|Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
|California: San Francisco CityPASS Family Vacation Deals and Fun with Cable Cars, Sea Lions, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Northern California provides oodles of positive energy and San Francisco maximizes the energy from every angle. It is just naturally a fun place to enjoy sun, sea and city all in the same day. Ride a cable car; walk under sharks, jump on a carousel; taste marvelous taffy chocolates on the wharf; touch sea stars; listen to a pipe organ; cruise the Bay. San Francisco CityPASS
makes creating a San Francisco urban family adventure easy.
What’s included? Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39, California Academy of Sciences, The Museum of Modern Art, De Young + Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museums or the Golden Gate Park Exploratorium, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise,plus a seven-day MUNI Passport for cable car, light rail and the entire city bus system ties it all together.
Rays, skates, sea stars and urchins. The Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 combines education and entertainment making it easy to have fun while introducing your children to the world under the sea. The interactive facility focuses on the distinctive ecosystems of the Bay area providing visitors with a unique sense of place. The visitor experience consists of four main exhibits: Discover the Bay, Under the Bay, Touch the Bay, and Save the Bay. Bonus points: In the Touch the Bay exhibit, visitors will get the chance to stroll through a series of touch pools which allow visitors to touch live bat rays, leopard sharks, and tide pool animals. Not to be missed: The Under the Bay exhibit includes a moving walkway which takes visitors through two crystal clear underwater tunnels winding under 700,000 gallons of Bay water, and more than 23,000 aquatic animals. Just for kids: A typical sleepover experience includes a tour of the Aquarium, an evening of fun naturalist-led activities, animal demonstration and contact, and ends with sleeping in the crystal clear tunnels of the Under the Bay exhibit while sharks, eels, octopi, and thousands of San Francisco’s aquatic inhabitants swim above in place of stars.
Walk through the rain forest and reach the stars. The California Academy of Sciences has tons of exhibits so you are bound to find something for everyone in your family. You can visit Steinhart Aquarium which features 38,000 live animals from around the world, from more than 900 separate species. You can even visit The Swamp to see Claude, a rare albino American alligator. Next stop, the four story living rainforst or the Morrison Planetarium which is the largest all digital dome in the world. Not to be missed: The pass also includes the Kimball Natural History Musuem, the Living Roof and the Coral Reef exhibit.
Ancient art, cool ceilings and a pipe organ. Overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, the Legion of Honor is home to an impressive collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art. It draws its name from the 18th-century Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, first opened on Armistice Day 1924, and is dedicated to the 3,600 California men who lost their lives on the battlefields of France during World War I. Also in Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum showcases priceless collections of American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, and art of the Americas, Africa, and the Pacific. Bonus points: Public organ concerts on the Legion's magnificent 1924 Skinner pipe organ are presented on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Hear music ranging from Bach and Gershwin to musical thunderstorms, Sousa marches, Gilbert and Sullivan, and the great film music of Hollywood. Not to be missed: Look for August Rodin’s well-known and beloved monumental work, the Thinker which dominates the outdoor Court of Honor at the Legion of Honor. Just for teens: For families with older children the popular the de Young Friday night series may be just to thing. The select evenings offer live music, poetry, films, dance, tours, lectures, cocktails, food, artist demonstrations, and interactive art projects. Enjoy a variety of musical performances ranging from punk, jazz, and opera to avant-garde hip-hop jazz; performance art; artwear demonstrations; art works made from recycled clothing; student designers; and more.
Science, art, and human perception. The Exploratorium, located in the Palace of Fine Arts near the Golden Gate Bridge, is an experimental, hands-on museum designed to fire curiosity about science in visitors of all ages. Presented with a uniquely California attitude the place is both energizing and inspiring. Hundreds of exhibits offer visitors the opportunity to touch, look through, pick up, and tinker with – the Exploratorium encourages everyone to let their curiosity be the compass to endless discoveries. Bonus points: Before you go, log onto the Exploratorium website and check out the remote controlled roof cam for a 360 degree view as seen from the roof of the Exploratorium. Not to be missed: The Tactile Dome is an amazing interactive excursion through total darkness where the sense of touch becomes your only guide. Just for kids: The Exploratorium offers great hands-on science classes year-round such as ice cream making, creating candy by chemistry, magic tricks and optical illusions.
Matisse, Brancusi and a podcast. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art (founded in 1935) the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) remains a dynamic center for modern and contemporary art. The museum pursues an innovative program of exhibitions, publication, education and collections activities in an attempt to reflect the distinctive character of the San Francisco region and the numerous international contributions to modern and contemporary art. Bonus points: To enjoy the Museum with your kids view “Making Sense of Modern Art” at the interactive kiosks, located in the galleries and in the Koret Visitor Education Center. Check out the SFMOMA website to access their podcast series entitled Artcasts. Each month the series offers interviews and information about artists, writers, curators, musicians and visitors and their interactions with the SFMOMA. Not to be missed: The Koret Visitor Education center hosts daily screenings focused on artists whose work is included in SFMOMA’s collection or exhibitions, multimedia kiosks with interactive programs, a gallery exploration activity, Box Studios (a hands-on activity for children), and a community art gallery. Just for families: SFMOMA's Family Studio series explores art through hands-on projects for kids; each workshop operates with a different theme which focuses creativity through art education and hands-on art.
