Yerba Buena

Mom and daughter on the Yerba Buena Gardens Carousel
The Carousel at Yerba Buena Gardens

Yerba Buena Gardens is a two-block mixed use area in the heart of downtown San Francisco, bounded by Third, Fourth, Mission, and Folsom Streets. The area is home to a number of cultural attractions, including museums, public art, and formal gardens as well as frequent outdoor concerts and other performances. There are also numerous restaurants, retail shops, and other features, including an ice-skating rink, bowling alley, and colorful carousel. Yerba Buena has something to interest all ages and tastes.

Formal Gardens and Public Art

The gardens at Yerba Buena are a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. Among them are a butterfly garden; the Sister Cities Garden, which includes plants indiginous to the 13 other San Francisco's around the world; and the Oche Wat Te Ou Reflection Garden, a tribute to the native Ohlone Indians.

The highlight of the many public art displays in the gardens is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, a granite and water structure, which includes the largest waterfall on the West Coast as well as King's speeches etched in stone in the languages of San Francisco's sister cities.


The Yerba Buena complex includes many of the city's newer cultural institutions. Among them are:

  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - Opened in 1935, this was the first museum on the West Coast to concentrate soley on the work of 20th century artists. Highlights of the museum's permanent collection includes works by Jackson Pollock, Paul Klee, Marcel Duchamp, and Ansel Adams.
  • Cartoon Art Museum - This museum, opened in 1987, with a grant from comic strip genius Charles Schultz, moved to Yerba Buena in 2001. It is the only facility in the United States devoted to the perservation and exhibition of cartoon art. The museum houses over 6000 comic books, animation cels, and historic comic strips.
  • Zeum - A fun and interactive art and technology museum, Zeum gives children the opportunity to learn about modern art and digital technology with hands-on exhibits.

Under construction are the Mexican Heritage Museum and the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Other Attractions at Yerba Buena

In addition to the museums and gardens, Yerba Buena offers an ice-skating rink, a bowling alley, and a traditional style carousel (pictured above).

The Yerba Buena Festival is held each year between May and October. It features over 100 artists is a variety of media, including painters, vocal artists, dancers, and performance artists. The wide range of activities are all free to the public.

Visiting Yerba Buena

Yerba Buena is easily accessible from all parts of the Bay area. It's a short walk from Union Square and Chinatown and a short cab or bus ride from Fisherman's Wharf. A number of the city's most popular hotels are located at Yerba Buena, including the San Francisco Marriott, the St. Regis, the Four Seasons, and the W Hotel.

Yerba Buena