Road Scholar : Home
San Francisco: City By the Bay With Your Grandchild

Program Number: 21059RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/20/2014 - 7/25/2014; 6/19/2016 - 6/24/2016; 6/26/2016 - 7/1/2016; 7/17/2016 - 7/22/2016; 7/24/2016 - 7/29/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: San Francisco, California
Price starting at: $1,539.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Intergenerational; Signature Cities; History & Culture
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Program intended for grandchildren from 12 - 14 years of age.

Spend an iconic week in the City by the Bay. Take a ferry boat ride to Alcatraz Island and explore the infamous jailhouse. Walk across one of the most famous landmarks in the world, the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Explore Fort Point, a Civil War fort directly below the bridge. Be transfixed by the beauty of towering redwood trees in Muir Woods. Venture to the “crookedest” street in the world, Lombard Street. Experience the sights, smells and sounds of Chinatown, the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Expand your scientific knowledge through hands-on tinkering at the Exploratorium. Rumble through the streets of San Francisco on a historic cable car. By week’s end, you will know why Tony Bennett and millions of other visitors leave their hearts in every American’s second hometown, San Francisco.


• A behind-the-scenes exploration of the Academy of Sciences includes express entry into the planetarium, rainforest, living roof and earthquake simulator.
• Hike to Point Bonita in the Marin Headlands on a ranger-led visit of the only lighthouse in the country accessible via suspension bridge.
• Learn what life was like for seamen of yore on a ranger-led field trip to a historic sailing ship on Hyde Street Pier in Fisherman’s Wharf.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to three miles at a time over varied terrain, including stairs. Extensive use of public transportation.

Program intended for grandchildren ages 12-14.

Date Specific Information

7-20-2014, 6-19-2016, 6-26-2016, 7-17-2016, 7-24-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

San Francisco

A stunning city with a colorful past and vibrant present, San Francisco offers legendary landmarks — the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, cable cars and elegant Victorian homes — along with spectacular cityscapes and views of bay and bridges.

Centrally located hotel in San Francisco with pool.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
James Dalessandro

James Dalessandro has written more than 20 feature film and television scripts, including the movie adaptation of his best selling novel, “1906,” for Warner Brothers, and the Hallmark movie, “Citizen Jane,” based on his true crime book. He is the writer and director of the award- winning documentary film, “The Damnedest Finest Ruins,” and the writer and executive producer of, “Petrosino,” an upcoming 10-hour mini series based on his Playboy article and upcoming book. He is the principal Road Scholar lecturer in his adopted home of San Francisco where he screens, “The Damnedest Finest Ruins,” and lectures on subjects ranging from the founding of San Francisco the Transcontinental Railroad, Old Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge to the history of its artists: Mark Twain, Jack London, Isadora Duncan and the Beat Generation.
Meals and Lodgings
   Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf
  San Francisco, CA 5 nights
 Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf is just a block from the Fisherman's Wharf waterfront with an outdoor heated swimming pool.
  Contact info: 1300 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133 USA
phone: 415-771-9000
  Room amenities: Cable/satellite TV Coffeemaker All rooms are non-smoking.
  Facility amenities: Standard Internet service is free for all guests. Wireless Internet available in guest rooms, the business center and public areas. Wired Internet available in guest rooms, the business center and public areas. On-site laundry facilities open 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM Dry cleaning pickup/laundry; same day dry cleaning Daily housekeeping ATM machine
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for rate. Additional nights are subject to availaibity. Call the hotel at 415-771-9000 for the best available rate on the dates requested.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for rate. Additional nights are subject to availaibity. Call the hotel at 415-771-9000 for the best available rate on the dates requested.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Program registration is from 3:00-4:30PM. Orientation begins at 4:30PM followed by dinner at 5:30PM. Introductions are after dinner. You will be staying at Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends at 11:00AM on closing day. Please arrange your travel plans so you can join us for the final class on closing day. You will be staying at Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. 1. Each grandparent and grandchild must complete a separate Participant Information Form (PIF). On the enclosed PIF, please indicate to us the name(s) of your grandchild(ren) and traveling companion, if any. Also, let us know if you are traveling with other individuals and wish to be assigned a room near them.

