In your free time, on the weekends, or if you have visitors, click on the menu links below for some ideas on things to see and do in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Internet Resources for Bay Area Activities For information on nightlife, events, activities, restaurants, sightseeing, and more, check the following web sites for the Bay Area:
Bay Area City Search Activities and things to do in SF and the North Peninsula
Silicon Valley City Search Activities and things to do in Palo Alto and the South Bay
SF Gate Traveler Fairs and festivals in the Bay Area month by month
The Metro Online Happenings in San Jose and South Bay
Palo Alto Online Online newspaper for Palo Alto and Peninsula
Palo Alto Online Events Events in Palo Alto region
California State Parks Information on California state parks
Trail Center Information on hiking and biking in the Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area Volunteer Info Volunteer opportunities
Stanford University Lively Arts Stanford Events and Entertainment
San Francisco Sightseeing Trips
San Francisco Alcatraz
The world's most famous prison, a mile and a half off the coast of San Francisco. There are guided and self-guided tours. Blue & Gold Fleet Ferry provides transportation from Pier 41 (Fisherman's Wharf). Call (415) 705-5555 to charge tickets by phone.
A small beautiful island in the San Francisco Bay. Good views, hiking, picnicking, biking trails, and overnight camping. Take ferries from San Francisco or Tiburon. Call (415) 705-5555.
Great for shopping, eating and strolling. Many restaurants, open air markets, and shops including three shopping centers: Pier 39, Cannery, Ghirardelli Square, and two museums: the National Maritime Museum and the Carousel Museum. Many street artists perform on weekends. To get there take the Powell-Manson or Powell-Hyde cable car to the end of the line.
Golden Gate Park
One of the world's greatest urban parks. This treasure is covered with grassy meadows, wooded trails, secluded lakes, open groves, gardens and several museums. Bring your bike or rollerblades and explore Golden Gate Park. For information call (415) 831-2700.
This 24-sqare-block sector, three blocks off Union Square, settled by Chinese in 1847, constitutes the largest Chinese quarter outside of Asia. Streets and alleys are best explored on foot. Area attractions include the Chinese Historical Society Museum, Chinese Culture Center, and Pacific Heritage Museum. There are also fresh produce markets, seafood and poultry shops, and many fine restaurants.
Centered along Columbus Avenue, North Beach is known for its Italian heritage and the bakeries, restaurants and gelato parlors which create its definite Mediterranean flavor. North Beach is also famous for its nightlife. Lots of bars, pubs, nightclubs, and discotheques are located in this area.
Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco's landmark number one. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the longest single-span suspension bridges ever at 4,200 feet this landmark opened in 1937 an connects San Francisco to Marin County. Pedestrians and bicyclists are allowed to cross the bridge on pathways with terrific views of the city and the bay. It is a 50-minute walk. Put on warm clothes, it's always windy and cool.
Bay Area Sightseeing Trips
Bay Area Muir Woods:
Located just off Highway 1 in Marin County north of the Golden Gate Bridge is Muir Woods. This National Monument is made up of over 560 acres of redwood forest, giant California redwood trees some known to be 1,000 years old. Visitors are invited to explore Muir Woods on six miles of walking trails. Coffee shop. No picnicking or camping. For information call (415) 388-2595.
Point Reyes National Seashore
The 73,000-acre national park is showplace of secluded beaches, rock cliffs, grassy bluffs and forest. Wildlife includes deer, elk, seals, sea lions and whales. Historic lighthouse, a Miwok Indian Village replica and Bear Valley Visitor Center. Picnicking, bicycling, jogging or hiking is possible. For information call (415) 663-1092. Take Highway 1 north.
Ano Nuevo State Reserve
This state reserve is a famous breeding ground of the huge elephant seal. There are guided walking tours through the sand dunes to view the seals at close range in the spring and early summer months. Take Highway 17 south through the Santa Cruz mountains to Highway 1 north. Follow this through Davenport up to the reserve. Also in the area is Big Basin Redwoods State.
