Field Trips by the Water
These San Francisco Bay Area field trip destinations by the water have
been recommended by homeschooling parents and kids. If you have a favorite
that isn't listed here please call us at 650-365-9425 or
E-mail Homefires Editor.
While we hope that this information is accurate, please do call to confirm.
Boats depart from Pier 41, San Francisco
Phone: 415-705-1042, 415-705-1045
Hours: Daily, tours every hour from 9:30am-4:30pm -- reservation
Admission: $13/adult, $7.75/child ages 5-11 includes ferry and cell
house audio tour.
Learn the history of "The Rock" through a cell house audio
program featuring stories from former correctional officers and
prisoners at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. There are a variety
of tours offered from self-guided walking tours to guided evening
tours that include a look at some parts of the island not open to
daytime visitors. Call for schedule - and prices -- as they vary
on special tours.
Angel Island, San Francisco Bay
Hours: Daily 8am to sunset
Price: Varies depending on tour. But for Tram-Tours -- $10/adult,
$9/teen, $6/kid ages 6-12, free under 5.
Guided history tours, tram tours and nature walks featuring the
Quarantine Station, the Immigration Station, Camp Reynolds, and
Fort McDowell. Hiking and biking trails too. Tram tours are one-hour,
audio-enhanced tours covering the island's military history from
the Civil War to the Cold War. There are ferries from Tiburon, Vallejo
and San Francisco. Call for ferry schedule.
New Years Creek Road, Pescadero, CA
(Highway 1 - 22 miles north of Santa Cruz)
Phone: 1-800-444-4445 or 650-879-0227 or 650-879-2025
Hours: Daily 8:00 a.m. to Sunset.
One of only three mainland breeding sites in the world for the northern
elephant seal. Breeding in fall and winter months -- with big population
of adults males, females and pups. Informative visitors center; docent-led
tours along a 3-mile stretch of beach to observe breeding grounds,
rookery, and elephant seals. Layered clothing recommended. Bring water.
Some porta-potties along way. Not for kids under 7.
(Includes Steinhart Aquarium & Morrison Planetarium)
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco,
Hours: Open daily 10am-5pm.
Admission $2-8.50. First Wednesday of month is free.
Explore the ocean's sea life, view stars during the day, survey
African animals, ride an earthquake, and travel back three billion
years in time. Planetarium shows extra fee in addition to admission.
Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education
1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo
Hours: Open 10am-5pm.
Admission $3/adults, $2/youths ages 13-17, $1/kids 4-12, under 4
free. Plus $4 vehicle fee.
Located in a scenic park overlooking San Francisco Bay. Museum has
interactive exhibits, live native animals, gardens, picnic facilities,
trails, and views. A great place for the whole family!
1252 McKay Aveneu, Alameda, CA
Visitor Center is open Wed-Sun, March thru November. It is a very
popular field trip site for schools, so it's best to call first
and make sure there aren't ten field trips scheduled at low tide,
or your children won't find any wildlife left except the very friendly
Crab Cove is a marine
reserve for mudflat and tidal pool marine animals. The Visitor Center's
Old Wharf Classroom has models of shoreline animals and a small
aquarium to explain what you will find in the mudflats. At first
glance, it appears that nothing is in the mud, except your feet
up to the ankles, but if you know what to look for, it is quite
educational. And then the tide eventually comes in to rinse you
off! If you time your outing right, there will be tide pools. Crab
Cove also offers many craft activites and classes geared by ages.
I have not attended any of their classes or activities; we just
go and get muddy looking for sting rays.
200 Nevada Ave, Moss Beach, CA
(Off Highway 1, Moss Beach, 7 miles no. of Half Moon Bay airport.)
Hours: Opens Daily at 8:00 A.M. Closing time varies by time of year.
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is operated by the
San Mateo County Parks Department.
