See the Stars in San Francisco
From their wealth of Michelin-starred restaurants to gazing at luminous celestial bodies at the Morrison Planetarium, this city is full of stars. Below is a list of ways to enjoy stars of all kinds in San Francisco:
Six Decades of Star Gazing
At the California Academy of Sciences, the Morrison Planetarium has been showing audiences the wonders of our skies for more than 60 years. Currently the largest all-digital dome in the world, the 75-foot diameter projection screen plays different shows every day including “Expedition Reef,” which reveals the secrets of the "rainforests of the sea." The planetarium also sometimes screens live NASA feeds as well as the always popular star shows such as "Sun, Moon and Stars."
Touch Me, Touch Me
At both the California Academy of Sciences and PIER 39’s Aquarium of the Bay, docents are on hand to help guide gentle fingers through manmade tide pools to shake hands with a sea star or tease the tendrils of a sea urchin. The Discovery Tidepool at the Academy is stocked with sea stars, hermit crabs and other residents of California’s rocky shore. The invertebrates Touch Pool offers a rainbow of sea stars, sea cucumbers, urchins, anemones and other creatures common to the California coast tide pools. Aquarium of the Bay also offers a touch pool populated with sharks, bat rays and skates. The best time to visit is in the morning when they are more active before feeding time at 12:30pm.
Northern California is home to several dozen Michelin-starred restaurants including seven three-Michelin star restaurants: Benu, Coi, Quince, Saison, The Restaurant at Meadowood and The French Laundry. Three Michelin stars is considered the utmost international recognition in the culinary world and is reserved, according to the authors of the Michelin Guide San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country 2018, for those restaurants that “serve exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”
Nobody seems to know the dimensions of the giant star crowning the roof of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Let’s just say it’s very big. Mounted on top of the 21-story hotel which was originally built in 1928 it is synonymous with Starlight Room. Cocktail culture is carefully cultivated here by top mixologists and the plush lounge is also known for its Sunday's A Drag Brunch.
The Bay Area is home to several observatories where the moon, stars and galaxies get top billing 365 days (and nights) a year. Among them are Chabot Space & Science Center and Lawrence Hall of Science located in the East Bay. From its perch at 10000 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland, Chabot’s observatory deck offers panoramic views 1,500 feet above the bay. One Centennial Dr. in the Berkeley hills is the home of Lawrence Hall of Science. Stargazers are encouraged to bring their own equipment and enjoy the twinkle of stars and constellations that can be viewed from the plaza, as well as magnificent views of the city lights along San Francisco Bay. Both Chabot and Lawrence offer planetarium shows as well.
San Francisco’s Sidewalk Astronomers was founded in 1968. On the website co-founder John Dobson notes that when asked how he became interested in astronomy, he replied “I was born.” That early fascination has yielded a lasting legacy for Bay Area sky watchers and informs a website filled with tips ranging from setting up your own sidewalk stargazing events and even offering sample fliers to recruit the neighbors.
San Francisco has some noted architects who have left a legacy here. And there’s a modern side to this, too, with the new SFJAZZ Center and the recent expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art which was completed in 2016. SFMOMA has a noted architectural department and some other favorites are the gallery spaces at the American Institute of Architects, the SPUR Urban Center and the Autodesk Gallery at One Market St.