In the middle of frigid San Francisco Bay sits Alcatraz Island. Opened as a prison in the 1930s, the Rock has been home to some of our country's most notorious criminals. Spend a few hours exploring the island and buildings that have been made famous in film and television on your own or by taking an audio tour. Visitors are welcome year round. Tours start at Pier 33 and the trip to the island begins at 9 a.m. Several additional options are available for more adventurous travelers, including time on the nearby Angel Island or a tour that takes place at night. All guests are required to bring photo identification and the tour company recommends preparation for a variety of weather.
The giant redwoods of the Muir Woods range in age from 800 to 1,000 years old. They have survived earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters to become the tallest living beings on the planet. Guests are welcome to walk along trails and observe these massive trees, some as thick as 14 feet. Camping, picnics and bicycles are all prohibited, but the park has hikes that take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. The forest department recommends dressing for chilly, damp weather because the tree canopy blocks out most of the sun.
Golden Gate Park
The city park serves as a retreat from the bustling city that surrounds it. From biking and paddle boats to sports and walking trails, people from all over the city come here in the pursuit of restoration. Visit the Conservatory of Flowers for a trip that mimics a tropical rainforest with its impressive collection of orchids. Golden Gate Park is a great spot for bikes or rollerblading because cars are not allowed on Sundays from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bikes and rollerblades can be rented at the park. Often filled with tourists, the Japanese Tea Garden can still be an impressive and fairly low-cost place to visit. For about $3, you can walk and explore the streams and bridges as well as purchase tea and pastries and see the oldest Japanese garden in the United States.
Article Written By Sara John
Sara John is a professional writer and copy editor living in Des Moines, IA. She has worked professionally for seven years, and written articles for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, as well as other local publications. She is a graduate of Grand View University and holds a B.A. in journalism.