Hidden Treasures in the Financial District

Looking for a lunchtime adventure or something new to do downtown? Here are some little-known places in the Financial District you might want to check out. All are free and only open  weekdays from 9 - 5 p.m., unless otherwise noted.

Gold Rush Objects with a View
343 Sansome Street
Look to your right just inside the door for display cases holding fragments of bottles, tools and other Gold Rush era artifacts dug up during the construction of the 1990 addition to this building. The display is housed in the original Art Deco era Art Deco elevator lobby. Where's the view?  Go around the corner toward the Sacramento Street entrance, and take the modern elevators up to the beautiful public roof garden on the 15th floor.

Inside Art Gallery
Mills Building
220 Montgomery Street, at Bush
A nearly block long art gallery stretching down the center of this historic building, hosts a changing series of well-curated exhibits of photography, textiles, graphic design and more. Enter either through the main lobby on Montgomery or the tower entrance on Bush.

Up Close with a Stagecoach
Wells Fargo History Museum
420 Montgomery St, at California 
A stagecoach you can ride in and lots of interactive exhibits about money and banking from Gold Rush days to the present. Often crowded with school groups during the week, it’s usually quieter in the late afternoon or on weekends.

California Gold
Bank of California/Union Bank
400 California Street

Walk between the massive granite columns of the old gray lady of California Street to find one of the most interesting and least known museums downtown. Inside, the bank is a little marble and bronze jewel-box with light streaming through the metal lacework netting the windows. Take the staircase down to an extensive exhibit of the bank’s history including big gold nuggets, early gold coins, and even a check signed by John Muir.

Nice Clean Bathrooms -- and a Park
Pacific Heritage Museum
608 Commercial Street

When the 18 story tower was built over the old U.S. Treasury Building, a landmark dating back to 1875, the owners were required to keep the historic building open to the public. Inside there is a mostly empty exhibit space, a small meeting room and windows that let you peek into the original Treasury safe. There are also free, clean public bathrooms.  In  nice weather, you can bring lunch to the tiny, beautiful Empire Park next door. The museum is open limited hours, mostly Thursday through Saturday.

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