2. Parental Consent Form for grandchildren

3. Intergenerational Rules and Regulations.

4. Photo ID

  Parking availability:
Parking is $45.60 per day, tax included.
To Start of Program
  Location:  San Francisco, CA
  Nearest city or town:  San Francisco
  Nearest highway: US101/US80 are the closest highways to the hotel
  Nearest airport:  San Francisco International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: San Francisco, CA
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

San Francisco


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Call SuperShuttle for current rates.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


30-45 minutes, depending on traffic 




21 miles


SuperShuttle offers door-to-door van service. Call to make a reservation or go online to




From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Call SuperShuttle for current rates.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic 




21 miles


SuperShuttle offers door-to-door van service. Call to make a reservation or go online to

Driving Directions
  101 North/ Golden Gate Bridge to the Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf, 1300 Columbus Avenue Take US-101 south toward San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Toll: $6--When you drive through the toll booth, a camera will take a picture of your license plate. A bill will be sent to you in the mail. Slight left at Lombard St. / US-101 Turn left on Van Ness Avenue At the third intersection, take a right on Bay Street Turn left onto Columbus Avenue Holiday Inn will be on the right
  101 South/San Francisco International Airport to the Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf, 1300 Columbus Take US-101 north Take I-280 north towards San Francisco I-280 ends at King Street King Street becomes the Embarcadero Stay on the Embarcadero for 2.3 miles Take left on North Point Take right on Columbus Avenue Holiday Inn will be on the right
  East Bay/ Highway 80 to the Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf, 1300 Columbus Avenue Take I-80 West toward San Francisco Bay Bridge Toll: $6 Take the Fremont St/Folsom St exit, EXIT 2C Keep left to take the Fremont St ramp Turn slight left onto Fremont St Fremont St becomes Front St Turn left onto Pine St Turn right onto Kearny St Turn slight left onto Columbus Ave Holiday Inn will be on the right
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration/Orientation/Introductions
(Sunday, July 20)
 Afternoon: PROGRAM REGISTRATION takes place in the hallway outside of the meeting room. Check in to the hotel at the lobby desk; you will be directed to the meeting room where the Road Scholar program is being held.

ORIENTATION: Begins before dinner. We'll have an overview of the program ahead and review the up-to-date schedule, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, any other administrative issues, and answer your questions. Please be aware that local circumstances may require adjusting program elements. In the event of changes, we will notify you as quickly as possible. We appreciate your understanding.

 Dinner: Dinner in hotel

Menus are contracted for the program and are designed to offer balanced, healthy meals for the participants. In addition to the regular Road Scholar meal plan, this hotel offers a vegetarian meal option. Unfortunately, there are no other special meal options. Participants with special dietary needs should be prepared to avoid certain foods or supplement the regular meal plan as needed.

 Evening: INTRODUCTIONS: Participants introduce themselves to the rest of the group.

Enjoy the remainder of the evening getting to know your fellow participants and discovering what you share beyond a love of lifelong learning.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Alcatraz
(Monday, July 21)

Note: Group will take public bus from hotel to Pier 39 for lunch. After lunch, group will walk about 15 minutes to Pier 33 to take 20 minute ferry ride to Alcatraz Island.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel
 Morning: CLASS: Alcatraz

Everything you ever wanted to know about Alcatraz and would never get merely by visiting the island. In pictures and stories, your instructor conveys the colorful history, infamous criminal inhabitants, and legendary escape attempts. Prison has never been this much fun.

 Lunch: Lunch on Pier 39. Vouchers will be provided with list of restaurants where they can be used.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: The history of Alcatraz--The Rock-- includes a Civil War fortress, federal prison, bird sanctuary, first lighthouse on the West Coast, and the birthplace of the American Indian Red Power movement. Visiting Alcatraz is a self guided experience which you can do at your own pace. Park Service staff offer free programs throughout the day on a variety of topics: escapes, military history, American Indian occupation, natural history, etc.

