There's not much south of Market Street that encourages lingering outdoors—or indeed walking at all—with this notable exception. These two blocks encompass the Center for the Arts, the Metreon, Moscone Convention Center, and the convention center's rooftop Children's Creativity Museum, but the gardens themselves are the everyday draw. Office workers escape to the green swath of the East Garden, the focal point of which is the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. Powerful streams of water surge over large, jagged stone columns, mirroring the enduring force of King's words that are carved on the stone walls and on glass blocks behind the waterfall. Moscone North is behind the memorial, and an overhead walkway leads to Moscone South and its rooftop attractions. The gardens are liveliest during the week and especially during the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, from May through October (www.ybgf.org), with free performances of everything from Latin music to Balinese dance.
Moscone Convention Center perch a few lures for kids. The historic Looff carousel ($4 for two rides) twirls daily 10–5. South of the carousel is the Children's Creativity Museum (415/820–3320, creativity.org), a high-tech, interactive arts-and-technology center ($12) geared to children ages 3–12. Kids can make Claymation videos, work in a computer lab, check out new games and apps, and perform and record music videos. The museum is open year-round 10–4 from Wednesday through Sunday, and on Tuesday during the summer. Just outside, kids adore the excellent slides, including a 25-foot tube slide, at the play circle. Also part of the rooftop complex are gardens, an ice-skating rink, and a bowling alley.