Known as ‘San Francisco’s crown jewel of shopping districts,’ Union Square is a 2.6-acre public plaza in downtown San Francisco. Dining, shopping, and other attractions can be found all throughout the square. The central plaza serves as a stage for all types of gatherings and events, including musical performances, dance, art exhibitions, lectures, and theater. Union Square also holds a number of attractions during the holiday season, including a tree lighting and an ice-skating rink.
Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of San Francisco. It covers the northern waterfront area of San Francisco from Ghirardelli Square or Van Ness Avenue to Pier 35. The wharf is rich in history and entertainment, plus air, land, and water excursions are offered. You can also catch a shark feeding, become a part of an interactive 3D film, or observe the infamous sea lion landing. A diverse number of restaurants are also available, offering some of the freshest seafood — most that are caught right beyond the docks.
AT&T Park is a baseball park that has served as the home of the city’s Major League Baseball franchise, the San Francisco Giants, since its opening date, March 31, 2000. However, for the non-sports fans visiting downtown San Francisco, AT&T Park does more than offer baseball games. The park hosts a wide variety of other shows, performances, and events throughout the entire year.
AT&T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 972 2000
Lafayette Park is an 11.49-acre park with grassy lawns and hills, tennis courts, a playground, picnic areas, and even an off-leash dog area. The park is also home to the first astronomical observatory on the West Coast. Since Lafayette Park is a full-block radius upon a hilltop, breathtaking views of the bay and San Francisco itself surround the park. Along with the scenic surroundings, the long hours of operation, from 5am until midnight, and reservable picnic areas make Lafayette Park a great destination for a day out.
The Japan Center
Not only does the Japan Center Mall feature a wide range of vibrant Japanese restaurants and shops but also a market and a theater. There are the East Mall and West Mall, both centered between the Japantown Peace Pagoda, a five-tiered concrete stupa. The Japan Center is one of the only places left in San Francisco where shopping for authentic Japanese exports and other goods can be found. With convenient parking located right along Geary Blvd., it’s too hard to pass up an experience at The Japan Center.
The Japan Center, 1737 Post Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 567 4573
San Francisco landmark Lombard Street is an east–west street, famous for its highly steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns. With borders of blooming flowers and other greenery, it’s said Lombard Street resembles a playground slide. Whether taking a car down the windy red-bricked road or taking a cable car that stops at the top of the hill, visiting Lombard Street is a must when exploring downtown San Francisco.
War Memorial Opera House
Opened in 1932, The War Memorial Opera House is part of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. Home to the infamous San Francisco Ballet and the unforgettable San Francisco Opera, the performing arts center is located along the western side of Van Ness Avenue across from the back portion of City Hall. The 3,146-seat venue is also available for concerts, lectures, and other performances, as well as dining. It is also possible to rent the opera house.
Within the heart of the downtown San Francisco area, The Metreon, a four-story, 350,000-square-foot shopping center, can be found. The building was constructed over the corner of the underground Moscone Center and offers 20 diverse restaurants and other food stops. Not only is The Metreon home to AMC Theater, a theater with 16 screens and the largest IMAX in North America, but also City View at Metreon, which is San Francisco’s large-scale event space.
The Metreon, 135 4th Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 369 6000
Cable Car Museum
The Cable Car Museum is a free museum that exposes the history behind the infamous cable car of San Francisco. The museum contains historical and explanatory exhibits that are fun and understandable to nearly all ages. The self-guided tours mean you get to spend as little or as much time as possible learning the ins and outs of this famous San Francisco form of transportation. A ride on a real cable car can be taken to conclude your visit.
Cable Car Museum, 1201 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 474 1887
San Francisco Main Library
This isn’t just any library. The Main Library is the center of resources for the entire San Francisco Public Library system as well as the rest of the Northern California libraries. Along with a huge selection of books and other resources, the library offers a great variety of programs and exhibits, not to mention the technology offered in order to find your desired read, the easy self check-in and out of books and materials, and the known pleasant attitude of the staff. There are even tours of The Main Library on the first Tuesday of the month, beginning at noon. Private tours are also available if scheduled ahead of time. The Main Library certainly lives up to its mission of ‘access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joy of reading.’
By Deanna Morgado
Deanna Morgado, a Bay Area native, is a self-taught writer and all around art enthusiast. She’s willing to try anything at least once as long as she can write about it after.