With its sunny courtyard and generous cased windows, this uplifting 1922 building is an interfaith landmark. Since 1969, it's been home to the largest Buddhist community outside Asia. Before she built Hearst Castle, Julia Morgan (California's first licensed woman architect) designed this Italianate brick structure to house the Emanu-El Sisterhood, a residence for low-income Jewish working women – note the ironwork Stars of David on the 1st-floor loggia.

Today the Zen Center opens to the public for visits, meditation (see the website for a schedule), introductions to Zen practice (8:40am Saturdays) and other Zen workshops. The bookstore provides Zen perspectives on a range of subjects, from art to cooking.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Haight & Hayes Valley attractions

1. Haight Street Art Center

0.09 MILES

Jeremy Fish's bronze bunny-skull sculpture hints at the weird wonders inside this nonprofit dedicated to works on paper and San Francisco's signature art…

2. Patricia's Green

0.17 MILES

The social center of hip, walkable, tree-lined Octavia Blvd is this pocket park, featuring Burning Man–inspired temporary sculpture installations, picnic…

3. Family Affair

0.43 MILES

Can you see sound? The answer is always yes at this music-inspired art gallery, named for the anthem by SF soul supergroup Sly and the Family Stone…

4. Alamo Square Park

0.48 MILES

Hippie communes and Victorian bordellos, jazz greats and opera stars, earthquakes and Church of Satan services: these genteel 'Painted Lady' Victorian…

5. SF Arts Commission Gallery

0.49 MILES

Get in on the ground floor of the next SF art movement at this public showcase for local talent, with past exhibits ranging from Susan O'Malley's silk…

6. City Hall

0.52 MILES

Rising from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake, this beaux arts landmark echoes with history. Demonstrators protesting red-scare McCarthy hearings on City…

7. Twitter Headquarters

0.54 MILES

Market St's traffic-stopping 1937 Mayan deco landmark was built to accommodate 300 wholesale furniture-design showrooms – but, a decade ago, fewer than 30…

8. Mission Dolores

0.64 MILES

The city's oldest building and its namesake, whitewashed adobe Misión San Francisco de Asís was founded in 1776 and rebuilt from 1782. Today the modest…