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Golden Gate Surprises

Golden Gate Surprises
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From beach towns to bustling cities, find the perfect spot for families, foodies, and fun-seekers.

Trip length: 3-4 days
Total distance: 199mi/320km

DAY 1
SANTA CRUZ
At Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk , zoom on the Giant Dipper  wooden coaster and spin on the 1911 Looff carousel . Friday nights in summer, rock out with free concerts. INFO 831/423-5590

SAN JOSÉ (32mi/52km; 41min). Let the kids loose at the Tech Museum , with exhibits covering everything from microchips and space travel to alternative energy. INFO 408/294-8324

SANTA CLARA (4mi/7km; 11min). Fly high at Great America on dizzying rides like Delirium , Vortex , and Flight Deck . For tamer stuff, head to tot-friendly Planet Snoopy play area. INFO 408/988-1776

DAY 2
GOLDEN GATE PARK
Golden Gate Park (47mi/76km; 1hr2min). Go wild in San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences with a rain forest, living roof, planetarium, and an awesome earthquake exhibit (more info, page 19). INFO 415/379-8000

EMBARCADERO
(1mi/2km; 3min). Shop at Ghirardelli Square . Stroll to always-fun Fisherman’s Wharf . Visit the California Welcome Center and Aquarium of the Bay at PIER 39 . Catch the ferry to Alcatraz at Pier 33. INFO 415/391-2000

MARINA (7mi/11km; 21min). Have fun at the Exploratorium , where kids learn about electricity, motion, light, and more (new location at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero in 2013). Romp on the beach at Crissy Field . INFO 415/391-2000

DAY 3
SAUSALITO
(10mi/16km; 23min). Walk, bike, or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to this Mediterranean-style town, with shops, eateries, and city views. Bay Area Discovery Museum teaches kids about the region. INFO 415/332-0505

POINT REYES STATION
(30mi/48km; 55min). Stop by Bear Valley Visitor Center to learn about Point Reyes National Seashore . Get treats at Bovine Bakery (11315 Shoreline Hwy.; 415/663-9420). INFO 415/925-2060

DAY 4
VALLEJO
(42mi/67km; 1hr8min). Zoom like Superman at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom . Have quiet time in the Butterfly Habitat . INFO 707/643-6722

OAKLAND (26mi/41km; 32min). Learn about art, natural science, and history at the Oakland Museum of California . Rent kayaks from California Canoe and Kayak near Jack London Square . INFO 510/839-9000
 

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