J is for Japanese Tea Garden

Originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the site originally spanned about one acre and showcased a Japanese style garden.

Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara and superintendent John McLaren reached a gentleman’s agreement, allowing Mr. Hagiwara to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity. He became caretaker of the property, pouring all of his personal wealth, passion, and creative talents into creating a garden of utmost perfection. Mr. Hagiwara expanded the garden to its current size of approximately 5 acres. The garden currently features classic japanese garden elements including: an arched drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping stone paths, native Japanese plants, serene koi ponds and a zen garden. Cherry blossom trees bloom throughout the garden in March and April.

Today, the Japanese Tea Garden continues to be recognized as one of the greatest man-made Japanese Gardens in the world and it is one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco.

Open Daily, no holiday closures.

Summer (3/1 through 10/31): 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Winter (11/1 through 2/28): 9:00 am to 4:45 pm

Mon, Wed, Fri: FREE admission if entered by 10:00 am
Adult: $5.00 (Residents), $7.00 (Non-Residents)
Senior (65+) and Youth (12-17):
$3.00 (Residents), $5.00 (Non-Residents)
Child (5-11): $1.50 (Residents), $2.00 (Non-Residents) Child (4 and under): Free

For more information visit http://www.japaneseteagardensf.com/

I is for Ice Skating

@ Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center

Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center is San Francisco ‘s only year-round ice skating center. They are open for various programs on an average of 18 hours a days, 7 days a week. We offer a wide variety of regular programs in our schedule – fun and exciting opportunities include:

Public Skating,
Freestyle sessions for competitive skaters,
Skating School for both figure skating and hockey skating,
Special Skaters Learn-to-Skate program,
Birthday Parties,
Private Instruction,
Youth Hockey League,
Adult Hockey League,
Adult pick-up hockey,
Skating sessions especially for adults and seniors,
Synchronized Team skating for youth and adults and
Former Olympian Brian Boitano’s Youth Skate Program.

The building capacity is 1,100 persons; With 500-600 skaters, the regulation hockey size surface is usually 2/3’s filled. They have permanent seating for approximately 300 spectators.

Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center
750 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: 415-820-3532

For more information on rates, hours of operation etc. visit: Public Skating at Yerba Buena 

H is for Haight Ashbury

Summer of Love. Jimi Hendrix. Equality. Grace Slick. Tie Die. Carlos Santana. Peace. Jerry Garcia. Flower Power. Janis Joplin. Canibus. Grateful Dead. West Coast Woodstock. Black Magic Woman. Joan Biaz. Beatlemania! Hippies.
Regardless of what you may or may not have heard, the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco is ICONIC for all that it has been and all that it has desired to become!
The Summer of Love was officially documented on April 6, 1967 as the begining of a movement that took san Francisco by storm as 35,000 young adults left their homes and college campuses to come and “serve” their brothers and sisters. The movement was an experiment in community service that was to bring peace, goodwill, love of human kind and to outreach and serve the down trotten but quickly grew via word of mouth and literally left our city unprepared for the amount of visitors, community workers, friends, and lovers that came to help.
Most of the images and conversations about the Haight Ashbury district always end in references to drugs, free love, idealistic “children” that needed to go home to their mother’s and take a well deserved bath. But that was not the original intent, and it was not its lasting impact on the City and County of San Francisco.
Imagine if somebody threw a Youth Convention of 35,000 in your city and forgot to tell the hotels, city officials, police, fire departments, and social service agencies. Now imagine that each day an additional 2000 people arrived for an additional sixty days? Where would these people sleep? Would they open their public park for sleeping? How would they eat? The very agencies that they came to “help” were fledgling non-profit start-ups, trying to help veterans and drug addicted youth.
It was indeed a Summer of Love because that many youth gave up everything to come and serve, to come and love, to come and create changes that are STILL the cornerstone of Social Services offered here in San Francisco for example: Haight Asbury Free Clinic, Huckleberry House for Runaways. I will not idealize what took place during those who chose engage in “psychedelic experiences” but the innovative thoughts and paradigm shifts that resulted from the collective body created several hundreds of committed agents of change.

It has been 35 years and I believe the late Abbie Hoffman summed it up best when he said “The lesson of the sixties is that people who cared enough to do right could change history.”

