Beaux-Arts Building (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Fortunate to enjoy its position as a cultural magnet, the City by the Bay is home to the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, anchored by the city’s most significant performing arts venues. Home to famous ballet, opera and symphony companies, these Civic Center landmark venues are among the Bay Area’s best theaters and concert halls.

San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center
401 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102

One of the nation’s largest urban performing arts centers is a San Francisco designated landmark covering 7.5 acres in the heart of the city at Civic Center. Beautifully illuminated by night, several buildings are in the classic Beaux-Arts design from the 1930s, complementing San Francisco City Hall and paying tribute to World War veterans. A comprehensive calendar of events for all the performance spaces is found online. Each venue operates its own ticketing online and via a box office, while City Box Office operates a ticket service for non-resident performers and for most Herbst Theatre events.

Many locals are aware that in 1945, Herbst Theatre was the venue for the United Nations Charter signed by 50 founding nations at the conclusion of a two-month-long United Nations Conference at the War Memorial Opera House. The Peace Treaty of San Francisco, which formally ended World War II hostilities with Japan, was signed in the Opera House in 1951.

In addition to hosting cultural performances, the venues can be rented for private functions.Tours are scheduled hourly every Monday, meeting at the Grove Street entrance to Symphony Hall, departing between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and priced at $7 adults and $5 students and seniors.

War Memorial Opera House (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

War Memorial Opera House

Part of the Civic Center cluster that is San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, this historic Beaux Arts building faces San Francisco City Hall, another ornate landmark designed by Arthur Brown Jr. Dating from 1932, the 3126-seat War Memorial Opera House is home to both the San Francisco Ballet, America’s oldest since 1933, and the San Francisco Opera, one of the world’s leading companies since 1923. In addition to the auditorium’s performance space, the elegant Main Lobby, featuring 38-foot ceilings, is a popular venue for major events.

One of the three largest ballet companies in the United States, the 2016 San Francisco Ballet Repertory Season runs through May 8, 2016. The 2016-17 season of the San Francisco Opera showcases “Don Giovanni,” “AIda,” “Madame Butterfly,” “Rigoletto,” and “La Bohème” in its lineup of much-loved greats. Tickets go on sale June 27 for performances commencing in September 2016.

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)

Davies Symphony Hall

Visitors enter past a Henry Moore reclining bronze sculpture into a contemporary curved building where the 2739-seat auditorium is known for outstanding acoustics as well as North America’s largest concert hall organ. Built in 1980, and famously enhanced by a 1992 renovation, a unique solution to enhance the original space was widely applauded.

SF Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson-Thomas, or MTT for short, is the much-admired, longest-tenured music director at any major American orchestra. Under his direction, the symphony has earned 12 Grammy awards for recordings. Among the options for pricing are group and student discounts, same-day rush tickets, special sales and terrace seating behind the stage

Floor-to-ceiling windows with Civic Center views are a feature from each floor of the lobby spaces, where receptions can accommodate up to 3,000 guests. An adjoining building, Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall, is used by the symphony, ballet and opera companies.

This article was written by Laurie Jo Miller Farr via for CBS Local Media