search Buscar

    Palace of Fine Arts: unpublished classic architecture in San Francisco

    Who I am
    Lluis Enric Mayans

    Item Feedback:

    content warning

    Il Palace of Fine Arts it is certainly one of the most original and recognizable buildings in San Francisco. It is a building with classical architectural forms, built in the early 900s on the occasion of the Panama Pacific international exhibition. Previously inside there was also the seat of the curious Exploratorium, which in 2013 was however moved to its current location at the Embarcadero.


    • History
    • Where is it and how to get there
    • To see
      • Cinematic location
    • Where to eat in the area
    • Attractions nearby
    • Where to sleep in the area


    The history of its construction dates back, as mentioned, to 1915 when thePanama-Pacific international exhibition, which was a real opportunity to restart for San Francisco, after the terrible earthquake of 1906, and subsequent fire, had seriously damaged a large part of the city.

    The Palace of Fine Arts should have been demolished once the event was over, but its beauty so impressed the inhabitants of the city that it was decided to don't tear it down. The original structure remained on display until the mid-60s, when the materials with which it was built (mainly wood and plaster) began to deteriorate inexorably.

    For this it was decided to undertake a total renovation by demolishing the original building and completely rebuilding it in steel and concrete.

    Where is it and how to get there

    The Palace of Fine Arts is located in the neighborhood of Marina District along Baker Street. Many, given its proximity, think that it is an attraction included in the huge Presidio national park but it is not, even if it is practically along its border.

    There are many lines of MUNI buses that reach this area among the main ones I point out the 22, 28, 30, 41, 43 and 45.

    If you plan to reach this area for some particular reason in machineAlthough we have advised against using it as a means of getting around San Francisco, there are a few recommendations you should consider. Avoid looking for a place along the streets, not only because it will be difficult to find some free space, but also because in most cases, except for a short period of time, only residents will be allowed to stop.

    If you plan not to stay long you can consider parking along the Palace Drive that runs alongside the structure and that at the time of writing the article allows a free stop within 4 hours. There is obviously some paid parking the closest is the  Palace of Fine Arts Parking in the immediate vicinity.

    There is no need to pay an entrance ticket to visit it and, if you consider taking a stroll along the entire external structure and stopping every now and then for some photos, expect to spend 40-50 minutes at the most. This will allow you to easily fit the Palace of Fine Arts into your San Francisco multi-day itinerary.

    To see

    Designed by Bernard Maybeck in a style inspired by classical forms, the main building is an octagonal building, with a dome almost 50 meters high supported by an imposing Corinthian colonnade.

    In front of the Palace of Fine Arts there is a large lake, while a green area surrounds the sides of the structure. It could be called a real one oasis of tranquility, also thanks to the fact that this area of ​​the Marina District is not very popular with the constant influx of tourists that flock to San Francisco every day. It is therefore ideal as a stopover to take a break from the frenzy of the stars and stripes life.

    If the day allows it, you might even decide to come here to consume yours outdoor dining sitting on the grass, or on simple benches, since there are no real picnic spots.

    Surely the main thing to do is stroll around the perimeter of the building and around its pond. It is also recommended to go under the huge dome to admire the grandeur of the colonnade up close and take some original souvenir photos.

    The Palace of Fine Arts is not only beautiful to see from the outside but you can also go inside where it is hosted a popular theater still in operation. You can check the calendar of events on this page.

    Cinematic location

    This particular location in San Francisco has also been used many times as a location for many Hollywood blockbusters. Here are the main ones:

    • The woman who lived twice
    • The man who came from the impossible
    • The murderer's canvas
    • The Rock

    Since the offices of the Lucasfilm are located a stone's throw from here, some argue that George Lucas took a cue from the Palace of Fine Arts to design the royal palace of Naboo, which was later shot using the exterior of Seville's Plaza de España.

    Where to eat in the area

    Unfortunately this is a mostly residential area, and there aren't many restaurants or bars in the immediate vicinity of the Palace of Fine Arts. To find a good choice of places you will have to go to the note Chesnut Street, especially in the quadrilateral between Scott Street and Steiner Street, where you will most likely find something to suit your tastes.

    In particular, I point out these two places:

    • Super Duper Burgers: one of the best places in San Francisco to eat a classic American burger with a generous portion of fries.
    • Chestnut Street Coffee Roastery: a place with a particular and quiet atmosphere, recommended more than for a real lunch to have a coffee (there are many qualities to choose from) and a dessert.

    Attractions nearby

    As mentioned, the closest attraction is certainly the Presidio park, in particular the Main Post and Crissy Field area. If in your multi-day itinerary in San Francisco you are planning to visit (on foot or perhaps by renting a bike), the Golden Gate Bridge from Fisherman's Wharf, or vice versa, you can consider it as a pleasant and relaxing intermediate stop.

    Where to sleep in the area

    If you want to look for an accommodation in the area, take a look at the structures reported in the Marina District and Cow Hollow neighborhoods in our in-depth study dedicated to where to sleep in San Francisco.

    add a comment from Palace of Fine Arts: unpublished classic architecture in San Francisco
    Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.