It’s big, it’s phallic, and it may or may not have been designed to look like a fire hose nozzle or a power station. But since 1933, Coit Tower (1 Telegraph Hill Blvd., 415/362-0808, daily 10 a.m.–7 p.m., call for tour times) has beautified the City just as benefactor Lillie Hitchcock Coit intended when she willed San Francisco  one-third of her monumental estate.
Inside, murals depicting city life and works of the 1930s cover the walls. From the top of the tower on a clear day, you can see the whole of the City and the Bay.
Part of what makes Coit Tower special is the walks up to it. Rather than contributing to acute congestion in the area, consider taking public transit to the area and walking up the Filbert Steps to the tower. It’s steep, but there’s no other way to see the lovely little cottages and gardens that mark the path up from the streets to the top of Telegraph Hill.