Museums & Historic Sites

Alcatraz

Built as a military fortress in 1859 to protect the bay, Alcatraz was converted into a military prison in 1907.Later, as a maximum-security facility in 1934, it held some of the nation’s most notorious criminals. But don’t just go for the tour; go for the scenic boat ride, too, with magnificent views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Museum of Modern Art

A splendid repository of modern and contemporary art, this San Francisco institution features a strong collection of art by local and international masters alike. From paintings to sculptures, from architecture to photography and media arts, its works provide a thoughtful and inspiring way to spend a few hours.

California Historical Society

The official keeper of history for the state of California, the CHS houses a research library, museum galleries, and a bookstore. Its galleries are adorned with fascinating photography, hundreds of paintings, decorative arts, and period costumes.

Jackson Square Historical District

Stroll the streets in and around Jackson Square to glimpse the Barbary Coast of yesterday. Its buildings date to the Gold Rush days when Nevada’s Comstock Lode filled the coffers of fortune seekers. The elegance of its houses stands in contrast to the district’s once-notorious reputation as a bawdy enclave.

Wells Fargo History Museum

Learn about the Pony Express and the role that Wells Fargo played in developing the American West at this fascinating museum. The stars of this frontier-themed show are the original stagecoaches used to transport people, money, goods, and gold across the continent.