Number 63 - April 2019
Welcome to "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel's newsletter of fun and interesting things to do in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Northern California. Whether you are visiting San Francisco or hosting visitors, Blue Heron can provide an unforgettable experience. Visit our website, www.BlueHeronTours.com, to learn more about our private, custom tours.
1. Ride to the Stars: Cable cars have run up and down San Francisco's hills since they were invented in 1873. Three lines remain: Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California Street. The Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines run between Union Square (corner of Powell and Market Streets) and Fisherman's Wharf. Powell-Hyde ends at Aquatic Park while Powell-Mason ends at the corner of Taylor and Bay Streets. Powell-Hyde is the more popular of the two lines. Both frequently have lines to board. If you want to avoid the wait, go to the ends of the lines at Aquatic Park or Taylor and Bay Streets before 10:30 a.m. Otherwise, try the California Street line, which seldom requires a wait. These cable cars run along California Street between Van Ness Avenue and Market Street. All cable cars cost $7/person.
2. Learn How the Cable Cars Work: The Cable Car Museum is home to the motors that turn the four cables that enable San Francisco's cable cars to move. In addition to viewing the motors and cables, the museum houses old cable cars, informative displays, and a gift shop. The museum is on the corner of Mason and Washington Streets and is serviced by both of the Powell Street cable car lines. Admission is free. The museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. from October 1 through March 31. It stays open until 6:00 p.m. during the remainder of the year.
3. Take a Spin on a Carousel: Small children love to ride carousels and San Francisco is home to two beauties. Golden Gate Park has had a carousel since 1888. The current Herschel-Spillman Carousel was built in 1914. Tickets are $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for children aged 6 - 12. Children age 5 and under ride for free. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the carousel is open on weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and to 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. During the balance of the year, the carousel is open on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Thursdays and Fridays to 4:00 p.m. The Koret Children's Quarter is adjacent to the carousel and provides many other activities for children including a slide and climbing wall.
The historic LeRoy King Carousel can be ridden at Yerba Buena Gardens. Built in 1906, this carousel was located at San Francisco's Playland-at-the-Beach from 1913-1972. The carousel is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission is $4.00, or $3.00 with paid admission to the nearby Children's Creativity Museum.
4. Explore Old Ships: The Hyde Street Pier is home to a collection of beautiful, historic ships. The oldest is the Balclutha, a square rigger built in 1886. Across the street, at the corner of Jefferson and Hyde Streets, is the Visitor Center for the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. Stop in here for interesting nautical displays. The Pier and Visitor Center are open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission to the Visitor Center is free. There is a $15/adult fee to board the ships. Children under the age of 16 can enter the ships for free.
5. See Fortune Cookies Being Made: In Chinatown, the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory makes these delightful cookies by hand. Invented in Japan and popularized at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, fortune cookies were unknown in China until recent times. The factory is located at 56 Ross Alley. This small alley runs parallel to Grant Avenue and Stockton Street between Jackson and Washington Streets. The factory is officially open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., but you may be able to visit if you walk by earlier or later in the day.
6. Play Antique Arcade Games: The Musee Mechanique is home to a wonderful collection of antique arcade games. Children will put down their video games to play these charming oldies! The museum is located in Pier 45, Shed A at the end of Taylor Street on Fisherman's Wharf. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and to 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Admission is free, but you will need a bunch of quarters to play the games. There is a change machine in the museum.
7. Go to Jail: A visit to Alcatraz is a must. This old prison was home to some of America's most infamous convicts: the Birdman (Robert Stroud), Al Capone, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, and many more. Hopefully, this will be the only time your children will see the inside of a jail cell. Ferries depart from Pier 33. Tickets go on sale 90 days in advance of the date of the tour and sell out very quickly, especially the Night Tours and Behind the Scenes Tours. Buy your tickets from the official concessionaire at www.alcatrazcruises.com.
8. Travel Back to the Civil War: Old Fort Point sits under the Golden Gate Bridge. Built in the 1850s to guard the entrance to San Francisco Bay, this relic is now a great place to explore with children. Climb to the roof where you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, but be prepared for howling wind. The Fort's hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. During some past summers, hours have been extended. Check the Fort's website for up-to-date information. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
9. Learn While You Play: The Bay Area Discovery Museum is the perfect place for children age ten and under to have some fun and learn a few things. The museum is located in Fort Baker, near the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. On Saturdays, the museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $15.95 for adults and children and $13.95 for babies between 6 and 11 months of age and seniors age 65 and over.
10. Drink from a Toilet: The Exploratorium is a wonderful, hands-on, science museum at Piers 15 and 17 on The Embarcadero. Children, and adults, can explore many scientific principals through the interactive exhibits and demonstrations. One of the exhibits explores human irrationality by having visitors drink water from a fountain on a toilet base next to the restrooms. The Exploratorium is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. On Thursday, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., the museum is open to adults aged 18 and over. Admission is $29.95 (18 - 64 years), $24.95 (people with disabilities, teachers, students with ID, seniors 65+, and youth 13 - 17), $19.95 (youth 4 - 12), and free (children 3 and under).
I hope you enjoy these and San Francisco's many other attractions that are kid friendly. If you would like to take a tour that includes stops at some of these sights, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.
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See you on the road,
Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel
275 Staples Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112
(866) 326-4237 (toll free)
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