San Francisco, the cultural and financial hub of Northern California, is one of the most vibrant and popular tourist destinations in the world. From the charming cable cars to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, from the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf to the serene Golden Gate Park, San Francisco boasts a wealth of attractions that draw millions of tourists every year.
It’s anniversaries galore!
This year, several of the city’s most prominent attractions are celebrating major milestones. The Ferry Building, a hub for artisanal foods and local products turns 125 this July. And cable cars, the beloved symbol of the city’s transportation history, are celebrating 150 years this August. The Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines offer scenic routes through the city’s hilly neighbourhoods and passing through Lombard Street and Ghirardelli Square and The California Street line, running from the Financial District to Van Ness Avenue has been unceasingly thrilling the commuters with stunning views of the hills, the city’s skyline and the bay for over a century.
The dinosaur returns
Another popular attraction for tourists this season is the dinosaur exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. It features a diverse collection of dinosaur fossils ranging from the long-necked and long-tailed Sauropods, the towering skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex to a life-sized Mamenchisaurus model that spans 60 feet long. The Sauropods were known to be super-sized herbivores with some of them growing to the length of about four city buses that roamed the earth for around 140 million years.
In addition to fossils, the exhibit also offers interactive displays and multimedia presentations for visitors to learn about their anatomy – shedding light on their heart rate, respiration, metabolism and reproductive systems, behaviour and evolution along with playful interactive sessions. One of the highlights of the exhibit is the fossil preparation lab where visitors can observe scientists working on real fossils and learn about the process of uncovering and studying these ancient remains.
The dinosaur exhibit is going to be held from May 26, 2023 to January 21, 2024 at 55 Music Concourse Drive Golden Gate Park.
The surging sounds of San Francisco
The music scene in San Francisco has gotten more vibrant than ever. Busking is now legalised in the Golden Gate Park which has enabled street performers to showcase their talents. New venues like Keys Jazz Bistro in North Beach have joined the icons like the Fillmore and the Warfield. To add to the merry, Music City San Francisco is establishing a 11.6 million dollar incubator to promote musical talents. Currently, it comprises 36 budget-friendly rooms and the San Francisco Music Hall of Fame with a collection of over 90 multimedia photo installations honouring the legends of SF.
This summer, Music City is slated to unveil three transformed floors featuring four dynamic music venues, a musical education program for budding artists, a bar and restaurant and 23 stage/rehearsal rooms that facilitate both live streaming and recording.
Music City San Francisco is located at 1353 Bush Street near Polk Gulch.
The restored Japanese pagoda
The 128 year old Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is the oldest Japanese garden in the United States and one of its most recognisable features is the five-storey pagoda with its traditional Japanese architecture details. The pagoda is one of the few surviving structures from the 1915 World’s Fair. It was reopened to the public last fall after a two-year restoration period during which its roofs were re-shingled with 100 years old salvaged redwood. Also, it now has a replica of the original spire, meticulously created using recycled Douglas fir flagpoles. Traditional bells and Giboshi (an ornamental finial that is custom-made in Niigata, Japan) now adorn the pagoda for the first time in decades.
The pagoda-restoration is the first half of the 2 million-dollar project which also includes a redesigned landscape and refurbishing of the wooden Long Bridge which is slated to be completed by late 2023. However, the Japanese Tea Garden will remain open during the renovation.
The Japanese Tea Garden is located at 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Golden Gate Park.
The dazzling Dahlias in eye-popping colours!
While springtime blooms are a given everywhere, following record winter rains, SFO flowers all the way into summer as well. The Dahlia Dell next to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is a riot of colours with over 700 named varieties of Dahlias, the official flower of SFO since 1926, and will remain in bloom through July, August and September, making the garden a popular spot for picnics and leisurely strolls.
The Dahlia Dell is located at 100 John F Kennedy Drive Golden Gate Park.
Plantásticas! at the Exploratorium celebrates the origin of plants and how they connect us to our roots and planet. Developed by Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino of Berkeley’s Cafe Ohlone with collaborators from the Latinx and Indigenous communities, the exhibit is a multilingual experience that invites visitors to touch, smell, and zoom into the world of plants. Open till September 10, it facilitates visitors to gain insights on indigenous plants and also unwind at the plant patios created by Los Angeles-based artist Andi Xoch.
Medina and Trevino created exhibits that take visitors through the traditional Ohlone practice of making cordage, or twine rope, from the dogbane plant and explore how the Ohlone, the native Americans who lived in the SFO Bay Area, gathered sokóote, Bay Laurel, for ceremonial, culinary, and medicinal purposes.
The Plantásticas! Exhibit is being held at Pier 15 The Embarcadero.