Buddha (credit: Thinkstock)
The outstanding natural beauty of San Francisco’s outdoor spots and several historic landmarks in the city are among the places to put the 9-to-5 aside and get some quiet alone time for your thoughts. We’ve selected a handful of places to supplement the community centers, Buddhist and zen centers that offer many more opportunities for quiet reflection.
Palace of the Legion of Honor
100 34th St.
San Francisco, CA 94121
Take inspiration from sculptor Auguste Rodin. San Francisco is lucky to have one of the larger-than-life casts of “The Thinker” installed in the courtyard of the fine arts museum. Inside the museum, there’s plenty more inspiration for contemplation among the galleries displaying 4,000 years of European art. Outside on the grassy lawn, on a clear day when Karl the Fog remains at bay, catch excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge from in front of the museum atop Lincoln Park in Outer Richmond. Don’t overlook the unexpected haunting Holocaust Memorial interrupting Pacific Ocean views, a public monument to provoke thought and discussion. A 1.5 mile walk from here along El Camino del Mar to Sea Cliff Avenue takes you to Baker Beach for another special spot.
Inspiration Point Overlook near Arguello Gate, Presidio
San Francisco, CA 94129
One of eight designated scenic vista overlooks found throughout the Presidio, this one near Arguello Gate got its name for a reason. Enjoy far reaching views out over the watershed below and city rooftops punctuated by the white dome of the Palace of Fine Arts. Beyond, sailboats appear as dots on the bay, looking north at Alcatraz, Angel Island and Marin. Visitors arrive here mainly by ones and twos on foot, on bikes, in sightseeing vehicles, and in cars. PresidiGo Shuttle around the park makes a stop here, but fortunately, no big sightseeing buses descend; there’s never more than a handful of people seated on the two benches or wall at any time. From here, take Ecology Trail, El Polin Spring or Bay Area Ridge Trail to explore the Presidio’s watershed, forests and Andrew Goldsworthy’s outdoor sculpture, Spire.
Spire in the Presidio near Presidio Golf Course
300 Finley Road
San Francisco, CA 94129
A bike ride or a walk through the Presidio yields the heady natural scent of eucalyptus and pine. In the forest, created from the decaying trunks of 37 felled Monterey cypress trees, Spire soars 100 feet, designed to inspire contemplation around ecology and rejuvenation, says its well-known sculptor, Andy Goldsworthy. In the eight years since installation, the young cypress trees planted around the sculpture’s base have grown taller; eventually, the artist intends for them to envelop the space around Spire as the new forest embraces the old. While in the park, check out Goldsworthy’s Wood Line located adjacent to an old walking trail known as Lover’s Lane.
Sutro Heights Park
Point Lobos Ave. at 48th Ave.
near Lands End
San Francisco, CA 94127
Enter the wooded Sutro Heights Park on a path between two stone lions that once guarded the gate leading to the former mayor’s palatial estate. A statue of Diana the huntress surrounded by roses is among only a handful of structures that remain to remind of the place’s past glory. Few visitors walk through the grounds to reach the top of the hill where picnic tables are found. Those that do are rewarded with southerly views of the Pacific shoreline hugging Ocean Beach’s sand and surf. In addition to the park, any number of perches or walks around Sutro Heights Historic District provide places for meditation with views of the Pacific Ocean. Pop your toes into the ocean or stick around for an awesome sunset. A word to the wise: this beach is known for rip tides and far too dangerous for swimming.
1100 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Atop Nob Hill, a neo-Gothic beauty is inspired by Paris’ Notre Dame, America’s third-largest cathedral provides several opportunities for meditation. Attend morning or evening prayer, come for one of the daily services, soak up musical offerings played on the grand organ pipes, walk the indoor or outdoor labyrinth, or practice yoga under the soaring ceilings and reflections from stained glass windows during Tuesday evening classes accompanied by soothing music. Many of those who walk the labyrinth do so to reach a meditative state. Those inspired by uplifting voices will know that Grace Cathedral is home to one of the few remaining Episcopal men and boys choirs in North America.
This article was written by Laurie Jo Miller Farr via Examiner.com for CBS Local Media