loading spinner
California

Bridges, Redwoods & Alcatraz: San Francisco With Your Grandchild

Program No. 21059RJ
A jailhouse that has stories to tell, bridges that stretch across the sparkling sea and the tallest trees on Earth! Discover these and more in the Bay Area with your grandchild.
Length
6 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,949 / ADULT
1,199 / CHILD

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

Enroll with Confidence

We want your Road Scholar learning adventure to be something to look forward to—not worry about. Learn more

Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
Age 10 - 14
ROOMING OPTION PRICING
The figures below indicate the rooming options available.
DATES
Jun 25 - Jun 30, 2023
Per Adult
1,949
Per Child
1,199
Select
Jun 25 - Jun 30, 2023
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
2,749
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
Select Date
Jul 2 - Jul 7, 2023
Per Adult
1,949
Per Child
1,199
Select
Jul 2 - Jul 7, 2023
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
2,749
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
Select Date
Jul 16 - Jul 21, 2023
Per Adult
1,949
Per Child
1,199
Select
Jul 16 - Jul 21, 2023
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
2,749
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
Select Date
Jul 23 - Jul 28, 2023
Per Adult
1,949
Per Child
1,199
Select
Jul 23 - Jul 28, 2023
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
2,749
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
Select Date
Jul 30 - Aug 4, 2023
Per Adult
1,949
Per Child
1,199
Select
Jul 30 - Aug 4, 2023
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
1,949
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
2,749
/ Adult
1,199
/ Child
Select Date