G is for Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is over 1000 acres and is the third most visited park in the United States of America. Although is is often called New York Central Park’s “little sister.” Golden Gate Park possesses a wide array of unique and one-of a-kind features that sets it apart from other urban settings. Plans were put into motion to transform the bleak sand and shore dunes that decorated San Francisco into a usable, inviting park for the all to enjoy during the 1860s.

Entrance to the park is free to visit during the day, popular attractions charge admission, such as deYoung Museum, California Academy of Sciences and Conservatory of Flowers. The park is filled with gardens: AIDS MEMORIAL GROVEBOTANICAL GARDENJAPANESE TEA GARDEN IN GOLDEN GATE PARKQUEEN WILHELMINA TULIP GARDENROSE GARDEN and the world famous CONSERVATORY OF FLOWERS.

There are also plenty of opportunities to participate in sports on the Golden Gate Park Archery Range, Golden Gate Park Golf Course, Polo Fields, Stow Lake Boathouse, and Kezar Stadium.  Browse the site for information on parking, maps, weddings, hotels, permits, making reservations, transportation, contact numbers, and the history of Golden Gate Park. For more information please visit: GOLDEN GATE PARK.

F is for Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most famous attractions because of its rich history, fine foods, and unusual experiences. I have listed several of my favorites in this post but for a complete listing please click Attractions Located in Fisherman’s Wharf 


Aquarium of the Bay 
Address: PIER 39, The Embarcadero at Beach,
Phone: 1-888 SEA DIVE
Website: www.aquariumofthebay.org 

National Liberty Ship Memorial (SS. Jeremiah O’Brien) 
Address: Pier 45
Phone: 415-544-0100
Website: www.ssjeremiahobrien.org 

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum 
175 Jefferson Street
Website: www.ripleysf.com

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Address: Bldg. E, Room 265, Lower Fort Mason
Phone: 415-561-7006
Website: http://www.nps.gov


Alioto’s Restaurant 
Address: 8 Fisherman’s Wharf
Phone: 415-673-0183
Website: www.aliotos.com 

Boudin at the Wharf 
Address: 160 Jefferson Street
Phone: 415-928-1849
Website: www.boudinbakery.com/at-the-wharf 

Fishermen’s Grotto
Address: 2847 Taylor Street
Phone: 415-673-7025
Website: www.fishermensgrotto.com 
The Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Manufactory 
Address: 900 North Point Street (corner of Larkin Street)
Phone: 415-474-3938
Website: www.ghirardelli.com 
There are a lot more restaurants and fun things to do at Fisherman’s Wharf but these are a few of my favorites!

E is for Exploratorium

Photo by Gayle Laird
© Exploratorium, http://www.exploratorium.edu

The Exploritorium is often referred to as the museum of science, art and human perception!

The Exploratorium was the brainchild of Frank Oppenheimer. At various times, Dr. Oppenheimer was a professor, a high school teacher, a cattle rancher, and an experimental physicist.

While teaching at a university, Frank developed a “library of experiments” that enabled his students to explore scientific phenomena at their own pace, following their own curiosity. Alarmed by the public’s lack of understanding of science and technology, Frank used this model to create the Exploratorium, believing that visitors could learn about natural phenomena and gain confidence in their ability to understand science, and the world. This was a groundbreaking idea for a science museum in 1969 when the Exploratorium opened. And the rest is history.

The Exploratorium is located at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA 94123. It uses 110,000 square feet of floor space within San Francisco’s historic Palace of Fine Arts, plus offices and exhibit building shops in adjacent Presidio buildings. Facilities include:

  • Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio
  • machine, wood, and electronics shops
  • life sciences laboratory
  • 125-seat McBean Theater
  • 9 wired classroom

Museum Hours Open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Closed Mondays (except certain holidays)
  • Closed Thanksgiving
  • Closed Christmas Day
  • Plenty of free nearby parking.

For a detailed list of holiday hours, visit our events calendar.

General Admission Prices

Adult (18-64) $15.00
Student (18+ with ID)
Seniors (65+)
Youth (ages 13-17)
People with Disabilities
Children (ages 4-12) $10.00
Children (3 and under) FREE
Tactile Dome (7+; general admission included) $20.00
Become a member

For more information about the Exploratorium visit: http://www.exploratorium.edu/

D is for the de Young Museum

@ de Young Museum

The de Young Museum, a favorite of San Francisco residents and visitors since 1895, is located at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in the heart of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

The de Young Museum had significant damage after the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989 and was renovated after a successful multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign re-opened on October 15, 2005. The de Young museum has successfully hosted artwork on loan from the Louvre, Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, Warhol Live, and The Quilts of Gee’s Bend.


