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Exclusive | San Francisco: What to See & Do Part Four

Exclusive | San Francisco: What to See & Do Part Four

Stop in to peruse the largest collection of Asian art and artifacts outside of Asia and examine Gae Aulenti?s amazing building redesign at the Asian Art Museum ( 200 Larkin St; 415-581-3500), in the Civic Center area. The California Academy of Sciences (415-379-8000) is in Golden Gate Park and includes the Steinhart Aquarium (the oldest in America), the Kimball Natural History Museum, the 4-Story Rainforest, and the Morrison Planetarium.

A stone?s throw from California Academy of Sciences is the H.M. de Young Memorial Museum (415-750-3600), another strikingly dramatic structure with good collections of African art, American art, Oceanic art, and textiles, among other areas of specialization.

A group of fascinating small museums is clustered in Fort Mason Center (Marina Blvd at Buchanan St.), a onetime army base now devoted to cultural projects. Among other treasures, here you'll find the Museo Italo-Americano (Building C; 415-673-2200) and the Mexican Museum (Building D; 415-202-9700). Note that a number of former Fort Mason tenants have moved. The San Francisco African-American Historical and Cultural Society can now be found at 972 Fulton St. (415-292-6172). The San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum is now located at 51 Yerba Buena Lane (415-227-4888).

San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA, 151 Third St; 415-357-4000) occupies spacious quarters south of Market, across from the Yerba Buena Gardens and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (415-978-2700), which runs a wide assortment of performances and exhibitions. SFMOMA's stunning building is worth a separate trip to the museum. If there's a big line out front, you may consider passing through the café and exiting onto another, occasionally active ticket line. Be sure to check out the Daniel Libeskind-designed Contemporary Jewish Museum across from Yerba Buena Gardens (736 Mission St; 415-655-7800).

Elsewhere, the city abounds with unusual museums. The California Palace of the Legion of Honor (Lincoln Park at 34th Ave & Clement St; 415-750-3600) boasts a superb permanent collection. The Gay & Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California (657 Mission St., Suite 300; 415-777-5455) has an extraordinary archive collection.

San Francisco has world-class performing arts institutions, especially its opera and ballet companies. The San Francisco Ballet performs at the Civic Center's War Memorial Opera House (401 Van Ness Ave; 415-621-6600), which is also the home of the San Francisco Opera Company. Also at the Civic Center, in Louise Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Symphony (201 Van Ness Ave; 415-864-6000) performs from September through May. The American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) (405 Geary St; 415-749-2228) is perhaps the city's best-known theater, and produces classic and contemporary theater to consistent acclaim.

Theater Rhinoceros (2926 16th St; 415-861-5079) is San Francisco's (and the country's) oldest gay theater company. Quality varies from show-to-show, but there's always ample eye candy in the audience and on stage. The New Conservatory Theater Center (25 Van Ness Ave; 415-861-8972) showcases cutting-edge new works, including an entire "Pride Season" of gay theater.

The major theatrical tourist draw is Beach Blanket Babylon (at Club Fugazi, 678 Green St; 415-421-4222); Shakespeare it ain't, but something's kept it running for 30 years. The cast is energetic and talented, and the costumes are over-the-top, and include wacky and unbelievably large headpieces. The show is constantly updated, incorporating bits and pieces of local, regional, and national news and gossip. Half-price tickets for theatrical productions can often be obtained on the day of the show at Tix Bay Area (870 Market St at Powell St; 415-430-1140).

Performance art is big in San Francisco, and there are several experimental, gay-friendly venues. Notable among such establishments are Intersection for the Arts (446 Valencia St; 415-626-2787), Theater Artaud (499 Alabama St; 415-621-4240) and counterPULSE (1310 Mission St; 415-626-2060).

Concerts are presented at the Fillmore (1805 Geary Blvd; 415-346-6000), The Great American Music Hall (859 O'Farrell St; 415-885-0750), and The Warfield (982 Market St; 415-345-0900). Or check out the numerous jazz, folk, and rock clubs throughout the city: free weeklies the Bay Guardian and the SF Weekly have the best listings of current performers.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

Part Seven | Part Eight

San Francisco: Introduction
San Francisco: Where to Stay
San Francisco: Where to Eat
San Francisco: Where to Play/Meet
San Francisco: Where to Shop
San Francisco: Resources

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Joe Okonkwo