Marina District and Cow Hollow

Romancing the Marina District


Make Time for the Marina District & Cow Hollow

The waterfront of the Marina is anchored by the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Spanning the beautiful, but unforgiving, water of San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, the engineering marvel is known as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Locals use Crissy Field and Marina Green as their front lawn and beach, where acres of grassy areas leading to the yacht harbor with stunning closeup views of the famous suspension bridge. 

Palace of Fine Arts as a Backdrop

Perhaps San Francisco has no spot more romantic than the Palace of Fine Arts. Reflected in a pretty lagoon framed by grasses and eucalyptus, populated with swans and ducks, the neo-classical Roman rotunda set atop Corinthian columns evokes a Renaissance scene. The monument was part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition built to celebrate the opening of the canal and re-launch San Francisco after the earthquake. This nine-month-long world’s fair stretched for blocks across the new landfill of the Marina. It drew 18 million people at a time when the nation’s population was only 100 million. The only surviving remnant of the event is this single palace. Illuminated by night, the century-old landmark is a favorite of brides, film directors, artists and tourists.

In 2015, the city commemorates the centennial of the loveliest of locations, the site of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. With a theme, “Then, Now and Tomorrow,” programs and events unfold to reflect on San Francisco today and imagine the San Francisco of the future.

Shopping and Socializing

The residential streets of the Marina District and neighboring Cow Hollow are punctuated by two parallel shopping and dining destinations, Chestnut Street and Union Street. Both offer several blocks of contemporary independent boutiques for fashion, gifts, homewares, beauty and accessories in Victorian buildings mixed in with trendy coffee shops, cafés, bars and popular restaurants spilling out onto sidewalks. The vibe is more casual burger and tacos than white tablecloth fine dining. Plenty of fashionable pedestrians produce a lively scene right through the day and into the evening. 

Nature in the City

Enjoy an outdoor mini-adventure without leaving the city by taking a walk along the northern waterfront. Join cyclists, joggers, picnickers, dog-walkers and kite-flyers along Marina Green and Crissy Field. Relax on a bench and watch boaters and fishermen. For those traveling with children, this is the place to let off some steam, but be sure to carry an extra layer, for it can be chilly and windy beside the bay. Bring a camera, too, as the views across the water to Angel Island, Alcatraz Island, the Marin Headlands are special.

Continue west toward Fort Point, where cannons still seen today were placed in pre-Civil War days to defend the entrance to San Francisco Bay, although not one single shot was ever fired. The Golden Gate Bridge is so close, you can almost smell its hallmark colored “International Orange” paint drying. If the scenery looks familiar, it’s because of the movies; it looks much as it did when film director Alfred Hitchcock shot the classic 1958 thriller, “Vertigo.”

Did You Know?

  • Fort Point National Historic Site is free and open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (expanded to every day but Wednesday in summer).  
  • Crissy Field was a military aircraft landing strip before being converted into a park. If the winds pick up at midday, the Sports Basement and the Warming Hut are the go-to places.
  • Fort Mason hosts California’s largest outdoor street food extravaganza. “Off the Grid” has a ethnic food trucks, DJs and live music every Friday night from March through October.
  • The Palace of Fine Arts is a stop on the Hop-On, Hop-Off Open Top Bus and City Tours


Print this page