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San Francisco Sunset Champagne Seaplane Tour
"Your seaplane tour takes off from Sausalito a waterfront town just 4 miles (6.4 km) north of the Golden Gate Bridge. While you sip a glass of Mumm Napa a California sparkling wine made in the traditional French method enjoy a gorgeous leisurely flight over San Francisco Bay before the sun sets. Relax during this magical time when the city and water are beautifully illuminated by the indirect light of the sun.Head out to the open Pacific Ocean and then south to the Golden Gate soaring over the iconic red towers as you make your way toward downtown San Francisco. Fly past Fisherman’s Wharf Pier 39 and the skyscrapers of the Financial District
From $239.00
 
San Francisco Love Tour
"San Francisco Sightseeing Tours aims to provide an enthusiastic and authentic way to get-to-know San Francisco. Hitch a ride for an experience that mixes both our love for modern day living and our memories of San Francisco in days gone by. Our 1970’s Vo complete with neon blue seats beaded curtains and shag carpets foster a Hippie vibe that celebrates Peace Love Freedom & Adventure. You will see breath-taking marvels such as the Golden Gate Bridge Lombard Street China Town The Castro and so much more.Travel down unique streets where other busses are forbidden. Visit the homes of San Francisco’s counter-culture icons such as The Grateful Dead
From $48.00
 
San Francisco City Tour
"The Golden Gate Bridge is an architectural masterpiece standing at a staggering 746 feet and spanning 8981 feet completed in 1937 it was the world’s longest suspension bridge until 1964. The captivating international orange color is a unique trait of the bridge.An historic icon of San Francisco the cable cars is the world's last manually operated cable car system. Running along California street the cable car connects Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf. Due to limited time we are passing by only.Union Square located in downtown San Francisco is a large open plaza with a towering monument commemorating The May 1st
From $65.00

Day Trips Tips (51)

Alcatraz Parade Ground, Agave Trail, Guard Tower.

We were lucky as the parade ground and Agave trail were open when we visited. These are closed at certain times of the year presumably as they can be dangerous in high seas. A lot of the piles of rubble covering the parade ground are probably the result of the pounding sea.

I'll include here a few remaining photos of our trip including views of the parade ground, the Agave Trail and a good shot of the guard tower I did not fit in anywhere else.

IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
IreneMcKay
Feb 27, 2016

Alcatraz - Native American Indian Occupation.

On November 20th, 1969, eighty-nine Native American Indians sailed from Sausalito on a five-mile trip across San Francisco Bay to Alcatraz Island. When they landed, they declared the former prison Indian land “by right of discovery".

Their aim was to gain funding from the U.S. government to turn it into a Native American cultural center and university. They occupied Alcatraz for more than 19 months before being finally removed in June 1971. Their demands were not met, but their actions gained a lot of publicity for the Native American cause.

Wandering around the island you will see some reminders of their occupation. You can also learn about it in the museums in building 64.

IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
IreneMcKay
Feb 20, 2016

Alcatraz - the views.

Alcatraz is a good place for views. You can enjoy looking back towards the skyline of San Francisco or towards the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bay Bridge.

The best views of the island fortress that is Alcatraz are from the parade ground when you look at the prison and the lighthouse clinging to the edges of the rock up above you.

IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
IreneMcKay
Feb 20, 2016

Alcatraz - the flowers.

Despite its rather gruesome history, Alcatraz is a surprisingly beautiful place with wonderful flower filled gardens and lots of sea-birds. When we finished the prison tour, we took a stroll around.

On the introductory film we listened to in building 64 when we arrived, a woman who was the daughter of a former prison officer ,recalled her idyllic childhood growing up on Alcatraz and playing on the parade ground almost unaware of the dangerous prison inmates living nearby.

IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
IreneMcKay
Feb 20, 2016
 
 
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Alcatraz - the federal prison.

Alcatraz is most famous for being the site of a federal prison from which escape was almost impossible.

The price of your ticket to Alcatraz includes a 45 minute audio tour of the prison buildings. On the tour you will visit the main cell block, the library, the kitchens, the dining room, the prison officers' rooms.

You will learn about the escape attempts from this island and the prison's most notorious inmates.

The most notorious criminals ever to be imprisoned on Alcatraz include: gangster Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud - also known as the Birdman of Alcatraz, gangster Machine Gun Kelly, and gangster Alvin Creepy Karpis - who served more time at Alcatraz than any other inmate.

In its twenty-nine years as a prison a grand total of thirty-six prisoners made fourteen escape attempts. Two inmates even tried twice. Of those who tried to escape twenty-three were caught alive, six were shot and killed, two drowned, and five are missing, presumed drowned.

The most violent escape attempt occurred from May 2nd to May 4th, 1946 when a failed escape attempt by six prisoners resulted in the Battle of Alcatraz. Two guards and three inmates were killed in this battle. Eleven guards and one uninvolved convict were injured. Two of the would be escapees were later executed for their roles in the battle.

On June 11th 1962, Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin carried out an escape attempt. They tucked papier-mâché heads into their beds, broke out of the main prison building through an unused utility corridor, and sailed away an improvised raft. If they survived, their escape attempt was the only successful one ever, but their fate remains unknown.

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IreneMcKay
Feb 20, 2016

Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz was originally named "La Isla de los Alcatraces," or "The Island of the Pelicans," by Spaniard Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775. It is located in San Francisco Bay - 1.5 miles offshore from the city of San Francisco.

Alcatraz was home to the first lighthouse built on the American west coast and to an early U.S. built fort. It was used as a military prison from 1868 and as a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. In November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of North American Indians from San Francisco who wanted more rights for Aboriginal people. Alcatraz became a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
IreneMcKay
Feb 20, 2016

Alcatraz Island - Getting there.

