Wintergreen Resort Ski Vacation

Known as the single best ski resort in the South, Wintergreen Resort in Virginia has quite a bit to offer skiers. Featuring 11,000 acres with 19 trails, Wintergreen has a top elevation of 3516 feet, with a 1003 foot vertical drop. Beginners, intermediates, and experts will all find suitable trails at Wintergreen Resort.

To accommodate skiers, there are six lifts, including five chair lifts and one surface lift. There is also a dedicated terrain park for snowboarding. The resort is located near Charlottesville, Virginia, and you will experience breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains, and be surrounded by luxury that most people only dream of. There is also a world class golf course located near the resort.

Other activities include tubing, snowmobiling, tennis, hiking, and horseback riding. The Out of Bounds Adventure Center is a very popular attraction at the resort with rock climbing and bungee trampolines. The Outdoor Wilderness Leadership school offers corporate retreats, real rock climbing, rappelling, and mountain biking.

This is an ideal spot for a family vacation. You and your children can participate in a variety of craft workshops, enjoy campfires and storytelling, go on hay rides, and enjoy many more community events that are scheduled throughout the year. There are many planned activities for families, including winter hiking, skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and swimming in a cozy indoor pool.

While vacationing at Wintergreen Resort, make time to see the civil war history attractions, and visit the local wineries as well. Also take time to enjoy the Wintergreen Spa. At the spa, you can be pampered with massages, body wraps, skin treatments, and nail care. You can also visit the Mountaintop Aquatic and Fitness Center which features the latest in cardiovascular equipment, strength equipment, heated pools, hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas.

The Wintergreen Performing Arts has many musical performances throughout the year that are sure to delight you and your family. If you are less interested in culture, and more interested in nature, the Wintergreen Nature Foundation is for you. This foundation promotes the understanding and conservation of natural resources that the Blue Ridge Mountains are famous for.

No matter what your interests are, if getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life is what you want, this is the number one spot in the South for fun, relaxation, and rejuvenation. The Wintergreen Resort is open all year long, with activities that are suitable for every season.

Trains aren't a lost art in San Francisco

One of the greatest things about visiting San Francisco is the close proximity to nearby attractions. You can stay in one city while visiting several. You can not only get the conveniences of being in the city, but the beauty of nature is not too far away from almost any point within the city. In fact, a short train ride will take you rather quickly to some nearby attractions that are definitely worth checking into.

One of the first train tours I'll mention isn't only a train tour but a bus and train tour. This tour goes from San Francisco to Yosemite Park. This trip requires transfers back and forth from bus to train but offers some beautiful scenery and the ability to enjoy it without the worry of driving, rest stops, and a need to simply stretch your legs. Sometimes a little inconvenience is worth a lot more convenience later in your trip. The train portion of the tour lasts about three hours and you get to spend three hours in Yosemite. For some it isn't worth the hassle and for others it is just what the doctor ordered-time to rest and relax while on the way. This is by far the most complicated of the train tours heading out from San Francisco, at least the tours I will be discussing.

The second tour is to wine country. The beauty of these tours is the fact that you can enjoy your wine tasting experience without the worry of who's going to drive. Everyone in your party can enjoy the outing equally. Even more than that however, is that many companies have made the train ride itself more the event than the wine tasting. With offerings such as 4 course meals and Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre for your enjoyment it is no wonder that this has become an event of choice for many San Francisco visitors. While this may be a more than moderately pricey option, it is well worth the expense. You can always cut costs elsewhere in San Francisco to make up for the expenditure.

Roaring Camp Railroads offers two train rides that are both equally appealing in vastly different ways. The first is a trip back in time. This is probably my favorite. On this trip you travel to the summit of Bear Mountain while hearing tales of Roaring Camp's history. This train tour lasts a total of one hour and is a great deal of fun, especially for any little ones you may have with you. The second offering by Roaring Camp Railroads is the Beach Train, which will take you to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The round trip from Roaring Camp to Santa Cruz and back is about three hours and well worth every penny if you have a budding or future engineer among your young ones.

Perhaps the most magical of train tours is the Christmas Train Tour from Oakdale. This tour includes Santa, his elves, a little Christmas magic, and you can come in your jimmies. What more could you ask for? Well, I guess that depends on whether you made the naughty list or the nice list. This train ride is magic for everyone that partakes, young and old alike will enjoy the magic that only Christmas can bring.

