Historic Buildings in San Francisco

San Francisco has plenty of history, and plenty of historic buildings to show for it. While most visitors can easily recognize the Golden Gate Bridge, many other buildings are around town that have a story just as interesting as the famous bridge. If you're a history lover, then these fantastic buildings should be on your must-see list. So, to get you started on your next trip, here are the best historical buildings in San Francisco.

Historic Sites in San Francisco

San Francisco is a city full of history and heritage. From its iconic cable cars to its historic architecture, San Francisco has a wealth of interesting sites to explore.

Ferry Building
Ferry Building
This historic building has been converted into a shopping area with great restaurants and local vendors who sell produce, cheese, and more. There's also a weekend farmer's market in the area that's fun to browse.
1 Ferry Building, Financial District and Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, 94111
Planning a trip to San Francisco? You might also be interested in Hidden Finds in San Francisco and How to Spend One Day in San Francisco.
The Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is the last building remaining from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. It's a beautiful, classical style building that sits by a lagoon that serves as a reflecting pool. Inside the palace there are regular art exhibits and performances. The theater seats about 1,000 people.
3301 Lyon Street, Marina District, San Francisco, CA
St. Patrick Church
Founded in 1851, this is one of the oldest churches in the city, and its cornerstones were brought from Ireland. Nestled in SoMa among modern buildings, it contains a beautiful Gothic Revival interior with gorgeous stained glass windows.
756 Mission Street, SoMa, San Francisco, California
Legion of Honor
From it's beautiful Beaux-Arts building to its impressive collection of ancient and European art, this museum is a must-see in San Francisco. The limestone, marble, and chevron wood building is a beautiful work of art and inside there is a collection of more than 800 European paintings (with 250 available to view).
Lincoln Park | 100 34th Avenue (at Clement Street), Lincoln Park, San Francisco, CA, 94121
Lotta's Fountain
This historical fountain is located on Market Street by Geary and Kearny Streets. It was built in 1875 and served as an important meeting point following the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Union Square, SF, California
Central Embarcadero Piers Historic District
Made up of Piers 1, 1½, 3 and 5 this area is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Financial District, SF, California, 94111
Mission Delores
Also called Mission Dolores, Mission San Francisco de Asis is the oldest remaining structure in San Francisco. The mission was founded in 1776 by Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga and Francisco Palóu. Regular Catholic services are offered in the larger basilica, and visitors can also see the Old Mission which contains gorgeous murals, as well as the historic cemetery on the grounds.
19 Chula Lane, Duboce Triangle, SF, California, 94114
If you're looking for more information about San Francisco, read The Best Local Museums in San Francisco and Where to Rest and Find Peace and Quiet in San Francisco.
Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island, located in the San Francisco Bay, once served as a federal prison from 1934 to 1963. Today it is a National Historic Landmark that offers tours that cover the island's history, the former prison, and the many famous prisoners that were held here. To get here, you need to take a scenic ferry ride from Fisherman's Wharf, and it's best to book ahead, especially on weekends.
West Road, SF, California, 94133-1312
Cable Car Museum
This free museum is all about the history of the cable car system in San Francisco, and is also home to the actual machinery that powers the cable cars themselves! Visitors can see historical exhibits about how the cable cars were once used much more frequently in the city, what they looked like, and how they work. It's also possible to go down under the street level to see the gear machinery, and gaze upon the large engines and wheels that move the cables.
1201 Mason Street, Nob Hill, SF, California, 94133
Fort Mason
Fort Mason
Located in the northern Marina District, Fort Mason was an Army post for more than 100 years.
Funston Road, Marina District, SF, California, 14123
How much does it cost to visit the historic sites of San Francisco?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $32 to $32. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $32. A few of the best options are below.

Religious Sites in San Francisco

Holy Virgin Cathedral
This is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral outside of Russia. Located in the Richmond District, the large golden domes can be seen from a distance. Regular services are offered.
6210 Geary Boulevard, Richmond, San Francisco, California, 94121
Grace Cathedral
Grace Cathedral is an Episcopal cathedral on Nob Hill. The beautiful building is known for its mosaics, two labyrinths, and impressive stained glass windows.
1170 California Street, Nob Hill, SF, California, 94108
How much does it cost to visit the religious sites of San Francisco?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $32 to $32. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $32. A few of the best options are below.

