The Marina District, San Francisco

By Jason Kaefer

The upscale Marina District of San Francisco captivates tourists in a blend of old-school meets new money, and it’s located at the northern tip of the city within walking distance of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Parking is a challenge any day of the week in SF so I would recommend the side streets near the Palace of fine arts (pictured below).

From here, you and/or your family can walk to a number of places – one being the impressive Palace of Fine Arts.

One of the most beautiful sights in San Francisco located at 3601 Lyon Street, the Palace of Fine Arts is like something out of Ancient Rome as its built around a small, artificial lagoon (pictured below). In fact, this was the idea behind the architecture, to give the feeling of classical Europe, and few would disagree.

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Upward view of the Rotunda lining the interior of the monumental dome.
The Lagoon
Around the lagoon, there are turtles, swans, and ducks basking and gliding the surface.

Originally constructed in 1915, the Palace was at the heart of the Panama Pacific Exhibition, and was designed by Bernard Maybeck, who was influenced by Roman and Ancient Greek. Over the years, the palace has undergone dramatic changes.  For example, during WW2, it was used for storage of military artillery and in the early 1960’s, the palace was torn almost completely down, leaving only the steel structure of the exhibit hall.

You’ll get the feeling of standing somewhere in Italy, with its domed structure and reflective lagoon surface, echoing a rich European past. And did I mention the history? Check out the old-school photo below.

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As I mentioned above, you are within walking distance of several recommended locations. One of which is the Wave Organ, a giant concrete structure designed to catch the melody of the tides. Each concrete tube (pictured below), works like an organ pipe, amplifying the sound of the water in a gentle whistle. Once there, you get a panoramic view of the SF Bay. The feeling here is peaceful and quiet while the soft sounds of the bay travel through the Organ.

An example of a sound station and two pipe mouths built into stone projecting hisses and sloshing and whistling.

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Advice for parents, pack light and warm. San Francisco is notorious for its wind and the wave organ is no exception, especially considering its location on the Bay, fully exposed, no shade. Hoodies and sweatshirt are a must, and I would recommend sunscreen in the summer months, sunburns will sneak up.