A gold mine of activities in San Francisco

By on June 29, 2009

San Francisco, that famed city by the bay, owes much of its development to the gold rush of 1848. The discovery of that precious commodity led to a boom in the tiny California coastal community, and modern-day explorers are still flocking to the welcoming metropolis for fine food and fun activities. Your own little trailblazers will find no shortage of things to do in the city, so grab your gear and follow in the footsteps of the original forty-niners.

San Francisco’s many hills may exhaust first-time visitors, so hop on an old-fashioned cable car to take a load off any aching legs. The only moving National Park in the United States, cable cars have been hauling passengers from center city to Fisherman’s Wharf since 1873. Try for a spot next to the outside railing and enjoy the sweeping views as the cable car crests the top of Russian Hill. If you ask nicely, the driver might even let you ring the bell!

Down at Fisherman’s Wharf, old-fashioned fun and games await at the Musée Mecanique, which houses penny arcade games and coin-operated musical instruments. If you’re hungry, any sweet tooth will feel satiated after a sundae at the famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, which once supplied candy to gold miners. A short walk down the waterfront, get face to face with the city’s noisiest residents at Pier 39, where over 300 California sea lions have made their home since the early 1990s.

Fisherman’s Wharf is also the departure point for boats to nearby Alcatraz Island. Half-day excursions of the island and former prison provide a fascinating escape for kids and parents alike. Tales of ghost stories and great escapes in shark-infested waters are sure to enthrall younger visitors.

For an active adventure, try renting a bicycle and pedaling across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.  Recognized the world over for its unique design and vivid orange color, the Golden Gate Bridge is also the gateway to rural Marin County and the towering redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument. Your kids will love exploring this forest of giants and seeing how they “measure up”!

So come stake your claim in one of California’s most kid-friendly cities – there’s a wealth of opportunities waiting for you!


Official Language: English

Access:  Approx 10 hours from Tokyo
Time difference: -16 hours
Currency: the US dollar
Climate: Mild year-round, though rainy and foggy in the summer time. Best times to visit are late spring (April and May) and fall (October and November)

Transport: An all-day cable car pass costs $10 and can really save on time and energy. Airfare flights from around ¥85,000.


1. Joint exhibit of Charles Schulz’s  “Peanuts” comic strip and Beethoven’s music.


2. FREE Friday Night BANDS ON THE BEACH Every Friday from Jun 19 to Sep 4, 2009 Classic rock bands from the ‘70s and ‘80s performing 2 free shows every Friday night at 6:30 and 8:30 pm on the beach bandstand.

Admission free at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park.  Amusement rides, golf, bowling, etc.   http://beachboardwalk.com/

3. Day Out with Thomas, Jul 24 & 26, Aug 1 & 2.  Take a 25-minute ride with Thomas the Tank Engine.


4. Twilight Evening Cookout & Hike at the Felton Jul 3, 10, 17, Aug 7 & 14.


5. Go berry-picking or horseback riding at the Webb Ranch, a family farm.


About Mandy Bartok