Friday, July 18, 2014

Adventuring // Hamon Observatory Tower in Golden Gate Park

View of Academy of Sciences from Hamon Observatory Tower at de Young MuseumHamon Observatory Tower // Segway Tours from Above
^ We saw Segway Tours taking place. They looked like little ants speeding by. ^
Hamon Observatory Tower // Ruth Asawa Art Exhibit
^ Part of the Ruth Asawa art exhibit at the base of the Tower. ^

Taking advantage of monthly Free Admission Day to museums in San Francisco.


Who: Tommy & I
When: Tuesday at 2 PM

The Place: When researching for this trip into the city {I collect potentially useful information like ground squirrels hoard food}, I learned that the Observatory Tower at de Young offers 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape and doesn't require an entrance fee, unlike the museum itself which is ten dollars normally.

Thus, I assumed the entrance to the Tower was outside the actual museum, since visitors didn't have to pay to get in and the museum people wouldn't want anyone sneaking into the main area via the Observatory entrance. Apparently, I was wrong. After wandering partway around the exterior of the building and not seeing anything that remotely resembled a path or a doorway, Tommy and I headed back inside to ask the information desk. And lo and behold, you have to go through the main doors and head right of the welcome/info desk to find the elevators up to the Tower. Who knew?

Once you've reached the top and gotten off the elevators, the views are indeed pretty cool. Keep in mind, if you're looking for 360 degree views of the ENTIRE city, like a birds-eye view, this isn't quite it. Because you're in the middle of Golden Gate Park, there are trees everywhere and you're about eye-level with them, so your sightline is blocked by greenery. But you will be able to see the Academy of Sciences, the roof of the de Young, and one busy roadway within the park... Whoot. (: 

What We Did: Basically, Tommy humored me while I took pictures of everything, dodging people lined up along the floor-to-ceiling windows. And he left a giant smudge of his face on the glass like a kid... except, you know, at grown-up height. *eye roll* I'm sure that went over well with the docents inside the Tower. *eek!*

I took a short video of the panorama, but Blogger won't let me upload it for some reason. So. Boo.

Tips: Just so you know...
+ Like I said, to get to the Tower base, you go in the main doors of de Young, let the security guard check your bag in case you're a sketchy, sketchy person, and then walk to the right of the info desk, through a tiny glass tunnel, to the elevators.

+ The stairway up to the Tower is blocked off for emergency/personnel access only, so if you're super exercise-conscious and you want to take the stairs, too bad. Elevator only.

+ There are other places around the city where the birds-eye view is better if you're trying to take cityscape pictures. The sights are limited here, but it's still very pretty. Try Grand View Park or Bernal Heights if tiny houses and Karl the Fog from above are your aim.

+ Right now, there's a Ruth Asawa exhibit at the base of the Tower that you should check out. She does these wire sculptures that I'm kind of in love with, even if they remind me of fishing baskets. And whoever set up that lighting... those shadows are awesome.

Conclusion: I'll admit, twas a liiiiittle underwhelming compared to the hype it received online, but the Hamon Observatory Tower is still worth a visit if you're in the area. I think your best bet though is to come on a Free Museum Admission Day like we did and explore the entirety of de Young while you're at it.


Hamon Observatory Tower
de Young Fine Art Museum
Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, California 94118

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