Map &

Been here?
Rate it

Top Tours

San Francisco to Sausalito Self-Guided Bike Tour
"Start your bike tour only 4 short blocks from the national park bike path that takes you straight to the Golden Gate Bridge. You will receive great directions with the best places to stop along the way. Most riders take the time to stop at the Palace of Fort Point Vista Point and the Bridge Pavilion just to name a few. The ferry ticket is separately at the same price as the Blue and Gold Fleet. The tour operator will also provide roadside assistance in case something accidentally happens to your bike along the way.""""Bike the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito on a National Park Bike Path and returning via ferry. You will be able to purchase the ferry tickets before you leave
From $28.00
San Francisco City Bike Rental
"Rent a bike at the nearest bicycle rental shops to the Golden Gate Bridge. For only 3 miles bike ride on a scenic beach bike trail you will reach Palace of Fine Arts Crissy Field Fort Point and the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Bike across the bridge and ride downhill to Sausalito a beautiful waterfront town on the other side of the bridge where you can dine in many great local restaurants while enjoying the water views. To make your trip even more exciting
From $36.00
San Francisco Movie Sights City Tour
"Talk about a comprehensive city tour... Start at Pier 43 1/2 on Fisherman’s Wharf with a classic clip from The Birdman of Alcatraz (definitely not based on a true story) and a hot-off-the-presses clip from the Dwayne Johnson blockbuster San Andreas. On the way to North Beach check out crooked Lombard Street and Taylor Street where Steve McQueen in Bullitt catches big air in the most famous car chase scene of all time. In North Beach enjoy Sts. Peter and Paul Church and Washington Square. Watch out for the Scorpio killer from Dirty Harry! Then see the Financial District home to the Towering Inferno which is destroyed
From $49.00

Palace of Fine Arts Tips (62)

Palace of Fine Arts/Exploratorium

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.

richiecdisc's Profile Photo
Nov 14, 2005

Palace of Fine Arts

Built for a former World's Fair, today this is the site of the world famous Exploratorium, an interactive museum for learners of all ages. The grounds are beautiful and often you will see people taking wedding photos. Free parking behind the building (a rareity in SF!)

Callavetta's Profile Photo
Jun 08, 2004

Other Worldly

The Palace of fine Arts reminds me of Europe in another time.
I've never been to Egypt, but it reminds of some exotic far away land. Really extraordinary park that is so impressive to walk around. Very enchanting. Take time to check out the mansions that encircle the park, each with a unique style of revival architture. Visit my travelogue for more images.

pigletsmom's Profile Photo
May 22, 2004

Impressive building

The Palace of Fine Arts was build for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 and it's the only building that mad it until today. It's a masterpiece of architecture which is home of an interactive science museum - The Exploratorium.

When I visited San Francisco I was reading a novel and the showdown of this thriller happened to be beneath the big dome of this building. What a coincidence!!

Bernd_L's Profile Photo
Oct 29, 2004
Sponsored Listings

Hotels Near Palace of Fine Arts

2755 Lombard Street, San Francisco, California, 94123, United States
Show Prices
2707 Lombard Street, (formerly America's Best Inn), San Francisco, California, 94123, United States
Show Prices
2576 Lombard St, San Francisco, California, 94123, United States
Show Prices
2599 Lombard St, (formerly Pacific Motor Inn), San Francisco, California, 94123, United States
Show Prices
2358 Lombard Street, San Francisco, California, 94123, United States
Show Prices
2230 Lombard Street, Hwy. 101 at Steiner Street, San Francisco, California, 94123, United States
Show Prices

Palace of Fine Arts

Since I saw the first photo of this building I wanted to visit. Obviously the photo was in a sunny day with beautiful flowers not the horrible sky and fog we had hehehe but anyway is a beautiful one.

It is just near Golden Gate Park, close to the Marina. It was constructed in 1915 for the Panama Pacific International exposition.

It is now a theatre and on their web page you can see what they are playing. You can also rented for events

Carmela71's Profile Photo
Sep 07, 2004


The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 was an event dedicated to progress, the Worlds’ fair that celebrated San Francisco's recovery from the 1906 earthquake and fire. Funds came from six million dollars in donations, five million in state bonds and five million in San Francisco taxes. The expo lasted for 288 days and the buildings extended about a mile along the shore. The rosy rococo palace is the sole survivor of the many tinted-plaster structures. For purposes of an exposition, the buildings were supposed to last a year and then collapse readily, durability was not a concern.

After the Exposition, 33,000 supportive signatures were gathered, and $350,000 was raised towards the duplication of the Palace in lasting materials. Two World Wars stopped the project from going any further, and the Palace slowly crumbled from the ravages of the weather and ill-use. Finally, the structure had to be fenced off as it was a public hazard

Finally in 1964, a contract was awarded and the reconstruction began. Workers removed original design elements from which molds were made. The rotunda, colonnade and all except the steel framework of the gallery were torn down and replaced with concrete castings. In September, 1967, work was completed of a stripped-down version of Maybeck's original. The addition of the remaining original colonnades was completed in January, 1975. The 1,000-seat theater was added in 1970 and is used for many festivals and events. The massive columns, great rotunda (dedicated to the glory of Greek culture), and swan-filled lagoon have been used in countless fashion layouts and films

smschley's Profile Photo
Mar 12, 2005

Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts was built for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco just 9 years after the devastating 1906 earthquake. The structures here, as they were at many of the expositions and world's fairs, were not made to be permanent structures, only built to last until the end of the expo, so the original structure was made of "staff", a mixture of plaster and burlap fiber.