The Reserve is open during daylight hours but the life in the tidepools can only
be seen at low tides, below +1.0 feet. Check your newspaper, an online tide guide,
or a tide book which is available at marinas, boating or fishing shops. The tides
at Moss Beach occur about one hour earlier than listed for the Golden Gate. Tidepooling
is best done just before and just after low tide. Be sure to bring a windbreaker,
a sweater and a pair of dry shoes.
Note: If your group has 10 or more people, you must make a
reservation to visit the reserve.
Read what homeschoolers have to say about the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
The Presidio, Long Avenue, San Francisco
Phone: 415-556-1693, or for the "Return To Past" tour call 415-673-5642
Hours: Wed-Sun, 10am-5pm
Admission: Free (except fee for "Return to Past" tour)
Located under the south anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge, this
four-tiered brick and granite fortress is the only one of its kind
west of the Mississippi River. It was built between 1853 and 1861
and accommodated 126 cannons and 500 soldiers. See 17-minute video
portraying the history of the site from Spanish arrival in the 1770's
to the present. See a Cannon Drill and learn how soldiers were taught
to load and fire a Napoleon 12-pounder cannon during a Civil War
artillery drill. Also featured, "Return to the Past at Fort
Point" -- a daily tour explaining a day in the life of a Civil
War soldier stationed at Fort Point through an award-winning recorded
tour which guides one around the casemates, through the quarters
and into the past. Reservations for this are advised and the cost
is $2.50/adults; $1/children.
Muir Woods, Mill Valley, CA
Telephone: (415) 331-1540
Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset.
Admission: $5/adult; Kids under 15 are free.
- Point Bonita Lighthouse, Open Sat-Monday from 12:30pm to 3:30
pm. mile trail to lighthouse is steep in parts and often windy.
Kids must be with adult. 415-331-1540.
- Marin Headlands Visitors Center open daily from 9:30am to 4:30pm.
Stop by to learn more about what can be seen and done here. Corner
of Bunker & Field Roads. 415-331-1540.
- Muir Woods -- visit a grove of majestic redwoods, the tallest
tree species in the world. Daily 8am to sunset. $2/adult; Free kids
under 17. Visitors center has info displays. 415-388-2595.
886 Cannery Row, Monterey.
Hours: Daily 9:30am-6pm
Admission: $15.95/adult, $12.95/ages 13-17, $6.95/ages 3-12, free
under 3. Group sales available.
Live animal exhibits, hands-on displays of 3 deep-sea habitats found
in the Monterey Bay canyon: the canyon walls, the mid-water area,
and the canyon floor. Other exhibits include a 3-story, million
gallon indoor ocean tank with giant ocean sunfish, schools of tuna,
sharks, barracuda, sea turtles and more. Don't miss the beautiful
jellyfish exhibit. Discovery carts for investigation of marine animals
with docents. Feeding shows -- and a bat ray petting tank!
Pidgeon Point Lighthouse Tour
State Hwy 1 (25 miles south of Half Moon Bay, 5 miles north of Ano
Nuevo State Reserve in Pescadero), San Mateo County
Phone: 650-879-2025 or 650-879-2120
Hours: Tours conducted on Saturday & Sunday from 11am-4pm, every
hour. Admission: $2/general; $1/child
Historic lighthouse built in 1872. See the large Fresnel lens, built
in France. This was the tallest operating lighthouse on the West
Coast and one of the few left with its original lens. 45-minute
docent tour includes a walk up to the lantern room in the top of
the lighthouse tower. Learn about the life and jobs of the U.S.
Lighthouse Service, forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard. Clothing
requirement. Many physical restrictions. Call for details. Children
must be at least 40 inches tall and capable of making the ascent
and descent (10 stories) unaided. Children may not be carried in
arms, backpack, or child carrier. Children 8 and up must be accompanied
by adult. Tours canceled on rainy days.
Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County
Offers a variety of programs, classes, and events including:
- Tour Point Reyes Lighthouse. Reservations required. 415-669-1534
- Coast Miwok Education Walks are mile to a recreated Native American
village. Meet at Bear Valley Visitor Center on Sundays at 2pm. Free.
