San Francisco is a beautiful gem known the world over for its unique sights. Architecture and a blend of old and new adds to the unmistakable character of the city by the bay. Here is a list of just a few of the city’s structures that highlight its history and create postcard moments.

Golden Gate Bridge
Highway 101
San Francisco, CA
www.goldengatebridge.orgThis iconic juggernaut defines San Francisco in the minds of millions of romantics. Built in 1937 and spanning the Golden Gate for which it is named, it is arguably the most famous bridge in the world and a perfect place for breathtaking views and stunning photos. Technically, the bridge is free (with the exception of the southbound toll into the city) and open to traffic year round, 24 hours a day. To get the most out of your visit, sign up for an official guided tour and view interactive exhibits supported in part by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower in San Francisco. (CBS)

Coit Tower
1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 362-0808

This is probably the second most-recognized structure in San Francisco after the Golden Gate Bridge. The elegant concrete spire was built in 1933 at the bequest of its namesake Lillie Hitchcock Coit. The murals at the base were painted in 1934 by the Public Works of Art Project. Visitors can enjoy views of the tower against the city skyline for free, however there is an admission to take the elevator to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city. Parking is very limited so public transportation or walking are recommended.

Related: San Francisco’s Best Tours

Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park (

Japanese Tea Garden
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
(Golden Gate Park)
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 752-1171

Spanning five acres within Golden Gate Park, this garden was originally a recreation of a “Japanese Village” for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition. The garden is a maze of beautiful greenery dotted with structures including bridges, statues and buildings that have all been reproduced in great detail. Currently a favorite destination for tourists and locals alike, you can finish your visit here with a drink at the tea house. Otherwise, no picnics are allowed on the grounds.

Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
3301 Lyon St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 563-6504

With imposing Roman architecture set amidst decay and renewal, this otherworldly oasis is a favorite destination for weddings and romantics. This palace is actually one of 10 that was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. It is one of the few structures that survived and the only one still at its original site. While it was rebuilt in 1965 and retrofit for earthquakes in 2009, it draws visitors into a different era and atmosphere from the rest of the city. The giant dome structure next to the lagoon is enmeshed in a crescent of Corinthian columns and greenery perfect for picnics.

Related: Best Art Museums In San Francisco

Haas-Lilienthal House
2007 Franklin St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 441-3000

Victorian houses with all their quirky charm are emblematic of San Francisco. Often found on postcards, you can view the exterior of rows upon rows of the colorfully painted homes (“Painted Ladies”) from Alamo Square Park or walk around the Pacific Heights neighborhood on foot. To see the interior of a historical Victorian home and learn the history behind it, take a tour of the Haas-Lilienthal House. It is the city’s only “intact Victorian home that is open to the public as a museum” and has been carefully preserved to retain the furnishings and style befitting its 1886 pedigree.

Lollie Hopper loves to drink deeply from the well of culture. If it’s beautiful, interesting or timely, this Bay Area native wants to cover it. Her work can be found on