SAN FRANCISCO ●Attractions●Historical Sites
Palace of Fine Arts
3301 Lyon St./Bay St., in the Marina, (415) 563-6504. Free.
This cavernous building was designed by architect Bernard Maybeck in 1915 as part of the Panama-Pacific Exposition (an early World’s Fair celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal) and is said to be the world’s largest artificial ruin. No longer home to the Exploratorium, which moved in 2013, it now is open only for special events that are scheduled regularly in its theater. A paved path leads around the lagoon and makes a lovely walk. On my stroll, I saw an impressive range of wildlife that included the expected ducks, swans, and seagulls, but also turtles, large catfish, white egrets, and giant blue herons doing a mating dance in their tree nest. Grassy areas and plentiful benches provide the perfect spot for a picnic.