At a Glance

Climb aboard a classic cable car with your grandchild to explore the City by the Bay and the nature that surrounds it. Ride a ferry to Alcatraz Island to explore the famous jailhouse, and take in the sights, smells and sounds of the largest Chinatown in America. Walk across one of the most famous landmarks in the world, the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and tinker with some science experiments at the Exploratorium. Plus get outside the city to play amongst the foot of giant redwoods in Muir Woods and hike to a seaside lighthouse. Introduce your grandchild to this world-class city as you explore our favorite spots around San Francisco, making new friends along the way!
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Walking up to three miles at a time over varied terrain, including stairs. Extensive use of public transportation.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Experience natural and cultural wonders including Redwoods at Muir Woods and the complex history of Alcatraz Island.
  • Go behind the scenes at the Academy of Sciences, where you’ll be transported into a rainforest, an earthquake and into a starry night sky!
  • Learn what life was like for fishermen through history on a field trip to a historic sailing ship on Hyde Street Pier in Fisherman’s Wharf.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
James Dalessandro
James is a writer and filmmaker best known for his novel '1906,' a retelling of that year's earthquake in San Francisco. He has more than 20 feature film and television scripts to his credit. He wrote and directed 'The Damnedest Finest Ruins,' a documentary on the earthquake. In his adopted hometown of San Francisco, James lectures on the Transcontinental Railroad, Old Chinatown, and the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the history of its artists: Mark Twain, Jack London, Isadora Duncan and the Beat Generation.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of James Dalessandro
James Dalessandro View biography
James is a writer and filmmaker best known for his novel '1906,' a retelling of that year's earthquake in San Francisco. He has more than 20 feature film and television scripts to his credit. He wrote and directed 'The Damnedest Finest Ruins,' a documentary on the earthquake. In his adopted hometown of San Francisco, James lectures on the Transcontinental Railroad, Old Chinatown, and the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the history of its artists: Mark Twain, Jack London, Isadora Duncan and the Beat Generation.
Profile Image of John Martini
John Martini View biography
John Martini is a native San Franciscan and a life-long researcher into the history of California and the American West. He worked as a national park ranger for more than 25 years at parks around the country including Fort Point National Historic Site, Alcatraz Island, the National Maritime Museum, the USS Arizona Memorial, the Presidio of San Francisco, and Teddy Roosevelt's estate at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. For many years, John was stationed at the Marin Headlands District of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area as a supervisory park ranger for interpretation and education. He completed his long career with the National Park Service at the Presidio of San Francisco where he served as curator of military history. He now works as an independent historian and consultant specializing in historical research, interpretation and preserving of cultural resources.
Profile Image of Mary Jackson
Mary Jackson View biography
Mary Jackson recently retired from teaching English at a Northern California high school after a teaching career of 34 years. While teaching, Mary began each summer by taking her students on travel programs, initially to domestic locations within the U.S. and eventually to the far reaches of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Upon retirement, becoming a group leader for Road Scholar — for both intergenerational and adult programs — was a natural fit for Mary. Her favorite aspect of Road Scholar programs is meeting the participants.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
San Francisco, A Cultural History
by Mick Sinclair
Organized more thematically than chronologically, this easy-to-read introduction to the city and its neighborhoods will appeal both to first time visitors and those who know and love the city.
City by the Bay: A Magical Journey Around San Francisco
by Elisa Kleven (Illustrator), Tricia Brown
A colorful introduction to San Francisco’s highlights through collage-style illustrations of city landmarks -- kids will have fun finding the hidden surprises in each picture.
Essential Muir
by Fred White (Editor), John Muir
Taking the best of John Muir's writings on nature, Fred White's collection presents a fresh look at one of California's greatest literary figures.
The Mystery in San Francisco
by Gertrude Chandler Warner
When the Boxcar Children go to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, they discover something amiss with their friend’s fishing operation. Will they solve the mystery?
San Francisco: A Food Biography
by Erica J. Peters
At the ideal intersection of rich farmlands and the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco is a reputable food destination. Peters delves into the city’s culinary history, from early Spanish missions and ongoing immigrant influences to current fixation on local ingredients.
Gold Fever, One Man's Adventures on the Trail of the Gold Rush
by Steve Boggan
Rich in history and economics, Boggan's travelogue follows the trails of the original 49ers -- to San Francisco and beyond -- where Americans still risk life and limb for lucrative gold strikes.
Escape from Alcatraz
by J. Campbell Bruce
First published in 1963, this true crime classic is now out in a special edition. Bruce recounts the Rock’s transition from a Spanish fort to the infamous penitentiary, temporary home of legendary criminals like Al Capone and the Birdman of Alcatraz (Robert Stroud). He also includes descriptions of Frank Morris’ escape attempt alongside archival photos.
San Francisco
by Andrews McMeel Publishing
A fabulous and stylish die-cut book that introduces young readers to San Francisco highlights.
California History for Kids, Missions, Miners, and Moviemakers in the Golden State: Includes 21 Activities
by Katy S. Duffield
A history of the dreamers who shaped the great state of California, featuring a time line of important events and fun and educational hands-on activities.
Journey Around San Francisco from A to Z
by Martha Day Zschock
Exploring the unique cultural appeal of San Francisco this children's book for ages 6 to 9 is an informative read, made enjoyable by lots of hand-drawn color illustrations.
San Francisco Map
by Berndtson & Berndtson
A laminated, folded map of the city center of San Francisco at a nice scale of 1:13,000.
Maybelle the Cable Car
by Virginia Lee Burton
The true story of how the people of San Francisco banded together to stop the city from shutting down the cable cars -- which still run today! Illustrated and told through the perspective of Maybelle the cable car.
Fly High, Fly Low
by Don Freeman
A classic Caldecott Honor Book about two San Francisco birds who live in a sign above a hotel; illustrated with sweeping panoramas of the Bay Area.
Earthquake in the Early Morning
by Mary Pope Osborne
Jack and Annie travel to the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake where they meet a reporter and bring kids to safety.
Al Capone Does My Homework
by Gennifer Choldenko
The next installment in the Al Capone series for readers ages 9 to 12 follows Moose Flanagan’s adventures as his father gets promoted to Associate Warden on Alcatraz Island and becomes a target. Once again, Moose receives cryptic messages from the prison’s most infamous inmate, Al Capone, and must figure out what he is trying to communicate.
This is San Francisco
by Miroslav Sasek
Cable cars, Chinatown and other city sights are depicted with bright, stylized illustrations in this classic portrait of San Francisco, first published in 1961 and presented here in facsimile.
Al Capone Shines My Shoes
by Gennifer Choldenko
The sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts (SFO72) continues the story of 12-year-old Moose Flanagan who lives on Alcatraz Island and receives cryptic messages in his laundry from infamous inmate Al Capone. A fun book for readers 9 to 12.
The Cable Car and the Dragon
by Barbara Ninde Byfield (Illustrator), Herb Caen
An illustrated journey through San Francisco, from Fisherman's Wharf to Chinatown, alongside a cable car and a Chinese dragon.
Fifth Chinese Daughter
by Jade Snow Wong
First published in 1945, Jade Snow Wong's memoir is a simply told, moving story of family life in pre-WWII San Francisco Chinatown.
A Crack in the Edge of the World, America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906
by Simon Winchester
Geologist, master storyteller, traveler and journalist, Simon Winchester succeeds again in this fast paced, utterly fascinating account of the great 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco.
Golden Gate, The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge
by Kevin Starr
Starr covers the history and meaning of this beloved icon and great American feats of engineering in this slim portrait.
Al Capone Does My Shirts
by Gennifer Choldenko
The first in an award-winning trilogy about a young boy and his family who live on Alcatraz Island in 1935; humorously narrated and full of history about The Rock.
The Lucky Ones, One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America
by Mae Ngai
Ngai, a professor of history at Columbia University, uncovers the story of the Tape family in post-Gold Rush, racially explosive San Francisco.
Travelers' Tales San Francisco
by James O'Reilly (Editor), Larry Habegger (Editor), Sean O'Reilly (Editor)
Experience San Francisco from the inside out with this engaging, insightful and entertaining selection of mostly contemporary eyewitness reports -- a terrific literary profile of a dynamic city.
Trees in Paradise, A California History
by Jared Farmer
A fascinating account of environmental tumult in California that chronicles the "improvements" attempted by settlers, providing a new perspective on Californian history.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
6 days
5 nights
11 meals
5 B 3 L 3 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Golden Gate Bridge Talk
San Francisco, California
D
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Remember to bring your name-tag (sent previously). Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Grandparent program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren at all times. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Throughout the week, we will explore the best of the San Francisco Bay Area. Transportation for program-related activities will be via motorcoach and public transportation unless specified otherwise. We expect to walk up to 3 miles over the course of each day. Please be sure to bring individual, refillable water bottles on each field trip. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We’ll be joined in a meeting room by a local expert who will tell us more about San Francisco’s most iconic landmark — the Golden Gate Bridge — that will be the focus on a field trip tomorrow. We’ll learn about its origins, design, construction history, and legacy. The first proposal for building the bridge was in 1916, but it took a long time for plans to be developed. Construction began in 1933 and the bridge opened in May 1937. The day before it opened to vehicles, almost 200,000 people walked across what was then the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world. Since then, the Golden Gate has been shut down only three times.