400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz, CA
Hours: Daily 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, Rides are seasonal - Call
Admission: Call for prices.
A classic seaside amusement park and state landmark. It features a 1911 Looff
carousel and a 1924 roller coaster "Giant Dipper" both named National
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse
Lighthouse Point, West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz
Hours: Wed-Monday from noon to 4pm
Museum overlooks internationally renowned surfing spot Steamer Lane.
Includes photographs, surfboards, and other artifacts tracing 100
years of surfing history in Santa Cruz.
Sequoia Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program
Sequoia Yacht Club, Redwood City, CA
Provides a youth sailing program to all members of the community
ages 11 to 18. The program's Fall semester starts in September on
the first Saturday after Labor Day and runs through to January the
following year. Classes are held on the first and third Saturdays
of the month unless there is a holiday conflict. Classes are from
9am to noon. Students are required to have a Life Jacket and wear
it all times on dock and in boats. Semester fee is $15 which includes
a book and the use of a boat. Students are selected from a waiting
list. Older students are selected first. Please be sure to consider
other sports that may conflict with this Saturday programming before
registering. To register request a brochure from the Sequoia Yacht
Club by calling 650-361-9472.
1001 Fairgrounds Dr. (I-80 at state Hwy 37) Vallejo, CA
Phone: 707-644-4000 ext. 374
Hours: Seasonal - Call for times.
Admission: $49.99/adult, $29.99/child ages 4-12 (and over 48 inches tall),
free 2 and under.
This 135 acre theme park contains wildlife park, oceanarium and amusement rides.
See zebras, sharks, dolphins, alligators, butterflies, cheetahs, and a
cheetahs. Educational shows and entertainment with over 30 animal attractions,
197 different species and 1,700+ animals. Offers Homeschool Discount Days
year-round -- call to inquire.
Marin Headlands, 1065 Fort Cronkhite, (Golden Gate National Recreation Area) Sausalito, CA
Phone: 415-289-7325 (415-979-4357 to volunteer)
Call for hours, tours, admission fees.
Visit the Marine Mammal Visitor Center adjacent from Rodeo Lagoon and
Beach at Building 1049. Hours are 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily.
Non-profit organization that rescues, rehabilitates and releases sea
lions, elephant seals, harbor seals, Steller sea lions, sea otters,
whales and dolphins. Oil triage facility for animals affected by oil
or chemical spills as well. Tours available. Volunteers needed.
The Red & White Fleet Bay Cruises
Board at Pier 43 , Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Hours: Daily 10am to 5:30pm
Fee: $17/adults; $13/youth (ages 12-18); $9/child (ages 5-11); Free/kids
5 and under.
1-hour Bay Cruise sails under Golden Gate Bridge, past Marin Headlands,
by Sausalito, Tiburon, Angel island and Alcatraz.
Pier 39 at The Embarcadero & Beach Streets, San Francisco
Phone: 1-888-732-3483 or 415-623-5300
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm; Saturday & Sunday 10am-7pm
Admission: $12.95/adult; $6.50/kids ages 3-11; free under 3yrs.
This aquarium gives a diver's eye view of the inhabitants of San
Francisco Bay. See fish, sharks, crabs, jellyfish, octopus and other
underwater wildlife from San Francisco Bay and the nearby Pacific
Ocean swimming freely over and around you as your travel on a moving
sidewalk through the aquarium's 2-story tall, 707,000 gallon tanks
inside a pair of clear acrylic tunnels. A platform beside the sidewalk
allows you to step off at any time and take a longer look at the
University of California at Santa Cruz
Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory -- View marine life exhibits, touch
tanks, sea lion enclosures, blue whale skeleton. Docent tours available
Tuesday-Sunday 1-4pm. 100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz. Free -- but
$15 fee for groups of 10 or more. Call 831-459-2883 or 831-459-4308.