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Explore Unique Historic Attractions in San Francisco

By: Hotel Nikko San Francisco / 31 Jan 2019
Explore Unique Historic Attractions in San Francisco

Discover the Most Intriguing Historic Attractions in San Francisco

The past is alive in San Francisco, from the spirit of the Franciscan monks who founded the first Mission to the Gold Rushers and earthquake survivors. And you can feel it everywhere at unique historic attractions in San Francisco. But before you set off on your journey of exploration, get familiar with a few important dates from the city's short history:

  • 1776: Spanish colonists arrive and establish the Mission Dolores
  • 1847: Yerba Buena is renamed "San Francisco"
  • 1848: Mexico signs the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with the U.S., ceding dominion over what would soon become the state of California.
  • 1849: California Gold Rush
  • 1850: Union Square opens
  • 1852: Ghirardelli starts selling chocolate
  • 1869: Transcontinental railroad completed
  • 1906: Great earthquake and fire
  • 1937: Golden Gate Bridge opens
  • 1967: Summer of Love
  • 2017: $60 million renovation completed at Hotel Nikko

Fort Point: Magnificent Masonry Architecture & Fabulous Golden Gate Views

With a fantastic vantage point overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, this military fortification stood guard over San Francisco Bay from the time of the Gold Rush through World War II. Completed just before the beginning of the Civil War, Fort Point is located on a promontory at the entrance to San Francisco Bay, right at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's renowned for its unique masonry and design, including spiral staircases, brick casemates, and expansive archways. Guests can participate in a mock cannon drill and explore unique historical exhibits. Grab a coffee at the Fort's Warming Hut before heading across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. (5.1 miles from Hotel Nikko)

The Old Ship Saloon: Former Brothel, Boarding House, and Boat

Back in 1849 – the year the California Gold Rush started – a wooden ship called the Arkansas raced into San Francisco Bay, its sailors eager to seize their share of the loot. Unfortunately, a storm blew the boat onto the rocky shores of Alcatraz. It was abandoned and later towed to Pacific Avenue, which was right at the San Francisco waterfront back then. An enterprising businessman decided to cut a hole in the side of the three-masted ship and turn into a bar. It's still a bar today – although it's also served as a brothel and boarding house. It's also where the term "Shanghaied" was born, as early patrons were served drugged drinks only to wake up hours later onboard a boat with a new life at sea. (1.2 miles from Hotel Nikko)

Mission Dolores: San Francisco's Oldest Building & First Church

Established in 1776 by the Franciscan order, Mission Dolores is one of 21 churches built by the Spanish on El Camino Real, the road that runs from California's Sonoma Valley to Mexico. It has survived the Mexican War of Independence, the Gold Rush, and numerous earthquakes including the 1906 disaster that leveled the city. The area was originally populated by the native Ohlone people and is now a vibrant Latino arts community – San Francisco's lively Mission District. See rare artwork inside the church or catch a live choir performance. Catholic mass services are open to all. Stroll through the rose garden and discover colorful murals nearby at Clarion Alley and Balmy Alley. This area is also a great stop for foodies, with plentiful taquerias for tacos and burritos. End your visit with a stop at Dolores Park nearby, a laid-back hangout with great city views. (1.9 miles from Hotel Nikko)

Palace of Fine Arts: Monumental Grace & Photogenic Beauty

Discover one of the most photographed historic attractions in San Francisco, a stunning architectural landmark with a peaceful lagoon. Turtles, birds, fish, and picnickers like to hang out here and savor the serene atmosphere. Built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the Palace of Fine Arts was incredibly one of eight identical structures at the time. They were built to show the world that San Francisco had been reborn following the city-wide devastation of the 1960 earthquake. Soaring into the sky with Greek columns encircling its vast rotunda, this breathtaking structure evokes the upward rise and forward-thinking energy of San Francisco. It's also a popular place for weddings. (3.3 miles from Hotel Nikko)

Japanese Tea Garden: Living Artwork & Beautiful Photo Ops

Many Asian cultures have contributed greatly to the evolution of San Francisco, and this traditional garden is a serene celebration of Japanese influence in the city. Built in 1894, the garden was originally the Japanese Village at the California Midwinter International Exposition. Today it offers some of the best photo ops in the Bay Area. Explore a tranquil oasis of traditional bowed bridges, pagoda-style monuments, and native Japanese flora. Explore an intricate network of pathways that follow along ponds, historic sculptures, and bonsai trees. Located in Golden Gate Park, this lovely sanctuary is the oldest public Japanese garden in the U.S. There's also a teahouse that overlooks the beautiful landscape along with a gift shop with sake sets, ceramic bowls, and Japanese collectibles. (3.8 miles from Hotel Nikko)

Connect with San Francisco Heritage at Union Square Near Hotel Nikko

Immerse yourself in the vibrant history of San Francisco when you put yourself in the heart of the city at Hotel Nikko. Our Asian-inspired boutique hotel is situated at the edge of Union Square, one of the city's most beloved public parks since 1850. Now a bustling plaza, Union Square is surrounded by a huge number of shops, restaurants, and theaters. It's a cosmopolitan gathering place where you can truly connect with the authentic spirit of the city. Plan your San Francisco getaway today and treat yourself to polished rooms, high-style design, and exquisite dining at Hotel Nikko.

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