Day 1 You'll See:
- Golden Gate Park
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Red & White Fleet Golden Gate Bay Cruise
- Musee Mecanique
Day 2 You'll See:
- Cable Car Museum
- Free Time
Day 3 You'll See:
- University of California, Berkeley
- Lawrence Hall of Science
Day 4 You'll See:
- California Academy of Sciences
- Lombard Street
- Coit Tower
What better place to escape the confines of the classroom for a restorative educational getaway than a jaunt to this legendary City by the Bay? You and your students will enjoy a tantalizing assortment of quintessential San Francisco Highlights and points of interest on this exciting 4 Day excursion!
Golden Gate Park
This amazing historic landmark – an authentic San Francisco treasure – welcomes more than 13,000,000 visitors annually! A vast, verdant and picturesque public space, Golden Gate Park is a horticulturally divergent peaceful refuge; a place where city dwellers can relax and reconnect with the natural world in an “everyman’s” backyard. The Park’s 1,017 windswept, salt-kissed and artfully-planned acres hold endless riches, with something to appeal to visitors of all ages: lush gardens, wonderful playgrounds, pristine lakes, picnic groves and historically significant trails and monuments; they’re also host to an exciting array of cultural events and special programs year-round. You’ll find natural Oak Woodlands, the 62-animal Herschell-Spillman Carousel, a tennis park and Frisbee golf course, archery fields, horseshoe pits, the incredible California Academy of Natural Sciences, the breathtaking Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco’s oldest museum, a Bison Paddock and more here in this Bay Area wonderland. Hop into a paddleboat and zip around Stow Lake, stroll the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden, experience the curious Garden of Fragrance at Strybing Arboretum and wander the Arch of Colonial Trees, planted by the Sequoia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution with a silver trowel allegedly used by Martha Washington with soil from famous revolutionary battlefields.
Golden Gate Bridge
If ever existed a more popular San Francisco icon, a visitor would be hard-pressed to identify it! The Golden Gate Bridge, a breathtaking span of high-visibility *international orange* cable and steel, ranked 5th on a list of America’s Favorite Architecture and declared one of the modern wonders of the world, crosses the three mile wide channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean and connects Marin County to the busy City. In all her Art-Deco glory, the Golden Gate flexes and rolls across the water, shrouded in woolen morning fog, resplendent in ethereal afternoon sunlight and glowing, golden and elegant, after dark. Ever-popular with tourists and bicyclists, walkways on either side of the vehicle traffic lanes facilitate safe passage, depending on time of day. The Golden Gate Visitor Plaza on the east end of the bridge houses a series of all-new visitor experiences, while the Bridge pavilion, serving as a welcoming and orientation center to guests, offers wonderful commemorative and interpretive souvenirs.
Red and White Fleet Golden Gate Bay Cruise
You and your young charges are about to embark on San Francisco’s original bay cruise adventure – a grand tradition since 1892, and the only San Francisco boat trip offered in 16 languages! You’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the waterfront, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, notorious Alcatraz Island and more on this expertly narrated one-hour cruise past the area’s most famous landmarks. Fantastic photo ops here!
Musee Mecanique at Fisherman’s Wharf
Of course, you and your young charges will visit Fisherman’s Wharf while in the beautiful City by the Bay; no Golden State excursion would be complete without a stop by this favorite attraction, rich with classic North Coast Fishing Town ambiance and charm! At the foot of Taylor Street on Pier 45, you’ll find admission-free Musee Mecanique – a true Fisherman’s Wharf treasure that will have you marveling at their wonderful collection of hundreds of authentic coin-operated mechanical musical instruments, animated figures and vintage arcade machines – every single one in working condition - ready for you to drop a coin (prices range from just a penny to a dollar, and coin machines quickly convert your bills so no need to lug change around!) and begin your delightful journey to a simpler time. Gap-toothed “Laughing Sal” greets visitors near the Museum’s front door, eliciting laughter from all who enter owner Dan Zelinsky’s fantastic, whimsical collection of coin operated art- one of the largest in the world!
San Francisco’s celebrated Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia as well as the oldest in North America and consistently a top draw to local culture hounds and intrepid traversers of the globe, alike. Covering 24 square city blocks and overlapping 5 postal codes, it encompasses an area roughly a mile long and 1.34 miles wide, and rumor has it there are two distinct Chinatown experiences: one for the locals, and one for tourists. Once through Grant Avenue’s glorious dragon gate, you’ll wander lamp-lined colorful streets filled with restaurants, shops and mini malls-all with a more commercial vibe than traditional offerings over on Stockton Street, with its open air produce and fresh fish markets, tidy mom and pop stores and intriguingly fragrant eateries. Be sure to drop by Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory on Portsmouth Square for a sample-the only place in the city where these familiar treats are still made by hand. (If one isn’t enough, just $3.00 gets you a bag of 40 of these quintessential Chinatown treats!)
Cable Car Museum
The San Francisco cable car system has remained in operation more for nostalgic purpose than practicality since the 50s; just 17 miles of track survive in the City by the Bay. The whirr-zing-hum of the haulage cables and distinct ringing of the different bells as the cars run up and down city streets is as much a part of the San Francisco soundscape as the colorful cable cars and drivers are of the landscape; locals still utilize the service as a convenient means of getting to work and around the hilly city and a cable car ride is on just about every visitor’s *to do* list! If your travel group has a full agenda, or waiting in line/hiking blocks for a ride doesn’t work for everyone, a stop in at the Cable Car Museum is a must during your San Francisco holiday! This free museum in the Nob Hill neighborhood is part of the complex that houses the cable power house and car depot and allows you to see the impressive mechanics behind the ride; it’s open year-round and showcases historical and explanatory exhibits on the San Francisco Cable Car System-which is, itself, a fine working museum! A variety of antique cars and memorabilia to peruse at your own pace provide a real sense of bygone days, while a wonderful gift shop, car-seat photo op and penny machine offer perfect mementos of your foray into the very heart of this historical means of transportation. You can even buy your own bell to practice ringing through the city.
