San Francisco: City By the Bay With Your Grandchild
From the Academy of Sciences to Alcatraz, from cable cars to the Golden Gate Bridge, learn about the best of San Francisco with your grandchild.
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Program No. 21059RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 3 L 4 D
Getting There
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Arrival, Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
San Francisco, CA
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:30-4:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to confirm when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: 4:30 p.m. 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 intergenerational program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren, and everyone participates in activities together. Travel and transfers will be by private motorcoach, public transportation, and a cable car. Periods in the daily 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: In the hotel, we’ll enjoy a 3-course plated meal with beverage choices of soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Muir Woods, Point Bonita Lighthouse, Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, CA
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. The drive to Muir Woods is 16 miles, approximately 45 minutes depending on traffic. Walking approximately 1 mile to/from Point Bonita; pathway, uneven terrain with a steep decline to the point and a steep incline on the way back up.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, the tasty breakfast buffet offers a selection of eggs, breakfast meats, breakfast potatoes, Belgian waffles, cold cuts, cold and hot cereals and milks, fresh fruit, yogurts, bagels, muffins, Danish, toast, and a variety of juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll 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, it’s been estimated that more than 90% of the original old growth forest was gone. Especially for kids: We’ll have some time our for personal independent exploration. You can tell your friends back home you walked on trails through a grove of never-been-logged redwood trees in this cathedral of nature.

Lunch: At a nearby restaurant, we will have a 3-course lunch that includes a choice of soda, iced tea, water.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will hike to Point Bonita Lighthouse, which was built in 1855 and is 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. Next, we’ll ride to San Francisco's most iconic landmark, 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. Upon arrival, you may ride across or walk with the Group Leader. You are also free to visit the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion with exhibits that tell fascinating stories such as the Halfway-to-Hell Club or sit and relax. Especially for kids: Movie trivia. 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 that your grandparents might have seen. One of the latest was “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” How many can you name?

Dinner: At a colorful local restaurant, we’ll order from the menu, a non-alcoholic beverage and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. A perfect time to take a swim in the hotel's rooftop heated pool.

Exploratorium, Chinatown, All About Alcatraz
San Francisco, CA
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway

Activity note: Stairs, some steep blocks and hills; getting on/off cable car and public buses; standing and walking in Chinatown and at museum.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Especially for kids: We’ll walk from the hotel and hop aboard one of San Francisco’s historic cable cars, then rumble through the streets to the Exploratorium: The Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. There, we’ll learn how the world around us works as we explore one interactive, hands-on experience after another. There are six pretty amazing main galleries.

Lunch: At a popular Chinese restaurant, we’ll have a family style lunch, sharing platters of food. Hot tea and water are 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, ducks and chickens hanging in windows, 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 fun local restaurant, we’ll order from the menu, a non-alcoholic beverage and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Our instructor 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.” Especially for kids: Could you have done hard time? The cells in B & C block 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.

Hyde Street Pier, Alcatraz
San Francisco, CA
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway

Activity note: Public bus and 2-block walk to Hyde Street Pier. Board historic ships via boat ramps. Leisurely 30 minute walk through historic Fisherman’s Wharf to Pier 39 on flat, even sidewalks. After lunch, 15 minute walk to Pier 33, again on flat, even sidewalks. Ramp to board Alcatraz ferry, 20 minute ride to Alcatraz Island. Walking up to 1 mile including steep hill (equaling four stories) from Alcatraz dock to penitentiary; tram available only for those unable to walk up/down the hill; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Especially for kids: 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 magnificent ships. When we’re done at Hyde Street Pier, we’ll make our way 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 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 a brief orientation including information on any special activities available that day. The remainder of this field trip will be a self-directed exploration you can follow according to your own interests, at your own pace. Park Service staff offer free programs 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. You are welcome to stay longer if you like and return on your own.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

CA Academy of Sciences, Free Time, Golden Gate Bridge Class
San Francisco, CA
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway

Activity note: Getting on/off a public bus.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: For our field trip today, we’ll take public transportation to the California Academy of Sciences. 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 164-year 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. In your registration packet, you will receive a schedule of the activities on the day we visit so you can plan your time accordingly and explore on your own after the presentation. Especially for kids: You might like to be sure and see the Discovery Tidepool with creatures from coastal California tidepools; the Naturalist Center interactive games and specimens; and Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet that explains “We know where, but not when.”

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

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert who will tell us more about the Golden Gate Bridge. We’ll learn about its origins, design, construction history, and legacy as San Francisco’s most identifiable landmark. 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. After class, share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends, then prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
San Francisco, CA

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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