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San Francisco Offers a Little Fun for Everyone

San Francisco is perhaps one of the most diverse cities in America. With the
vast diversity among the people that make this great city what it is today, San
Francisco really is a melting pot. Not only have the different cultures and
flavors had a great effect on what this great city has become, they also have
an incredible impact on the city that is seen by those visiting. There is very
little you can look for in a vacation that can't be found in San Francisco.

The real appeal of San Francisco as a vacation destination is that it has a
little something to offer everyone. From families with small children, families
with teens, young couples, older couples, to those of different lifestyles and
ethnicities there is a little something that should appeal to all.

San Francisco has a great history that celebrates its diversity and a future
that looks, well, golden. From the Golden Gate Bridge to Fisherman's Wharf and
everywhere in between San Francisco has a lot to offer visitors in way of art,
entertainment, shopping, and incredible, mouth watering food. You don't have to
take my word for it though, wander on over to Fillmore Street and see for
yourself. If you've been having too much fun taking in the sights and playing
in the wonderful parks that can be found throughout this fabulous city, take a
trolley on over. Just make sure you bring your appetite.

If you have young kids along there are both fun and educational adventures that
abound in this great city. If you aren't careful, you just might find that you
can't really tell the difference between the two. More importantly, neither can
they.

Even skeptical, difficult to impress teens will be hard pressed to pretend to
be bored throughout your entire trip to San Francisco. Between the interesting
cultures, the good food, and the hip trendy atmosphere of local shopping
centers, there is something that will be likely to appeal to your teens. They
just might find themselves having a lot of fun at some of the plays, museums,
and parks in the area too.

For the just married, there is a ton of romance in this fair city. From the
exhibits and museums dedicated to the perseverance of the people of this great
metropolis, to the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge and the many parks in the
area. There is also the great food and shopping to consider. From trendy small
boutiques to national chain stores San Francisco has it all.

For more mature crowds this city is hard to beat when it comes to arts and
entertainment. Not only are their shows playing almost nightly, there is also a
great cultural arts community here as well. There are enough museums here to
make a great vacation in and of themselves. Add to that the great food and the
little boutique shops that abound and you are well on your way to having a
great time.

The cultural diversity of San Francisco, California could be a book in and of
itself. In fact, there are probably several books on the matter. There is a
rich history of many cultures here that is readily available for exploration.
From China Town to Little Italy and a stop in the Castro District in between
there is a vast treasure trove of cultures, ethnicities, and fabulously
wonderful people to investigate.

If visiting San Francisco, California is something that you've been
considering, what are you waiting for? Check out all the great things that this
city has to offer and keep in mind that when it feels like it's a thousand
degrees outside in the South or forty below in the north, it's probably a
fairly mild day on the Frisco bay. The temperatures year round here are
generally within the realm of comfortable which makes it that much more
appealing. Add the pleasant temperatures to the beauty and fun that is waiting,
I can't believe you're still here and not booking your trip already.

San Francisco Offers Fun in Sun and the Water

If you like water sports and activities that involve the water, then San
Francisco should be at the very top of your must visit list. There are so many
water activities in San Francisco your head will spin. In fact, bring your suit
and prepare to spend a great deal of time enjoying the water and the great
recreation that the water has to offer.

If you like the water but have little real experience at manning the wheel of a
boat or navigating narrow straights, you will probably be best served by
chartering the services of experts rather than attempting a go of it on your
own. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to do this. One of the most
common ways is to take a ferry out to Alcatraz or Angel Island. You get the
benefit of time on the water with no work involved whatsoever. You also get the
added benefit of a tour of some sort on the other end of your trip. Many
visitors each year enjoy this means of water travel and it is both an
economical way to travel by water and a low stress way to do so.

You can also elect a sunset or sightseeing cruise around the bay on a chartered
sailboat or motor sailor that is fully crewed. Some of the charter companies
even offer team-building activities if you are traveling to San Francisco on
business. Sailing is a great way to build a team and bond them like nothing
else on earth. If you've never been sailing before, I highly recommend
chartering a boat for an outing even if it's only for a small period of time.
It's a great way to find out if you have sea legs that's for sure. In addition
to finding out if you have sea legs, a short tour will either leave you knowing
this isn't for you or hungry for more-in which case, you might wish to take
sailing lessons and consider purchasing a sailboat of your own someday.

Sailing lessons are a great thing to give yourself while on vacation in San
Francisco as well. The bay offers a protected, or at least relatively protected
area in which to learn the finer aspects of sailing and there are many schools
locally that can offer excellent instruction in the finer points of sailing and
navigation. Sailing however requires more than an afternoon of lessons in order
to have any degree of competency but a few lessons while on vacation is a great
place to begin and an even better excuse to return.

If you have some experience with navigation and sailing, there are some
companies that will allow you to rent a boat for a day or even a weekend. This
allows you to be your own "Master and Commander" and can make for a great
family day for the entire family. I firmly believe there are few things on
earth that are better than tasting the salt of the sea while feeling the wind
in your face, but I've always felt more at home on water than on solid ground
so I am more than a little biased towards enjoyment of water based activities.

Which brings me to my next suggestion. Some are not content to merely ride the
waves but would rather create waves of their own. For those who prefer a more
hands on and muscle powered trek through the water, perhaps a rowboat or
paddleboat rental would be in order? There are places in Golden Gate Park where
this is easily achieved and the lake is an ideal setting for these kinds of
boats. And of course there are kayak rentals that seem to abound in the San
Francisco area which offer a whole new level of fun for all involved.

No matter how you look at it, there are some great ways to spend a day on the
water in San Francisco. Come found out why so many people have left their
hearts here and enjoy the peaceful serenity of a day 'at sea'.

Young and Old Alike: Fun Abounds in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of those rare cities that offers almost timeless appeal.
One of the greatest things that can be said about this great city is that the
things that attract its youngest visitors are also quite often the things that
bring in its older visitors.

In fact, the very museums that fascinate youngsters have lessons to teach their
older visitors as well. Art is a common language among us all and the
entertainment that can be found in this great city from opera, symphonies,
concerts, plays, and musicals, to street entertainment are both top notch and
appealing to people from all sorts of backgrounds and circumstances.

The diversity of this great city is as much a part of its appeal as are the
attractions that are designed to bring in visitors. Perhaps one of the most
attractive draws to this city for older audiences is the significant history of
this city and its people. There are many places-museums and galleries, where you
can learn about the history and tragedies that this city has endured, overcome,
and now celebrate as part of its heritage.

The cultural diversity that this city offers is also a large draw to older
populations. From the Asian history and culture, to the Latin history and
culture, to the African American this city celebrates it all. I think that is
my favorite thing about this city. It celebrates the good and the bad of its
history side by side. Not many places on earth can do that, much less do it as
effectively as San Francisco does.

In addition to all of these things, which are quite appealing in and of
themselves, San Francisco has the trolley tours, Alcatraz Island tours, the
Presidio, The conservatory of flowers at Golden Gate Park, Wine Tasting and
winery tours, concerts and cultural events, plays and musicals, as well as
Thoroughbred racing at Golden Gate Fields.

There are so many activities that are available in San Francisco that it is
quite difficult to narrow them down to what you can actually do in the span of
a few days. If you want to feel young again take a tour of Pier 39 at
Fisherman's Wharf. Try taking a tour of Filoli Estates in order to see how the
other half live. If you are feeling particularly playful head out for a day at
the Exploratorium, this great place isn't only for kids.

You can also take a tour of Hearst Castle. This castle was the dream home of
William Randolph Hearst, and whose dream wouldn't it be? With 165 rooms and 127
acres to explore this tour could be an excellent way to spend the day. One
feature of the tour that will be sure to please is the film "Hearst
Castle-Building the Dream" that tells a little more about the man and his
castle.

Another really neat attraction for more mature audiences is the Old Faithful
Geyser of California. This is a little off the beaten path as it is located
around an hour and a half north of the city but if you like nature and serenity
it is worth a detour.

If you like nature you may want to try one of the train tours offered by
Roaring Camp Railroads, or both. There are two different tours offered you will
want to be sure to check for times. Also keep in mind that during the month of
December there is a special Holiday Train Lights Train and reservations must be
made in advance for that special ride.

As I was saying, there is a little something for everyone in the great city of
San Francisco and just because something appeals to a much younger crowd, in no
way indicates that it can't appeal just as well to an older or young again
crowd. I remember some of the things that fascinated me most as a child still
spark those feelings of happiness and joy (we won't say how many) years later.
The important thing is to choose the activities that appeal most to you and try
to enjoy yourself as much as possible. It shouldn't be too hard!