Once on the island you can stay as long or as short as you wish - there is a ferry departing about every half hour and you can return to San Francisco on any ferry. The group leader will let you know which ferry she will be taking back. There are numerous videos and exhibits on the island, as well as a complimentary cell house audio tour which covers the penitentiary era (1934 - 1963).

On arriving at the Alcatraz dock, you will be greeted by a park ranger who will give you a brief orientation including information on any special activities available that day. The weather on Alcatraz can be some what unpredictable and can change quickly - it may be warm and sunny in the city and very windy and cool on the island. Summer days can sometimes be as cool as winter due to thick fog and strong winds. We recommend dressing in layers.

There is no food service available on the island - only water is available on site. Eating, drinking and smoking are only allowed at the dock level. (Alcatraz Island information courtesy of the National Park Service)

 Dinner: Group dinner enjoyed at a local restaurant.
 Evening: EXCURSION: San Francisco City Hall

After dinner, the group will take a public bus to Civic Center Plaza for exploration of City Hall, a Beaux-Arts monument, re-openend in 1915 after being damaged in the 1906 earthquake. The magnificent dome is the fifth largest dome in the world, surpassing the dome on the U.S. Capitol. Inside and out, San Francisco's City Hall is breathtakingly beautiful.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Academy of Sciences/Golden Gate Bridge/Muir Woods
(Tuesday, July 22)

Note: Group will take a public bus to the Academy of Sciences in the morning. In the afternoon, a chartered bus will pick the group up at the Academy and depart for Golden Gate Bridge. The group will be dropped off on the San Francisco side of the bridge to walk across to the Marin County side which will take about 30 minutes. However, we will be at the bridge for an hour. Then the group will continue to Muir Woods for a 90 minute exploration. Bus will then take the group to dinner in San Francisco.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel restaurant
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park

The Academy is the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a four-story rainforest all under one roof. It’s a stunning architectural achievement with hundreds of unique exhibits and nearly 40,000 live animals. Admission to the California Academy of Sciences includes access to all museum and aquarium exhibits, including the rainforest, planetarium, and living roof. Admission to this popular Bay Area attraction includes a wide range of daily programs and activities, including dive shows, penguin feedings, swamp talks and more. We have arranged a behind-the-scenes journey through the Academy where you will have a chance to explore from an insider's perspective, learning more about the institution's 161-year history and how its scientists are tackling critical questions about life on Earth. Visit the research collections and a working laboratory and see breathtaking geology specimens in the vault. Our behind-the-scenes access includes express entry into the most popular areas of the Academy: the planetarium, rainforest, living roof and earthquake simulator. In your registration packet, you will receive a schedule of the activities on the day we visit so you can plan your time accordingly.

 Lunch: Lunch at the Academy Cafe. Vouchers will be provided.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Golden Gate Bridge and Muir Woods

It's a requirement: if you visit San Francisco, you must walk across the Golden Gate Bridge! Built in 1937, the bridge hosts thousands of people and cars daily. We will spend about an hour at the bridge. You will be dropped off on the San Francisco side where you can peruse the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion which has many interesting facts about the building of the bridge such as, what the Halfway-to-Hell Club is. The bridge is 1.7 miles in length and takes an average of 30 minutes to walk across. Once on the other side, you will be picked up by our bus and continue on to the majesty of Muir Woods, a preservation of towering redwood trees, the tallest trees on earth and unique to the northern California area. You can choose to walk a 30 or 60 minute loop. The trails in Muir Woods are asphalted or board walked and over flat territory. There is a gift shop and cafe on site. Food is not permitted on the trails. There will be a guide on the bus to give interesting background info on both the bridge and Muir Woods.

