Somerston Wine Co. stocks its modern, ranch-style tasting room with casks reflecting the diverse yield of local vineyard blocks. Set taste buds to “sommelier” with a Highflyer wine tasting, which features 2-ounce samples of eclectic vintages including the fruity and floral grenache blanc 2009, the chocolate-toned Centerline 2007 red blend, and the cherry-laden pinot noir 2008. Two plates of artisanal cheeses, locally dried fruits, and pistachios, or local chef Chris Kollar's chocolates accompany sips of wine, which guests may nosh outdoors, on the rooftop terrace, or in the ranch’s replica bathysphere.
Nestled in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area Discovery Museum entices children's inquiring minds with a host of exhibits modeled after the surrounding sea and city. The Wave Workshop lets kids explore the San Francisco Bay's ecology and test their own boat designs against simulated wind and waves. In the 2.5-acre Lookout Cove which overlooks the bay itself, a 23-foot-tall Golden Gate Bridge entices children to put on hardhats and help construct a giant model.
A group of teachers and parents founded Habitot Children's Museum in 1998 with one specific mission in mind: to foster children up to 6 years old by encouraging their creativity and natural curiosity. Today, the 4,000-square-foot museum backs up this mission with research—gleaned from studies by scientists, psychologists, and educators—positing that healthy play spurs social skills, creative thinking, and problem solving, laying the foundation for kids to succeed later in life and imprison boogeymen in their booby-trapped closet tomorrow.
At Habitot, kids find such opportunities at small-scale exhibits and themed play areas throughout the museum. Aspiring firefighters steer a small-scale truck, race through a pretend burning building, and maneuver the hose and nozzle from a fire hydrant, all while donning coats, boots, and helmets. Young explorers press buttons, turn dials, and issue commands for pretend space launches inside a 13-foot model rocket ship or navigate a vertical floor-to-ceiling maze designed to mimic worm tunnels. At the waterworks table and pumping station, young engineers manipulate water using buckets, funnels, waterwheels, and pitchers to help them understand H2O’s unique properties, such as how it keeps boats afloat on the arms of a thousand mermen. (At different times throughout the year, the staff transforms this area with a different theme; at times it’s been a car wash, a marine-science lab, or the racing grounds for a rubber-ducky regatta.) Visitors can tap into their inner Van Goghs at the art studio, where they play with soft clays and go nuts on a paintable wall. Habitot also hosts year-round children's camps with themes such as beaches, transportation, space, castles, and science.
One of San Francisco's oldest cultural institutions, the de Young Museum has steadily expanded since it was built for the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. It now stands among the country’s most-visited public art museums. The museum's painstakingly curated permanent collections chiefly fall into three categories: more than 1,000 American paintings from the 17th through 21st centuries; international textiles and costumes; and art from the Americas, Pacific, and Africa. The staff also curates a dynamic selection of visiting exhibitions that have featured photography, sculpture, and cultural artifacts. The museum’s architecture and grounds evolve right along with the collections, as natural materials such as copper, stone, wood, and old baseball cards age against the surroundings of Golden Gate Park.
The Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia celebrates iconic candy packaging with its exhibit of PEZ dispensers, featuring the plastic disembodied heads of animals, cartoon characters, comic-book heroes, and more. With two tickets ($3 each), you and a friend can peruse recent additions to the exhibit, including wistfully philosophical Peanuts PEZ dispensers from 2000 and a Mary Poppins dispenser from the 1960s that has been appraised as practically perfect in every way. Other confection-spouting dispensers feature likenesses of Mickey Mouse, Batman, Santa Claus, and beloved comic-book super-heroine Betsy Ross. In addition to pint-sized PEZ packaging, the museum also houses the world’s largest PEZ-dispensing machine, standing nearly eight feet tall, weighing 85 pounds, and capable of storing numerous PEZ candies or UFO-related secrets.
On Sunday, February 24, runners get up at the crack of dawn to embark on a journey through downtown Niles, which begins at 7:30 a.m. The flat courses send participants snaking in and out of the bustling streets and along the lakes of the Bay Area burg. During both the half marathon and the 5K, supporters line the courses, cheering on the runners with shouts of encouragement and signs reminding them to never run from their problems. In the 12 weeks leading up to the races, a running coach from Stanford University leads free training sessions for runners of all levels. This helps athletes perfect their times so they can have something to celebrate at the finish-line party.