Best Contemplative Spot

The Legion of Honor

Lincoln Park, 34th Avenue & Clement, 863-3330,

Two famous meditative types have chosen this quiet hilltop retreat as their eternal musing ground: on celluloid, the mysterious Madeleine Elster in Hitchcock's Vertigo, and in bronze, Rodin's massive emblem of human cogitation, forever ruminating beside the museum's entrance. This Thinker is one of five in the world cast from the original mold, and was a gift to the city from sugar heiress Alma Spreckels, as was the palace itself. Designed by George Applegarth after the Parisian prototype to memorialize the Californians who died in World War I, this sweepingly elegant beaux-arts masterpiece is matched only by its setting: the lawns, trees, and balustrades of Lincoln Park; the striking cityscapes off to the east; the even more dazzling vistas of bay, ocean, and Golden Gate glimpsed through the Monterey cypress. It's a setting worth dwelling upon.

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