Planted between mighty palms in Golden Gate Park is the oldest wood-and-glass conservatory in North America. The gleaming white Victorian structure has survived several boiler explosions, closure during World War II, and more than two decades of renovations. In 1998, it was deemed an endangered building—but it was quickly adopted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and completely rehabilitated by 2003. This century-old structure is home to the Conservatory of Flowers, a National Historic Landmark that connects visitors year-round with the exotic flora of the world's tropical regions.
The Conservatory houses four main galleries. In the aquatic plants gallery, cascading water gurgles into pools beneath a glass-and-metal sculpture of a six-foot Victoria amazonica water lily. The mist-filled highland gallery mimics the high-altitude forests of tropical mountaintops with clusters of orchids and ferns. Showcasing another side of the tropics, the rainy lowland gallery replicates lush jungles, housing a 100-year-old imperial philodendron and several cycads, which date to the days when most dinosaurs were just tiny salamanders. The potted plants gallery incorporates man-made works such as copper planters from India, ceramic pots from Burkina Faso, and an urn from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Around the fragrant stillness of these halls, the Conservatory hosts special events such as gardening workshops.
Groupon Celebrates Pride Month
Over the last 50 years, the gay-rights movement in America has overcome tremendous obstacles to become a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity. Even as it has grown, the movement—like Groupon—is local at heart, and we applaud the commitment to real change that improves everyday lives.
At Groupon, we are happy to add our voices to those celebrating PRIDE, their achievements as a social movement and a continued march to equality for the LGBT community. Plus, we love a chance to dig that rainbow wig out of storage.
This month—and throughout the year—we salute our merchants and customers who support PRIDE and all efforts that promote dignity, respect, and equal opportunity. We're highlighting these merchants' deals with a special badge to show Groupon's pride in working with people who share our values.
Since 1963, the Chinese Historical Society of America has collected the documents and artifacts that chronicle the history of Chinese American citizens. The society's permanent collections are typified by pieces such as One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in America, a vivid mural by Chinatown native James Leong that charts the progress of Chinese Americans over the course of 100 years. On a smaller scale, the Chinatown Miniatures Collection depicts three-dimensional scenes of San Francisco's Chinatown as it looked before artist Frank Wong built his shrink ray. Other exhibits change frequently, often in conjunction with special events hosted for members and their guests.
The museum can't contain every bit of Chinese American history, however. With that in mind, the society’s guides lead school groups on walking tours through the bustling streets and alleyways of San Francisco's Chinatown. Free from the confines of the museum, they point out the neighborhood’s distinct architectural landmarks and underlying social significance. Throughout the year, the museum also puts out publications such as the CHSA Bulletin, which chronicles different stories within the Chinese American community.
For the past three decades, the Contemporary Jewish Museum has celebrated Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas while remaining constantly relevant. A non-collecting organization, the CJM sparks dialogue and unites people from all walks of life through lectures, classes, films, and constantly rotating exhibitions commonly centered around art. In the past, the CJM has displayed photographs of Allen Ginsberg, trained its lens on the magic of Harry Houdini and the art he inspired, and responded to Hitler's Mein Kampf with artist Linda Ellia's exhibition of 600 pages altered by artists, writers, victims, students, and other Jewish people. More recently, the CJM featured an exhibit on the contribution of Jewish architects, designers, and merchants to creative communities around the US, post-World War II.
Holding all these different facets of culture and design is a building that is itself a work of art. Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the 63,000-square-foot CJM combines the legacy of the historic Jessie Street Power Substation with the dynamic angles and arresting shapes of contemporary architecture. Accompanying its overall shape is a blue metallic exterior and symbolic references to Jewish concepts, such as the Hebrew phrase "L'Chaim," meaning "to life."
"If you want to aggressively snack your way through a neighborhood as you walk it," says Fodor's, "consider hanging with cookbook author Tom Medin or one of his local guides." Medin is one of the founders of Local Tastes of the City Tour/SF Food Tours, and he personally leads many of the company's walking tours, which seek out the soul of the city in its bakeries, restaurants, and cafes. The hunt for hidden gems might lead to Chinatown's oldest bakery and a fortune cookie-making demonstration, or through an authentic Western saloon. The North Beach tour, which has been recommended by Lonely Planet, presents a behind-the-scenes look at coffee-roasting by way of the favored hangouts of the Beat Generation. Even when a tour skirts the city's iconic landmarks via painted bus, each stop is replete with tastings and demos, which is why the guides recommend that visitors avoid eating before a tour or swallowing their backpacks for safekeeping.
By day, Jerry Cimino worked in the computer industry. By night, he quietly collected memorabilia from the Beat Generation, building up little piles of photographs, letters, and first editions of literature by Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac. Inspired by the beat poets themselves, who often traded what they had to pursue their passions, Cimino abandoned his 9-to-5 job and opened The Beat Museum. Located on the same ground that was once the epicenter for Beat activity during the 1950s, the museum hosts an ever-increasing collection of cultural ephemera and has been profiled in the Washington Post. The shelves and glass cases brim with various editions of Allen Ginsberg's Howl, a sweat-dappled jacket worn by Jack Kerouac on his travels, and William Burroughs’s guide to perfect table manners.
Ripley’s 10,000-square-foot Odditorium entices families to Fisherman’s Wharf with rarity-racked galleries and interactive exhibits based on the work of Robert Ripley. Self-guide a tour through their collections of curiosities, playing tailor to a shrunken torso, arm wrestling the world’s largest sea lion, and ineffectively icing your arm with a Mona Lisa made of Rubik’s cubes. Historical artifacts such as Buck Helm’s car from the 1989 San Francisco earthquake shed peculiar light on local history, and statues of Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga constructed from candy pay tribute to Americana at large.