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Palace of Fine Arts

This Roman-inspired palace built in 1915 remains a modern-day renaissance center of fine arts and science. 

The Romanesque Palace of Fine Arts was created as a star attraction at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The expo celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and San Francisco’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires. Designer Bernard Maybeck themed the construction around Roman ruins, drawing inspiration from both Roman and Greek architecture. His intention was to show “the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes.”

This is one of the few surviving structures from the expo. It has housed tennis courts and served as a store of military trucks and jeeps. A major restoration program in the ’60s restored the palace to its former glory, stripping it back to its basics and then rebuilding with new concrete, paving and landscaping.

Today it's the home to the Exploratorium, an exciting journey into the wonders and mysteries of science, with interactive displays and hands-on activities aimed at children.

The palace is in a peaceful space to walk, or enjoy a picnic. Surrounded by gardens and a swan-filled lagoon, sits the palace, a grand rotunda and 1,100-foot (335-meter) pergola. It’s a popular destination because of the serenity of its environment and the majesty of its architecture.

The Palace of Fine Arts is to the west of Fisherman's Wharf in the Marina District. On foot, it’s less than two miles (three kilometers) from Fisherman's Wharf past Ghirardelli Square. It is also easily accessible by public transport. Several Muni buses will take you there. There is a parking lot on the west side accessible from Lyon Street.


Guide to Exploring Palace of Fine Arts


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Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf Hotel £148
Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf Hotel

Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf Hotel

2500 Mason St, San Francisco, CA
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in North Beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf Cable Car Turnaround. Ghirardelli Square and Lombard Street are also within 15 minutes.

    Hotel Spero £122
    Hotel Spero

    Hotel Spero

    405 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Downtown San Francisco, this romantic hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Powell and Market Cable Car Turnaround, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and Cable Car Museum. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and San Francisco City Hall are also within 1 mi (2 km). Powell St. Station is 8 minutes by foot and Civic Center Station is 11 minutes.

      BEI Hotel San Francisco £96
      BEI Hotel San Francisco

      BEI Hotel San Francisco

      50 8th Street, San Francisco, CA
         
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Downtown San Francisco, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Moscone Convention Center and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Oracle Park and Ghirardelli Square are also within 3 mi (5 km). Civic Center Station is only a 3-minute walk and Powell St. Station is 13 minutes.

        Infinity Hotel SF, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member £123
        Infinity Hotel SF, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member

        Infinity Hotel SF, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member

        2322 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA
           
          2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Marina District, this hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Chestnut Street, Palace of Fine Arts and Van Ness Avenue. Fort Mason and Crissy Field are also within 1 mile (2 km).

          Hotel Zephyr £165
          Hotel Zephyr

          Hotel Zephyr

          250 Beach Street, San Francisco, CA
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in North Beach, this boutique hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf, Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum, and Aquarium of the Bay. Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square are also within 15 minutes. Ferry Building Station is 28 minutes by foot.

            Hotel Zoe Fisherman's Wharf £146
            Hotel Zoe Fisherman's Wharf

            Hotel Zoe Fisherman's Wharf

            425 North Point, San Francisco, CA
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in North Beach, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. Aquarium of the Bay and Pier 39 are also within 10 minutes.

              Cow Hollow Inn £145
              Cow Hollow Inn

              Cow Hollow Inn

              2190 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA
                 
                2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Marina District, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Chestnut Street and Van Ness Avenue. Palace of Fine Arts and Lombard Street are also within 1 mile (2 km).

                Argonaut Hotel - a Noble House Hotel £168
                Argonaut Hotel - a Noble House Hotel

                Argonaut Hotel - a Noble House Hotel

                495 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA
                   
                  4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in North Beach, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Fishermans Wharf Cable Car Turnaround and Ghirardelli Square. Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum and Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf are also within 10 minutes.