San Francisco offers Great fun for Kids of All Ages

If you are looking for a great place to visit and bring the kids, look no
further than San Francisco, California. This city is a wonderful vacation
destination not only for grownups for little ones alike. There is so much to
see and do that will appeal to young and old alike.

The real beauty of San Francisco to me is the fact that many of the best
attractions for kids are also educational as well. Even better is the fact that
the educational values are so cleverly disguised as fun, your kids won't even
know what hit them. In fact, mom and dad might find themselves learning a thing
or two along the way. You might even find yourselves having just as much fun as
your little ones are.

My suggestion though is to be careful not to overdo it. We all want our kids to
have fun and enjoy the vacation experience but if you cram too many activities
into a small span of time, you will have children who are overloaded, cranky,
and tired. This will make your day miserable and will affect their memories of
the time they spend here. I will give a brief overview of several great things
for kids and families to do in San Francisco, hopefully this will help you
choose more selectively the activities you feel are can't miss activities and
those that you can live without. Also remember if you don't get to do
everything this trip, don't try to force activities in. Consider is a good
reason to come back.

The first thing that I want to tell you about is the Exploratorium. This is
definitely one of those destinations that disguises education as fun. The great
thing about this one is that it will not only appeal to the little ones but also
offer education and fun for the grown ups as well. If I were to point out one
'must do' thing for your family trip to San Francisco this would be it.

If you're planning to be around Fisherman's Wharf (which I highly recommend)
you might find Pier 39 to be an excellent destination. The Magic Carpet Ride is
sure to please everyone in the family and the little ones will love the San
Francisco Carousel. The Pier 39 Marina offers powerboat and sailboat rides that
are sure to please the entire family and the Riptide Arcade will delight the
little gamers in the family. Perhaps the biggest attraction though, is the
Aquarium of the Bay. This is another activity that I highly recommend. There
are many more activities available at Pier 39, you'll just have to check it out
and see what you find most appealing to you. I could personally plan a trip to
Frisco and never leave the Fisherman's Wharf.

Fairyland is a great destination if you're looking for a relatively inexpensive
day of fun. With the admission price for everyone over the age of 1 being 6
dollars, it is a really inexpensive way to spend the day. A day at Fairyland
will definitely be a highlight of your trip for younger children and will
provide parents and other family members with some fond memories as well.

Another fun thing to do for the entire family is to take a Jelly Belly Factory
Tour at the Jelly Belly Candy Company. The tour is free and offered daily
between the hours of 9 am and 4pm. While it isn't the height of educational
fun, kids will definitely think it's cool to see how these tasty treats are
made.

I saved the best two for last. The San Francisco Zoo and Six Flags Marine
World. I cannot say enough about either of these attractions. The magic they
hold for children is undeniable and well worth the price of the tickets. The
best advice, by far that I can give you about bringing your children to San
Francisco, California is to relax and have a good time. Everyone will have a
much better vacation experience if you take that advice.

San Francisco is not just Child's Play

Visiting San Francisco, California is great to do with a family; it is even
better to do as an adult without children along. Frisco has a thriving
nightlife and plenty of entertainment that simply isn't meant for children.
From the slightly off color to the seriously bawdy, San Francisco nightlife has
entertainment of almost every flavor. Of course there is still plenty to do
during the daylight hours too.

If you're looking for a taste of nightlife that is 'belly busting' funny,
there's Comedy on the Square that offers comedic variety shows. You can also
check out Lila Theatre for some of the best long-form improvisation. If you
need a good laugh these are great places to start. 50 Mason Lounge is also a
great place to go to get in on the laughs. The problem with San Francisco is
that there are so many great comedy clubs they can't all be listed in one
place. My suggestion is that you ask around for suggestions and find out who's
playing. You never know when someone you recognize might be popping in for the
evening.

In addition to the great comedy clubs there is the general 'gentleman's'
nightlife alive and well in this fair city. I would be remiss if I failed to
mention some of the more unique adult entertainment that San Francisco has to
offer. In addition to the typical gentlemen's clubs such as Broadway Showgirls
Cabaret, which boasts more luxurious surroundings than other clubs, there is
Crazy Horse, Inc., which has totally nude live shows, The Gold Club, and Larry
Flynt's Hustler Club. There is one club that goes above and beyond what any of
these clubs offer though and is worth checking out with a date if you and your
partner are so inclined. This club is called Power Exchange and while there are
a few places like this around the country, they are extremely rare. If you
aren't easily offended and are the least bit curious, I would recommend
checking it out.

San Francisco is swimming with active and awesome nightclubs and as such it is
quite difficult to single one out as superior to any other. I recommend finding
a nightclub that is within walking distance of your hotel. This diminishes the
odds of your driving while intoxicated. As always it is important to enjoy
responsibly.

If you want to make the most out of your trip to San Francisco, be sure to
remember that while there is plenty to do at night, you want to be awake and
aware for at least part of the day so don't have too much fun at night. If you
are very brave and adventurous and looking for more adult only entertainment
you can try one of the nude beaches in the area. While these beaches are not
for everyone and they aren't exactly nighttime activities, they do offer some
adult only entertainment that is worth considering if it floats your boat.

You can also rent sailboat and powerboat cruises in the bay, if you are with a
loved one, try one of the sunset cruises. These cruises are romantic time away
from the crowds of the city. Even if these times aren't exclusively for adults,
if you close your eyes and imagine, you can whittle the world down to just the
two of you.

Whatever your pleasure in this great city, I hope you have found some ideas for
great fun and entertainment that will get your trip off to a great start.
Remember to have fun and enjoy the time you spend visiting San Francisco,
California whether that time be day or night. If none of the things I've
mentioned above have struck your fancy there are always more cultural
undertakings such as museums, guided tours, or trips to Alcatraz. Just remember
the purpose of a vacation is fun, if you aren't having fun where you are, go
somewhere else!

San Francisco is Tops in Romance

If you're looking for a romantic vacation or honeymoon, perhaps you should
consider visiting San Francisco, California. This great city offers a little
something for everyone in addition to some very romantic destinations. There
have even been songs about how romantic San Francisco is. Tony Bennett left his
heart there if memory serves and who could resist a view of the Golden Gate
Bridge when there's a full moon?

San Francisco has been designated one of the most romantic cities in America
don't you think it's time your found out why? It could have something to do
with the climate, the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, the many beaches around
that are great for talking long walks at sunset or the many parks in the area
where romantic couples can walk together, hike, bike, and simply enjoy being
together. In addition to activities such as this, there are other ways in which
to enjoy the great outdoors of San Francisco as a couple. You could take a
sunset cruise in the San Francisco bay is you want to make a very romantic
night of it.

If you want to have a truly romantic experience you could schedule a couples
massage at one of the many day spas in the area. This is an experience that
neither of you would be likely to forget anytime soon. While there are spas
across the country, there are quite possibly as many spas as there are
Starbuck's in the city of San Francisco so you can be a lot more selective in
the one you choose.

Another romantic thing to do while vacationing in San Francisco is to tour the
various vineyards in the area. While San Francisco is not literally part of
wine country, it is only a stone's throw away from some of the most famous
vineyards in America. It would be a literal sin to come so close and not tour
these American legacies. Check with the wineries you want to visit ahead of
time, as some require appointments for tours. Rest assured that visiting the
beautiful countryside and enjoying the tasting of various wines will make for
quite the romantic outing. Be sure to taste responsibly.

Still need some romantic activities? Try a picnic in Golden Gate Park. After
your picnic, perhaps you can rent a rowboat and take a trip around the lake or
bicycles. Use your imagination and let your sense of romance rule the day. Walk
into a flower shop and buy every daisy in the store (that may be a little
dramatic, but you get the picture). The most romantic things that have ever
happened in my life, were not planned, they were spur of the moment gestures
that touched me far more than any contrived venture ever could.

Take your loved one to the Equinox, which is a revolving restaurant and bar at
the top of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. While the dining experience can be pricey,
the spectacular view will take some of the sting out of the meal. Besides is
there really a price that is too high to pay for romance?

If either of you have the slightest interest in art, San Francisco is full of
museums and galleries that should appeal to your artistic nature and provide
plenty of topics for discussion. Even if you aren't a fan of traditional art,
you may actually surprise yourself by liking the art you find in this diverse
city.

Any trip to San Francisco would have to be determined to be a romantic dud if
it didn't include a trip to either Fisherman's Wharf, China Town, or Little
Italy. These areas provide great food, beautiful and interesting sites, as well
as a taste of cultural diversity that is hard to find in this day and age. It
would be like traveling to New Orleans and not visiting the French Quarter. I
whole-heartedly recommend devoting one entire day of your trip to one of these
places if not each of them. Fisherman's Wharf is by far my favorite to visit
for the sights and sounds, but both China Town and Little Italy have great
things to offer as well. Plus, the food is too good to pass on without at least
giving it serious thought.

