The view from Hamon Tower at de Young Museum.
Twisting above Golden Gate Park, Hamon Tower adds an audacious exclamation mark to the de Young Museum. The glass-sheathed observation level looks down at the de Young's dizzyingly geometric roof, the classic symmetry of the Music Concourse, and the undulating "green roof " of the California Academy of Sciences. Beyond, vistas stretch above the treetops, from downtown's skyscrapers to the Golden Gate Bridge. All the while, a filigree of light and shadow formed by the building's perforated copper skin plays upon the floor, suggesting the vessel itself is as much a masterwork as the art within. Tower visits free. www.famsf.org/deyoung .
Can't get there?
Here's another Ride in a glass elevator to the top of the Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower, a half-scale replica of the real thing. From the observation deck, you can catch views of the Strip and surrounding valley. (877) 603- 4386, www.harrahs.com .
The observation deck atop Seattle's 1914 Smith Tower, once the country's tallest skyscraper outside New York City, puts you amid the downtown skyline and affords grand views of the surrounding mountain ranges. (206) 622-4004.
Photography by Terrence McCarthy 
This article was first published in March 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.