Whether you are a big kid, a little kid, or somewhere in between, I'm willing to bet that the magic of a train ride hasn't been completely lost over the years. In fact, I'm willing to bet if you allow yourself to really sit back and enjoy yourself, you will find that there really is something to be said about sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the journey. I can think of few better ways to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Wine Country Offers Great Family Fun

If you are planning a visit to San Francisco and you love wine, you might seriously wish to consider taking a day trip to one or more of the many vineyards that are only a short drive away. In fact, many of these vineyards offer packages that leave you free to taste all the wine you can handle without worries about drinking and driving.

Even if you've never really tried many wines or don't really find the flavor of the wines you have tried in the past to be pleasant, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised to discover that you do in fact have a great palate for the excellent wines that can be found in California's Sonoma Valley and Napa Regions. The wines you will taste here are generally great quality wines and are specially selected to showcase the best that these vineyards have to offer. Regardless of whether you find yourself a reformed wine connoisseur or not, you will at least have gained a really good education about both the wine making process and the many varieties of wines that are available.

There are many companies that offer tours to different vineyards. Try one, or try a few. The drive is short if you want to go it alone-just be sure that the vineyard you are planning to visit doesn't require reservations before making the drive. The drive, should you choose this route, is quite beautiful and there are many things to see along the way. Be sure to have a designated driver for your wine tasting experience if you are going it alone. This detail alone could save one or many lives and is vitally important when planning your wine tasting adventure.

If bus tours aren't for you but you don't want to have to drive after visiting and tasting all of the delicious wines that you will be discovering, you should consider one of the smaller SUV tours that are available. These will be a little more costly but for many the personal attention is well worth a little extra money. Another great benefit of the smaller SUV tours is that your smaller group can be accommodated by smaller wineries that aren't always available for visits from large bus tours. These tours need to be planned a little ahead of time, most requiring at least one week advance notice for reservations so they can't be as spur of the moment as a larger bus tour which will generally have openings available at the last minute.

Here are a few suggestions to help your wine tasting experience be all that you dare hope for and more. First of all, avoid wearing scents; the scents that you wear will compete with the wine for both fragrance and taste. You want the wine to make its own statement without competition from the perfumes, aftershaves, lotions, and potions that you or other guests on your tour may bring along. Hold your wine glass by the stem to avoid warming the wine. It's always a good idea to eat something bland like saltine crackers or French bread between wines in order to cleanse your palate.

Even if you've never tried a glass of wine before in your life, you will receive and excellent education about the various wines, the regions, the differences between the wines, what makes the wines of different vineyards unique and special, and suggestions on how to pair and serve the wines you're tasting. You will also receive and education about how to properly store the wines you may elect to purchase. This is very important knowledge in order to best maintain the integrity and flavor of the wines you choose.

From novices to experiences wine connoisseurs and for everyone in between, there is a little something to offer everyone who takes one of these tours. Keep in mind that while all ages are welcome on these tours, only guests that are 21 and over are able to partake of the delectable wines available for tasting. Most importantly, have a day of good fun, good food, and great spirits.

Walking Tours give Unique View of San Francisco History

If your boots were made for walking, then a walking tour of one of San Francisco's many fascinating neighborhoods or districts may be the perfect activity for you while visiting San Francisco. Even if you aren't all that into walking but enjoy learning about an area and the things that make that area unique, this is the tour for you.

Combining education and entertainment with physical activity is a great way to trick your body into getting out, getting a little sun, and having a lot of fun. The best thing about these tours for me is the fact that they are free. Don't get me wrong, I love learning about the history of the areas I visit. Even more than that, I love hearing about the great and quirky people that made the history; but I have to admit, I love doing things that provide entertainment and don't cost a great deal of money. A donation is recommended and I can honestly appreciate that much more than an overpriced amusement park ride (or worse paying that much just to walk through the gate and never actually riding a ride).

Not all walking tours of San Francisco are free, but the ones that are led by the San Francisco city guides are. You really should check them out at some point during your visit. They offer a great selection of walking tours each and every day that will appeal to a very diverse audience. In fact, there are tours that are geared towards specific groups of people so if you are with your family, it might be a good idea to allow each member of your family to select at least one of these walking tours that is of interest to him or her. That way, everyone is motivated to sit through the selections of the other in anticipation of the trip he or she selected.