Romance is a state of mind; it's just much easier to get to that mental place
in a city like San Francisco. Take a trip with your beloved and see what all
the talk is about.

San Francisco Feeds its Guests Well

If you have a healthy appetite for good food and good drink, then visiting San
Francisco is probably a great plan for you. While you are visiting, there are
several places that you really should check out. Not only do these great places
offer tours that will explain how they make their goodies, but many of them also
offer samples. Even better, some of the tours are absolutely free.

While not every good thing in life is free, there is no doubt that some of the
best things are. Among those outstanding freebies is a tour of the Scharffen
Berger Chocolate Factory. I love dark chocolate and while I won't go so far as
to say they have the best dark chocolate (can't do that as I haven't tried all
the dark chocolate there is to have in the world), I will say that there dark
chocolate is definitely among the best. The only drawbacks I have found is that
children must be at least 10 years old to attend, you must make reservations and
you have to wear close-toed shoes (I live in Birkenstock's so this is a minus
for me). I really believe that their chocolate is worth the sacrifice however
and will gladly send the husband off with the kids to the arcade for an
afternoon while I enjoy learning more about this awesome chocolate, err,
chocolate company. The tours are free which means if you don't have young
children it isn't too difficult to talk your traveling companion into going
with you. If for some odd reason there is resistance you can always use the
divide and conquer rule. Let them do an activity that you don't relish while
you enjoy yours.

Second on my list is Takara Sake. Another freebie, I can't seem to help myself.
The Takara Sake Company has a museum that is free of charge and opened daily
from noon until 6:00 pm. This museum contains historic implements for making
sake as well as a history of sake making in the USA. This is the only museum of
its kind in the USA and is well worth taking a look. While you are there, you
should consider participating in a sake tasting, which is free as well.

Another must see freebie on my list is the Jelly Belly Factory. See how these
renowned beans are made and have a nice relaxing lunch at the cafe. This is a
great way to beat the heat and have a nice relaxing and educational afternoon.
Your kids will love you for it.

If you like beer or just know someone who does, the tour of the Anheuser-Bush
Brewery will surely be a highlight of your trip. This is another great freebie
that will educate and entertain guests of all ages. All ages are welcome and
the tour is wheelchair accessible. Samples are available to those who are
legally old enough to partake. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and definitely
worth checking out.

If these tours aren't enough to keep you happy and full, there are plenty of
restaurants in and around San Francisco in addition to a many wineries that
will be sure to satisfy your thirsts. San Francisco is a city that definitely
wants its visitors to leave well fed and content with drink. The really great
thing about visiting any of these places is the fact that most of them have
stores where you can purchase plenty of their products to bring home with you.

5 Free Things to do while Visiting San Francisco

Anyone who knows me well knows that I like cheap and free things to do with the
family. It isn't that I'm not willing to pay good money for good fun, I just
happen to believe that the best fun is sometimes as free as the wind. The same
holds true when visiting new cities like San Francisco. I will invest a great
amount of time looking for activities that me and other members of my family
can enjoy for little or no money. This saves money for other things like good
food and souvenirs.

I'm also a big fan of David Letterman and in that spirit I decided to devise a
top five list of my very own in honor of Mr. Letterman's Top 10 list. My big 5
list consists of things to do for free when visiting San Francisco.

1) Golden Gate Bridge. This is a favorite among tourists for many reasons. One
of those reasons is the fact that it is one landmark that belongs only to San
Francisco. It is uniquely a part of this city and represents, for many, your
entire trip. Another reason is that there are so many ways to get there. I
recommend walking and if you're up for it, try one of the guided walking
tours-this will provide valuable background information about the bridge as
well as insuring that you don't get lost on the way.

2) Golden Gate Park. This park is larger than New York's Central Park and in my
opinion equally grand. There is so much to do and see in Golden Gate Park that
you could spend a good portion of your vacation here alone.

3) Cable Car Museum. Kids of all ages will find this museum interesting,
especially big and little boys. This museum definitely offers a great deal of
education and excitement for the family. In addition to learning about these
neat cable cars which have become a trademark of San Francisco transportation.
This is one museum I would pay to go to, the fact that it is free is a bonus
that I can't resist and the primary reason it is on this particular top ten
list.

4) Walking Tours of San Francisco. These free walking tours are not only
entertaining; they are also very informative as well. Learn about the history
of the neighborhoods that this city is famous for as well as the great people
who rebuilt a grand city, literally from the ashes of what it once was and made
it even better. San Francisco has a wonderful story to tell and these guides
narrate it wonderfully.

5) San Francisco Fire Department Museum. For the big kid in all of us that
wanted to grow up to be a fire fighter, this museum takes the cake. Not only
does it provide great historical references and artifacts but it is also really
cool! I can think of no greater compliment to give a museum than that. This one,
even your children will enjoy and beg to go back again and again.

Whether you are a big kid, a little kid, or just a kid at heart these
activities are a great and inexpensive way to pass a day or two while on
vacation. If you can't stand the thought of saving money or not spending it,
I'm sure each of these places will be glad to accept donations or at the very
least sell you something at the gift shop (if the place you are visiting has
one). Regardless, I hope my suggestions have gotten your mental wheels turning
and you are coming up with your own great ways to enjoy the day without
spending a lot of green.

5 More Freebies for San Francisco Entertainment

If the thing you look least forward to on vacation is wracking up vicious
amounts of debt on your Master Card, then you've come to the right place. I'm
here to offer advice on free things to do while visiting San Francisco.
Granted, it is not wise to think that you can go on vacation without spending
any money and have a good time. However, it is quite possible to be very
selective when deciding where to spend your money by having alternative
entertainment options that cost little or no money.

Rather than a top ten list, which can be a little long winded, I'm going to
provide a top five list. My sincere hope is that you will use this list as
inspiration for finding your own free or low cost entertainment while visiting
San Francisco. On to the list:

1) San Francisco Botanical Gardens. The climate of San Francisco provides a
unique atmosphere that allows the growth and maintenance of plants from around
the world. As a result the San Francisco Botanical Gardens offers a look at
plants that are rare almost anywhere else on earth. The Gardens are 55 acres
and host more than 7500 plants from around the world.

2) Chinese Culture Center. This center offers resources about the Chinese
culture in San Francisco in addition to many programs that are available to
learn about the artistic and cultural contributions that the Chinese community
has made to this great city.

3) Fort Point National Historic Site. This site has special historical
significance. Its original intent was to prevent invading forces from entering
San Francisco Bay. By the end of the Civil War the massive cannons that had
been used for this purpose were obsolete. The last of the original 126 cannons
was removed around 1900. During the 1930's, the fort was used as a headquarters
for the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. This Fort has played a vital role in
our history and is worth a visit, especially considering the fact that it is
free.

4) Stern Grove Concerts. These concerts only take place on Sunday afternoons
during summer months but are well worth checking out if you have a sunny Sunday
afternoon available during your stay. The goal of these concerts is to educate
the masses and potentially inspire future musicians. A love of music is the
second best gift you can give a child, second only to a love of reading. It's a
great way to spend an afternoon, and it's free!

5) Wells Fargo History Museum. This museum is a fun side trip for the family.
Not only does it tell the history of Wells Fargo as it pertains to San
Francisco, but it also tells of Black Bart and other stagecoach robbers while
providing visitors with the awe inspiring story of the great earthquake of 1906
and the role of Wells Fargo in the recovery process. I believe that young and
old alike will find this museum to be a lot of fun, especially for the price.

If you are visiting San Francisco and need some great family friendly
activities to fill your days, then this is definitely a great place to start. I
hope that you can find a few more things than I have mentioned here to help fill
in gaps and entertain the young and old on your vacation alike. Remember not to
over plan your trip, as some of the greatest times to be had are spontaneous
rather than planned.

The Incredible History of San Francisco

I grew up watching cowboy movies and tales of the old Wild West on weekend
television with my dad. I can't help but think of those old black and white
movies whenever I think of San Francisco or California in general. Whenever I
think of visiting San Francisco there is a part of me that visualizes the San
Francisco of old, long before the earthquake of 1906, or not so long before
actually.

If you share my vision of a Wild West San Francisco or just wonder what it
would have been like to walk down the streets of old, then perhaps one of these
museums will help give you a taste of the good ole west without the outhouses
(the one thing I never really could wrap my mind around). Even if you can
handle a world without indoor plumbing, the idea of enjoying the greatest of
the past while still experiencing the comforts of modern existence is quite
appealing to me.