Monuments in San Francisco

San Francisco is home to some of the most impressive landmarks in the world. The city is famous for the Golden Gate bridge, the Transamerica Pyramid, and Alcatraz Island, but there are also many other iconic landmarks and architectural marvels throughout the city.
If you're looking for more information about San Francisco, read A Nature Lover's Guide to San Francisco and A Train Lover's Guide to San Francisco.
Alamo Square Park
Alamo Square Park
This park is most notable as the place to view the famous "Painted Ladies," a series of Victorian and Edwardian homes that were made famous by the Tanner family, in the 1980's sitcom, "Full House". The park spreads out for 36 acres and it's a nice place to relax with a book, enjoy a picnic lunch, or let the kid's play on the playground.
Steiner St & Hayes Street, Alamo Square, San Francisco, CA, 94117
The Presidio
The Presidio
The Presidio historically served as a U.S. Army base but today it is a large green space and a public park. It's situated in the northwestern corner of the city at the gateway to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio is a national park that is controlled by the National Park Service and it runs between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, ending at Baker Beach. Within the park there are stunning views of Marin County and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as a number of biking, hiking and walking paths. There are also plenty of places to enjoy a picnic or rest with a good book. The Walt Disney Family Museum as well as a golf course and several cafes are also found within the park.
The Presidio, San Francisco, CA
St. Mary's Square
This public square, located in Chinatown, is often busy with locals from the surrounding neighborhood relaxing, playing games, exercising, and chatting. It's a nice spot to relax if you've been exploring the city for awhile, and it's very close to the shops and restaurants of Chinatown.
Quincy Street between Pine & California, Chinatown, San Francisco, California
Sather Tower
This bell tower is part of the University of California, Berkeley. It has clocks on each of its four faces and is commonly referred to as The Campanile.
South Drive, Southside, Berkeley, California, 94720
Fort Baker
Fort Baker is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It was an active Army post until the 1990s.
602 Murray Circle, San Francisco, California, 94965
Treasure Island
This artificial island was built between 1936 and 1937 for the Golden Gate International Exposition. Many buildings on the island are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
449 Avenue H, SF, California, 94130
San Francisco has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: An Art Lover's Guide to San Francisco and Educational Places and Activities in San Francisco.
Ghirardelli Square
Ghirardelli Square
Named after the famous chocolate maker and constructed from a historic chocolate factory, this shopping center and public square has a number of boutique shops, ice cream, cafes, and nearby restaurants. Naturally, the most visited shop is the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop and ice cream cafe where you can get all sorts of yummy treats. Visitors can also find some fun activities such as mini-golf, a public fountain with outdoor seating, and great views looking out to the bay.
871 Beach Street, Marina District, San Francisco, California, 94109
Coit Tower
Coit Tower
The 210 foot Coit Tower is located on Telegraph Hill in Pioneer Park. It was built in 1932 and 1933 and offers impressive views of the city. If you're short on cash, you can explore Pioneer Park for free and enjoy comparable views to those offered at the top of the tower.
15 Telegraph Hill Boulevard, Telegraph Hill, SF, California, 94133
Sutro Baths
Sutro Baths
Once a grand public swimming area, the Sutro Baths are now just ruins of a burned-down building, of which visitors can see the old pools built out of cement into the side of the hill overlooking the ocean. The beach here is small but beautiful. The hill above is Point Lobos which has a nice walking trail and views of the surrounding hills and coastline.
1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, California
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is the iconic symbol of San Francisco. It's one mile wide and connects the city of San Francisco with Marin County. It offers a stunning view looking back on the city and many visitors enjoy renting bikes and riding across the bridge. It is also considered one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Golden Gate Bridge, SF, California, 94129
Point Bonita Lighthouse
Located at Point Bonita, this lighthouse marks the entrance to the Marin Headlands near Sausalito. It was the last manned lighthouse in California.
San Francisco, California, 94121-1545
How much does it cost to visit the monuments in San Francisco?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $32 to $32. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $32. A few of the best options are below.

The Architecture of San Francisco

San Francisco's architecture is as diverse as the city itself. From Victorian to Art Deco to contemporary, the cityscape is dotted with architectural styles, and is home to a variety of famous landmarks.
Planning a trip to San Francisco? You might also be interested in The Best History Museums in San Francisco and The Best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco.
de Young Museum
This art museum is located in Golden Gate Park and features work from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. This museum is more than 125 years old and it's popular for its unique fashion exhibits that include everything from costumes to contemporary Muslim fashions. There's also a beautiful observation tower on the 9th floor that looks out over Golden Gate Park, downtown San Francisco, the Bay, and the Marin headlands.
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 94118
How much does it cost to experience the architecture of San Francisco?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $32 to $32. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $32. A few of the best options are below.

Where to Stay in San Francisco

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