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9 San Francisco Landmarks To Add To Your Bucket List

9 San Francisco Landmarks To Add To Your Bucket List

Museums, architectural marvels, religious institutions, and more significant structures cover almost every nook and cranny of the city.


5 min read

November 21, 2021

San Francisco has a plethora of historical points of interest. Museums, theaters, architectural marvels, religious institutions, and more significant structures cover almost every nook and cranny of the 49 square mile city. From San Francisco landmarks that have become world-famous to others that have managed to keep their relevance under wraps, here are all the places you should add to your itinerary.

The Top San Francisco Historical Landmarks That Belong On Your To-Do list

Fort Point is a masonry seacoast fortification located on the southern side of the Golden Gate at the entrance to San Francisco Bay.

1. Fort Point

Located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point was built from 1853 to 1861 to protect the bay from naval attacks. While it was never actually used in battle, Fort Point is a San Francisco historical landmark that’s the only one of its kind in the west and an example of impressive masonry. Not only is it historically significant, but Fort Point is also a popular spot for a morning jog. The area boasts hiking trails with stunning views, gorgeous forested areas, a golf course, scenic overlooks, and more spectacular sites to explore.

2. Sutro Baths

The ruins of the colossal Sutro Baths sit at the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond District in San Francisco. While it was built in 1896 as the world's largest indoor swimming pool (accommodating up to 10,000 people), it actually burned to the ground in 1966. You won’t get a good grasp of its previous grandiosity until you head out to see the remains of this famous landmark in San Francisco yourself. Plan an afternoon excursion and stick around for sunset—you’ll have a riveting and beautiful free experience in NorCal like no other.

The Fairmont Hotel dates to 1903 when two sisters—Theresa Fair Oelrichs and Virginia Fair Vanderbilt—decided to build a spectacular boutique hotel.

3. The Fairmont Hotel

The 1906 earthquake was perhaps the worst natural disaster in San Francisco’s history and destroyed the city to almost complete ruins. But, the Fairmont Hotel miraculously stood tall, only suffering structural damage. This San Francisco landmark building has since hosted the first United Nations meeting, numerous presidents, and even Tony Bennett, who sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” at the hotel for his 90th birthday. 

Spend the night at the grand San Francisco landmark and treat yourself to the max. But if that seems a bit too extra, an evening at the popular Tonga Room will leave quite the grand impression as well.

Conceived to evoke a decaying ruin of ancient Rome, the Palace of Fine Arts became one of San Francisco's most recognizable landmarks.

4. Palace of Fine Arts

You’ve most definitely seen the Palace of Fine Arts in pictures, TV shows, and movies. But if you haven’t gotten around to visiting this famous place in San Francisco in person yet, you totally should. As one of the city’s most iconic architectural landmarks, the palace was originally built for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which was an event widely regarded as an opportunity to showcase the city’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake. Today, the Palace of Fine Arts is available to rent for events, galas, trade shows, and other ceremonies requiring a large space. If you have a special reason to get down on one knee soon, this famous landmark in San Francisco serves as a great backdrop.

5. The San Francisco Mint

The San Francisco Mint was built in the mid 19th century to serve a rapidly growing city and a thriving regional economy. Today, the famous San Francisco historical site stands as a community gathering place that’s rich with history. Book a tour and admire its historic grandeur the next time you head over to Downtown San Francisco—you’re in for an unparalleled experience. And if you ever want to book it for a private event, feel free to do so at this iconic spot.

Coit Tower's interior features fresco murals in the American fresco mural painting style, painted by 25 different onsite artists.

6. Coit Tower

Wondering where you might get some of the best skyline views in the City by the Bay? The 210-foot Coit Tower won’t disappoint. A mega-popular San Francisco landmark, Coit Tower gives you views of Lombard Street, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Twin Peaks, Pier 39,  and beyond. If you squint hard enough, you’ll even spot the Financial District, the Ferry Building, Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, and even more famous places in San Francisco on a clear day. 

Mission Dolores is a Spanish Californian mission and the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco located in the Mission District.

7. Mission Dolores

The Mission District in San Francisco is a world of its own and a place you can easily spend a day at. At its centerpoint, you’ll find the historic Mission Dolores. Founded in 1776, this beautiful San Francisco landmark is the oldest intact building in the city. After you’re done touring the Mission itself, creep into the adjacent cemetery—where city founders, criminals, and thousands of Native Americans rest—and check out the oldest burial ground in the city. 

Conclude your day in the Mission District by heading to Dolores Park. With panoramic city views, towering trees, and off-leash areas for dogs to run around, this is another famous place in San Francisco you should check out.

With construction having been completed in 1879, the Conservatory of Flowers is the oldest building in Golden Gate Park.

8. Conservatory of Flowers

The majestic Conservatory of Flowers is where fairytales come to life. Completed in 1879, this gorgeous greenhouse is the oldest building in Golden Gate Park and one of the few spots to survive the 1906 earthquake. Boasting Victorian architecture, over 2,000 plant species, and the oldest public wood-and-glass conservatory built in North America, this famous landmark in San Francisco is truly a magical place to be. Before you head out there, check out the what’s in bloom section on the conservatory’s website to get acquainted with what you might encounter there.

9. The Garden Court at the Palace Hotel

No other place oozes with as much historic luxury as the Garden Court Restaurant at the Palace Hotel. Book a table and dress up to the nines before you head out to dine at this San Francisco historical place—you’ll be taking a step back in time to revel in the luxury of the Gilded Age. While the Garden Court serves breakfast and lunch daily, it’s best known for its signature City Brunch and Tea service. Suitable both for a romantic date and a girls’ day out, this San Francisco landmark will leave you with memories you’ll cherish forever. 

We could go on forever speaking about the city’s many incredible sites. Which one of the famous places in San Francisco has a special place in your heart?

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