The tours typically begin in easy to identify and very public places and most of them even meet near access to public transportation in order to accommodate visitors coming from other areas of the city. The tours go to great lengths to avoid being overly strenuous but the Streets of San Francisco are not always accommodating, as they are well known for their steep hills. I think taking one of the walking tours early in the day is a great way to start the day. You get to get a little fresh air, a little exercise, and you are enjoying these things before the day gets too terribly warm. Not to mention the fact that starting your day off with something that is fun and free is a really good way to start your day.

If you are among the really brave, you might want to try one of the many 'Ghost Walking Tours' that are available. There are ghost walks of City Hall and the Palace. If you prefer something a little mellower, there are plenty of walks from which to choose. Some of the more popular walks are the Golden Gate Bridge walking tour (this tour provides great insight into the mind of the man who dared to dream of this bridge and tells the story of what it took to build this bridge it is very much a tour worth taking if you have any love for the many great bridges of the world), the Ferry Building walking tour (recently renovated, this building was once of major importance to San Francisco, it has now been replaced by roads and bridges but remains an important component in the history of this great city), and the Coit Tower Murals walking tour (the tour allows peeks at murals that aren't always opened to the public as well as a glimpse into the murals that depict famous scenes from the 1930's).

While visiting San Francisco, there are few better ways to completely enjoy your trip than taking one of the many walking tours available in the city. Finding one of the many free walking tours is even better. You will not only get a unique insight into the city or for the icon you are touring, but you will also get a much better view than if you were simply driving by.

Golden Gate Park offers more than just a Play Date

With its moderate temperatures year round, San Francisco is one of the best cities in the world in which to go outside and play. No matter what time of year it is, there is probably something you can find to do outside that is a lot of fun. Even if it is just "Singing in the Rain". Beyond singing of course, there are plenty of activities that are best enjoyed out of doors. And there are few places in the world better to enjoy these outdoor activities than Golden Gate Park.

If you like wheels, there are plenty of places in the park where you can either rent biking and skating equipment. Of course if you plan on skating, it is quite easy to bring your own equipment along on your vacation. If you have children and are looking for fun activities that you can enjoy together, these are among the top on my list. Of course there are several more that you will find at Golden Gate Park as well.

I can keep my kids occupied for hours with one little Frisbee tossed between the three of them. And there are plenty of open spaces in this great park where Frisbee tossing is quite possible. In addition to Frisbee there are several other outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by you or your family.

There is an archery field and a shop where you can rent all the equipment you will need. In addition to equipment, which can be purchased or rented, you can also buy lessons for that equipment as well. If this is something you've never tried before, you should at least stop by and take a look. I think it's a great sport that is incredibly fun for young and old alike. It's also something that isn't as commonly found as it should be so may actually be a real treat for your children.

If you love the water as I do, you will be delighted to find that in addition to beaches which offer surfing and sea animal watching, there is a huge lake in the park which offers paddleboat and row boat rentals. This is good fun and clean living if you ask me. Of course, I'm a water baby so I'm a little biased.

If water isn't your thing, have you ever tried swing dancing? If not, it's time you considered Lindy in the Park. Every Sunday, weather permitting, there is swing dancing from 11:00 am -2:00 pm with free lessons offered at 12:30 pm. Young and old children alike get a real thrill out of this and it's a great way to trick yourself into exercising. Lindy in the Park is completely free and a lot of fun. If you are planning to include a trip to Golden Gate Park in your San Francisco visit, I strongly urge you to plan it for Sunday and plan to attend Lindy in the Park.

In addition to these activities there are handball tables both indoors and outdoors that can be used for a quick game. If this is something that you find interesting you might want to stake out a spot close by because there are only a few tables and a great deal of interest. Other interesting activities in Golden Gate Park include lawn bowling, tennis, dog runs, basketball, and disc golf.  .

If all of that isn't enough there are several other sites and activities available throughout the park that should spark your interest. Among those is a favorite for young and old children alike--The 1912 Herschel-Spillman carousel. This is very popular among children and seconded closely by the nearby playground. If you think about it, a day at Golden Gate Park isn't your typical day at the park. With so much to do and see, it is hard to imagine that a day at this park isn't a vacation in and of itself.

