Golden Gate Park Adventures

DSC_6303 At no point in my childhood did I realize how freaking spoiled I was to grow up in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Park especially was something that I was so accustomed to just having in my life. With its proximity to our humble apartment in the Richmond District, I found myself in Golden Gate Park with my family or friends at least every weekend. It was where you went for field trips, birthday parties, play dates, and, as I'm sure I would have discovered if I had stayed in SF a little longer, first dates as well.


Alec, one of my closest childhood friends, and I frequently spent time in the park together. Not only did we get to hang out in the open areas, but his parents had memberships to all the park museums as well. Now, as a 21 year old adult (ha), they still have those memberships for me to benefit from :) John and I got into the California Academy of Sciences for free and we took full advantage of its offerings.

In particular, the showing of Incoming! on the world's largest digital planetarium dome was absolutely incredible. As we glided through the solar system, Incoming! evoked a tiny blue dot moment where I was reminded of how vast the universe is and how insignificant my problems are in the grand scheme of things. Indeed, as this showing reminded me, the world does not revolve around me.


After spending all morning at the Academy of Sciences, we made our way to the 6th floor tower of the De Young Art Museum. We unfortunately didn't have time to view any of the actual art exhibits, but we got some great panoramic views of San Francisco. Despite the fog, you could still catch glimpses of the bridge. I pointed out roughly where we were going for lunch, and that's where we went next!


Hyde Street Pier

DSC_6274 I have so many childhood memories of walking through the tourist filled piers of Fisherman's Wharf with my latchkey program, surrounded by souvenir shops selling endless junk. So when figuring out what we wanted to do in San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf was definitely at the way bottom of the list.

But there's a naval history side of Fisherman's Wharf that gets buried under all the tourist attractions (aquarium! boat ride! Ripley's Believe it or not!), and our host Lisa highly recommended we check out the Maritime Museum (free) and also Hyde Street Pier ($10 entry, but good for 3 days). Knowing that I really wanted to avoid "crap", she thought this would be a great place for us to wander around.


Hyde Street Pier is a historic ferry pier, where you can actually go onto some of the historic ships and see all their inner workings. Reluctantly, I paid the $10 admission so we could actually get on the boats (I am so cheap, lol), but I definitely would have been more regretful not going after having such a great experience.


The Balclutha especially, pictured above and below, had such a robust history: it sailed to Europe before the Panama Canal, meaning it had to go all the way around South America. Crazy to think about.  The cargo hold was MASSIVE, which I guess makes sense if you're sailing all the way around the world, but still wildly impressive to someone unfamiliar with the shipping industry.


We saw a lone seal as we were getting off of the Hercules, and I thought it was fitting since we had visited the Marine Mammal Center earlier that morning. So cute!



Marin Headlands

DSC_6211 Visitors to the city often make their way to the Golden Gate Bridge, and some even make their way over it and back. But very few actually venture into Marin Headlands, a beautiful recreational area on a hilly peninsula a few miles past the bridge.


We had the great fortune of a host who not only drove us over the bridge, but also took us down a few winding roads to the Marin Marine Mammal Center and Rodeo Beach. Lisa, pictured below, knew all the great spots to take us and we were so thankful to be her guests!


The Marin Marine Mammal Center is not an aquarium or zoo; it is a research center that publishes papers on topics such as cancer prevalence among seals and also the implications of sea pollutants on humans. There is an observation deck that is free and open to the public, and you get to see biologists and volunteers working with malnourished seals. That day in particular was weighing day, so we got to see a bunch of cute seals being carted to and from the scale.


Our last stop was Rodeo Beach. It was a windy and brisk day, but there were still lots of surfers out. John and I both lusted after their carefree lifestyles, allowing them to go surfing on a Tuesday morning. Maybe in our next lives...