Civic Center San Francisco: Top Attractions & Things to Do in This SF District

Civic Center San Francisco is in the heart of the city. Top things to do here include visiting the Asian Art Museum and City Hall. It's also home to many of our performing arts companies such as the ballet, opera, and symphony.

You can also catch a Broadway show at the Orpheum, see a performance at the Sydney Goldstein Theater, and catch a concert at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

City Hall in San Francisco's Civic Center Neighborhood

Market Street borders it on the south. Turk Street is the northern border. It stretches out east to west between Leavenworth (eastern border) and Gough & Franklin. 

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

10 Top Things to Do in the Civic Center San Francisco

The Civic Center San Francisco district is a bustling area with plenty to see and do. Here are some of my top picks.

1. Explore the Asian Art Museum

Jade Display at the Asian Art Museum

The SF Asian Art Museum is one of my favorite San Francisco museums. It houses more than 17,000 items in its permanent collection. Several of them are rare artifacts that you will not see anywhere else in the world. 

On the link below, you will find photos of the museum and what to expect when you visit.

>> Asian Art Museum

>> See which exhibits are on display in the coming months

2. See a Broadway Show at the Orpheum Theater

San Francisco has a number of theaters, but one of the most beautiful and well known is the Orpheum. This historic theater hosts some of the nation's largest Broadway productions, such as Hamilton, Wicked, and The Lion King.

Click through the link below to see a full schedule of San Francisco theater events at the Orpheum and other theaters throughout the city.

These are just a few of the top upcoming performances.

>> San Francisco theater calendar

3. Stop by City Hall

San Francisco's City Hall

One of my favorite free SF attractions is City Hall. This gorgeous building is the heart of the Civic Center District. Since it's a public building, it's free to visit and take a look around.

Highlights inside include the grand staircase, the gorgeous rotunda, and the South Light Room mini museum.

>> See pictures & learn more about what it's like to visit

4. Enjoy an SF Ballet Performance

The SF Ballet also performs in this neighborhood. It's one of the oldest ballet companies in the US and was the first to perform The Nutcracker in the Americas.

Their interpretation of The Nutcracker is still one of their most popular performances every December.

>> Current calendar & more details on the SF Ballet

5. Listen to the World Class SF Symphony

Inside Davies Symphony Hall

This San Francisco neighborhood also provides many opportunities to experience high culture. One of the most popular options in this area is the San Francisco Symphony.

This world-renowned group performs several times a week and often performs with international special guests.

Here are just a few top upcoming performances.

>> Find a current calendar & some tips for attending a performance

6. Catch a Concert at the Bill Graham

Head over to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for some of the biggest concerts in San Francisco. It attracts internationally recognized artists such as Zedd, Nghtmre, and Kaskade. They offer around four to five shows each month.

Here are just a few of the upcoming concerts here.

>> Find a full live music calendar

7. Learn Its History on a Free Walking Tour

History Civic Center Statue

One of the best ways to learn more about these neighborhoods of San Francisco is by taking the Civic Center/City Hall walking tour. This is a free tour given by volunteers through the San Francisco Public Library. 

You can pick up the tour on the steps of the Main Library on Tuesday and Thursday. The tour runs all year long and you don't need a reservation ahead of time.

>> Civic Center/City Hall walking tour and other free tours

8. See the SF Opera

The SF Opera also calls the Civic Center San Francisco home. They offer shows in June and July as well as September through December. They perform classics such as The Barber of Seville, Carmen, and The Marriage of Figaro. All shows are at the War Memorial Opera House.

>> Full calendar for the SF Opera

9. Catch a Show at the Herbst Theatre

Herbst Theater in San Francisco

The Herbst Theatre is another crown gem in the Civic Center San Francisco neighborhood. It's inside the War Memorial Veteran's Building and offers up to 200 shows a year. This beauty was originally opened in 1932 and seats just under 900 people.

