Located near the entrance of Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts was constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
There is a nice lake for picnic or strolling. The building consists of a classical Roman rotunda. There Roman columns to create a classical atmosphere in a park.
Also the kids will enjoy the Exploratorium. Hands--on science exhibits to learn the basic principles of science.
We stopped here on our bike route. It was so beautiful! I liked that it was safe here, since we rented the bikes we didn't have locks. We just parked them, and when we were done walking around they were there waiting for us! It felt like we were walking through roman ruins verus a fine arts place in San Francisco. There was a pond in the middle there and we fed some swans and geese. The black swans were really cool!
East of the Presidio and the bridge stands the Palace of Fine Arts. Built as part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, it's the sole survivor among other grandiose monuments built in that area for the same purpose. It was fashioned in the neoclassical style that today resembles more like an ancient Roman ruin. With beautiful landscaping and a swan-filled lagoon, it makes for the perfect backdrop for wedding photos. As such, every visit there guaranteed that I'd run into the smiling faces of the betrothed and their wedding photographers.
This structure is just so cool. You have to be there to actually see how cool it really is. A lot of newlyweds have their wedding photos taken there.
It was initially built for the Panama Pacific Exhibition in 1915 and was constructed out of a plaster-like material because the structure was to be torn down after the exhibition ended. It was saved from demolition and in the 1960's, the Palace was completely reconstructed using more permanent materials.
Today, the Palace contains an Exploratorium which is basically a science center for children and adults to explore.
If you like architectural sites, visit San Francisco's Palace of the Fine Arts. When I first heard of the name, I thought it was a museum of art exhibits, but it's really massive decorated colonnades, with intricate carvings of women, etc (Roman style); set outdoor with a lake close by.
There grandness of the palace and the lake, makes this place ideal for picnics and pictorials (saw 2 wedding pictorials when I was there in October 2005).
Click Map To Enlarge:  Palace of Fine Arts & the Exploratorium Hands-On Museum  Wave Organ  Marina Greens - picnic, fly a kite, drop-dead views of the Bay  Crissy Fields - rent a bike at Blazing Saddles and take your group on the path leading to Fort Point, Golden Gate Bridge, and (maybe even) cross the bridge to Sausalito for lunch, and take the ferry back home across the water ! !  Chestnut Street - a couple of favorites are here, Lucca's Deli, Andale Taqueria, E'Angelo Italian (at Pierce Street)  Lombard Street - book a hotel along this centrally located street (see my Hotel Section).
Ferry Schedule: Sausalito/San Francisco: http://goldengateferry.org/schedules/
Blazing Saddles: BlazingSaddles.com
Wave Organ: http://www.exploratorium.edu/visit/wave_organ.html
Good Housekeeping calls it the "best science museum in the country." It's a hands-on museum for kids and grown-ups. Learn about science through 650 interactive exhibits including Bubble Hoops, where you can create life-size bubbles, and the Bike Cycles, where kids push buttons to try to get a bike to move forward. Touch, see, smell, and hear the world in ways you never thought of.
You can pack a lunch (Hint: Lucca Deli on nearby Chestnut Street) and picnic at the nearby Marina Greens or Palace of Fine Arts grounds -- both grassy areas with panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay. At the Marina Greens, you can also fly a kite and watch the boats come in and out of the St. Francis Yacht Club harbor.
Exploratorium (415) EXP-LORE or visit their web site: Exploratorium.edu
This unique piece of art combines sculpture with music. It's built upon a jetty near the marina, and is affiliated with the Exploratorium. It's a collaboration between Peter Richards (now a senior artist at the Exploratorium), and George Gonzales (a mason and sculptor). The "music" is made by the water of San Francisco Bay, as it moves around inside this thing. The Wave Organ also provides excellent views of the Bay and the city.
The Exploratorium sounds like a fun hands-on kind of science museum and by the looks of the lines to get in, a popular one at that. But it was a glorious day and the last thing I wanted to do was go inside and learn even the most fascinating information. What drew me here in the first place was the architecture of the neighboring Palace of Fine Arts, which was intended as a temporary structure and a part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The light was incredible that afternoon and the hues imparted on this artificial classical ruin were captivating. There was a wedding party getting their photos taken here. With the garden setting and large pond in the foreground, I’d have to say it seemed a perfect place for it. It’s a bit out of the way but if you’re doing the walk from the Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll pass right by it or if you take the MUNI bus, you make your bus change just around the corner from it. If it’s nice out, it’s worth checking out, even if you have no intention of visiting the Exploratorium.
The Palace of Fine Arts is one of San Francisco's landmarks. Built to resemble a Roman ruin, Its domed rotunda is visible from afar. Beside it is a lagoon which is home to many ducks, swans, geese, and seagulls. Statues of weeping maidens and funeral urns complete the architecture.
The "palace" was constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The architect, Bernard Maybeck, wanted to instill a sense of "moderated sadness" among visitors. He succeeded very well.
Beside the Palace of Fine Arts is the Exploratorium, "the best science museum in the world."
Along with the Smithsonian in Washington DC, the Louvre in Paris, France, and the "Traffic Museum" in Lucern, Switzerland, the Exploratorium is one of my all time favorite places to visit. I make a point on going at least once a year. Present are countless hands-on exhibits and an energetic crowd that undoubtedly keep you feeling youthful and imaginative.
A fun place for kids, big and small. This is one of my most favourite museums in the world. Very hands on, activity oriented. Be sure to check out the Tactile Dome. Yes, it does cost extra and smells a little wierd but it's lotsa fun!
You are in the marina district of San Francisco. You are walking in an upscale neighborhood with beautiful homes. The Golden Gate Bridge is just in the distance. Then suddenly you are transported to a Greco-Roman palace. You see tall Greco columns and fountains, trees and a park like setting. You have not entered into some strange time warp. You have just stumbled onto The Palace of Fine Arts.
This beautiful structure was built for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. It was designed by Bernard R. Maybeck. San Franciso was just recovering from the historic earth quake and was trying to revitalize its tourist industry. From the pictures and diagrams that I have seen the International Exposition appears to be huge. This Palace of Fine Arts is all that remains today. It was restord in the 1960's with a grant from Caspar Weinberger.
This is truly a magical place once you find it. Its located between where Lombard Street starts to open toward the Golden Gate Bridge. There is also a museum located here called The Exploratorium.
Built as part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, it is one of of the city's most beautiful settings. The original crumbling 1915 stucco structure was completely torn down in 1964 and rebuilt. Today it houses the Exploratorium, a hands on science museum for children of all ages. Don't be surprised to see Brides and Grooms on the grounds. This picturesque place is a favorite for wedding photos.
If you have kids, this is the place to take them. If you are a big kid, check this place out as well. The exploratorium is fun and could easily fill a day, especially if you have kids. The whole place is full of science in action, like in Mr. Wizard but on a grander scale. But the real nougat center to this place is the tactile dome. The tactile dome is a maze of sorts that you crawl through on your hands and knees in the complete darkness. It's like sensory depravation- sort of like, when left without one sense, we will rely on our other senses. You get to feel your way through up to three times in one session, going down slides and crawling through crevices and what not. It is really a lot of fun, and if you are a little older than child aged, and aren't quite as agile as you once were, quite a good workout (I found myself longing for the days when I was a sleek 8 year old who could climb the rope and ring the bell in gymnastics class). It's a lot of fun- the only bad part is, you have to make reservations so you can't exactly go on a whim when the weather is being uncooperative. If you are a parent with young kids, you are definitely going to want to take them to the exploratorium. It is like science in action and watching the faces of kids light up as they worked with all of the hands on exhibits was enough to put a smile on anyone's face.