Top 10 Fun Things to Do in San Francisco’s Financial District
We know finding the best places to have fun and create life-long memories in San Francisco’s Financial District can be difficult, so we put together this detailed list of the best of the best so you can make your choice wisely. Each location offers an amazing experience you should be sure to check out on your next visit! If you know another location that should also be included in our list - or one that should be removed - please let us know!
1. Cable Car Rides (California Street Line)
California St. and Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109
About: The genteel California Street cable car line is a nice contrast to the frantic Powell Street tracks.
On any given journey, there would be far more San Franciscans on board than on Powell cars; in reality, the majority of passengers are mostly locals traveling to and from work.
This line isn't really next to Fisherman's Wharf as a tourism destination but passengers like it because it is usually closest to where they need to get to and this line is the one that will take you to San Francisco’s Financial District.
It drives through the deep canyon of lower California Street for the first five miles, where the cable car stands out among the high-rises of the Financial District. Even so, there are remnants of the past, such as the Tadich Grill in California near Battery, which is California's oldest restaurant and is still bustling, and many more places rich in history.
The California line is the way to go if you want a relaxing cable car trip without the long queues.
2. Wells Fargo Museum
420 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94104
About: Wells Fargo's long and illustrious legacy provides them with the luxury and privilege of hosting a free museum that highlights the company's unique presence in the development of America and serves as a clear representation of community involvement.
An original stagecoach that transported travelers and gold through the western plains, banking and expresses records, operating telegraphs, western paintings, gold coins, old currency, an impressive exhibit of gold dust and ore from California's Gold Country, a special set of Gold Rush letters carried by hundreds of express businesses, all on the spot where Wells Fargo first opened for business in 1852, and more can all be found at the San Francisco museum.
Tours are free and open to the public of all ages, with a focus on state primary and secondary American history curricula. Students read about and witness the importance of gold in American history, banking, communication, and, of course, stagecoach travel west. Senior classes, college students, and industry people will all take walks at the museums.
3. Pier 24 Photography Museum
24 Pier, San Francisco, CA 94105
About: Pier 24 Photography, located on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, offers a tranquil, contemplative setting for viewing photographic works. The Pilara Foundation, which is committed to collecting, saving, and displaying art, has a permanent collection at Pier 24 Photography.
Via exhibits, books, and public events, we want to involve the society, and we invite members of the public, research organizations, and museum groups for self-guided tours lasting up to two hours. Pier 24 Photography is free and available to the public by invitation Monday through Friday.
Pier 24 Photography has hosted eleven exhibits since it first opened to the public in 2010. With rooms devoted to portraiture, contemporary Bay Area artists, historical photographs of San Francisco, early American color art, and works created by the Farm Security Administration, the inaugural exhibition illuminated notable veins flowing through the collection. Total portfolios by Diane Arbus, Larry Clark, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand were also on display.
4. California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118
About: The California Academy of Sciences is a research institute and natural history museum in San Francisco, California, that houses over 46 million specimens, making it one of the world's largest natural history museums. The Academy was established in 1853 as a learned society and continues to do extensive original study. The organization is based in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
The California Academy of Sciences not only serves as a center of public science education through its museum, but it also has a scientific arm, the Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability, which conducts research in taxonomy, phylogenetics, and biodiversity studies.
While one part of the IBSS is visible to museum visitors at the scientific "project lab" display, the majority of the study takes place "behind the scenes" in labs and facilities that are not open to the public. In reality, most patrons are unaware that academic and administration facilities make up nearly half of the Academy's physical structure.
5. Union Square
333 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94108
About: Union Square is a 2.6-acre civic plaza in downtown San Francisco, California, bordered by Geary, Powell, Post, and Stockton Streets. The central retail, restaurant, and theatre area that circles the plaza for many blocks is also known as "Union Square."
The city was given its name after it was used for Thomas Starr King demonstrations and Union Army support during the American Civil War, giving it the title of California Historical Landmark.
Union Square is a major tourist attraction and a vital, cosmopolitan meeting spot in downtown San Francisco today, with one of the largest concentrations of department stores, luxury boutiques, gift shops, art galleries, and beauty salons in the United States.
The area's lively, 24-hour character is aided by grand hotels and small inns, as well as repertory, off-Broadway, and single-act theaters.
6. Festivals and Trade Shows at Palace of Fine Arts
3601 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123
About: The Palace of Fine Arts, located in San Francisco's Marina District, was designed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition to house art exhibits. It is one of only a few remaining buildings from the Exposition, having been mostly restored between 1964 and 1974.
The complex's most notable structure, a 162-foot-high open rotunda, is surrounded on one side by a lagoon and bordered on the other by a wide, curved display center divided from the lagoon by colonnades. The exhibition center (one of San Francisco's largest single-story buildings) was used as a venue for weddings and trade shows as of 2019.
7. Golden Gate Park
About: Golden Gate Park, with its parks and exhibits, is a beautiful green area in the center of San Francisco that is sometimes referred to as the city's "lungs." This was a region of arid dunes until construction began in 1871.
Golden Gate Park is one of those locations where a couple of hours will quickly turn into a couple of days. Bike rentals are open, and instead of having to see it on foot, this can be a fun way to see the park. Alternatively, take a 2.5-hour guided tour with a local guide to see all of the main sights.
About: Chinatown in San Francisco is a whole different world. It is the world's largest Chinatown outside of Asia, as well as the oldest in North America. Chinatown, which was almost totally demolished in the 1906 earthquake, was restored entirely in the Chinese style and became much more attractive than before the catastrophe.
Visiting Chinatown has become one of the top things to do in San Francisco, with its temples, theaters, workshops, small businesses, stores, antique and souvenir shops, teahouses, and traditional pharmacies.
If you visit San Francisco during a major Chinese holiday or festival, you should expect to see a large-scale celebration. The best Chinese New Year festivities in North America are also regarded as the best in the world.
9. Asian Art Museum
200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102
About: The museum, which is located in the heart of San Francisco, houses one of the world's most impressive collections of Asian sculpture, including over 18,000 pieces ranging from ancient jades and ceramics to modern multimedia installations.
Special exhibits, cultural festivals, and public services for people of all ages provide rich art opportunities that reveal the past and raise concerns about the future.
San Francisco's Asian Art Museum brings art to life. Through their world-class collection, exhibits, and services, they hope to encourage new ways of thought by linking diverse audiences to historical and contemporary Asian art and culture.
The Asian Art Museum continues to cross civilizations, engage the mind, and encourage new ways of thought as a lively hub for exploring the magnificent artistic accomplishments and fascinating past of the world's most populated continent.
10. Ghirardelli Square
900 North Point St Ste F301, San Francisco, CA 94109
About: Domenico "Domingo" Ghirardelli founded this specialty shopping and dining complex, which now houses shops and restaurants, as a chocolate factory. Ghirardelli, who was born in Rapallo, Italy in 1817, began his career as an apprentice to a Genoa confectioner and gained a keen interest in the industry at a young age.
Ghirardelli Square is a restored warehouse area in the Fisherman's Wharf area, surrounded by stores, galleries, and restaurants in converted industrial buildings. The square, which opened in 1964, was the first of a series of projects aimed at revitalizing abandoned factory complexes.
Ghirardelli's old red-brick chocolate factory has been transformed into a shopping, craft, and entertainment destination for those looking for a nice dinner. This is a wonderful place to go if you like sweets and want to try some new things. Its belfry, which was designed in 1916, is based on the Château de Blois in France. Rose gardens with fountains and terraces with beautiful views were later additions.
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