I know it's not really off the beaten path, but I'm putting it here as my things to do section is getting too long.

We pre-booked out trip to Alcatraz, as all the advice told us to do so and I think it was probably right. We were there in February - not peak season - and it was still a very popular and busy trip.

Boats leave from Pier 33. You are advised to be there at least thirty minutes before departure. Again this is good advice as you will arrive to find a long queue.

You can choose to visit by day or at night. We opted for the day time tour. I'd imagine the island is quite atmospheric and creepy at night.

You can sit in or out on the boat. Inside there is a cafe selling soft drinks and snacks. It sells alcohol on the return journey.

We sat outside to get views over San Francisco and views as we arrived at the island. The trip only takes 15 minutes. You book a set time for going and can take any boat back.

IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
IreneMcKay
Feb 20, 2016

Mission San Rafael

One of the northern missions, this was originally part of Mission Dolores in San Francisco. Founded in 1817 as a sanitarium for Indians afflicted with European diseases, it was named for the patron saint of healing. This is still an active church and school. The phone number is that of the gift shop.

Father Junipero Serra founded this and most of the other missions in California.

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Tom_Fields
Apr 04, 2011

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Marin Headlands State Park

This often overlooked park is directly across the bay from San Francisco, just west of the Golden Gate. It offers stunning views of the city, as well as some great hiking. The lighthouse at Bonita Point is also worth a visit; guided tours are given daily.

For many years, coastal defense gun batteries guarded San Francisco bay. Later, Nike-Hercules surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries were installed here. The weapons are all gone now, but the emplacements, barracks, and other historic Army buildings are still here, along with historical markers. The Headlands are also home to a variety of wildlife, and a stop-over for many species of migratory birds.

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Tom_Fields
Apr 04, 2011

Go for a hike in Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands are about half an hour north of the city across the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a great place to go for a hike or a bike ride. You can get some of the most amazing views of the city and the Pacific from the Marin. Make sure to check the weather forecast though, you don't want to waste your time on a foggy day!

More information, maps and directions can be found at the website below.

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canbalci
Apr 04, 2011

Have an Outdoor Adventure with the Family!

For those of us who are used to the ocean, the idea of traveling for access to water seems a silly idea. That was my thought when a family friend booked a day trip to the Central Valley to go rafting anyways. What I learned is that rivers are way different than oceans (duh!) and that rafting was a great way to get our whole family into the whole outdoor recreation thing.

Our trip started in Knights Ferry, CA, a small town that included ruins of old mills, an old ice cream shop, and other small historical monuments. After checking in, we got our paddles and life jackets, and got a safety talk from a young man about possible dangers on the river. While this talk freaked some of us out, it proved to be strictly cautionary, as the trip itself was very mellow.

The trip itself was self guided, and lasted about 4 hours. Sunshine Rafting told us to bring our own ice chest with food and drink, and we were glad we did. Halfway through the trip was a beautiful park that we had a picnic at (they had picnic tables and BBQ pits). Throughout the idea we swam, splashed around, talked with other rafters, and generally just enjoyed having access to a steady stream of sunshine as well as the cool water.

At the end of the trip the company shuttled us back to our cars and we explored Knights Ferry a bit more. All in all I felt tired but accomplished, and it was great to get the kids out and active in a way that they enjoyed. I would recommend this as a family trip for sure, as it provides an outlet to connect with your family in a semi-enclosed space while still being outside! Also it was only about $20 per person, which was reasonable for a full day activity.

BayAreaNative
Feb 24, 2011

A visit to the Winchester Mystery House

When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I read an article about the Winchester Mystery House and I always thought it would be really neat to visit this rather eccentric mansion. My trip to San Francisco being my first time out in California, I did a bit of research online to see if it was possible to book a trip from SF to San Jose to visit the Winchester Mystery House and when I found out that Super Sightseeing Tours could take us there, I immediately decided to book it (http://www.supersightseeing.com).

The shuttle picked us up at our hotel - they showed up 40 minutes late, so I was glad the lady at our hotel's tourist info desk could call them to make sure they were coming. We left San Francisco at 2:30 pm and made our way down to San Jose aboard a not-so-comfy shuttle bus, but at least the scenery was very nice. Once we got to the Winchester Mystery House, we were given some time to visit the firearms museum, which features a large collection of Winchester rifles, "The Gun that Won the West". Our guide Dzimitry then took us on an amazing 1h tour of Sarah Winchester's fantastic mansion. The tour goes through 110 of the house's 160 rooms, which are filled with weird architectural details. Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Winchester and heiress to the rifle maker's fortune, believed her family was being haunted by the spirits of men and women killed by the famous rifles. In order to appease the spirits, a medium recommended she built a house for them - construction began in 1884, and for the next 38 years (until Sarah Winchester died at the age of 83) carpenters worked on the house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Mrs. Winchester would hold "seances" at night and give instructions to the crew the following day, many of which were down right bizarre: staircases leading to the ceiling, windows and doors opening up on a wall, chimneys that stop a few feet short of the ceiling... it all makes for a very entertaining tour!

Once we were done touring around the house, we were invited to do the garden tour on our own, and we also had a bit of time to visit the giftshop before it was time to head back to San Francisco (we got back at around 6:30 pm). I thought the price ($60) was fairly reasonable, especially considering that it costs $26 just to visit the house. For me, visiting the Winchester Mystery House was a bit of a dream come true and it definitely lived up to my expectations!

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Jefie
Oct 11, 2009

Things to Do Near San Francisco

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Crissy Field

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Ripley's Believe it or Not!

I was skeptical. Not much of an indoor explorer. But, I truly wanted to say that I had been to Ripley's in San Fran so we got the ticket and went for an adventure. I was not disappointed. It is one...
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49 Mile Drive

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Market Street

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