The OMCA brings together collections of art, history and natural science under one roof to tell the extraordinary stories of California and its people. — Where

History, art, and natural sciences of California. — Not For Tourists

Coit Tower

North Beach / Telegraph Hill 92 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Whether or not you agree that it resembles a fire-hose nozzle, this 210-foot tower is among San Francisco's most distinctive skyline sights. — Fodor's

Art deco memorial on Telegraph Hill, built in 1933 and funded by Lilie Hitchcock-Coit. Stellar WPA murals and great views. — Not For Tourists

Upon her death in 1929, socialite and art patron Lillie Hitchcock Coit bequeathed funds for the “beautification of the city.” Her heirs used the money to build Coit Tower on Telegraph... — Where

Among the city's best-known landmarks both for its lobby murals and for the splendid views its observation deck affords. — Michelin Guide

Admire the WPA murals decorating the first floor and take the elevator to the top for the view. — Concierge

Alcatraz Island

San Francisco 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Enjoy a chilling tour of the jail, closed in 1963, and while strolling the exercise yard, imagine how the dazzling view of San Francisco must have tantalized inmates. — Concierge

Alcatraz: for almost 150 years, the name has given the innocent chills and the guilty cold sweats. — Lonely Planet

Visible from Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island (also known as the Rock) has seen a checkered history. — Frommer's

Surrounded by icy water and treacherous currents, Alcatraz Island was spotted as an ideal site for a high-security prison, and unsurprisingly, nearly all of those who tried to escape were... — Condé Nast Traveler

The federal maximum-security penitentiary known as the Rock... in 1972, Alcatraz was designated part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. — Michelin Guide

Ferry Building Marketplace

The Embarcadero 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Even if you miss the famed farmers’ market held here every Saturday, there are plenty of other reasons to swing by the beautifully refurbished 1898 Ferry Building. — Travel + Leisure

There's no better way to enjoy a San Francisco morning than strolling this gourmet marketplace in the Ferry Building and snacking your way through breakfast or lunch. — Frommer's

Come to the iconic Ferry Building Farmers Market every Saturday to try produce and some of the city's most delicious prepared foods. — Afar Magazine

Hedonism is alive and well at this transit hub turned gourmet emporium, where foodies happily miss their ferries slurping local oysters and bubbly. — Lonely Planet

The historic, renovated ferry terminal at the foot of Market Street is now a world-class food market with more than 40 shops and restaurants featuring some of the area’s most prized... — Where

Asian Art Museum

Civic Center 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The finest collection of Asian art in the nation. — Michelin Guide

Extensive Asian art collection in the old Beaux Arts style library building--a little claustrophobic in the galleries, but well worth your time. — Not For Tourists

San Francisco's Asian Art Museum is one of the Western world's largest museums devoted to Asian art. — Frommer's

You don't have to be a connoisseur of Asian art to appreciate a visit to this splendid museum, whose monumental exterior conceals a light, open, and welcoming space. — Fodor's

Imaginations race from ancient Persian miniatures to cutting-edge Japanese fashion through three floors spanning 6000 years of Asian arts. — Lonely Planet

de Young Museum

San Francisco 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Comprises American, African, Oceanic, American Indian, New Guinea, Maori, and Filipino art and includes some notable works by Frida Kahlo. — Condé Nast Traveler

The de Young Museum, with its perforated copper facade and spiraling tower in the center of Golden Gate Park, is as dramatic outside as it is inside. Follow the widening crack in the... — Afar Magazine

The aggressively 21st-century recycled-copper-clad building looms in the park like an avant-garde aircraft carrier with a crazily torqued tower. — Travel + Leisure

Founded in 1895, the impressively varied museum is currently housed in an architectural masterpiece designed by the Swiss firm Herzog and de Meuron. It showcases collections from the... — Where

The permanent collection comprises American, African, Oceanic, American Indian, New Guinea, Maori, and Filipino art and includes some notable works by Frida Kahlo. — Concierge

