Originally a depot for the shipment of supplies to the Pacific during World War II, the fort was converted into a cultural center in 1977. Here you can find the vegetarian restaurant Greens and shops, galleries, and performance spaces, most of which are closed on Mondays. Below are three free arts venues of note.
The Museo Italo-Americano (Bldg. C, 415/673–2200, museoitaloamericano.org; Tues.–Sun. noon–4) is a small gallery that hosts one exhibit at a time, worth a glance if you're already at Fort Mason.
The temporary exhibits downstairs at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery (Bldg. A, 415/441–4777, www.sfmoma.org/visit/artists_gallery; Tues.–Sat. 10:30–5) can be great, but head upstairs and check out the paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs for sale or rent. You won't find a Picasso or a Rembrandt, but where else can you get a $50,000 work of art to hang on your wall for $400 (a month)?
The Mexican Museum (Bldg.
D, 415/202–9700, www.mexicanmuseum.org; Wed.–Sun. noon–4) hosts temporary exhibits in its small space.
From May to October, Friday evenings at Fort Mason mean Off the Grid (offthegridsf.com); the city's food-truck gathering happens at locations around town, and this is one of the oldest and most popular.