M.H. de Young Museum
Although its collection is a tad out of balance (strong on New Guinea art, historical American paintings, and Anatolian kilims; light on anything contemporary) and critics carp that the current director opts for style instead of substance, this museum itself is definitely an eyeful. Designed by Swiss starchitects Herzog & de Meuron, the aggressively 21st-century recycled-copper-clad building looms in the park like an avant-garde aircraft carrier with a crazily torqued tower. From it, you can see the Transamerica Pyramid, Sutro Tower, and the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. Gaze north and the view is of the Richmond district, an endless, timeless, monotonous swath of small-scale pinkish stucco houses. But swivel east and you look directly across the shady Music Concourse at the new Academy of Sciences. The tower closes 45 minutes before the rest of the museum—don’t leave it till the end of your visit. The tower's café serves food from growers and providers within a 150-mile radius.