Sausalito is the small, beautiful city right across the Golden Gate Bridge, appreciated for its shops, restaurants, and great views of San Francisco, especially in the early evening. Many artists have been attracted to Sausalito and have depicted it in their paintings. Arrival by ferry is the best way to experience this Mediterranean-style community that is often compared to the French Riviera. Take the Golden State Ferry from the Ferry Building or a ferry from Pier 43 1/2.
Jack London Square
At the edge of Oakland's waterfront is a world of activity, Jack London Square, named after the world famous Californian writer Jack London. Visitors will find many specialty shops and restaurants, the Jack London Village, the legendary author's cabin and a big movie theater. Drive or take BART to Oakland 12th St. For information call (510) 814-6000.
Berkeley, located on the East Bay, is a crazy university-town. The main attraction is the University of California in the center of Berkeley. There are about 45,000 students at UC Berkeley. Also interesting for visitors is Telegraph Avenue with many nice shops and good restaurants. You can see a lot of young people and hippies as well as homeless people, and you sometimes get the impression you are back in the sixties. Drive or take BART to Downtown Berkeley.
Santa Cruz offers large beaches, surfing and sailing, a Boardwalk amusement park, and a rustic downtown area to wander in. To get there, take Highway 17 south over the Santa Cruz mountains (two hours from San Francisco).
Once the capital of California, Monterey is now a bustling tourist attraction. The Monterey Aquarium is a highlight of Monterey. There is a shopping district called Cannery Row and on the wharf you can feed noisy sea lions and pelicans. It's not far to travel to Carmel, which boasts a beautiful old Spanish Mission and charming boutiques. Also in the area is a 17-mile drive with great scenic views of the coastline.
A private university where students pay in excess of $ 20,000 per year in tuition, Stanford is world known as a premiere learning institution. The wonderful campus is located in Palo Alto and is easily accessible. Free walking tours are given daily at 11 am and 3:15 starting from Memorial Auditorium.
Weekend-Trips Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is the most popular national park in California. Shaped by glaciers in prehistoric times, Yosemite has many unforgettable sights including vistas, waterfalls, clear alpine lakes and high meadows. It is highly recommended to make reservations in advance. Call (209) 372-0264 for more information. Amtrak, the national railway, offers packages from San Jose or San Francisco.
Situated at 7,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada Range, Lake Tahoe is a beautiful, deep and cold mountain lake. It's a great place for camping, hiking and water sports such as sailing, boating, and water skiing. Located on the California and Nevada boarder, you can spend a day gambling at the south shore or north shore, or in nearby Reno.
Famous for its national and international award winning wines, Napa Valley is situated approximately 60 miles northeast of San Francisco. It sports winery tours, winetasting, glider rides, balloon rides over the beautiful rolling hills and acres of grapes, fine restaurants, hot mineral-water spas, a petrified forest and two state parks. Take Highway 80 toward Sacramento, the Highway 29 to Napa.
Amusement Parks & Attractions
Amusement Parks & Attractions Paramount's Great America
Northern California's largest amusement park with lots of rides and attractions and an IMAX Pictorium Theater. Located in Santa Clara, take the Great America Parkway exit off Highway 101. Entrance fee is $34.99 per person. Watch for discount coupons on supermarket receipts and in newspapers. For information call (408) 988-1776. Open only on weekends in September and October. Call ahead to check open dates.