Buses, trolleys and cable cars.
The Muni & Cable Car 7-Day Pass entitles bearer to ride any Municipal Railway passenger vehicle for SEVEN consecutive days from the date validated on the cover of the CityPass ticket book. The passport is valid on all Muni vehicles including cable cars. The Muni pass may also be used on Candlestick Ballpark Express with a surcharge of $2.00. A valid CityPASS is good for seven consecutive days’ unlimited use of all Muni services. Look on the back of the CityPASS tickets for information on how to get to each CityPASS attraction. Bonus points:
Bicycle riders will love the exterior bike racks provided on many of Muni’s lines – all of their newer diesel and trolley Muni buses have front-loading bike racks allowing bicyclists to traverse the city with bike in tow. Not to be missed:
The San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) provides transportation to all points of interest within San Francisco. The Muni system operates both diesel and electric trolley buses, historic streetcars and the world famous Cable Cars. The historic streetcars run on the F Market Line, and the metro streetcars (light rail vehicles) run in the Market Street subway and on the surface outlying areas. Just for teens:
The Muni & Cable Car pass is great for families with teens – it allows some freedom for city exploration and assurance of transportation citywide.
Cruise the Bay any day. The Blue & Gold Fleet is the San Francisco Bay’s largest provider of both ferries and other water excursion services. They offer a range of cruises around the bay, ferries to Sausalito, Tiburon, Alameda/Oakland, Vallejo, and Angel Island. The Fleet also offers numerous tours: San Francisco City Tour, Monterey/Carmel, Muir Woods, Yosemite National Park and even Six Flags Marine World. Bonus points: Leaving every day from PIER 39, the Bay Adventure tour cruises around the San Francisco Bay along the city’s historic waterfront, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and around Alcatraz – Blue & Gold Fleet offers a combination package which includes the Bay tour as well as admission to the Aquarium of the Bay, a unique educational and entertainment facility focusing on the wildlife of the San Francisco Bay area. Not to be missed: The Blue & Gold Fleet 10:00am tour is least crowded; See the world famous sea lions seasonally at PIER 39 K-Dock. Another great idea is an Angel Island day trip – with miles of scenic hiking and bicycling trails, Angel Island (the “Ellis Island of the West”) offers unforgettable vistas of San Francisco and Marin, and a myriad of locations for picnics and historical sightseeing. Just for kids: The Blue & Gold Fleet Six Flags Marine World package includes a beautiful scenic roundtrip ferry ride to and from Vallejo, and transportation to and from the port at Vallejo to Six Flags Marine World.
San Francisco CityPASS
The pocket sized pass booklet includes: Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39, California Academy of Sciences,The Museum of Modern Art, and either the De Young Museum + Legion of Honor Fine Arts Musuem, or the the Exploratorium, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, plus a seven-day MUNI Passport. Call toll-free 1-888-330-5008 or www.CityPass.com
Family Vacation Planning Details
Muni & Cable Car 7-Day Pass.
(415) 673-6864 or www.sfmuni.com
Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise.
Spring/Summer departures from 10:00am; Fall/Winter departures from 10:45am; contact prior to visit for schedule and operating hours. Located at PIER 39, west of the marina at Beach St. and the Embarcadero, 2 blocks east of Fisherman's Wharf. 1(415) 773-1188 or www.blueandgoldfleet.com
Aquarium of the Bay.
PIER 39, the Embarcadero at Beach Street. (415) 623-5300 or www.aquariumofthebay.com
California Academy of Sciences.
Open Mon-Sat, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Golden Gate Park on Music Concourse Drive, (415) 379-8000 or calacademy.org
Legion of Honor / de Young.
Both Museums are open Tuesday - Sunday, 9:30am - 5:00pm; Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The de Young is in Golden Gate Park; on the concourse at the intersection of JFK Dr. and Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., while the Legion of Honor can be found in Lincoln Park Golf Course at 34th Avenue and Clement Street. (415) 863-3330 or www.legionofhonor.org
Open year-round Tuesday-Sunday 10:00am to 5:00pm. Closed Mondays, except for Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day and Labor Day; closed Christmas and Thanksgiving Day. 3601 Lyon Street. (415) 397-5673 or www.exploratorium.edu
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Open daily (except Wednesdays) from 11:00am to 5:45pm; Thursdays until 8:45pm; summer hours (Memorial Day - Labor Day) open at 10:00am. The museum is closed on Wednesdays, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. 151 Third Street (between Howard and Mission). (415) 357-4000 or www.sfmoma.org
General text and images provided by CiyPASS.com and FTF. Bonus points for families researched by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Editor FTF. Copyright 2012