Debbies Caribbean Travel Review

Looking for a place to stay on your Caribbean vacation, but not sure whether you want to believe the stuff you find on the net?

Your predicament is understandable really. Sad to say but most travel websites you find on the Internet are no more than vehicles for some hotel or other to advertise themselves to unsuspecting travelers. So here you are, reading raves about a certain resort, not knowing that the person writing that rave is actually the same person who runs that same resort. Oh, we’re sure the person is merely saying what he feels to be true, but you have to agree that it’s different when someone else does the writing or reviewing.


What travelers need are independent resort reviews to guide them on places to visit and stay at the Caribbean. Not just lip-service. You want reports and reviews that are heavily grounded on facts and personal experience. You want real people writing about real experiences when they stayed at the places you want to visit. And you want answers to questions you might have, no matter how quirky, because that’s just the way it goes. Travel, after all, is all about personal experience, and you can’t get that if you rely on sheer publicity.

Debbies Caribbean Travel Review page offers you just the kind of personalized resort reviews you’ve always wanted. From hip and trendy places to visit, to luxurious hotels and great value all-inclusives, Debbies Caribbean Travel Review features reports submitted by real persons who have all actually been to the place.

Debbies Caribbean Travel Review page is a resource site containing reviews of the Caribbean islands and their resorts. The site started out with a page that was purely dedicated to reviews on the resorts found in the Caribbean’s Dominican Republic. Later on, as more and more people sent in questions about resorts found in wholly different islands, Debbies Caribbean Travel Review expand to include all islands of the Caribbean. Now, Debbies Caribbean Travel Review has become one of the most popular Caribbean travel portals that vacationers want to check out if they want real opinions of the Caribbean from the traveler’s point of view.

Some of the more important sections on Debbies Caribbean Travel Review are described below:

Special Reviews from Readers

Every so often, Debbies Caribbean Travel Review highlights a special review of a resort submitted by their readers. You can identify this review by the “little Debbie” icon right beside it. The site said that “when you see the little Debbie icon, you know you have found that extra Special Review that makes you say to yourself, ‘I want to stay at that!’ or perhaps a review that describes restaurants, tours, etc. in great detail!”

Joanne’s Bahamas Journal

If you want a truly personal view of the Bahamas, then this section is for you. Joanne’s husband was transferred to the Four Seasons Hotel, in Great Exuma, Bahamas, as Director of Engineering. Her journal shows how she is enjoying herself so far as a Bahamian resident and how she adjusts to her new life.

Photos & Maps of Resorts


Some readers of the Debbies Caribbean Travel Review have sent links to their vacation photos. You can check these out so you get a better feel about places you’re planning to visit.

The Ins and Outs of Europe Car Rental

Europe, a continent filled with so much culture and history. A lot of people actually flock to Europe year after year to visit its sights and experience its rich culture. The modern yet still quite laid-back lifestyle that Europeans have been known for has always fascinated tourists, from being true-blue sophisticates who are very much adept to fashion, literature, history, culture and the arts, this is why a lot of people have been drawn to Europe’s simple yet elegant charm time and time again. Of course, traveling around Europe will be really much of a hassle if you don’t have the proper transportation to quickly and conveniently take you from one spectacular tourist destination to another. The most probable solution to this dilemma is a car, ever ready, you’re sure to get to where you want to go at your leisure. Europe car rental however may be quite tricky to some. Let’s face it, a lot of the countries in the European continent isn’t really comprised of English-speaking people and if they do speak a little English, it’s still highly likely that you won’t be able to understand what he/she is saying, it really is best, especially when it comes to Europe car rental, to book everything in advance. Even before your plane lands in the airport tarmac, make all the necessary arrangements that you need to have.