Tuesday through Sunday 9:30 am to 5:15 pm
Friday (March 30 through November 30 only) 9:30 am to 8:45 pm
Monday Closed

The de Young is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. The museum closes at 4 pm on December 24 (last special exhibition admission at 2:30 pm).

The Hamon Education Tower Observation Deck closes at 4:30 pm (8 pm Fridays from late March through November).

General Admission

Adults $10
Seniors 65+ $7
Youths 13–17 $6
College students with valid ID $6
Children 12 and under Free
First Tuesday of the month Free (special exhibition fees still apply)
FAMSF members Free
Audio tour $7 ($6 FAMSF members)

Additional fees may apply for special exhibitions.

Admission tickets to the de Young include same-day general admission to the Legion of Honor (special exhibition fees not included).

C is for California Academy of Sciences


California Academy of Sciences

@ 2012 The Academy of Sciences

The Academy of Sciences is the only place in the world with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, a 3D theater, a lecture hall, a Naturalist Center, two restaurants, an adjacent garden and aviary, a roof terrace, and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof, which is located in world-famous Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA. The Academy is a stunning architectural achievement with hundreds of unique exhibits and nearly 40,000 live animals.

The Academy of Sciences renovation took ten years to complete and cost $100 million privately funded dollars. The Academy’s commitment to sustainability earned the platinum rating (highest rating possible) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The museum is open 363 days a year (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) Monday – Saturday 9:30 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased on-site or online. During peak periods, a $5 admission surcharge is added to ticket purchases at the door. This surcharge does not apply to tickets purchased online, which are valid any day, including peak periods. More more information please visit http://www.calacademy.org/visit/

General Admission Buy Tickets
Adult $29.95
Senior (ages 65 and over) $24.95
Student $24.95
Youth (ages 12-17) $24.95
Child (ages 4-11) $19.95
Ages 3 and under FREE

B is for Beach Blanket Babylon ~ A to Z Challenge 2012

Beach Blanket Babylon, the longest running musical revue in theatre history.  It captures both modern day politics and the history of San Francisco at the same time! Characters are often developed from pop culture, world historical events to create hilarious parodies of current events and popular icons as todays headlines unfold.  Nothing is sacred and no hold are barred!

So when in San Francisco, plan a special evening at Club Fugazi on (678 Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard (Green Street), San Francisco CA 94133 to see what all the laughter is about! Prices range from $25.00 – $130.00 for premium tickets.

Visit http://www.beachblanketbabylon.com/ for more information.

Reflections ~ Biopsy Results: Gratitude Journal #9


This past week has been very emotional! I spent most of it waiting for my biopsy results. I was in good shape for the most part, until Wednesday came. I felt anxiety creeping in as I began to think about how these results were going to change my life. I waited for the Nurse Practitioner to call me with the results and the morning whirled by and my anxiety began rising. The office’s lunch period quickly came and went and I decided to call if I hadn’t heard from her by 2:00pm.

Finally, the call I’d waited for six days finally came. I was so nervous as I answered the telephone. My stomach was in knots as I thought about the possibilities that were before me. Benign or Cancerous? Radiation or Chemo and a Full Hysterectomy, or just a Full Hysterectomy. I gasped for air as she began explaining the results of my biopsy. She stated that what looked like fibroid tissue was in fact endometrial tissue growing deep with in the uterine wall. The baffling thing is there was no blood source attached to the growth, but the great thing about the mass was it was COMPLETELY BENIGN!

BENIGN. Yes, it was benign! I was transferred to the scheduler to get my Hysterectomy date, and we confirmed May 10th. I will stay over at the hospital for one night and then I will be released to go home and all of this ordeal will be OVER!!!!

I spent Wednesday night celebrating my results! I called friends, sent text messages and took pictures to remember this moment. I needed to remember THIS moment! I needed to remember how I was feeling at the moment I heard that the mass within me was benign. I will always remember this moment and I am so grateful that I have had a wonderful medical team that always listens to me and advocates for my best health.

I am so grateful for my family and friends for their support. I am especially grateful that this entire process will soon be a part of my past.

I do not have uterine cancer — whew it feels great to be able to say that! But I have to acknowledge the thousands of women that are diagnosed with uterine cancer and cervical cancer because my heart pours out to you. The mental anguish that one suffers through the discovery process is unbelievable. My prayers are with you and your families!