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Family-friendlyS.F. Bay Area

Gawk at S.F.'s Golden Gate Park from the free observation tower atop the De Young Museum

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Why: Many people don't realize this upstairs viewing space exists, nine stories above the ground. Or that it's free. Its glass walls give you a 360-degree view of Golden Gate Park, beginning with the wavy green roof of the neighboring California Academy of Sciences.

What: The museum goes back to 1895, but its modern history dates to the unveiling of its new industrial-sleek building (and tower) in 2005. The collection is American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, with additional works from Africa, Oceania and elsewhere in the Americas.

The art is worth your attention -- Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, Diego Rivera, Georgia O’Keeffe, Chiura Obata, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Jacob Lawrence, Edward Hopper, Mark Rothko and Richard Diebenkorn are all here. Pay them respects, if you're inclined. Then catch the elevator to the 2,600-square-foot tower.

Where: De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, S.F., 385 miles northwest of downtown L.A.

How much: The observation tower is free (though it's sometimes rented out for private events). Museum admission is $15 for adults, $6 for students with ID, free for visitors age 17 and under. Special exhibits like "Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire" (Sept. 30-Feb. 1; $29 for adults) often cost more. Tickets include same-day admission to the Legion of Honor Museum. Closed Mondays.

Info: De Young Museum

California Academy of Sciences, seen from the De Young Museum's observation tower. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
California Academy of Sciences, seen from the De Young Museum's observation tower. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

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