To help you get started on your Europe car rental quest, try to coordinate it with your trip. Which country/countries are you actually going to? Which one/ones will actually really need for you to rent a car (please be reminded that there are some European cities where it’s more favorable to walk instead of taking mass/private transportations)? How much will you actually need to spare for your Europe car rental fees? Is it worth it? Also, try to map out the places that you’re already planning to visit, calculate the distances that you’ll need to travel from one place to the next and if it’ll really be a lot easier (and cheaper) for you to rent a car than take mass transport then by all means, go check out the various Europe car rental agencies available in your area. You need to have everything fixed and taken care of before you embark on your great European adventure.
There are a lot of available Europe car rental agencies who are willing to lend you their services at really affordable prices – well to some extent. From small, typical European cars to luxury cars and RVs, you’re bound to get the vehicle of your choice since there are numerous Europe car rental agencies in the market.

Try to start your search for the ultimate Europe car rental agency by asking your travel agent on which Europe car rental agencies he/she can recommend. Also, if you have friends or relatives who’ve been to Europe, try asking them on which Europe car rental agency they prefer and if it really is a lot more convenient (and worth it) to rent around car for your grand European vacation. Also, help educate your self more with regards to Europe car rental by browsing through the internet. Surely, the internet really is best-known for easy-access research and it really is quite definite that you’ll land your self on a reputable Europe car rental service that will hopefully be able to cater to your needs, wants and budget. Plus, all the necessary transactions can even be done through the internet. So the hassles of trying to find a good enough Europe car rental specialist and booking their services, will clearly be not something that you have to go through anymore.

Sunny California car rental

California has been able to generate quite a number of tourists year after year, with its sunny skies, favorable weather and nice beaches, a lot of people have really been flocking to this golden paradise to enjoy and live their life to the fullest. Unlike other states, like New York for example, wherein it’s pretty to get around Manhattan even without the aid of a car, California however, with its wide and long streets, actually requires you to rent a car for your own vacation pleasure, independence and best of all, convenience. Here are some quick tips and reminders when it comes to California car rental.

For first time California tourists, its best if you have a friend or relative who can actually show you around the place but if not, a reputable California car rental service is what’ll help you make your vacation be an unforgettable one. Arm your self with the proper materials and information when it comes to choosing which California car rental that you wish to avail the services of.

To help get your self started onwards your quest to finding the perfect California car rental agency that’ll best suit your needs, wants and most importantly, budget, it’s best to consult your travel agent on which California car rental agency that he/she would actually recommend to you. The number of available California car rental agencies may tend to overwhelm you at the start, making you unsure whether or not you’re getting the services of a reputable agency. Well do try to heed my advice and ask around, it really won’t hurt you if you do. Apart from knowing what California car rental agencies are actually out there, you even get broaden your knowledge about travel prerequisites such as this one.

Try to map out the places, beaches, amusement parks or wherever it is that you want to go to, way before you actually embark on your trip. It really is much wiser if you plan things carefully and thoroughly way ahead of schedule because this way you get to free yourself from possible headaches and hassles that can be usually caused by not planning ahead. Try to see if the services of a California car rental is really what you need, if it’s actually a cheaper way for you to get around the city as compared to taking mass transport. Evidently, opting to take the California care rental will make your vacation a lot convenient, think about it thoroughly and assess what actually are your priorities when it comes to taking this trip.

There is really a lot that you can do to make your vacations worthwhile and fun, just always remember to plan, plan, plan ahead. Weigh out all the options that you can find and try to be practical in picking out the best possible one. California car rental, to be honest isn’t really that bad, you’re bound to get a good deal somewhere, somehow. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look and having the patience to canvass and compare prices for California car rental services. In addition to asking your local travel agent on which California car rental agency that he/she would like to recommend, you can also try asking for you relatives’ and friends’ advice. Ask them if they’ve actually availed the services of a car rental agency, more so, a California car rental agency, ask them how it went and which particular California car rental service agency would they recommend to you. Lastly, go to your ever-reliable PC and look-up California car rental in the internet. You’re bound to get a long, long list of service companies who are more than willing to give you a good and fair deal.

Caribbean Travel Agency

With stunning landscapes, crystal clear waters, sandy beaches and a sunny year round climate, the red hot Caribbean has hundreds of exciting destinations for every lifestyle. Below are a few Caribbean travel agency you can check out for some help on your Caribbean trip.

Bluewater Travel

Specializing in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bluewater Caribbean Travel Agency works at finding the best travel rates for your national and international travel. Whether its hotels and vacation villas, bed and breakfasts, and airfares and cruises, this Caribbean travel agency is able to put together the best packages.