That being said, the first Museum on my list is an outdoor museum known as The
Gold Rush Trail. To walk The Gold Rush Trail is literally to follow in the
footsteps of history. Even though it isn't a museum that is filled with relics
of the past, if you close your eyes and listen intently perhaps you can hear
the ghosts of yesterday as they tell you the story of how this fair city began
and what it has become today.

The next point of interest is The Society of California Pioneers. The society
offers not only a museum but a library as well that are both open to the public
and feature programs that focus on California. If you need snapshots of the
vibrant history of California as well as San Francisco this is a good place to
begin your search. If you don't find what you are looking for in the museum
check out the library and see if they have something that will quench your
thirst for historical knowledge.

The Museum of the City of San Francisco is next on my list of places that offer
a glimpse into the past of this phenomenal city. If you haven't found what you
are looking for on your first two stops, then perhaps this museum will provide
the answers, or simply the moment in time, that you are seeking. This is by far
my favorite for learning about the history of San Francisco specifically. With
exhibits dedicated to events such as the Gold Rush, the earthquake of 1906, and
the building of the Golden Gate Bridge, there is no doubt that you are getting
the history of this city, not the state, and not the country. I think there is
a lot to be said about history and how it always seems to have such a profound
effect upon the future. If you are able to visit this museum I would certainly
recommend it above most others in the area for an authentically San Francisco
ambiance at the very least.

The history of any city is a vital ingredient in what makes that city the
success or failure that it has become. Not only do the events in a cities
history have a significant impact on the future of a city, but also the people
of a city. It is the people of any city that recover, rebuild, and remain or
pack up and leave. Isn't it incredible that we have the opportunity to learn
about these great people?

Walking Tours give Unique View of San Francisco History

If your boots were made for walking, then a walking tour of one of San
Francisco's many fascinating neighborhoods or districts may be the perfect
activity for you while visiting San Francisco. Even if you aren't all that into
walking but enjoy learning about an area and the things that make that area
unique, this is the tour for you.

Combining education and entertainment with physical activity is a great way to
trick your body into getting out, getting a little sun, and having a lot of
fun. The best thing about these tours for me is the fact that they are free.
Don't get me wrong, I love learning about the history of the areas I visit.
Even more than that, I love hearing about the great and quirky people that made
the history; but I have to admit, I love doing things that provide entertainment
and don't cost a great deal of money. A donation is recommended and I can
honestly appreciate that much more than an overpriced amusement park ride (or
worse paying that much just to walk through the gate and never actually riding
a ride).

Not all walking tours of San Francisco are free, but the ones that are led by
the San Francisco city guides are. You really should check them out at some
point during your visit. They offer a great selection of walking tours each and
every day that will appeal to a very diverse audience. In fact, there are tours
that are geared towards specific groups of people so if you are with your
family, it might be a good idea to allow each member of your family to select
at least one of these walking tours that is of interest to him or her. That
way, everyone is motivated to sit through the selections of the other in
anticipation of the trip he or she selected.

The tours typically begin in easy to identify and very public places and most
of them even meet near access to public transportation in order to accommodate
visitors coming from other areas of the city. The tours go to great lengths to
avoid being overly strenuous but the Streets of San Francisco are not always
accommodating, as they are well known for their steep hills. I think taking one
of the walking tours early in the day is a great way to start the day. You get
to get a little fresh air, a little exercise, and you are enjoying these things
before the day gets too terribly warm. Not to mention the fact that starting
your day off with something that is fun and free is a really good way to start
your day.

If you are among the really brave, you might want to try one of the many 'Ghost
Walking Tours' that are available. There are ghost walks of City Hall and the
Palace. If you prefer something a little mellower, there are plenty of walks
from which to choose. Some of the more popular walks are the Golden Gate Bridge
walking tour (this tour provides great insight into the mind of the man who
dared to dream of this bridge and tells the story of what it took to build this
bridge it is very much a tour worth taking if you have any love for the many
great bridges of the world), the Ferry Building walking tour (recently
renovated, this building was once of major importance to San Francisco, it has
now been replaced by roads and bridges but remains an important component in
the history of this great city), and the Coit Tower Murals walking tour (the
tour allows peeks at murals that aren't always opened to the public as well as
a glimpse into the murals that depict famous scenes from the 1930's).

While visiting San Francisco, there are few better ways to completely enjoy
your trip than taking one of the many walking tours available in the city.
Finding one of the many free walking tours is even better. You will not only
get a unique insight into the city or for the icon you are touring, but you
will also get a much better view than if you were simply driving by.

Trains aren't a lost art in San Francisco

One of the greatest things about visiting San Francisco is the close proximity
to nearby attractions. You can stay in one city while visiting several. You can
not only get the conveniences of being in the city, but the beauty of nature is
not too far away from almost any point within the city. In fact, a short train
ride will take you rather quickly to some nearby attractions that are
definitely worth checking into.

One of the first train tours I'll mention isn't only a train tour but a bus and
train tour. This tour goes from San Francisco to Yosemite Park. This trip
requires transfers back and forth from bus to train but offers some beautiful
scenery and the ability to enjoy it without the worry of driving, rest stops,
and a need to simply stretch your legs. Sometimes a little inconvenience is
worth a lot more convenience later in your trip. The train portion of the tour
lasts about three hours and you get to spend three hours in Yosemite. For some
it isn't worth the hassle and for others it is just what the doctor
ordered-time to rest and relax while on the way. This is by far the most
complicated of the train tours heading out from San Francisco, at least the
tours I will be discussing.

The second tour is to wine country. The beauty of these tours is the fact that
you can enjoy your wine tasting experience without the worry of who's going to
drive. Everyone in your party can enjoy the outing equally. Even more than that
however, is that many companies have made the train ride itself more the event
than the wine tasting. With offerings such as 4 course meals and Murder Mystery
Dinner Theatre for your enjoyment it is no wonder that this has become an event
of choice for many San Francisco visitors. While this may be a more than
moderately pricey option, it is well worth the expense. You can always cut
costs elsewhere in San Francisco to make up for the expenditure.

Roaring Camp Railroads offers two train rides that are both equally appealing
in vastly different ways. The first is a trip back in time. This is probably my
favorite. On this trip you travel to the summit of Bear Mountain while hearing
tales of Roaring Camp's history. This train tour lasts a total of one hour and
is a great deal of fun, especially for any little ones you may have with you.
The second offering by Roaring Camp Railroads is the Beach Train, which will
take you to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The round trip from Roaring Camp to
Santa Cruz and back is about three hours and well worth every penny if you have
a budding or future engineer among your young ones.

Perhaps the most magical of train tours is the Christmas Train Tour from
Oakdale. This tour includes Santa, his elves, a little Christmas magic, and you
can come in your jimmies. What more could you ask for? Well, I guess that
depends on whether you made the naughty list or the nice list. This train ride
is magic for everyone that partakes, young and old alike will enjoy the magic
that only Christmas can bring.

Whether you are a big kid, a little kid, or somewhere in between, I'm willing
to bet that the magic of a train ride hasn't been completely lost over the
years. In fact, I'm willing to bet if you allow yourself to really sit back and
enjoy yourself, you will find that there really is something to be said about
sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the journey. I can think of few better
ways to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

The Teen Scene in San Francisco Offers Many Opportunities for Fun

Teens are beautiful and unique creatures. At least this is what we as parents
keep telling ourselves. The problem with teens is that their tastes and wants
change almost hourly so it is quite difficult to determine at lunch what will
appeal to them at dinner. Fortunately, if you are planning a visit to San
Francisco, California, there is most likely something that will appeal to them
no matter what mood they are in at the moment.

I always recommend allowing older children and teens (even younger children in
a limited capacity) to have some voice in deciding what activities to do while
on vacation. After all, it is their vacation too and just because we think they
will like it doesn't necessarily mean they are remotely interested in it-this
goes back to the beautiful and unique creature statement.

The great thing about San Francisco is that while your teen may swing in
vicious cycles between being a child and thinking he or she is grown, there is
quite a lot that will appeal to both sides of your teen's personality.
Fisherman's Wharf is probably my favorite San Francisco destination. Pier 39
offers a great number of attractions for teens. From Frequent Flyers where your
teen can experience the feeling of being air born to the Riptide Arcade, with
shopping, sea lions, and entertainers in between there is a lot that this area
has to offer the teen in your family. You can also rent a kayak and let your
teen do the navigating, if you're really brave that is. Another attraction at
Fisherman's Wharf that your teen might find more enjoyable than anyone else in
the family is the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum.