 Dinner: Group dinner in San Francisco
 Evening: Independent evening to explore San Francsico; suggestions will be provided.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Cable Cars/Lombard Stree/Hyde Street Pier/Maritime Museum/Chinatown/Cable Car Museum/Wells Fargo Museum
(Wednesday, July 23)

Note: Group will use the cable car today to visit many venues along the cable car line. Walking exploration of Chinatown covers about two miles of sidewalk which can be uneven and steep at times.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: It's cable car day! We have designed this day to visit the many San Francisco destinations easily accessed by the cable car. Our first stop: Lombard Street, the "crookedest" street in the world. Only cars can drive down the crooked part but you can walk down and then up the stairs of this one block of Lombard. Hop back on the cable car and we're off to Hyde Street Pier, a pier once used to ferry cars across the bay and now home to many historic vessels. We will have a ranger-led visit of the Balclutha, a three-masted, steel-hulled, square-rigged ship built to carry a variety of cargo all over the world. After a stop in the Maritime Museum, it's back on the cable car and we're off to Chinatown.
 Lunch: Group lunch in a delicious Chinese restaurant. Sihk faahn!
 Afternoon: A guide will meet the group in Chinatown for a walking exploration of the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Included in the walk will be stops at the Cable Car Museum where you can see an actual cable at work as the cable cars rumble above and a stop at the Wells Fargo Museum where you will learn about San Francisco's birth with the Gold Rush of 1849 and get to sit in a stagecoach!
 Dinner: Independent dinnner, suggestions will be provided. Since we will be very close to the Ferry Building, you can take a ferry to either Sausalito or Tiburon and have dinner there.
 Evening: Independent evening for exploring San Francisco. This would be a good night to visit Pier 39--a cornocopia of shops, restaurants, fun activities and barking sea lions-- along the Embarcadero. Your registration packet will have a list of the activities available at Pier 39. When it gets dark, make sure to check out the Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge. This light show extraordinaire, by artist Leo Villareal, comes down in March 2015 so this is a limited treat--and only in San Francisco!
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Marin Headlands/Nike Missile Site SF-88/Point Bonita Lighthouse/Rodeo Beach
(Thursday, July 24)

Note: Group will be picked up by chartered bus for trip out to Marin Headlands for ranger-led visits to Nike Missile Site SF-88 and Point Bonita Lighthouse, both lasting about 90 minutes each. The Nike Missile Site is on flat ground. The path to the Point Bonita Lighthouse is a half mile and includes terrain which is uneven and very steep at certain points.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Ranger-led exploration of Nike Missile Site SF-88

During the tense years from 1953 to 1979, the United States Army built and operated close to 300 Nike missile firing batteries in the United States. These missile sites were emplaced as the last line of defense against Soviet bombers. Today, a dedicated group of volunteers works in partnership with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area on the continuous task of restoration at site SF-88, which has been turned into a museum. This valuable historical resource is the only restored Nike missile site in the entire country. It's a great chance for you to see the tools of the Cold War up close. (Courtesy of the National Park Service) Once the Nike Missile Site visit is concluded, the bus will take the group to the secret jewel of the Bay Area, Point Bonita Lighthouse which is still active. Built in 1855, it is the only American lighthouse to be reached via a suspension bridge. A park ranger will lead the group on an exploration of the lighthouse and the surrounding area.

 Lunch: Boxed lunches will be provided as the group picnics at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands. Group, meet the Pacific Ocean, up close and personal!
 Afternoon: After some quality time on the beach, the bus will take the group back to San Francisco. This afternoon is a good time to explore Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39 or the Exploratorium at Pier 15 along the Embarcadero. Your registration packet will have a list of the many venues to visit in the Fisherman's Wharf area.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner in hotel.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: The Damndest Finest Ruins
(Friday, July 25)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel
 Morning: CLASS: The Damndest Finest Ruins

