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.