'Dot-com' was coined in mid-’90s San Francisco, when venture capitalists and tattooed cyberpunks plotted website launches in South Park cafes. But speculation is nothing new to South Park, planned by an 1850s real-estate speculator as a bucolic gated community. The development foundered, but South Park became a breeding ground for wild ideas: a plaque at 601 3rd St marks the birthplace of Jack London, author of The Call of the Wild, White Fang and other Wild West adventure stories.

The Filipino American war veterans who settled here after WWII witnessed the dot-com boom come and – just as suddenly – go. But South Park offices weren't vacant long before more scrappy start-ups moved in and began building platforms for online haiku and foggy memories. A decade later, South Park's crazy ideas seem to be sticking, with more than a quarter of all people online using Twitter and 1.2 billion files uploaded daily to Dropbox.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Downtown, Civic Center & SoMa attractions

1. Crown Point Press


Bet you didn't think anyone could capture Chuck Close's giant portraits, Robert Bechtle's hyper-realistic street scenes or Kiki Smith's painstaking wall…

2. Children's Creativity Museum

0.44 MILES

No velvet ropes or hands-off signs here: kids rule, with high-tech displays double-daring them to make music videos, film claymation movies and construct…

4. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

0.48 MILES

When the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art expanded in 2016, it was a mind-boggling feat that nearly tripled the institution's size to accommodate a…

5. Yerba Buena Gardens


Breathe a sigh of relief: you've found the lush green getaway in the concrete heart of SoMa, between Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Metreon…

6. Museum of the African Diaspora

0.53 MILES

MoAD assembles an international cast of characters to tell the epic story of diaspora, including a moving video of slave narratives told by Maya Angelou…

7. SPUR Urban Center Gallery

0.54 MILES

Cities are what you make of them, and urban-planning nonprofit SPUR invites you to reimagine San Francisco (and your own hometown) with gallery shows that…

8. California Historical Society

0.55 MILES

Enter a Golden State of enlightenment at this Californiana treasure trove, featuring themed exhibitions drawn from the museum's million-plus California…