I think even a teenagers won't find trolley tours beneath them. In fact, your
teenager might have a great deal of fun taking one of these tours as well as
accidentally learning some small nugget of information about San Francisco
history that will stay with them long after the vacation is over.

If you feel up for a ride, you might consider taking your teen to Paramount's
Great America in San Jose. In fact, this is a trip that the entire family might
enjoy. Little kids can enjoy the Nickelodeon characters and the rides that are
designed especially with them in mind. Teens and adults can enjoy some of the
more thrilling rides created for the adrenaline junkies in your life.

Your teen might get a kick out of a trip to the Wax Museum at Fisherman's
Wharf. This museum offers realistic recreations of people, events, and horrors
beyond imagination-well my imagination. This is definitely one of the more
interesting destinations in San Francisco. Take a walk through history or onto
the set of the latest horror movie. It all seems so real and the characters so
life like.

Your teen may really enjoy one of the Alcatraz tours. They offer a day tour and
an evening tour. I seriously recommend the evening tour if at all possible as
there are more features than on the day tour and it makes a much more
'thrilling' experience. You may also wish to combine a tour to Angel Island
with your trip to Alcatraz. Angel Island also has a rich history as well as
some breathtaking views and great trails for hiking and biking. You could also
consider making a day of your trip to Angel Island, especially if your teen
enjoys either of these activities.

And then there's the shopping, a favorite pastime for teen girls and a
potential bonding experience for mothers and daughters. Conversely, men can
bond with teenaged sons and/or daughters over a nice sports game. The bay area
offers many options for sports lovers.

No matter what your teenagers tastes at the moment, I have no doubt that you
will find something in this great city that you can all agree on. Be sure to
work in attractions that you wish to enjoy between the attractions of your
teen. This will make the interests of the other more tolerable for everyone.




The Shows of San Francisco

When visiting San Francisco, finding a way to unwind at the end of a long day
of sight seeing isn't always the easiest thing in the world to do. After dinner
the choices for entertainment often seem limited because you don't really want
to become too wired from your activities to find peaceful sleep later. Perhaps
this is why most shows are shown in the evening. San Francisco certainly has
quite a few options for shows to see.

If you like old musicals, then 42nd Street Moon is a great place for you to
look for your entertainment. They like to take old Broadway musicals that
haven't been over performed and rehash them to the delight of the audience and
the cast. By breathing new life into these sometimes lost classics they are
doing a service to both the original masters of these musicals and to the
audiences they now play for.

If you need something a little less rowdy and rambunctious to see you into your
night time routine, then perhaps the Smuin Ballet will have something that is
more in line with your needs. This ballet company is bringing new appreciation
to the art of dance and delighting audiences in the process. By bridging the
gap between traditional ballet and modern dance this company is reaching a much
broader audience than many dance troupes that have come before and since. Really
and truly if you have the opportunity to see one of their performances I highly
recommend that you do so. You just might find that you are their newest fan.

If you have varied or eclectic tastes, then Old First Concerts may be a great
place for you to unwind after a long day of shopping, sight seeing, and touring
wine country. This interesting venue presents concerts of many colors and voices
it would seem. There is no one particular style of music that is allowed or
disallowed here, rather the professional quality of the musical style is more
important than the actual style of the music. I think that this very fact alone
makes it quite unique and worth a listen. You might hear something you've never
heard before and leave with an appreciation you would have never discovered had
you not dropped in.

If you haven't guessed, I'm a huge fan of trying things that are different and
slightly outside the realm of the mundane. I have no problems stepping away
from the conventions of normal society and wearing many different hats. Perhaps
that is the reason that I find my next suggestion so appealing and fun! Beach
Blanket Babylon is the perfect way to mock societal norms. The costumes are
outrageous and the hats are bigger than a tall tale and it's all in the name of
good clean fun. I seriously recommend this show to anyone who has ever had even
the slightest hint of a sense of humor.

We all know that it is often difficult to unwind in a new city where you only
know those that you are traveling with, you aren't sleeping in your own bed,
and you are missing some of the comforts of home (like a work day and a commute
to exhaust you). For those of us who have been there and done that, it is much
easier to unwind after enjoying a nice show or entertainment along similar
lines. It could be something as simple as taking in a movie that you might have
wanted to see but never find the time to at home. A vacation is your time to
rest and relax, make the most of it.

The Best Way to See San Francisco is from the Air

If you have plans of visiting San Francisco you really should consider seeing
it from a birds eye view. There are many ways in which you can do this, but
few, if any are more romantic than doing so from the basket of a hot air
balloon. In fact, if you've never been in a balloon before, this is a great
place to start.

There are many tours that are offered and each one offers spectacular views and
a feeling of weightless wonder that is unrivaled by any other feeling on earth.
Imagine watching, as everything on the ground gets smaller and feeling
completely at ease with the process. It's a truly amazing way to travel for
those who have never experienced it. Young and old alike will thoroughly enjoy
the awe of this particular form of travel.

Some of the tours linger along the coastline while others will take you up into
wine country. You can even charter tours that will combine the hot air balloon
excursion with ground transportation and accommodations at one of the many area
bed and breakfast inns for a nice romantic weekend get away in California's wine
country.

Another great way to enjoy the beautiful views that abound in the bay area is
to go hang gliding. There are several places in the area that not only offer
lessons but will also take you up with a trained professional after cursory
instructions. This allows you to enjoy the sensation and freedom that hang
gliding affords without spending days or even weeks taking classes before you
ever get to experience the sensation of soaring with the birds.

If that isn't enough to get your adrenaline going and give you the best
possible view of this great city, you can always try skydiving. Like hang
gliding, sky diving offers tandem drops that mean that you can actually
experience the freefall and enjoy the serene beauty of San Francisco without
actually going through a rigorous training regiment. If you want the ride of a
lifetime to make your trip more memorable, this is definitely the way to go.

Of course, there are those who prefer flight by mechanical means. There is
absolutely no shame in that. The good news is that there are a couple of great
ways to take in the scenery with machinery as well. There's nothing to say that
you can't make your mechanical experience just as daring as any of the other
experiences available. You could view the great scenes of Frisco from the
cockpit of a biplane. In addition to the awesome scenery, you are perfectly
free to book on of the aerobatic biplane rides, which will be best planned
before meals rather than after them.

In addition to these exciting ways to tour the San Francisco area, you can
always choose one of the many helicopter tours instead. This offers what many
consider a more sane, I mean safe, mode of transportation while still providing
the birds eye view that simply cannot be rivaled from the ground. There are many
tours that are available and each one offers something exciting for the
adventurous ones that choose to take them.

Each of these modes of transportation can be found in the San Francisco area
and each one offers something valuable to those that will find them
interesting. Not only the views but also the experiences in and of themselves
will make this trip a memorable trip. Even if it isn't your cup of tea,
remember that someone you are traveling with could find one of them to be the
memory of a lifetime and what greater gift can you really give someone?

I hope, more than anything, I've planted the seeds in your mind that will open
your eyes to seeing this great city from an entirely different perspective.
There is nothing quite as magnificent as enjoying the city lights from the sky
or seeing endless miles of nature stretching out before you. I truly believe
there is no better way to enjoy San Francisco than from the sky.

Science Museums Teach Children to Seek Truth

If science is the language that moves you, and for many of us, it is just that,
then you really might want to visit some of the San Francisco museums that focus
on science more than art. I find both to be of equal importance but there are
those, many in fact, that would disagree with me. Whatever your feelings about
it, if you have a child that you want to encourage to pay more attention to
science courses in school, it is an excellent idea to take them to a museum
such as this in order to fan that flame of curiosity.

Science answers many questions about the past and offers many hints at the
future of our world and universe. Without science there is much we wouldn't
know and even more that we would not understand. I think any of use would be
hard pressed to identify the single most important scientific discovery
throughout history. There are so many things that are all very significant to
the very lives we enjoy today and yet each and every scientific discovery
happened because someone, somewhere, asked a question.

I find that truly amazing. When you think about it; physics, chemistry,
mathematics, astronomy, none of these things would be studied today if someone
hadn't found them curious at some point in history. That is precisely why I
believe that museums such as the Exploratorium are so important in developing
future scientist. If we spark the curiosity in our children at young ages there
is nothing to prevent them from great discoveries later on. The Exploratorium
encourages children to explore the world around them, even how science affects
other things they enjoy (such as skateboarding). If you can use a skateboard to
teach physics, imagine what you can do with a car.

