Yerba Buena Gardens
A small oasis in the South of Market area, or as locals call it, SoMa, that houses the Moscone Convention Center, the Yerba Buena Gardens is named after the original Spanish village that eventually changed its name to San Francisco. Yerba Buena means 'good herb' and was named for an herb that originally grew abundantly in this area. Today, the Esplanade gardens are a respite from all the urbanization that has come to define the area. Surrounded by a thriving downtown, one can enjoy free music and entertainment in the outdoor gardens, walk under the man-made water falls dedicated to Martin Luther King, marvel at the historic and modern structures or visit the nearby museums and galleries.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is directly east of the gardens, past the Yerba Center for the Arts and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater. Due north is the wonderful Contemporary Jewish Museum, with its world-renowned building that incorporates a 1907 landmark electrical substation designed by Willis Polk and a tilted giant blue steel box designed by Daniel Libeskind. Other galleries and museums are quickly joining these to create an urban center for the arts.