DAY
2
Golden Gate Bridge, Point Bonita Lighthouse, Muir Woods
San Francisco, California
B,L
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 36 miles with multiple stops throughout the day. Elective 2-mile walk across Golden Gate Bridge; windy conditions. Walking 1 mile to/from Point Bonita; uneven terrain, steep decline to the point, steep incline back up. Cold, windy, often foggy conditions at Point Bonita; dress accordingly. Road to Muir Woods is curvy; if prone to motion sickness, plan accordingly. Bring refillable water bottle for the day.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, pancakes, French toast, waffles, breakfast potatoes, breakfast meats, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal and grits, bakery selections, plus juice, milk, coffee, water.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and ride to the Golden Gate Bridge — exceptional for its length of 1.7 miles, 746-foot tall towers, sweeping cables, and Art Deco styling, flanked on each side by beautiful parks. Built in 1937, the Golden Gate hosts thousands of people and cars daily. Those who wish to take an elective walk across with the Group Leader are welcome to do so. We will have some time for independent exploration at the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion with exhibits that tell fascinating stories such as the Halfway-to-Hell Club or sit and relax. The bridge has been featured in dozens of movies, from disaster epics to science fiction, action pics, and romances. One of the first was “The Maltese Falcon” in 1941. One of the latest was “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” How many can you name?

Lunch: We will ride to a nearby popular restaurant for a buffet meal with beverage choices of soft drinks, iced tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we will hike to Point Bonita Lighthouse, built in 1855 and still active. Point Bonita is one of the Bay Area’s jewels. It was only the third lighthouse on the California coast and is the only lighthouse in the U.S. crossing a suspension bridge. When the fog is dense, as it often is, a foghorn supplements the Fresnel lens in the light. A park ranger will lead our exploration of the lighthouse and surrounding area. We’ll then ride to Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley, famous for huge redwood trees. For thousands of years, native peoples lived here in harmony with the primeval forest when trees lived to unknown ages. Those we see today are estimated to be from 400-800 years old. Settlers began arriving in significant numbers in the 1800s and needed raw materials to build houses. Logging began cutting vast swaths through these ancient trees, clear-cutting many areas. The conservation movement gathered momentum in the early 20th century. Muir Woods has been protected since 1908, but by the time Redwood National Park was created in 1968, more than 90% of the original old growth forest was gone. We’ll have some time for personal independent exploration. Imagine telling family and friends back home about walking on trails through a grove of never-been-logged redwood trees in this cathedral of nature.

Dinner: On Own. Group leader would be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. A good time for a swim in the hotel’s outdoor heated pool.

DAY
3
Exploratorium, Chinatown, All About Alcatraz
San Francisco, California
B,L,D
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

Activity note: Getting on/off public transportation. Walking up to 1 mile; steep blocks, hills, stairs, standing during field trip.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Enjoy a visit to the Exploratorium with amazing interactive exhibits on the water's edge at Pier 15. Explore science in a different way with exhibits that allow for learners to manipulate and experience science in an unconventional method.

Lunch: We will walk to a popular Chinese restaurant for a family style lunch, sharing platters of Chinese food, with beverage choices of hot tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase. Sik fan! (Let’s eat!)