Six Flags Marine World USA
Marine World is a fascination wildlife park and oceanarium which covers 160 acres with unique shows and attractions featuring animals from the land, sea and air. Bengal tigers, Shark Experience, friendly killer whales, and seals. Marine World also has rides. Located 30 miles northeast of San Francisco at the junction of Highways 80 and 37, Marine World Pkwy exit, Vallejo. For information call (707) 643-6722. Check for season opening date.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
A state historical landmark and California's only remaining beachside amusement park has a classic 1911 carousel and a 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster, both of which are National Historic Landmarks. Additional attractions include rides, games, arcades, restaurants, an indoor miniature golf course and a mile-long beach. Take Highway 85 south to Highway 17 south to Santa Cruz. For information call (831) 423-5590.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
It's the undersea world of Monterey Bay, showcased in stunning detail at the newest and largest aquarium in the nation. The Monterey Bay Aquarium explores all the facts, myths, and mysteries of this spectacular marine region through innovative galleries and exhibits. See more then 5,000 creatures, from massive sharks to playful sea otters, from giant octopuses to fierce wolf-eels. Advance tickets suggested, call (800) 756-3737.
San Francisco Exploratorium
A world-famous interactive museum. Over 650 "hands-on" exhibits including "Shadow Box" and "Tornado". This museum is fun for all ages. 3601 Lyon St. at Marina Blvd. Tel: (415) 561-0360.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
20th Century art in a variety of media by modern-day masters and renowned Bay Area artists. 151 3rd St. at Mission St. Tel: (415) 357-4000.
California Palace of the Legion of Honor
The Fine Art Museum of San Francisco. Collections span 4000 years. Lincoln Park, 34th Ave. at Clement. Tel: (415) 863-3330.
Ansel Adams Center
This five gallery center supports the advancement of creative photography and features a permanent Ansel Adams exhibit. 250 4th Ave. at Howard. Tel: (415) 495-7000.
Cable Car Barn & Museum
Displays the history of San Francisco's cable cars and the underground cables that pull the cars along the tracks. 1201 Mason at Washington. Tel: (415) 474-1887.
Bay Area Children's Discovery Museum
Hands-on interactive learning center for families, offering activities and displays in science, arts and crafts, media and computers. Located in downtown San Jose. Tel: (408) 298-5437.
San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation
An exciting museum focusing on technology and the growth of Silicon Valley.
201 S Market St. at Park Ave in downtown San Jose. Tel: 408-795-6100. $8 admission.
NASA/AMES Research Center
Visitor center and tour focusing on development of NASA's space program.
Moffett Field, Mountain View. Tel: 650-604-5000.
Lawrence Hall of Science
This museum features interactive experimentation in geology, animal behavior and plant life. UC Berkeley, Tel: (510) 642-5134.
San Francisco Giants (Pac Bell Park), Tel: (510) 762-BALL or www.sfgiants.com
Oakland Athletics (Oakland Coliseum), Tel: (510) 568-5600.
Soccer: San Jose Earthquakes (Spartan Stadium) Tel: (408) 985-GOAL
Recreation & Sports
Concerts/Theaters Tickets for many concerts, plays and other events can be found through BASS Ticket Master at 415-478-2277 or www.ticketmaster.com or through Tickets.com at www.tickets.com.
Movie Theaters Check the newpaper, www.siliconvalley.citysearch.com or call the theater to see what's playing.
Films with larger releases are shown at larger theaters including the following:
Century Park 12 Redwood City (Rt. 101 North)
557 E Bayshore Road, Redwood City (650) 365-9000
Century Cinema 16 Mountain View
1500 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View (650) 960-0970
Palo Alto and Menlo Park have several smaller movie theaters that show artistic, alternative, or foreign films. They are:
430 Emerson St, Palo Alto (650) 326-6843
Palo Alto Square
3000 El Camino Real, Palo Alto (650) 326-6843
Stanford Theatre (Classic movies)
221 University Ave., Palo Alto (650) 324-3700
949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (650) 326-6843
1275 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (650) 326-6843
Hiking There are many excellent hiking areas throughout the Bay Area.
On the San Francisco Peninsula, along Highway 35 (Skyline Drive) you will find several trailheads and hikes that have wonderful views of the Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Contact the Open Space Mid Peninsula District office for trail maps and descriptions. Tel: 650-691-1200.