The Morrison Planetarium is a great place to take the family if you are truly
interested in seeing the stars. I'm not talking Hollywood starlets but real
stars. If you or one of your children has the slightest interest in studying
the stars, this will be a treat for you all. I sincerely hope you will at least
check it out.

The Natural History Museum offers many exhibits that deal with various aspects
of life. Perhaps the neatest thing about the Natural History Museum is the fact
that you are allowed a very hands on approach to learning here. From actually
handling fossils and skulls to really cool artifacts, very little is off
limits. This means that even the most difficult child to amuse might find
something of interest here; at least, that is the hope.

Finally, there is the Steinhart Aquarium. This is not the Aquarium at the Bay
but a municipal aquarium that holds the distinction of being the oldest
operating municipal aquarium in America. Among the awesome exhibits that can be
found here are several rare specimens that can no longer be found in the wild.
The tide pool is perhaps one of the most anticipated attractions of this
aquarium. This is where little hands actually get to touch some of the animals
that their little eyes are watching in the tanks. Just be careful that you
aren't going home with a car full of future marine biologists as this
experience can ignite a passion for marine life that will last for quite a
while.

Science is a great thing to be studied and explored. I can think of few things
I would rather see my children pursue than an endless search for truth and the
evidence to support those truths. I hope that by introducing them to
opportunities such as these I will have contributed to a life long process of
seeking answers that will serve them well. And it can all be owed to a trip to
San Francisco.

San Francisco's Original Chinatown, Accept no Substitutions

When visiting San Francisco, California there are so many things to see and do
that it is often difficult to decide which things you should do and see in
which order. Perhaps one of the most interesting things to note about San
Francisco is the diversity of the many 'neighborhoods' throughout the city. Of
these many diverse neighborhoods, perhaps the most famous is San Francisco's
Chinatown.

With more than one hundred restaurants, Chinatown owes no small part of its
fame to the great delicacies that can rarely be found outside this part of
town. There is something about the ambience and atmosphere, the smells, sights,
and sounds that make the food that much more appealing to the average diner. If
you have tried Chinese food elsewhere, be sure to try it here and compare. I
think you will find that there really is no comparison and it's hard to go back
to dime store Chinese food once you've tasted 'the real thing'.

In addition to the great food you will find readily available within the
Chinatown area, there is a vast wealth of architectural beauty that will take
your breath away. Some of these buildings aside from being stunningly beautiful
have a rich history as well. Some of the more traditionally Chinese buildings
that can be found in Chinatown are the Bank of Canton, the Sing Chong Building
(which was destroyed during the earthquake of 1906 and rebuilt), and the Bank
of America building which as 60 dragon medallions on its fašade in addition to
the many golden dragons that adorn the rest of the buildings exterior.

Chinatown is made up of 8 streets: Clay, Commercial, Grant, Jackson, Pine,
Sacramento, Stockton, and Washington; and 11 alleys: Beckett, Hang Ah, Joice,
Old Chinatown Lane, Ross, Spofford, Stark, St. Louis Place, Walter U. Lum
Place, Waverly, and Wentworth. Tucked in the nooks and crannies of these
streets and alleyways, you will find herbal shops, gift shops, restaurants, and
all of the many sights and sounds that make the Chinatown area of San Francisco
a truly unique travel destination.

Portsmouth Square is literally the heart of Chinatown. Not only does it mark
the beginning of this section of town, which has grown and expanded since the
beginning of its days, it also remains to this day the area for monuments and
celebrations regarding the Oriental Community of San Francisco at large. If you
have even the slightest bit of interest in history, this is an area that you
will find monumentally appealing. If you are more interested in art,
entertainment, and good food, you should find plenty of that here as well.

As I have said before, Chinatown is really a great place to explore while
visiting San Francisco. Make sure you have plenty of time to explore the roads
and alleys and that you bring a healthy appetite with you. If you have little
ones in your life, whether they are making this trip with you or you are going
solo, you will find that there are plenty of goodies to buy as souvenirs that
will provide both delight and challenge.

While there are newer 'Chinatown' areas cropping up within San Francisco, the
original still remains the greatest draw for tourists. In fact, Chinatown
rivals the Golden Gate Bridge as a tourist attraction and has been rumored to
be even more of a draw. The original Chinatown of San Francisco remains an
important gateway to the past as it represents an important segment of the
history of San Francisco, this country, and immigration to America. I strongly
urge you to remember that when during your visit to San Francisco and that you
will take a stroll down the streets and alleys of Chinatown to see for yourself
how much American history Chinatown really does represent.

Even if you aren't hungry when you begin walking the streets of Chinatown, I
can pretty much guarantee that you will be before too long. The wonderful
smells of great cuisine simply cannot be escaped when strolling along these
city blocks. It's both wonderful and torturous at the same time. Be sure to
enjoy a dish or two while you are there and have lots of fun. That, after all,
is what vacations are all about.

Overbooking your Time is a Vacation Destroyer

When planning a vacation it is often very difficult to set priorities from a
distance. San Francisco is really no different than any other vacation
destination in that manner. In fact, as a vacation destination, this city has
so much to offer that the problem isn't finding enough stuff to do; it is
limiting yourself to only doing the things you want most to do because of time
constraints. Unless you are going to be in this great city for a month, it
would be very easy to overload your itinerary.

Here are a few suggestions for pacing yourself while traveling as well as
providing adequate downtime for all family members while visiting San Francisco.

1) Remember that this is a vacation not a military exercise. Be especially
aware of young children as they can tire easily and aren't much fun when
overtired. Plan rest times in addition to activities in order to provide much
needed breaks for everyone that is traveling with you.

2) Remember that the little ones have things that are important to them too and
your ideas and their ideas about what will interest them the most aren't always
the same. You don't want a child with hurt feelings, especially when that could
have been so easily avoided by simply offering your child a choice.

3) Keep in mind that while most things are great to do as a family, some alone
time or split time, isn't necessarily a bad thing-even when on vacation.

4) Plan your day with extra time in between attractions to accommodate for
transportation issues, bathroom breaks, and any number of things that can come
up. There is no point in being frustrated over the unavoidable, especially when
on vacation.

5) Limit yourself to activities in the same general area of town on a given day
so that you aren't spending the vast majority of your day getting from point A
to point B or looking for a parking spot. It is best to park and walk as much
as possible or rely on public transportation in San Francisco whenever walking
is unavoidable.

6) Let your young ones select at least one place a day (within reason) to eat.
Obviously no one wants to eat at McDonald's every day of your trip except your
little ones, but by allowing them to have a choice you are making them feel
special and giving them something to look forward to when standing in a long
line for something you want to do more than they do.

7) Plan activities for younger children in the middle of other activities. This
will keep them somewhat appeased if they know they have something to look
forward to later and will save you from a long line of endless tantrums.

8) Plan for some sort of restful activity in the middle of the day if you
aren't close enough to your hotel for an afternoon nap. Even if it's ducking
into a library or bookstore to read quietly for an hour. You will be amazed at
how much just a quick rest can do to perk up the spirits of everyone in your
group.

These things won't guarantee a smooth trip but will greatly increase the
likelihood of less bouts of angry, overtired children and fed up over tired mom
and dad as well. The most important thing about any vacation is that you take
the time to enjoy yourself and your time together as a family.

Golden Gate Park offers more than just a Play Date

With its moderate temperatures year round, San Francisco is one of the best
cities in the world in which to go outside and play. No matter what time of
year it is, there is probably something you can find to do outside that is a
lot of fun. Even if it is just "Singing in the Rain". Beyond singing of course,
there are plenty of activities that are best enjoyed out of doors. And there are
few places in the world better to enjoy these outdoor activities than Golden
Gate Park.

If you like wheels, there are plenty of places in the park where you can either
rent biking and skating equipment. Of course if you plan on skating, it is quite
easy to bring your own equipment along on your vacation. If you have children
and are looking for fun activities that you can enjoy together, these are among
the top on my list. Of course there are several more that you will find at
Golden Gate Park as well.

I can keep my kids occupied for hours with one little Frisbee tossed between
the three of them. And there are plenty of open spaces in this great park where
Frisbee tossing is quite possible. In addition to Frisbee there are several
other outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by you or your family.

There is an archery field and a shop where you can rent all the equipment you
will need. In addition to equipment, which can be purchased or rented, you can
also buy lessons for that equipment as well. If this is something you've never
tried before, you should at least stop by and take a look. I think it's a great
sport that is incredibly fun for young and old alike. It's also something that
isn't as commonly found as it should be so may actually be a real treat for
your children.

