Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Exploratorium and Beyond...

This gorgeous setting is the home of The Exploratorium, San Francisco’s Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. Built for the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in 1915, this “Palace of Fine Art” as it was referred to at the time, was also a celebration of San Francisco’s recovery from the devastating 1906 earthquake. Architect Richard R Maybeck chose a Roman ruin for his theme and this beautiful structure was the result. It’s absolutely beautiful, and such a shock to find it as part of a such a (relatively) modern city. I was really taken by it, and although we didn’t have time to go into the museum itself, we spent quite a while admiring the outside.

From here, the Scenic Drive takes you on to the Presidio. Originally a Spanish garrison and later an American army base active during both World Wars and the Vietnam War, the Presidio is now part of National Parks Service. There are lots of historic buildings and museums, and also some stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We’ve driven across the bridge so many times (you have to pay a toll) and never had as good a view as this one, which was completely free! It’s a stunning piece of architecture, and while it is amazing to drive across, it is beautiful to look at. If it’s the Golden Gate Bridge you want photos of, the 49 Mile Drive is definitely your answer. Driving away from the Presidio we got a wonderful view of the other side of the bridge as well. There is a place that you can park by the side of the road so that you can safely get out to enjoy the scene.

The drive also takes you through Golden Gate Park, which is very beautiful indeed. One of the highlights of this part of the drive is Stow Lake with its lovely little waterfall.

There were so many things to see on the drive and it gave me a perspective on San Francisco that I have never had before. We finished the 49 Mile Scenic Drive as the sun set with a stunning view of San Francisco at night from Twin Peaks, the two hills that sit at the centre of the city.

The 49 Mile Scenic Drive is signposted throughout San Francisco but it is wise to have a map as well. Click here for more information. You can start at any point on the circular route and you should allow a full day to complete it. Next time I think we would use our satellite navigation device to help us as well, putting the various points of interest in ahead of time. We did have a couple of times when we got a bit lost! I highly recommend this route, and will definitely do it again.

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