To start you off, Bluewater Travel lets you choose what type of package you are looking for. Packages may include airfare, accommodations, car rental, as well as scuba diving, snorkeling, and horseback riding in St. Croix. In addition, their travel agents will also search out other destinations for you.

Travel Impressions

Since 1974, Travel Impressions has been servicing travelers in the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Hawaii, United States, Central America, and South America. This Caribbean travel agency was awarded the ‘Best Tour Operator, Sales and Service’ at the 2005 Travel Weekly’s Reader’s Choice Awards. What they are offering are high-quality, reliable and value-oriented vacation packages.

Travel Impressions offer the latest in hotel promotions, all listed in their Caribbean Promotions page, which is updated daily. So check back here often if you want to know about any changes to that new hotel promo you want to take advantage of.

Funjet Vacations

Funjet Vacations is another great Caribbean travel agency that offers to help you find the best deals in the market. You can search for deals at this agency by using the online form available at their website. Just choose what vacation type you want whether Air and Hotel Package, Air Only, or Hotel Only, your destination, and your desired time of departure. And then, press on Go and this Caribbean travel agency will show you a list of packages that would suit your needs.

The Funjet specials are best value. Currently their list of specials include the following:

  • 50 More Reasons to Use your Mastercard, where you can save an extra $50 from your vacation
  • Spring Break 2006 is Almost Here!
  • Save as much as 33%!
  • Las Vegas NASCAR Tickets Available
  • Exclusive Savings with Mastercard

Expedia

City breaks, beach holidays, last minute, family deals, ski deals, Easter breaks, and whatever else you can think of – Expedia has it all. This Caribbean travel agency lets you create your perfect trip through their online trip customization tool. Discover the world and spend as little as possible with Expedia’s great hotel and holiday rates. The site even gives you some ideas for your next trip so you never run out of fun things to do on your Caribbean vacation.

CaribbeanWay


When it comes to Caribbean travel agency networks, the CaribbeanWay has one of the most comprehensive set of tools for both travel agents and travelers. This Caribbean travel agency offers Caribbean vacation rentals to their luxury villa clientele in every point of the islands.So if you want a unique Caribbean experience that you will love and never forget, then try CaribbeanWay and choose your island destination. 

Blending Cultures is the Key to Frisco's Greatness

Cultural activities and events abound in the great city of San Francisco. There are even plenty of museums that not only promote awareness of the diverse cultures of this great city but also celebrate the contributions of these people to what this city has become. If you are planning to visit San Francisco, you will be robbing yourself of a real treat if you fail to visit some of the museums devoted to the cultural history of this city.

Below you will find museums dedicated to the great and diverse people of a city that is only as wonderful as its citizens. San Francisco truly is a melting pot of cultures, beliefs, philosophies, and ideals. If you are looking in from the outside it may not be as obvious to you as to someone who has made a great study of it, however, it is still there. The differences of people here are celebrated rather than duly noted. It's a different world here and I think it's an example that the rest of the world would do well to follow.

One of the first such places that I will mention is The San Francisco African American Historical Cultural Society. The goal of this society is to instill a sense of pride in African Americans of all ages, but particularly the younger generations, for their history, culture, and most importantly their heritage. The society offers art exhibits, educational workshops, cultural performances, and a vast wealth of knowledge to people of all cultures who come to learn about not only the African American heritage of San Francisco but around the world as well. This is definitely worth a visit especially for the library, which holds around 5,000 books written either by or about African Americans.

The International Museum of Women is a favorite of mine for many reasons. First of all, it's a museum that celebrates the contributions that women have made throughout history while celebrating our roles as individuals, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends, and wives. The International Museum of Women celebrates the many responsibilities that women face in the world today, not only to themselves as individuals but also to other women around the world. One of the primary goals of this museum other than celebrating the history of womanhood is to educate about the problems that women around the world continue to face on a daily basis.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is another place you can go to see yet another of the many cultural faces of this great city. The Contemporary Jewish Museum offers a place where people of all cultural backgrounds can come together and learn about the history of a people whose history is so epic and so tragic and yet so full of hope. I think this museum is a great way to showcase each of these things while celebrating life itself, the one thing that all of the people of San Francisco have in common.