Afternoon: The first Chinese immigrants, two men and a woman, arrived here in 1848. Since then, San Francisco’s Chinatown — the oldest in North America — has grown to become the largest Chinese community outside Asia. We’ll be joined by an expert on Chinatown for a specialized walking exploration with kids in mind. We’ll walk through alleyways where actual businesses are located, not to be confused with shopping streets. The sights, sounds, and smells of Chinatown are unique to these few blocks. Among the shops are street-side displays of Chinese fruits and vegetables and bakeries. Portsmouth Square is where the city of San Francisco began. Today, this is the “living room” for many of the elderly Chinese people who reside in small rooms, sharing kitchens and baths with others on the same floor, who come here to meet friends and enjoy games.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Back at the hotel, we will gather at a designated time in a hotel meeting room where we’ll be joined by a local expert who will tell us all about Alcatraz — the site of America’s most notorious Federal penitentiary — in preparation for our field trip tomorrow. Early native people never settled there permanently because they considered it cursed, but in 1969, Native American activists occupied it in protest to demand recognition of Indian rights. They held out for 19 months. Contemporary American Indians return each year for commemorative ceremonies. Alcatraz has been a bird sanctuary, a Civil War fortress, and home of the West Coast’s first lighthouse. Through pictures and stories, we’ll learn about the colorful history, infamous criminal inhabitants, and legendary escape attempts from “The Rock.” The cells in B & C blocks measured 5 feet by 9 feet and had only a small sink with cold running water, a small bunk, a shelf, a folding steel table, a chair, and a toilet — one prisoner per cell. Could you have done hard time?

DAY
4
Hyde Street Pier, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island
San Francisco, California
B
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

Activity note: Getting on/off a public ferry; 20 minute ride to/from Alcatraz/ Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day. From Alcatraz dock to penitentiary at top of hill is 1/4 mile; elevation change of 130 feet, equivalent to climbing a 13-story building. Bring refillable water bottle for the day. Food and beverages other than water not permitted on Alcatraz. Cold, windy, often foggy conditions; dress accordingly.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Hyde Street Pier, once used to ferry cars across the bay, is now home to a number of historic vessels as part of San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Led by a ranger, we’ll explore one of these ships. When we’re done at Hyde Street Pier, we’ll walk to see captivating Fisherman’s Wharf up close on our way to Pier 39.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like on historic Fisherman’s Wharf or nearby Pier 39. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll board the ferry and ride to Alcatraz. Upon arrival at the dock, we’ll be greeted by a National Park Service ranger who will give us a brief orientation including information on any special activities available that day. The remainder of this field trip will be a self-directed exploration according to our own interests, at our own pace. Park Service staff offer free presentations to visitors throughout the day on topics such as escapes, military history, American Indian occupation, natural history, and more. There are numerous exhibits including a cell house audio covering the penitentiary era. The Group Leader will be at the ferry approximately 2 hours later for those who would like to return to the hotel together. Those who would like to stay longer and return independently are welcome to do so.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like. You might like to hang out in Fisherman’s Wharf or explore another area of San Francisco. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
CA Academy of Sciences, Free Time, Entertainment
San Francisco, California
B,L,D
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

Activity note: Getting on/off public transportation; traveling approximately 20 miles, approximately 3/4 hour each way. Bring refillable water bottle for the day.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will walk to a nearby bus stop for a field trip to the California Academy of Sciences, founded in 1853. There are hundreds of exhibits, an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, a 4-story rainforest, and 40,000 live animals. The building is considered a masterpiece of sustainable architecture with a “living roof” and other innovative features and operations that minimize its carbon footprint. We’ll go on an expert-led, behind-the-scenes exploration to get an insider’s perspective. We’ll learn about the academy’s history and how its scientists are tackling critical questions about life on Earth. We’ll see the research collections, a working laboratory with geology specimens in the vault, and have express entry into the most popular areas including the planetarium, rainforest, living roof, and earthquake simulator. After the introduction, we’ll have time to explore independently. Each registration packet will include a schedule of the day’s activities to plan accordingly. There’s so much to see! The Discovery Tidepool has creatures from coastal California tidepools. The Naturalist Center has interactive games and specimens. Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet explains “We know where, but not when.”

Lunch: We’ll have vouchers for lunch at the Academy Café with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free Time. You might like to spend the rest of the afternoon continuing to explore the Academy of Sciences. Or, set out on your own to see and do what interests you most. At a designated time and place mid-afternoon, the Group Leader will accompany those who wish to return to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We will walk back to the hotel where we’ll be joined in the hotel meeting room by a Bay Area entertainer who will delight us with a performance. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
San Francisco, California
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.