Standing sentinel after clocking significant time in World War II and assisting with the recovery of Apollo 11 and 12 space-shuttle crews, the USS Hornet now serves as an anchored museum where naval enthusiasts and curious citizens can wander her decks to gain insight into her past military duties on the high seas. The aircraft carrier is comprised of four levels of historical eye-candy, mixing curated exhibits with actual ship quarters such as the captain's bridge and in-port cabins. Visitors roam the ship during self-guided tours, which are often injected with wisdom from available docents or chatty seagulls. Sites include the island and navigation bridge, where the helmsman directed the ship and where the admiral conducted operations with his task force, as well as the hangar deck, with access to the ship's panoramic fantail view of San Francisco.
In the 1940’s, the Boeing School of Aeronautics hangar at Oakland International Airport’s North Field housed some of the company’s brightest aeronautical engineers. Their work produced several early Boeing planes, including the Thorp T-3 and T-5, both of which are now on display thanks to the hangar’s current resident, the Oakland Aviation Museum.
Most of the museum’s exhibits focus on celebrating local aviation history, such as The American Legion’s involvement in the Bay Area and the history of native Californian and Medal of Honor awardee General James “Jimmy” Doolittle. However, the museum’s collection of aircraft features a broader mix, including a replica of the Wright Brothers’ EX Vin Fiz, a TAV-8A Herrier that can take off and land vertically, and the Short Solent III flying boat that was used in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
More interactive sites include flight simulators, a kid’s area, a research library, and occasional Open Cockpit Days that let visitors climb into the cockpit of a real Korean fighter jet and turn the radio up really loud. The knowledgeable staff operates the museum with the goal of both educating visitors about aviation’s proud history on the West Coast and throughout the U.S., as well as to inspire visitors by linking aviation’s past to the future of aeronautical invention.
Though FLOAT's neon sign is small and easy to miss in the window of a converted historic cotton mill, its interior is anything but unremarkable. The artist-owned urban art spa stimulates the mind with work from established and rising local artists and submerges clients in warm, dark chambers that relieve bodies of their senses. These floatation therapy sessions enhance relaxation and open up channels of creativity, freeing brains from the incessant digital stimulation and algebraic speed-limit signs of the outside world. While enclosed inside the tank, clients float in a weightless state in a solution composed of 1,000 pounds of medical-grade Epsom salts and water. There, air, water, and skin become alike—refreshing the nerves while recharging the mind more efficiently than sleep. Complementing floatation sessions are massage services that enhance already relaxed states.
Since 1969, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has presented world-class performances. With a subscription package, you'll earn a tutu triumvirate, which may include the newly debuted The Three Musketeers, Tchaikovsky's timeless holiday tale The Nutcracker, or Dracula, Bram Stoker's macabre saga of love experienced by sentient lawn ornaments. A Gershwin Fantasy presents a graceful reimagining of the tunes of George and Ira Gershwin with accompaniment from Tony Award nominee Ann Hampton Callaway and her band. Balanchine celebrates the work of legendary American choreographer George Balanchine.
Oakland Zoo was first established in 1922, but it didn?t find its permanent home until 1939, when it was thoughtfully constructed amid the rolling hills of Knowland Park. Today, Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 animals, who thrive in biomes designed to mimic their natural environments.
The sprawling African savannah is one of the zoo?s largest habitats, housing hyenas, zebras, elephants, and giraffes. The centerpiece is a 1.5-acre lion exhibit called Simba Pori, which translates to lion county in Swahili. Inside, a pride of lions freely roam an enclosure outfitted with kopje rock structures, a pond, and a booth where the king can sign autographs.
Over in the rainforest habitat, chimpanzees and white-handed gibbons swing through the treetops. Emus and wallaroos?a cousin of the wallaby and the kangaroo?roam freely in the Wild Australia exhibit, accessible via one of the zoo?s rides, Outback Express Adventure Train. Other rides include the Endangered Species Carousel and Sky Ride, a chairlift that soars above the habitats and offers Bay Area skyline views.
East Bay Winery Bike Tours combines Northern California's finest wines with an unforgettable urban bike tour. Aboard provided bikes, guests follow their experienced guide on a ride to notable local producers around Oakland and Alameda. Over the course of the trip, winemakers at vineyards such as JC Cellars, Irish Monkey, and Eno Wines reveal an inside look at wine-making in the San Francisco area. There's also time for lunch, and the tour guide helps carry any wines visitors purchase on their journey. Alameda tours end with a ferry ride back from Alameda, where guests can gaze into the waters or swap stories about their favorite ros?s.