There are other museums and cultural centers that will work to showcase the diversity of the people that make San Francisco the wonderful city that it has become as well as the important roles that every culture has played in the making of this city that is known around the world. Whether you share the culture of any of the groups represented or simply shares the humanity of us all, there is much to be learned from all cultures represented.

5 Free Things to do while Visiting San Francisco

Anyone who knows me well knows that I like cheap and free things to do with the family. It isn't that I'm not willing to pay good money for good fun, I just happen to believe that the best fun is sometimes as free as the wind. The same holds true when visiting new cities like San Francisco. I will invest a great amount of time looking for activities that me and other members of my family can enjoy for little or no money. This saves money for other things like good food and souvenirs.

I'm also a big fan of David Letterman and in that spirit I decided to devise a top five list of my very own in honor of Mr. Letterman's Top 10 list. My big 5 list consists of things to do for free when visiting San Francisco.

1) Golden Gate Bridge. This is a favorite among tourists for many reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that it is one landmark that belongs only to San Francisco. It is uniquely a part of this city and represents, for many, your entire trip. Another reason is that there are so many ways to get there. I recommend walking and if you're up for it, try one of the guided walking tours-this will provide valuable background information about the bridge as well as insuring that you don't get lost on the way.

2) Golden Gate Park. This park is larger than New York's Central Park and in my opinion equally grand. There is so much to do and see in Golden Gate Park that you could spend a good portion of your vacation here alone.

3) Cable Car Museum. Kids of all ages will find this museum interesting, especially big and little boys. This museum definitely offers a great deal of education and excitement for the family. In addition to learning about these neat cable cars which have become a trademark of San Francisco transportation. This is one museum I would pay to go to, the fact that it is free is a bonus that I can't resist and the primary reason it is on this particular top ten list.

4) Walking Tours of San Francisco. These free walking tours are not only entertaining; they are also very informative as well. Learn about the history of the neighborhoods that this city is famous for as well as the great people who rebuilt a grand city, literally from the ashes of what it once was and made it even better. San Francisco has a wonderful story to tell and these guides narrate it wonderfully.

5) San Francisco Fire Department Museum. For the big kid in all of us that wanted to grow up to be a fire fighter, this museum takes the cake. Not only does it provide great historical references and artifacts but it is also really cool! I can think of no greater compliment to give a museum than that. This one, even your children will enjoy and beg to go back again and again.

Whether you are a big kid, a little kid, or just a kid at heart these activities are a great and inexpensive way to pass a day or two while on vacation. If you can't stand the thought of saving money or not spending it, I'm sure each of these places will be glad to accept donations or at the very least sell you something at the gift shop (if the place you are visiting has one). Regardless, I hope my suggestions have gotten your mental wheels turning and you are coming up with your own great ways to enjoy the day without spending a lot of green.


Fisherman's Wharf, Famous for a Reason

Fisherman's Wharf is one of the most famous of destinations for visitors of San Francisco, California and with good reason. There is so much to see and do in Fisherman's Wharf that you could quite easily plan an entire trip to Frisco and only leave the Wharf as you are leaving the city.

The Wharf offers more than 2,500 hotel rooms, several restaurants, and an almost endless amount of shopping, history, culture, and attractions. Anyone would be hard pressed not to find something fun to do in Fisherman's Wharf.

If you are interested in the sea faring culture and history of the Fisherman's Wharf, take the Port Walk, which is a walking tour that you can take at your own pace while learning about the history of Fisherman's Wharf through the various signs located along the tour. You can also tour the USS Pampanito, which was a WWII submarine, or the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, which is the last unaltered Liberty ship that is operational. Both of these can be found on Pier 45.

If you find yourself a little hungry, perhaps it's time to check out the many restaurants that the Wharf has to offer or simply to stroll on over to Ghirardelli Square, okay, I confess, I could spend my entire vacation here. With its rich history of chocolate and chocolate making, no pun intended, this square is now home to some lovely little shops and for chocolates, clothing, souvenirs, and jewelry. Really, who could ask for more in a shopping center? Chocolate, jewelry, and clothes, the only thing missing is shoes.