The stated mission of The Exploratorium, brainchild of rogue physicist and educator Frank Oppenheimer is to change the way the world learns. Described as the most important science museum to open in the 20th century and characterized as a mad man’s penny arcade, scientific funhouse and experimental lab rolled into one, the Exploratorium, today, is an out-of-this-world, 21st century fun factory and learning laboratory! The groundbreaking nature of its more than 1000 interactive exhibits and self-identification as a center for informal learning has earned the Museum the great distinction of being recognized as a prototype for participatory museums the world over; come prepared to explore and experiment your way to an easier understanding of the amazing world we live in.
Free Time to Explore
What will YOU do in San Francisco with YOUR free time? Grab a latte to go and head to the beach? Pop by one of Ghirardelli’s chocolate shops for a famously delicious, world-famous hot fudge sundae? Check out the many murals of the Mission District? The world is, indeed, your oyster in the City by the Bay; put your heads together and pitch those ideas, or jot down suggestions, toss them into “a hat” and let the draw decide for you!
University of California, Berkeley – Lawrence Hall of Science
You and your students will kick off Day Three of this four day educational extravaganza by the Bay with a visit to the Lawrence Hall of Science - a popular public learning center located in the scenic hills above the University of California, Berkeley Campus. Lawrence Hall features a fascinating array of interactive permanent and temporary exhibits, live science demonstrations, the William Knox Holt Planetarium, and a never-ending stream of special events certain to engage the inquiring minds in your group! Explore Science on a Sphere and Forces that Shape the Bay, conduct Animal Investigations at the Insect Zoo, handle exotic species in the Animal Discovery Room, observe the path of the sun across the sky from season to season, witness a seismograph at work measuring the World’s earthquakes as they happen – and more!
A storied Bay Area Icon and vision to behold come sunset, with many Fisherman’s Wharf venues touting “the best views of, ” this intimidating fortress seemingly afloat in the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay and often referred to as “The Rock” was developed as a military fortification long before its transformation into a federal penitentiary. In its heyday, Alcatraz hosted some of the most notorious criminals in American history: best-known gangster Al Capone, the infamous George “Machine Gun” Kelly, convicted murderer and mobster, James “Whitey” Bulgur and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, who served more time on The Rock than any other inmate. Today, the island’s silent facilities are managed by the National Park Service as a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and all are open for tours. Home to the West Coast’s oldest operational lighthouse, Alcatraz’s otherwise abandoned compounds now house a variety of native seabirds in lieu of incorrigible, cold blooded criminals. Native legend holds forth the idea the island, itself is “cursed” and “evil;” that said, efforts are ongoing to restore the grounds and gardens once planted and tended by military families and create a less hostile environment for visitors, who may reach the legendary “Rock” by ferry from Pier 33.
California Academy of Sciences
One of the largest, most innovative, eco-friendly, widely-acclaimed and best-loved natural history museums in the world, the California Academy of Sciences re-opened its doors in 2008 after considerable earthquake damage in 1989 required the undertaking of nearly ten years of extensive planning and renovation. Re-opening day, admission was free; the line of happily anticipative visitors remained a mile long until closing, with over 15,000 excited guests admitted- and thousands more turned away! An absolute must-see, you and your students will revel in the thrill of exploration and discovery of the diverse realms of science with a tour of this 400,000 square foot assemblage of exquisite natural wonders of Earth, Space and Sea. This landmark within a landmark, located in historic and beautiful Golden Gate Park offers a stunning and dynamic array of planetary, aquatic and historic specimens and extraordinary exhibits showcased in a cutting-edge venue. Stay for a few hours, or stay for the day!
Beautiful Lombard Street is best known for the one-way block on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, where its eight hairpin turns are said to make it the crookedest street in the world! The design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry and built in 1922, was intended to reduce the hill's natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles of the day; the downhill block - perhaps 600 feet long - is paved with red brick; the sign at the top recommends “5 mph.” Some of San Francisco’s priciest real estate is perched on oft-photographed Lombard Street, which has been featured time and again on the Silver Screen; in the Springtime and all Summer long, the curious little thoroughfare is delightfully alive with color as its artistic landscape bursts into bloom.
High atop Telegraph Hill, looming through the fog over the eastern side of San Francisco and serving as a directional marker for those lost in the endless maze of city streets, sits Coit Tower. The best way to reach it is to make your way through energetic North Beach to the steps of Filbert Street – one of the steepest short distances in San Francisco. On your way up, keep an eye out for “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill”- a flock of feral parrots of dubious origin that enjoy hanging out in the trees near the tower. Once inside, you’ll marvel at the first floor artwork – murals of everyday California/San Francisco life painted during the Depression; if you’re lucky you may get a peek at the carefully-refreshed second floor works, until recently cloistered away from public eye behind a set of closed double doors due to inconvenient access. This 210 foot landmark affords trekkers to the top unmatched 360 degree views of the beautiful City by the Bay! P.S.: Don’t forget your camera.