San Francisco Places We Love in Summertime
If you ask a San Franciscan about their favorite attractions in the city, you’d better get ready for a long conversation. There are so many to choose from. Here are just a few of our favorite places to see during your stay.
Art is all around in San Francisco, and not just in museums. Head to The Embarcadero for some of the city’s most engaging, including the 64-foot-high bow and arrow known as Cupid’s Span on the Rincon Park waterfront. Nearby artworks include a massive Richard Serra sculpture called Charlie Brown (located inside The Gap headquarters), the Vaillancourt Fountain at Embarcadero Plaza, and numerous sculptures and fountains at One Maritime Plaza. Get some fresh air at the Presidio and see Andy Goldsworthy’s nature-inspired works: Spire, Tree Fall, Earth Wall and Wood Line. And don’t think you’ve seen the best of San Francisco’s public art until you check out the multi-venue light art installations that make up Illuminate SF. Self-guided itineraries are available for download.
Stern Grove Festival
Experience San Francisco culture without spending a dime at the Stern Grove Festival, a seasonal series of outdoor concerts at Sigmund Stern Grove. Held on Sunday afternoons, the series includes a wide range of performers and genres. Past performers have included old-school pop heavyweights Kool & the Gang, the San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Symphony, and Afro-beat stars Amadou & Mariam.
The words “quirky” and “inspiring” are often used to describe the Exploratorium, but they don’t do the place justice. The Exploratorium is just one of those places you have to experience to understand. You’ll find more than 650 hands-on exhibits geared towards fun and discovery, with highlights that include Leo Villareal’s Buckyball (two giant geodesic spheres with 4,500 lights that shine in more than 16 million colors), exhibits where kids and adults can make noise on homemade contraptions that would make Dr. Seuss jealous, and the adults-only After Dark Thursdays series.
Manufactory Food Hall
Manufactory Food Hall redefines “airport food.” Established at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), the 3,200-square-foot food hall is home to numerous renowned restaurants that make travelers feel as if they’ve taken an international voyage before even stepping onto a plane. Thai, Mexican and other global flavors can be found here.
Aquarium of the Bay and PIER 39
San Francisco’s relationship with the Pacific Ocean is a big part of what makes the city so remarkable. So it only makes sense that San Francisco would be home to a world-class aquarium. Aquarium of the Bay is home to more than 20,000 marine animals ranging from the familiar (sea lions) to the adorable (otters) to the otherworldly (jellyfish). It’s located at PIER 39, where you’ll find a huge variety of family-friendly attractions. Awaken your senses at the awe-inspiring theatrical 7D Experience and The Flyer - San Francisco, the world's first and only flying theater attraction in 3D. Taking flight this summer, The Flyer creates an immersive experience, soaring over the biggest attractions and landmarks of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. See the sea aboard the Blue & Gold Fleet, Adventure Cat and Bay Voyager; exercise your legs (and sense of adventure) with Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals & Tours, and have an a-maze-ing time at Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze.
The Presidio Trails
Twenty-four miles of trails wind through the landscape of the Presidio, perfect for a getaway in the heart of San Francisco. Embark on a self-guided hike through the hills, starting at the Tennessee Hollow Watershed Walk; guides are available for download. On the second Saturday of each month, you can take a three-mile docent-led tour to see nature sculptures made by revered installation artist Andy Goldsworthy. There’s also the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, which commemorates the military commander who founded the Presidio and actually guides visitors along the same trail taken by de Anza and his men. After you’ve worked up an appetite hiking, take a rest on a blanket for the Presidio Picnic, an enormous public gathering of friends and families on the Main Parade Ground, featuring food and drink vendors, lawn games, live music and more. It takes place on Sundays from spring through fall.