If you love the water as I do, you will be delighted to find that in addition
to beaches which offer surfing and sea animal watching, there is a huge lake in
the park which offers paddleboat and row boat rentals. This is good fun and
clean living if you ask me. Of course, I'm a water baby so I'm a little biased.

If water isn't your thing, have you ever tried swing dancing? If not, it's time
you considered Lindy in the Park. Every Sunday, weather permitting, there is
swing dancing from 11:00 am -2:00 pm with free lessons offered at 12:30 pm.
Young and old children alike get a real thrill out of this and it's a great way
to trick yourself into exercising. Lindy in the Park is completely free and a
lot of fun. If you are planning to include a trip to Golden Gate Park in your
San Francisco visit, I strongly urge you to plan it for Sunday and plan to
attend Lindy in the Park.

In addition to these activities there are handball tables both indoors and
outdoors that can be used for a quick game. If this is something that you find
interesting you might want to stake out a spot close by because there are only
a few tables and a great deal of interest. Other interesting activities in
Golden Gate Park include lawn bowling, tennis, dog runs, basketball, and disc
golf. .

If all of that isn't enough there are several other sites and activities
available throughout the park that should spark your interest. Among those is a
favorite for young and old children alike--The 1912 Herschel-Spillman carousel.
This is very popular among children and seconded closely by the nearby
playground. If you think about it, a day at Golden Gate Park isn't your typical
day at the park. With so much to do and see, it is hard to imagine that a day at
this park isn't a vacation in and of itself.

Fun Museums for the Child in all of Us

If you are bringing young ones on your visit to San Francisco, you've probably
wracked your brain trying to find activities and events that will not only be
fun for them but also provide much needed mental stimuli as well. Well, look no
further. I have five museums that are guaranteed to be completely kid friendly
and fun for the entire family.

Gone are the days of stuffy museums that are cold and unfeeling. These museums
of old have been replaced with modern day museums that offer areas that
encourage hands on activities and promote learning and education through
activities that are well disguised as fun. Your children will have no idea what
just happened and you will be able to rest comfortable in the knowledge that
this event that they considered so much fun will remain with them for a long
time to come. Knowledge is a great gift to pass on to your children, especially
when they don't realize what it is that you are giving them.

The first of these museums is the Cartoon Art Museum. You may wonder what your
children can possibly learn from a museum such as this, but as with all art,
comics often imitate life and this museum shows how comics have evolved and
morphed over time. In addition to that, anything that will encourage your
children to read is a good thing in my opinion, even if it is comics that they
are reading.

Next, there is the Bay Area Discovery Museum. This museum offers hands on
entertainment for children of all ages. While most exhibits are designed with
children ages 1-10 in mind, there are plenty of activities and exhibits that
will appeal to older children as well as those entertaining the notion of a
second childhood. This museum offers many activities and adventures both
indoors and out that will appeal to your children while teaching them about
other creatures, cultures, technology, and the world at large around them. This
is definitely worth having a look. Be sure to check and see if there are any
events being offered while you are visiting.

If the Bay Area Discovery Museum isn't enough to get your little one's creative
juices flowing and put you all into the supreme spirit of learning, then perhaps
you should check out Zeum. Zeum is a multimedia arts and technology museum. By
allowing visitors to hands on use of their equipment they are fostering
imagination and igniting curiosity in the young minds of their guests. This is
definitely unique enough for a closer look. I hope it spikes your inner techno
guru as completely as it reached mine.

There are many more places than this that you can visit in San Francisco that
offer an equal spark for the minds and imaginations of your little ones. But
the fact remains that you know your child's interests and talents better than
anyone else. Find those things that will appeal to each child's personality and
that above anything else will make this trip special for him or her.

I also believe that it is important to allow your children an opinion on what
to do and see while on vacation. You may be surprised to find the things that
will appeal to them as well as the fact that they really do on occasion think
about what you as a parent want for them. By giving choices and a voice you are
teaching your children that they are important to you and that their opinion
matters.

Fisherman's Wharf, Famous for a Reason

Fisherman's Wharf is one of the most famous of destinations for visitors of San
Francisco, California and with good reason. There is so much to see and do in
Fisherman's Wharf that you could quite easily plan an entire trip to Frisco and
only leave the Wharf as you are leaving the city.

The Wharf offers more than 2,500 hotel rooms, several restaurants, and an
almost endless amount of shopping, history, culture, and attractions. Anyone
would be hard pressed not to find something fun to do in Fisherman's Wharf.

If you are interested in the sea faring culture and history of the Fisherman's
Wharf, take the Port Walk, which is a walking tour that you can take at your
own pace while learning about the history of Fisherman's Wharf through the
various signs located along the tour. You can also tour the USS Pampanito,
which was a WWII submarine, or the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, which is the last
unaltered Liberty ship that is operational. Both of these can be found on Pier
45.

If you find yourself a little hungry, perhaps it's time to check out the many
restaurants that the Wharf has to offer or simply to stroll on over to
Ghirardelli Square, okay, I confess, I could spend my entire vacation here.
With its rich history of chocolate and chocolate making, no pun intended, this
square is now home to some lovely little shops and for chocolates, clothing,
souvenirs, and jewelry. Really, who could ask for more in a shopping center?
Chocolate, jewelry, and clothes, the only thing missing is shoes.

Back to reality and the fact that many of us travel with family. Fisherman's
wharf has a lot to offer in the way of family entertainment. Check out Pier 39.
Ever want to take a Magic Carpet Ride or star in your own musical video? What if
I told you that you could actually do both? In addition to the Magic Carpet Ride
there is the San Francisco Carousel, which children of all ages will love,
Frequent Flyers (perfect if you have any aspiring acrobats among you), and
Riptide Arcade (I recommend giving dad an allowance before going in here unless
you want to spend most of your vacation rooted to the spot-or giving a time
limit and leaving the guys while the girls go shopping). In fact, there are so
many things to do at Pier 39 you could almost make a vacation here alone. Don't
leave though without checking out the sea lions.

I can't really mention Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and families without brining
to attention the fact that the Aquarium of the Bay is a great place for family
entertainment. The aquarium is a great way for you and your family to spend the
day. Not only is this a fun excursion that your children will probably remember
long after you've gone back to the real world of your day-to-day lives, but it
is also an educational experience that is cleverly disguised as fun. Your
children will learn about all kinds of marine life, while having a great time
and never know what really hit them. This is one of those times when it is
great to be a parent and you can pat yourself on the back for providing an
educational experience that they are enjoying. Even better, they never have to
know.

Last but not least, there really isn't enough that I can say about the
fantastic shopping and dining experiences that are available all along
Fisherman's Wharf. There are so many shopping areas at Fisherman's Wharf that
it is hard to keep them all separate in your mind but this is a girls dream
vacation while still offering enough activities to satisfy the men in your
life. If the history, the culture, and the fun aren't enough to convince you,
then perhaps the food should speak for itself. All you have to do is show up
with your appetite; your nose will lead the way for everything else.

Blending Cultures is the Key to Frisco's Greatness

Cultural activities and events abound in the great city of San Francisco. There
are even plenty of museums that not only promote awareness of the diverse
cultures of this great city but also celebrate the contributions of these
people to what this city has become. If you are planning to visit San
Francisco, you will be robbing yourself of a real treat if you fail to visit
some of the museums devoted to the cultural history of this city.

Below you will find museums dedicated to the great and diverse people of a city
that is only as wonderful as its citizens. San Francisco truly is a melting pot
of cultures, beliefs, philosophies, and ideals. If you are looking in from the
outside it may not be as obvious to you as to someone who has made a great
study of it, however, it is still there. The differences of people here are
celebrated rather than duly noted. It's a different world here and I think it's
an example that the rest of the world would do well to follow.

One of the first such places that I will mention is The San Francisco African
American Historical Cultural Society. The goal of this society is to instill a
sense of pride in African Americans of all ages, but particularly the younger
generations, for their history, culture, and most importantly their heritage.
The society offers art exhibits, educational workshops, cultural performances,
and a vast wealth of knowledge to people of all cultures who come to learn
about not only the African American heritage of San Francisco but around the
world as well. This is definitely worth a visit especially for the library,
which holds around 5,000 books written either by or about African Americans.

The International Museum of Women is a favorite of mine for many reasons. First
of all, it's a museum that celebrates the contributions that women have made
throughout history while celebrating our roles as individuals, mothers,
daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends, and wives. The International
Museum of Women celebrates the many responsibilities that women face in the
world today, not only to themselves as individuals but also to other women
around the world. One of the primary goals of this museum other than
celebrating the history of womanhood is to educate about the problems that
women around the world continue to face on a daily basis.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is another place you can go to see yet another
of the many cultural faces of this great city. The Contemporary Jewish Museum
offers a place where people of all cultural backgrounds can come together and
learn about the history of a people whose history is so epic and so tragic and
yet so full of hope. I think this museum is a great way to showcase each of
these things while celebrating life itself, the one thing that all of the
people of San Francisco have in common.