Back to reality and the fact that many of us travel with family. Fisherman's wharf has a lot to offer in the way of family entertainment. Check out Pier 39. Ever want to take a Magic Carpet Ride or star in your own musical video? What if I told you that you could actually do both? In addition to the Magic Carpet Ride there is the San Francisco Carousel, which children of all ages will love, Frequent Flyers (perfect if you have any aspiring acrobats among you), and Riptide Arcade (I recommend giving dad an allowance before going in here unless you want to spend most of your vacation rooted to the spot-or giving a time limit and leaving the guys while the girls go shopping). In fact, there are so many things to do at Pier 39 you could almost make a vacation here alone. Don't leave though without checking out the sea lions.

I can't really mention Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, and families without brining to attention the fact that the Aquarium of the Bay is a great place for family entertainment. The aquarium is a great way for you and your family to spend the day. Not only is this a fun excursion that your children will probably remember long after you've gone back to the real world of your day-to-day lives, but it is also an educational experience that is cleverly disguised as fun. Your children will learn about all kinds of marine life, while having a great time and never know what really hit them. This is one of those times when it is great to be a parent and you can pat yourself on the back for providing an educational experience that they are enjoying. Even better, they never have to know.

Last but not least, there really isn't enough that I can say about the fantastic shopping and dining experiences that are available all along Fisherman's Wharf. There are so many shopping areas at Fisherman's Wharf that it is hard to keep them all separate in your mind but this is a girls dream vacation while still offering enough activities to satisfy the men in your life. If the history, the culture, and the fun aren't enough to convince you, then perhaps the food should speak for itself. All you have to do is show up with your appetite; your nose will lead the way for everything else.

Young and Old Alike: Fun Abounds in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of those rare cities that offers almost timeless appeal. One of the greatest things that can be said about this great city is that the things that attract its youngest visitors are also quite often the things that bring in its older visitors.

In fact, the very museums that fascinate youngsters have lessons to teach their older visitors as well. Art is a common language among us all and the entertainment that can be found in this great city from opera, symphonies, concerts, plays, and musicals, to street entertainment are both top notch and appealing to people from all sorts of backgrounds and circumstances.

The diversity of this great city is as much a part of its appeal as are the attractions that are designed to bring in visitors. Perhaps one of the most attractive draws to this city for older audiences is the significant history of this city and its people. There are many places-museums and galleries, where you can learn about the history and tragedies that this city has endured, overcome, and now celebrate as part of its heritage.

The cultural diversity that this city offers is also a large draw to older populations. From the Asian history and culture, to the Latin history and culture, to the African American this city celebrates it all. I think that is my favorite thing about this city. It celebrates the good and the bad of its history side by side. Not many places on earth can do that, much less do it as effectively as San Francisco does.

In addition to all of these things, which are quite appealing in and of themselves, San Francisco has the trolley tours, Alcatraz Island tours, the Presidio, The conservatory of flowers at Golden Gate Park, Wine Tasting and winery tours, concerts and cultural events, plays and musicals, as well as Thoroughbred racing at Golden Gate Fields.

There are so many activities that are available in San Francisco that it is quite difficult to narrow them down to what you can actually do in the span of a few days. If you want to feel young again take a tour of Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf. Try taking a tour of Filoli Estates in order to see how the other half live. If you are feeling particularly playful head out for a day at the Exploratorium, this great place isn't only for kids.

You can also take a tour of Hearst Castle. This castle was the dream home of William Randolph Hearst, and whose dream wouldn't it be? With 165 rooms and 127 acres to explore this tour could be an excellent way to spend the day. One feature of the tour that will be sure to please is the film "Hearst Castle-Building the Dream" that tells a little more about the man and his castle.

Another really neat attraction for more mature audiences is the Old Faithful Geyser of California. This is a little off the beaten path as it is located around an hour and a half north of the city but if you like nature and serenity it is worth a detour.

If you like nature you may want to try one of the train tours offered by Roaring Camp Railroads, or both. There are two different tours offered you will want to be sure to check for times. Also keep in mind that during the month of December there is a special Holiday Train Lights Train and reservations must be made in advance for that special ride.

As I was saying, there is a little something for everyone in the great city of San Francisco and just because something appeals to a much younger crowd, in no way indicates that it can't appeal just as well to an older or young again crowd. I remember some of the things that fascinated me most as a child still spark those feelings of happiness and joy (we won't say how many) years later. The important thing is to choose the activities that appeal most to you and try to enjoy yourself as much as possible. It shouldn't be too hard!
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