The movement to preserve this one building started in October 1915 and it was the only building left after the rest of the expo was dismantled. Over the years though weather and neglect made the building unusable but the preservation effort was taken back up in the 1950s and by the mid 70s it had been restored. Today it houses the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre and the Exploratorium.

Dabs's Profile Photo
Oct 16, 2009

Palace of Fine Arts

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.

littlesam1's Profile Photo
Sep 07, 2005

Top 5 San Francisco Writers

atufft's Profile Photo


"Bagdad by the Bay"
View Member
Karnubawax's Profile Photo


"San Francisco - My Favorie City - By Default"
View Member
Ewingjr98's Profile Photo


"San Francisco - "It's a free-for-all up there!""
View Member
davequ's Profile Photo


"SFO ... a declassé love letter to the CITY"
View Member
Geisha_Girl's Profile Photo


"San Francisco: Why this heart never leaves"
View Member

Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts is San Francisco's most dramatic piece of architecture. Despite the name is not an art museum or a palace for that matter but rather a Classical style ruin at the edge of a beautiful lagoon. It was designed by the Bay Area architect Bernard Maybeck for the the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 and built with the intention to last until the end of the exhibition. When the buildings of the fair were torn down, citizens lobbied to spare the Palace of Fine Arts. And spared it was but by early 1960s the building which was made from such materials as wood, plaster and burlap started to crumble and became a ruin in the true sense of the word. Finally, the money for reconstruction was found and in 1962 the building was rebuilt using reinforced concrete. The lagoon is the perfect spot for an afternoon walk, watching the swans gliding on the lake in front of the rotunda.

Andraf's Profile Photo
Mar 18, 2005

Not Yet a Ruin

The Palace of Fine Arts was built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. It was designed by renowned architect, Bernard Maybeck. It is one of only two structures that were not demolished after the expedition, and the only one left on the site. The grounds make for a pleasant stroll and there is a theatre that is used for special events, presentations, or concerts. It's adjacent to the Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum.

SteveOSF's Profile Photo
Apr 06, 2007

Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts was constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition by architect Bernard R. Maybeck. It was built to resemble overgrown Roman ruins while still functioning as a museum. Its early years were spent as an art museum, but in 1934 it was modified to house eight tennis courts. During World War II the decaying palace was used by the US army to store vehicles, and these vehicles were used by the newly created United Nations, which was first established in San Francisco.

In 1964 the original Palace of Fine Arts was completely demolished and rebuilt over the next several years. During construction no permanent use of the new palace had been determined until 1968 when University of Colorado physics professor Frank Oppenheimer suggested it be used for the study of science and technology. The museum opened in 1969 and grew rapidly until its expansion in 1980. Oppenheimer was the first director for the museum and continued in this role until his death in 1985.

Interestingly, Oppenheimer was also a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project which developed the first atomic bombs. His brother Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Manhattan Project and the first director of Los Alamos National Laboratories. Oppenheimer was an admitted communist party member and was investigated after World War II for possibly leaking nuclear secrets to the USSR.

Ewingjr98's Profile Photo
Mar 02, 2008

Palace of Fine Arts - Roman decor

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.

SLLiew's Profile Photo
Oct 08, 2006

Things to Do Near Palace of Fine Arts

Things to Do

Exploratorium let me down once again, the beautiful sunny prediction for our stay in San Francisco was true for Thursday and Friday but early Saturday morning there was a huge thunderstorm and it...
View More
Things to Do

Marina District

Bordered to the north by Marina Boulevard, this very affluent residential area (average price of a home here is 1.5 MILLION US Dollars! while in other San Francisco neighborhoods is between 600 to 900...
View More
Things to Do

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

As we scanned the MAPEASY GUIDEMAP of San Francisco, my husband and grandson spied the USS Pampanito (1943), a WWII Balao class fleet submarine, anchored at Pier 45. They were really looking forward...
View More
Things to Do

Fillmore Street

Spa Radiance is my favorite spa in San Francisco. Their menu of services is exhaustive, and everything is wonderful. The Spa is serene and it feels very exclusive once inside. The facials are...
View More
Things to Do

Fort Point

The treacherous waters of the Golden Gate have claimed dozens of ships and hundreds of lives. Beginning in 1852, the United States Government funded the construction of a chain of 59 lighthouses...
View More
Things to Do

Pacific Heights

One of the touristy/pop culture things to do while visiting the wonderful city of San Francisco is go to Pacific Heights and check out the row of Victorian houses (called the Painted Ladies) made...
View More

Getting to Palace of Fine Arts


3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, California


  • Sunday 06:00 to 21:00
  • Monday 06:00 to 21:00
  • Tuesday 06:00 to 21:00
  • Wednesday 06:00 to 21:00
  • Thursday 06:00 to 21:00
  • Friday 06:00 to 21:00
  • Saturday 06:00 to 21:00