Civic Center San Francisco - Things to Do

Many of San Francisco's historical buildings, landmarks, and cultural institutions can be found in the San Francisco Civic Center. Built in the early 20th century, the grand City Hall is a renowned keystone of the district. Along with notable institutions housed in the area, other popular attractions include an art museum, a public library, and several theatres, to name a few examples.

This popular destination brings in a lot of visitors annually. With so many things to do in this city center, lots of first-time visitors and even regulars still get overwhelmed with options. We've put together a shortlist of the top Civic Center San Francisco places to visit when you are in this amazing district.

San Francisco City Hall

A favorite amongst fans of architecture, this beautiful building can be found right in the heart of the Civic Center area. The first San Francisco City Hall was built around 1898 but was destroyed by a fire and an earthquake. The current City Hall was eventually completed around 1915, and it sits where the original one was built.

Because it is a public building, visitors are free to explore the space. Highlights of this building include its magnificent staircase, a grand rotunda, and the mini-museum in the South Light Room.

Asian Art Museum

The SF Asian Art Museum houses over 18,000 artifacts in its permanent collection. Some of these rare items cannot even be found anywhere else in the world. Its comprehensive works of art are said to be 6,000 years old.

Much of the museum's display can be attributed to millionaire Avery Brundage, a major collector of Asian art pieces. Donations from Brundage continued until his death in 1975. It is believed that his donations totaled over 7,700 art objects that center on Asian art.

The Asian Art Museum has several galleries devoted to the arts of Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, China, Japan, Central Asia, Iran, South Asia, and Korea. The museum also regularly hosts traveling exhibitions that attract archaeologists and art lovers from all over.

San Francisco Public Library

Opened in 1996, this modern structure houses seven stories filled with books and exhibits. And if you thought this library couldn't get even more impressive beyond its facade, think again. They did say never to judge a book by its cover, and the San Francisco Public Library is a perfect example. Make sure to add a visit to the SF Public Library in your Civic Center San Francisco things to-do list.

Walking Historical Tour

Sure there are countless hop-on tours in San Francisco, including in the Civic Center area, but why sit when you can walk and explore the neighborhoods? Oh, and did we mention this is free? Yep, these Civic Center walking tours are brought to you by volunteers.

The tour starts on the steps of the San Francisco Library. You can easily join one; just make sure to arrive before 11 am on either a Tuesday morning or a Thursday morning. These walking tours are available all year long and do not require any reservations. Just show up early so you don't get left behind

Herbst Theatre

A War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, this auditorium is considered to be the crown jewel of the Civic Center neighborhood. Originally opened in 1932, the hall seats 928 people. Home to a diverse array of performances, the theatre hosts over 200 shows each year. Visitors can find lectures, jazz performances, and touring shows to name a few examples.

San Francisco Opera

Founded in1923, the San Francisco Opera calls the Civic Center San Francisco their home. Shows at the opera typically run from June to July and from September to December. A lot of classics are performed in this Opera House including, Carmen, The Barber of Seville, and The Marriage of Figaro. For a full list of shows, check out the calendar on their official website.

SF Ballet Performance

Another performance worth looking for is the SF Ballet. Popularly recognized as one of the oldest ballet companies in the United States, it is also known as the first to ever perform the Nutcracker in America. To date, their interpretation of this much-loved two-act ballet performance is still considered to be the most loved performance available each December. No holiday is complete for many ballet fans without this show on their agenda.

Concert at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

Not a fan of ballet, but enjoy the concert scene more? Then the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is where you should be. Over the years, this venue has attracted numerous international artists like Kaskade, Zedd, and Nghtmre. The auditorium hosts at least four to five shows every month. Music fans should be on the lookout for the next big name to hit the Bill Graham stage.

World Class San Francisco Symphony

Visitors of this neighborhood who are in search of a high culture experience will not be disappointed. One of the many opportunities for this is the popular San Francisco Symphony. A group known by the world over, the symphony performs multiple times each week. And their performances usually include special international guests.