Legion of Honor

San Francisco 89 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Our prettiest museum. Ancient, European, and decorative arts. — Not For Tourists

A gift to San Francisco from Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, the spirited wife of sugar magnate Adolph Spreckels, this museum houses Alma's collection of great sculptures by Auguste Rodin. — Michelin Guide

Designed as a memorial to California's World War I casualties, this neoclassical structure is an exact replica of the Legion of Honor Palace in Paris. — Frommer's

This magnificent Beaux Arts building commands dramatic views of Golden Gate Bridge. — Concierge

You can't beat the site of this museum of European art atop cliffs overlooking the ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands. — Fodor's

Lombard Street

Russian Hill 88 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The block-long "Crookedest Street in the World" makes eight switchbacks down the east face of Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth streets. — Fodor's

Among San Francisco's most photographed tourist attractions, the 1000 block of Lombard Street boasts eight switchbacks in its one-block descent. — Michelin Guide

You’ve seen its eight switchbacks in a thousand photographs. — Lonely Planet

Eight hairpin switchbacks and the downward pitch of the so-called “crookedest street in the world” have made this block a must-drive for visitors. The quarter-mile downhill stretch is... — Where

Known as "the world's crookedest street," it is packed with tourist cars on weekends, but fun to ride down on a bike! — Not For Tourists

California Academy of Sciences

Golden Gate Park 88 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Architect Renzo Piano's 2008 landmark LEED-certified green building houses 38,000 weird and wonderful animals in a four-story rainforest and split-level aquarium. — Lonely Planet

The California Academy of Sciences is an unfortunately stuffy name for an institution that is anything but staid. The country's largest natural-history museum includes an aquarium, a... — Afar Magazine

The only institution in the world to combine an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and scientific research program under one roof. — Frommer's

The Cal Academy is one of the city's most spectacular treasures. — Fodor's

Renowned for its collection—over 26 million specimens gathered over the past 150 years—as it is for the building that houses them. — Condé Nast Traveler

Mission Dolores Park

Mission District 87 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Dolores Park has something for everyone. — Lonely Planet

The scene of modern bohemia and it’s a fantastic place to relax and take in good San Francisco vibes. — Frommer's

This generous square of grass on the Mission District’s west side is a great place to soak up some sun on most days and an even better place to get a glimpse of real San Francisco... — Where

The sunniest spot in the city (and great tennis courts!). — Not For Tourists

The Holy Grail of parkland in San Francisco—it’s by far the most popular and most iconic, known for turning into a daytime party every weekend. — Travel + Leisure

Palace of Fine Arts

Marina District 86 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Originally designed for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, this domed rotunda is all that remains from eight identical structures built to show the world that San Francisco... — Where

A mock-classical ruin erected for the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition... was eventually recast in concrete in the '60s. — Condé Nast Traveler

A mock-classical ruin erected for the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in 1915, the Palace of Fine Arts was originally fashioned from wood, plaster, and burlap. — Concierge

Designed for the 1915 World's Fair by Bernard Maybeck, the Roman ruin's grandeur is strikingly beautiful. — Not For Tourists

Ranking among San Francisco's best-known landmarks, this grand rotunda and peristyle were replicated from structures designed by renowned architect Bernard Maybeck. — Michelin Guide

Musee Mecanique

Fisherman’s Wharf 86 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Where else can you guillotine a man for a quarter? Creepy 19th-century arcade games like the macabre French Execution compete for your spare change with the diabolical Ms.Pac-Man. — Lonely Planet

Enjoy this bizarre collection of historic arcade games housed at this wacky museum on Fisherman's Wharf. — Condé Nast Traveler

A collection of 20th-century automata, penny arcade games, and musical contraptions.  — Atlas Obscura

A time-warped arcade with antique mechanical contrivances, including peep shows and nickelodeons, Musée Mécanique is one of the most worthwhile attractions at the Wharf. — Fodor's

Less of a traditional museum and more a source of interactive amusement, this old-fashioned penny arcade (with some modern video games thrown in for good measure) has been one of my... — Frommer's