>> Visit their site for a list of upcoming shows

10. Enjoy a Live Talk at the Sydney Goldstein Theater

Another one of the top things to do in the Civic Center San Francisco is to see a show at the Sydney Goldstein Theater. They are best known for their live lectures and talks that are on public radio.

Previous guests include Annie Leibovitz, Misty Copeland, and Michael Eric Dyson. 

>> Visit their site for a list of upcoming talks

Top Hotels in Civic Center San Francisco

The following are some of the top-rated hotels that you'll want to look at if you are interested in staying in or near the Civic Center San Francisco.

Inn at the Opera: 333 Fulton Street, 3.5 stars

  • Great location just steps from the SF Opera House
  • European-style bed and breakfast
  • Free Wifi, room service, suites available
  • Rooms start at around $195 a night

  >> Find out all the best information on rooms, rates and deal for the Inn at the Opera.

Phoenix Hotel: 601 Eddy Street, 2.5 stars

  • Hip, colorful, and funky hotel in a 'transitional' area
  • Highly rated, but make sure you read the reviews to understand the ins and outs of this hotel before booking—some people love it, while others hate it due to its surroundings
  • Rooms start at around $195 a night

 >> Learn about rates and how to book your room at the Phoenix Hotel.

Inn On Grove - San Francisco Civic Center: 465 Grove Street, 2 stars

  • Motel-type setup for this hotel, with free parking
  • Free Wifi, breakfast included
  • Rooms start at around $130 a night

 >> Find out more about the Inn on Grove and how to book rooms for your stay.

Holiday Inn at Civic Center: 50 8th Street, 3.5 stars

  • Larger hotel just a few blocks south of City Hall
  • Free Wifi, bar and restaurant on site, fitness center
  • Rooms start at around $160 a night

 >> Read guest reviews, find rooms and get the best rates for your stay here.

How to Get to the Civic Center San Francisco

From Fisherman's Wharf

It will only take you about 30 minutes to get from Fisherman's Wharf to the Civic Center San Francisco. Here are your best options: 

49 Bus: Pick up either of these buses on the western side of Fisherman's Wharf, both will drop you off at McAllister and Van Ness, across the street from City Hall. 

San Francisco Taxis/Uber/Lyft: This will decrease your travel time to around 15 minutes and will cost you about $20 to $30, depending on traffic. Learn more here

From Union Square

Union Square is just a few blocks away. You can either walk down Market Street to Civic Center Plaza or take one of these transit options. All will take around 15 minutes.

  • F Streetcar: This picks up at several stops along Market Street. 
  • Light Rail Muni Train: Pick up the train at the Powell Street Station and take it to either the Civic Center or Van Ness Station—both are just a few blocks away from the heart of the Civic Center San Francisco action. Almost all light rail trains head to both of these stops, including the J, K, M, and N trains.
  • Taxi/Uber/Lyft: Taking a taxi from Union Square to Civic Center San Francisco is a quick way to get here. It should take you less than 10 minutes and cost around $15 to $20.

Hop On/Hop Off

Another way to get to this neighborhood is on the Hop On/Hop Off Tour Bus. This bus drops you off at Civic Center Plaza. Learn more about taking the Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tour.

Driving & Parking in Civic Center San Francisco

Driving to the Civic Center San Francisco is a popular option. However, parking can be a hassle. Here are just a few of the best parking options.

Civic Center San Francisco Garage: You will find an underground below the Civic Center Plaza. It's between City Hall and the Asian Art Museum and is just a couple of blocks from the performing arts venues nearby. You will find it at 355 McAllister Street.

Performing Arts Garage: Another great option is the Performing Arts Garage on the corner of Grove and Gough. The address is 360 Grove Street.

Impark: Another garage nearby is Impark in the Essex Fox Plaza. It's located at 1390 Market Street with the main entrance on Hayes. When you map it out, it will take you to the entrance on Hayes. 

>> Find additional parking recommendations around town

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