Sydney Goldstein Theater for a Live Talk

Those traveling to San Francisco to immerse themselves in more knowledge will be happy to find live talks at the Sydney Goldstein Theater. Experience live lectures and talks that are also broadcasted on public radio. But really, why settle with listening in through a radio when you can be seated in the audience and see a show? Some of the previous guests include Misty Copelan, Annie Leibovitz, and Michael Eric Dyson.

Where To Stay

A city like San Francisco has no shortage of hotels for the weary traveler to stay in. And it is no different in the Civic Center San Francisco. Some popular choices are as follows:

Days Inn
This motel-style accommodation offers free Wifi to research and plan your activities easily and free breakfast, so you don'tt have to go far each morning. Considered one of the most affordable places to stay, this lodging is perfect for those who are sticking to a tight budget.

Holiday Inn
Just a few blocks from City Hall, the Holiday Inn is an icon in the hotel industry. Anywhere you travel, we can guarantee you will find a Holiday Inn close by. There's also free WiFi, a fitness center, and a bar on site. It's hard to go wrong with an industry name.

Inn at the Opera
This inn is one of the best places to stay because it is just a few steps away from the SF Opera House. We love the European bed and breakfast style of this inn. Guests can enjoy room service, suites, and of course, free Wifi.

Phoenix Hotel
Phoenix Hotel is a funky, hip, and colorful hotel highly favored by musicians and celebrities who frequented it in the '50s and '60s. The hotel has managed to retain its mid-century pieces while adding lots of modern touches like Wifi, flat-screen TVs, microwaves, minifridges, and more.

Private Rentals
If a hotel isn't your type of scene, we suggest finding accommodations on Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO,, etc. Expect to find some amazing homes, luxurious condos, apartments, and artistically designed dwellings when you forego the traditional hotel stay. What's great about staying in a vacation home or property rental is the unique finds and personalized approach that travelers would not normally find in a hotel chain.

Regardless of where you choose to stay, make it a point to make reservations early so you don't miss out on the best options and deals.

Getting There Via Public Transportation

Located just 14 miles from the San Francisco International Airport. Public commuters can reach the Civic Center via the MUNI bus lines, Metro Subway, Bart Lines, Golden Gate Transit, and several other bus lines.

Many travelers often take Fisherman's Wharf or Union Square bus routes since these are the standard routes many forms of public transport will take. Aside from buses, travelers can go via light rail, streetcar, or taxis.

Travelers with their own vehicles can easily locate the Civic Center with their favorite GPS Map. The trick is finding a place to park in the area.

Driving & Parking in the Civic Center District

Hands down, driving is a well-loved option for many people who come and visit the neighborhood of Civic Center San Francisco. We, however, should mention that parking can be challenging in this area. Thankfully, we have a parking suggestion for those choosing to bring their own vehicle or have rented one for their trip to SF.

When visiting these attractions, the good news for people driving cars is there's always a California Parking facility around the corner. Scattered all over the state of California, people visiting the Civic Center area will find six parking options from California Parking. Those who visit the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, United Nations Plaza, City Hall, San Francisco Ballet at the War Memorial Opera House, and the San Francisco County Clerk Office can easily find a spot in the California Parking facilities.

Furthermore, we also offer parking spaces near the San Francisco Public Library, Asian Art Museum, Hayes Valley, Symphony at the Davies Symphony Hall, and restaurants in the nearby area.

Our California Parking facilities are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Depending on the location, our parking lots usually offer hourly, daily, weekly, and even monthly rates. Be sure to check with us to know which of our California Parking facilities will best suit your parking needs and find out which one is closest to the place you are planning to visit.

Why give yourself the hassle of searching for a free spot when there aren't any? Don't risk parking on the streets where your car can get towed or vandalized. Instead, opt for a reliable, safe, and affordable parking lot so you can leave your vehicle without a worry in mind as you enjoy the many Civic Center San Francisco places to visit.

In summary

The city of San Francisco is a financial, commercial, and cultural destination. Because of this, there are over 70,000 people from various walks of life who come into the city daily. Some are in the city for business, while others are there to see the attractions that districts such as the Civic Center have to offer. With a city center like the Civic Center in San Francisco that is bustling with so much activity, unfortunately, finding a place to park has become an issue. That's why we made it our business to provide the best parking solutions. The next time you visit California, for your peace of mind, look for the California Parking facilities.