Cable Car Museum

Nob Hill 86 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Unravel the mystery of exactly how the cable car, one of San Francisco’s greatest attractions since 1873, actually works. Located in the historic Washington-Mason cable car depot and... — Where

This weathered brick building on the steep north slope of Nob Hill offers an up-close look at the nerve center of San Francisco's renowned cable-car system, the only one of its kind in the world. — Michelin Guide

Grips, engines, braking mechanisms… if these warm your gearhead heart, you'll be besotted by the Cable Car Museum, inside the city's still-functioning cable-car barn. — Lonely Planet

Not merely a museum – but a whirring powerhouse that offers a subterranean peek into the heart and soul of cable car operations.  — Atlas Obscura

One of the city's best free offerings, this museum is an absolute must for kids. You can even ride a cable car here—all three lines stop between Russian Hill and Nob Hill. — Fodor's

Conservatory of Flowers

Golden Gate Park 86 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This recently restored 1878 Victorian greenhouse is home to outer-space orchids, contemplative floating lilies and creepy carnivorous plants that reek of insect belches. — Lonely Planet

This ornate Victorian glass palace shelters more than 20,000 rare and exotic plants under an octagonal central dome and two flanking wings. — Michelin Guide

Temple of photosynthesis. — Not For Tourists

Carnivorous plants, medieval aphrodisiacs, and the largest original wood structure glass conservatory in the western hemisphere.  — Atlas Obscura

This glorious Victorian glass structure is the oldest existing public conservatory in the Western Hemisphere... a cutting-edge horticultural destination. — Frommer's

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park 86 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Golden Gate Park includes the following sights: MH de Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers and Stow Lake. — Lonely Planet

The 1,000-acre park, which straddles the line between the Richmond and Sunset districts west of downtown, is the heart and soul of the city. — Travel + Leisure

Golden Gate Park was formed out of an expanse of sand dunes to the west of the city in the nineteenth century—a history that is still discernible in the rolling topography of much of the... — Afar Magazine

This lovely park, created by Scotsman John McLaren toward the end of the 19th century, is so lush and blossom-filled that it's hard to believe it was built on barren dunes. — Concierge

San Francisco's very own urban bison herd have persisted in the face of extinction, development and disease.  — Atlas Obscura

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf 85 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Few cities in America are as adept at wholesaling their historical sites as San Francisco, which has converted Fisherman's Wharf into one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. — Frommer's

Fisherman's Wharf – the Embarcadero and Jefferson St waterfront running from Pier 29 to Van Ness Ave – includes the following sights: Pier 39, the Musée Mécanique, the San Francisco... — Lonely Planet

You’ll find crab stands along the sidewalks, seafood restaurants and a bevy of souvenir shops in the historic heart of the city’s fishing industry. Several bay charter boats depart from... — Where

Tacky tourist trap, but the sea lions love it. Historic boats, fresh crabs, the ferry to Alcatraz, etc. — Not For Tourists

San Francisco's vibrant and colorful maritime legacy survives in this bustling and extremely popular district on the northeastern tip of the peninsula. A carnival atmosphere prevails on... — Michelin Guide

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Japanese Tea Garden

San Francisco 85 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Take a slow stroll among bonsai trees and koi fish in the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States. Originally built as the Japanese Village for the 1894 California Midwinter... — Where

A quiet, albeit crowded, place with cherry trees, shrubs, and bonsai crisscrossed by winding paths and high-arched bridges over pools of water. — Frommer's

As you amble through the manicured landscape, past Japanese sculptures and perfect miniature pagodas, and over ponds of carp, you may feel transported to a more peaceful plane. — Fodor's

Relics of the 1894 Midwinter Exposition continue to delight visitors today.  — Atlas Obscura

The oldest public Japanese garden in the United States... located in Golden Gate Park, is a wonderful spot to relax while exploring the park. — Condé Nast Traveler

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  • Outdoors
    36 parks, gardens and outdoor attractions
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    27 museums and galleries
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    21 places of historical interest

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