Excellent hiking also can be found in the Santa Cruz Mountains (Big Basin Redwoods Park is fabulous), in Point Reyes National Seashore, in the Muir Woods/Mt. Tamalpais area in Marin County, and in many other areas. Consult a hiking guidebook or check the internet. Golfing The following local golf courses are public:
Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course
1875 Embarcadero Rd, Palo Alto, on east side of Rt. 101. Tel: 650-856-0881. 18 holes: $25 on weekdays, $30 on weekends. Twilight rates in the late afternoon. Golf club rentals $16.
Shoreline Golf Course
2940 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View. Tel: 650-969-2041.. 18 holes. $30 on weekdays, $42 on weekends. Golf club rentals available.
Crystal Springs Golf Club
6650 Golf Course Drive, Burlingame. Tel: 650-342-0603.
Call for rates.
Deep Cliff Golf Course
10700 Clubhouse Lane, Cupertino, Tel: 408-253-5357. 18 holes - $25 on weekdays, $33 on weekends. Twilight rates in the late afternoon. Golf club rentals available.
Emerald Hills Golf Course
1059 Wilmington Way, Redwood City. Tel: 650-368-7820. A 9 hole, par 3 course. $8 on weekdays, $12 on weekends. Sailing Sailing lessons at the following school in Redwood City. You can also rent saillboats here.
451 Seaport Court
Redwood City, CA 94063
Phone: 650 363 1390
There are also many locations to rent sailboats or take lessons in San Francisco or Berkeley. Check the internet.
For Tallship Sailing, check the Hawaiian Chieftain, which sails in the San Francisco Bay Area and does Saturday adventure cruises, sunset cruises, and Sunday brunch cruises. You can get involved in the sailing or just relax. www.hawaiianchieftain.com or 415-331-3214.
Shopping Malls These malls have many different stores, including large department stores:
Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto
Union Square, San Francisco (city blocks surrounding the corner of Powell St. and Geary Blvd)
Valley Fair Mall, Santa Clara (Stevens Creek Blvd at I-880)
Gilroy Outlet Stores, Gilroy (Highway 101 South past San Jose) No department stores. Sporting/Outdoors Goods BIG 5 Sports, 700 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, 650-323-8520
All types of sporting goods and athletic clothing.
REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.), 1119 Industrial Rd., San Carlos, 650-508-2330
Mostly focuses on supplies and clothing for hiking, camping, fishing, biking.
Sportmart, 121 East El Camino Real, Sunnyvale (408) 732-6400
All types of sporting goods and athletic clothing.
Lombardi Sports, 1600 Jackson (at Polk) inn San Francisco (415) 771-0600
All types of sportinng goods and athletic clothing.
Play It Again Sports, 4926 El Camino Real, Los Altos, 650-988-6800
Sells used sporting goods, including golf clubs, tennis rackets, rollerblades, balls.
Golf and Tennis Solutions, 2675 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-326-3330
Golf and tennis equipment and clothing.
Peninsula Diving Center, 1015 El Camino Real (between Castro and Shoreline), Mountain View, 650-965-2241. Diving and scuba equipment sales and rentals.
Upstream, 552 Waverley St., Palo Alto, 650-462-1603
Specialty outdoor clothing, backpacking and flyfishing equipment. Electronics Fry's Electronics, 340 Portage Ave, Palo Alto, 650-496-6000
All types of electronics including computer hardware, software, televisions, VCRs, stereos, etc.
Circuit City, 1250 Grant Rd, Mountain View, 650-965-3500
Micro Center, 3255 Mission College Blvd., Mercado Shopping Center, Santa Clara, 408-919-5400
Sell all brands of computers, printers, etc. Large service department, software training.
International student featured in International Educator magazine article on 2+2 transfer success
Received Export Achievement Award from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce in 2012
Foothill is now an
iTEP Test Center.
Instead of TOEFL/IELTS,
Take iTEP for admission.