This film brings to life America's worst natural disaster, the 1906 earthquake. Through photos and exhaustive research, learn about the politics, lies, coverup and a subject rarely included in the conversation - the aftermath of trying to rebuild America's wildest and wickedest city. Program concludes after class. You may leave San Francisco; your heart will remain here forever.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  San Francisco, CA Aquarium of the Bay
Your Aquarium of the Bay exploration begins in Discover the Bay, featuring the distinctive ecosystems that support an incredibly wide variety of marine life. Stroll through 300 feet of crystal clear tunnels featuring over 20,000 marine animals from San Francisco Bay and nearby waters. The magic of San Francisco Bay is literally at your finger tips in Touch the Bay, featuring touch pools with sharks, rays and sea stars, and the interactive Bay Lab station. (Courtesy Aquarium of the Bay) For additional information, visit
  Coit Tower
Built to fulfill the bequest of Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who left funds to be used to beautify the city she loved, Coit Tower is an icon on the San Francisco skyline, a simple tower crowning Telegraph Hill overlooking the San Francisco waterfront.Coit Tower visitors come here mostly for the views: sweeping waterfront vistas from the parking lot and observation deck, and for cityscapes best seen from the small park behind the tower. You'll often hear guides and claiming that Coit Tower is supposed to look like the nozzle of a fire hose, but designers Arthur Brown Jr. and Henry Howard always denied it, and in fact, it looks more like the towers at London's Battersea Power Station, completed one year earlier. For additional information, visit
Located right on San Francisco Bay at Pier 15, the Exploratorium is a 21st century learning laboratory, an eye-opening, always-changing, playful place to explore and tinker. The hands-on exhibits ignite curiosity and encourage exploration. Dive in and discover. For additional information, visit
  Ghiradelli Ice Cream & Chocoate Shop
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company began its rich history of chocolate making at Ghirardelli Square in 1852. Visit the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Manufactory, where you can view the original chocolate manufacturing equipment. For additional information, visit
  Musee Mecanique
The Musee Mecanique is one of the world's largest (over 200) privately owned collection of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines in their original working condition. You can play them! Located on Pier 45, free admission. For additional information, visit
  SS Jeremiah O'Brien
The SS Jeremiah O'Brien is one of two remaining functional Liberty ships of the 2,710 built and launched during WWII. Berthed at Pier 45, the O'Brien has the distinction of being the last unaltered Liberty ship and remains historically accurate. For additional information, visit
  USS Pampanito
USS Pampanito is a World War II Balao class Fleet submarine museum and memorial that is open for visitors daily at Pier 45. The Pampanito made six patrols in the Pacific during World War II during which she sank six Japanese ships and damaged four others. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: San Francisco & Northern California

Author: Annelise Sorensen

Description: This superb guide features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps, and a synopsis of San Francisco and Northern California's attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry.


Author: James Dalessandro

Description: Every disaster has a back story, none more thrilling than this one. Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning tale of political corruption, vendettas, romance, rescue and murder is based on recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Told by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Victorian-era city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battle fought even as the city burns that pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor.

I Survived #5: I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906

Author: Lauren Tarshis

Description: The terrifying details of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake jump off the page!

Al Capone Does My Shirts

Author: Gennifer Choldenko

Description: From the book: "Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I'm not the only kid who lives here. There's my sister, Natalie, except she doesn't count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook's or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don't want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you're me. I came here because my mother said I had to."

Al Capone Shines My Shoes

Author: Gennifer Choldenko

Description: What do you do when your neighbors are a bunch of hit men, con men, and mad dog murderers? Well, if you're Moose Flanagan, you ask the most notorious convict of them all, Al Capone, for help. But when that convict comes through for you and then asks you for a favor in return suddenly it's a whole different ball game. Picking up where the Newbery Honor winning Al Capone Does My Shirts left off, this lively second romp featuring Moose, his friends, and some of Alcatraz's "finest" is just as satisfying as the first.

Travelers' Tales

Author: O'Reilly, James (Editor), Larry Habegger (Editor), and Sean O'Reilly (Editor).

Description: An engaging, insightful and entertaining selection of mostly contemporary eyewitness reports, all set in the city of San Francisco; a great literary profile of a dynamic city.

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