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  • Palace of the Legion of Honor: Located in a memorial to soldiers lost in World War I, this fine arts museum features Renaissance and pre-Renaissance works—many from Europe—spanning a 4,000-year history.
  • Museum of Modern Art: A massive, recently completed renovation and expansion resulted in a brand new MoMa, complete with gorgeous living walls; refined dining opportunities; and, most important, far better space for displaying some of the museum’s permanent collections and visiting exhibitions. 
  • de Young: Appropriately housed in a modern building in Golden Gate Park, (with great photo opportunities from the glass-walled tower), the Legion of Honor’s modern art sister, the de Young, features works from more recent times. Both can be entered on the same day with one admission ticket.
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum: Even if you have absolutely no interest in Jewish culture, history, art, or ideas, go to visit the old-meets-new building, created when New York architect Daniel Libeskind “dropped” shiny steel cubes onto the roof of the 1907 Willis Polk–designed Beaux Arts brick power substation.
  • Asian Art Museum: Located in the big showy Civic Center space, across the way from City Hall, this is my favorite museum in the city. I never tire of looking at the variety of treasures from countries I had no idea were in fact a part of “Asia.”
  • The Transamerica Pyramid: Without this tall, triangular spire gracing its presence, the skyline of San Francisco could be mistaken for almost any other American city. Although you can’t take a tour to the top, on the Plaza Level—off Clay Street—there is a Visitor Center with videos and facts, a historical display, and a live feed from the “pyramid-cam” located on the top. Did you know this icon appears white because its façade is covered in crushed quartz? 
  • The Palace of Fine Arts: This Bernard Maybeck–designed stunner of Greek columns and Roman ruins is one of the only structures remaining from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, which was held, in part, to show that San Francisco had risen from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake destruction.
  • Mission Dolores: Also known as Mission San Francisco de Asís, this was the sixth in a chain of missions ordered built by Father Junipero Serra. Built in 1776, it is the oldest surviving building in the city.
  • Sentinel Building/Columbus Tower: Real estate is at such a premium in our city, every speck of land has to be used if at all possible. There is no better proof of this than Francis Ford Coppola’s triangular-shaped flatiron building, located at the corner of Columbus and Kearny Streets. Under construction in 1906, it was one of the few structures in the city to survive the earthquake and ensuing fires.
  • Recycled Buildings: Since San Francisco was the first city in North America to mandate recycling and composting, it only follows we would be good at recycling our old buildings as well. Built in 1874 to hold the “diggings” from the Gold Rush, the old U.S. Mint (at 5th and Missions sts.) is currently being recycled and will eventually house the San Francisco Museum at the Mint. The Ferry Building Marketplace was—surprise—the old ferry building. Built between 1895 and 1903, it was where some 170 ferries docked daily.
  • The Painted Ladies of Alamo Square: Also known as the Six Sisters, these famous Victorian homes on Steiner Street are among the most photographed sights in the city. The characters from the sitcom Full House lived here in TV land.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.