There are other museums and cultural centers that will work to showcase the
diversity of the people that make San Francisco the wonderful city that it has
become as well as the important roles that every culture has played in the
making of this city that is known around the world. Whether you share the
culture of any of the groups represented or simply shares the humanity of us
all, there is much to be learned from all cultures represented.

Art Museums still manage to move the Masses

With around 65 museums, it's no wonder that it is quite difficult to narrow
down the choices and select the San Francisco museum that you absolutely must
visit while vacationing here. The good news is that it is quite possible to
narrow down the choices according to your personal preferences. Museums are a
great way to discover the history, the art, and the future of a city. If that
city gives a great amount of effort into building great places of learning
about the art, music, history, and future of said city, then that city has a
bright future ahead of it.

Art is something that is becoming more and more often overlooked as budget cuts
hit school curriculums and great emphasis is placed on learning specific facts
and details rather than the learning process, but art is a vitally important
component of societal development. Think about it, the one thing that survives
the generations of old and appears in museum today is most often art of some
sort. Art is a way of expressing who we are, what we dream, and where we hope
we are going. If we take the art from our lives, we are stifling our societies
and risking our progeny.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm a little passionate about art and feel that
art museums are an integral component not only of preserving our pasts but also
of insuring our futures. The first art museum I would like to mention is of
particular interest here because not only does it showcases artists that are
local to the San Francisco area but it also deals with visual arts, performing
arts, and film and video. The name of this museum is: Yerba Buena Center for
the Arts and I seriously recommend that you take a moment or two out of your
busy vacation time be devoted to taking a look around this great center for
visual and performing arts.

Art comes in many shapes and sizes and few places showcase it as well as the de
Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. From painting to sculptures to quilts
this museum offers some fantastic collections of art as well as offering
excellent exhibitions that rotate throughout the year. Give your senses a feast
of color, light, and texture by visiting the de Young.

If you have the time, you really should check out The Diego Rivera Mural
Project. This project is about the necessity of blending all of the cultures
and histories that make Americans American into one unified work of art. By
using the historical artistic styles of the Indian, the Eskimo, and the Mexican
and blending them a style will emerge that is Pan American Unity. While some may
find the ideals behind it a bit lofty (I find them applaudable), it is
impossible to deny that the mural itself is an impressive work of art. While
this is not a museum, I really feel that this is an important work of art that
is definitely worth mentioning.

Whether you have a deep and abiding passion for art or not, it's hard to deny
the power that art has to move and inspire people. For that reason alone I
think it is important that we try to cultivate a love of art or at the very
least an education about art within our children, museum exhibits are an
excellent method of achieving that goal.

Angel Island is a Diversion from the Ordinary

Whether you are a true nature lover or simply enjoy the thrill of an
educational field trip, you will find both the wonders of nature and a deep
sense of history while visiting Angel Island. In fact, I would suggest making
Angel Island a must see destination while visiting San Francisco.

In the great city of San Francisco, which has so much to offer visitors, it's
almost impossible to find that one thing that will be truly special and unique
about your trip. Angel Island is just that thing. Wherever your interests lie,
there is something that will attract the attention of people of all ages,
economic situations, and other walks of life. If you can't find something that
will interest you here, you really should rethink your interests.

For the nature lovers there is plenty of interest in way of plant life, bird
life, and other animal life that should be of interests. There are even
specialized tours available that will highlight and focus on the wide variety
of life on this great island. Not only are there a great variety of land
animals but a good representation of sea animals can be observed here as well.
If you love nature, this is a great place to get a good dose of it while in the
big city of San Francisco. Not only can you enjoy the sea animals on the ferry
ride over (if you choose a ferry for your transportation) but you get to enjoy
the plant and animal life on the island as well. Don't forget the air animals
either though. There are many varieties of birds that are well represented here
as well.

For those that prefer more active pursuits, there is plenty on Angel Island to
keep you entertained and happy. First of all, there is plenty to offer by way
of hikes. There are even guided hiking tours that offer the safety of numbers
(very good for beginning hikers) and information about the island and its rich
history. If hiking isn't really your thing, there are also bike rentals
available on the island as well. With several trails to choose from with
varying degrees of difficulty, even the beginner can enjoy a nice ride around
the island.

My personal favorite physical activity here would be the kayak tours. For the
right price you can book a guided kayak tour around the island. The tour
includes equipment rental, your guide for the day, and a picnic lunch this
would be for the all day tour, which will take you around the entire island.
There is a 2 and a half hour tour if you aren't too sure about the whole
kayaking thing or want to have time to enjoy other aspects of the island on
your trip as well. The beauty of a trip to Angel Island is that there really is
no right or wrong way to go about enjoying your day.

For sun lovers, there are several beaches where you can bring a blanket and lie
down with a good book in order to catch some rays. I do not recommend swimming
from Angel Island as the water isn't the cleanest nor is it the calmest. The
tides are dangerous and can turn amazingly quickly. But if you love books and
find that you could use a ray or two, let the kids and the rest of the family
go biking, hiking, touring, and all that other good stuff while you catch up on
the latest best seller at the beach.

All of this and I haven't even really hinted at the rich history of Angel
Island. There are many activities planned throughout the year that introduce
visitors to the rich history of this island. From Civil War Days to the Potomac
Tours to the Victorian Christmas there are brief snapshots into the history of
this great island. Beyond these events there are tram tours that are offered
almost daily during the regular season on the island that provide brief
overviews into the islands history. This would be a great way to spend a day
while visiting San Francisco.

Wine Country Offers Great Family Fun

If you are planning a visit to San Francisco and you love wine, you might
seriously wish to consider taking a day trip to one or more of the many
vineyards that are only a short drive away. In fact, many of these vineyards
offer packages that leave you free to taste all the wine you can handle without
worries about drinking and driving.

Even if you've never really tried many wines or don't really find the flavor of
the wines you have tried in the past to be pleasant, you may find yourself
pleasantly surprised to discover that you do in fact have a great palate for
the excellent wines that can be found in California's Sonoma Valley and Napa
Regions. The wines you will taste here are generally great quality wines and
are specially selected to showcase the best that these vineyards have to offer.
Regardless of whether you find yourself a reformed wine connoisseur or not, you
will at least have gained a really good education about both the wine making
process and the many varieties of wines that are available.

There are many companies that offer tours to different vineyards. Try one, or
try a few. The drive is short if you want to go it alone-just be sure that the
vineyard you are planning to visit doesn't require reservations before making
the drive. The drive, should you choose this route, is quite beautiful and
there are many things to see along the way. Be sure to have a designated driver
for your wine tasting experience if you are going it alone. This detail alone
could save one or many lives and is vitally important when planning your wine
tasting adventure.

If bus tours aren't for you but you don't want to have to drive after visiting
and tasting all of the delicious wines that you will be discovering, you should
consider one of the smaller SUV tours that are available. These will be a little
more costly but for many the personal attention is well worth a little extra
money. Another great benefit of the smaller SUV tours is that your smaller
group can be accommodated by smaller wineries that aren't always available for
visits from large bus tours. These tours need to be planned a little ahead of
time, most requiring at least one week advance notice for reservations so they
can't be as spur of the moment as a larger bus tour which will generally have
openings available at the last minute.

Here are a few suggestions to help your wine tasting experience be all that you
dare hope for and more. First of all, avoid wearing scents; the scents that you
wear will compete with the wine for both fragrance and taste. You want the wine
to make its own statement without competition from the perfumes, aftershaves,
lotions, and potions that you or other guests on your tour may bring along.
Hold your wine glass by the stem to avoid warming the wine. It's always a good
idea to eat something bland like saltine crackers or French bread between wines
in order to cleanse your palate.

Even if you've never tried a glass of wine before in your life, you will
receive and excellent education about the various wines, the regions, the
differences between the wines, what makes the wines of different vineyards
unique and special, and suggestions on how to pair and serve the wines you're
tasting. You will also receive and education about how to properly store the
wines you may elect to purchase. This is very important knowledge in order to
best maintain the integrity and flavor of the wines you choose.

From novices to experiences wine connoisseurs and for everyone in between,
there is a little something to offer everyone who takes one of these tours.
Keep in mind that while all ages are welcome on these tours, only guests that
are 21 and over are able to partake of the delectable wines available for
tasting. Most importantly, have a day of good fun, good food, and great spirits.





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