Golden Gate Bridge Plaza. To mark the structure's 75th anniversary last year, local and federal agencies joined to make upgrades and additions to the plaza where tour buses stop. Besides a new gift shop, there's a green screen photo op, so even in soupy fog, you can get a doctored photo of yourself atop the bridge's rigging under a clear blue sky. (It's $20 for two 5x7 prints.) To leave the tour-bus crowd behind, descend a short trail to the Warming Hut, near water's edge. There you'll find a little pier, another great view and a shop-café with a better selection and better food than up the hill. The plaza stands at the S.F. end of Golden Gate Bridge. (415) 921-5858, http://www.goldengatebridge.org.
Walt Disney Family Museum. Visitors with small children (no strollers allowed) who are expecting a theme park-like experience might be better off elsewhere. Instead, this museum (a former Presidio barracks) is tailored for die-hard fans who expect no less than a scholarly look at Disney's life and work, presented in 10 galleries. Still, there's lots of fun here — check out the enormous model of Disneyland and the console TVs playing reruns of "Wonderful World of Color." Be forewarned: My cab driver had never heard of the museum but insisted it was in Golden Gate Park. On certain evenings, the museum hosts Animate Your Night, an after-hours party with entertainment and cocktails. 104 Montgomery St., the Presidio; (415) 345-6800, http://www.waltdisney.org. GPS'ers will need the 94129 ZIP Code. Without it, you will be directed to Montgomery Street in the Financial District. Open 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Wednesdays-Mondays. Adults $20, seniors/students $15,children ages 6-17 $12.
Fort Mason Center, http://www.fortmason.org, a complex of refurbished and repurposed military buildings, is home to small art galleries, museums, theaters and other arts groups, as well as restaurants and a bookstore. The two rooms of the Mexican Museum showcase only a small fraction of its 14,000 artworks and artifacts from ancient to contemporary times. The Tequila Don Julio Collection, a recent acquisition, features the work of Mexican and Mexican American artists in a variety of media and materials. Favorite piece: Julio C. Morales' "Lowrider Mambo," an exuberant sculpture made with car rims and drum stands. Building D; (415) 202-9700, http://www.mexicanmuseum.org. Open noon-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. Free. The SFMOMA Artists Gallery, an offshoot of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, skips the Warhols and Picassos in favor of upcoming and established Bay Area artists whose works are offered for sale or rent. Proceeds benefit the artists as well as support the museum's exhibitions and programming. Building A; (415) 441-4777, http://www.sfmoma.org/visit/artists_gallery. Open 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Free. Folks fed up with our here-and-now society will find inspiration at the Long Now Museum and Store. It's run by the Long Now Foundation, which seeks "to provide a counterpoint to today's accelerating culture" and "foster long-term thinking." On display are large, sculptural 1/4-scale prototypes of pieces of its 10,000-year clock being built on West Texas land owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Building A; (415) 561-6582, http://www.longnow.com. Open 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Free. The Museo Italo Americano has no permanent collection but instead hosts three or four exhibits a year celebrating the contributions of Italian Americans. On display through March 10 is a dual exhibit by two Sicilian American artists and teachers: "A Retrospective: Paintings From 1984 to the Present" by Joe Oddo and "Sicily Revisited" by Jean Marchese Gallagher. Its gift shop offers a selection of Murano glass jewelry, Deruta ceramics and children's books in Italian. Building C; (415) 673-2200, http://www.museoitaloamericano.org. Open noon-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Free.
City Guides. Exploring a city can be an expensive pastime. But not with City Guides. This nonprofit organization celebrates San Francisco by offering scores of free walking tours each week to help you discover the landmarks, legends and lore of the city. I tried the Fisherman's Wharf tour with Bethel Watt, one of 300 volunteer guides, and enjoyed two hours of behind-the-scenes revelations about this world-famous destination. Several different tours are offered daily, even in winter, covering various parts of the city. Most last 90 minutes to two hours. http://www.sfcityguides.org.
— Rosemary McClure
Boudin Museum and Bakery Tour. Passersby can stop and gaze through the street-level plate-glass windows of the demonstration bakery, but bread buffs will head upstairs to a gem of a small museum that recounts the Boudin Bakery history, which dates to 1849 and its founding in San Francisco. Check out the whimsical mobiles made with bread loaves shaped like sea critters, then watch the dough "dump" and the hundreds of loaves roll past on the conveyor belt. Stop first for a bite to eat (shrimp salad sandwich on a baguette, $9) at the Boudin Bakery Café on the ground level and get $1 off the $3 museum admission. 160 Jefferson St.; (415) 928-1849, http://www.boudinbakery.com.
San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. Tap into this city's colorful seafaring history with a visit to the Maritime National Historic Park, near Aquatic Park. Besides a museum packed with interactive displays, the park's visitors center offers an opportunity to listen to sea chanteys, read a sailor's personal journal and check out vintage equipment. Free. 499 Jefferson St.; (415) 447-5000, http://www.nps.gov/safr/index.htm.