Planted between mighty palms in Golden Gate Park is the oldest wood-and-glass conservatory in North America. The gleaming white Victorian structure has survived several boiler explosions, closure during World War II, and more than two decades of renovations. In 1998, it was deemed an endangered building—but it was quickly adopted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and completely rehabilitated by 2003. This century-old structure is home to the Conservatory of Flowers, a National Historic Landmark that connects visitors year-round with the exotic flora of the world's tropical regions.
The Conservatory houses four main galleries. In the aquatic plants gallery, cascading water gurgles into pools beneath a glass-and-metal sculpture of a six-foot Victoria amazonica water lily. The mist-filled highland gallery mimics the high-altitude forests of tropical mountaintops with clusters of orchids and ferns. Showcasing another side of the tropics, the rainy lowland gallery replicates lush jungles, housing a 100-year-old imperial philodendron and several cycads, which date to the days when most dinosaurs were just tiny salamanders. The potted plants gallery incorporates man-made works such as copper planters from India, ceramic pots from Burkina Faso, and an urn from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Around the fragrant stillness of these halls, the Conservatory hosts special events such as gardening workshops.
Groupon Celebrates Pride Month
Over the last 50 years, the gay-rights movement in America has overcome tremendous obstacles to become a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity. Even as it has grown, the movement—like Groupon—is local at heart, and we applaud the commitment to real change that improves everyday lives.
At Groupon, we are happy to add our voices to those celebrating PRIDE, their achievements as a social movement and a continued march to equality for the LGBT community. Plus, we love a chance to dig that rainbow wig out of storage.
This month—and throughout the year—we salute our merchants and customers who support PRIDE and all efforts that promote dignity, respect, and equal opportunity. We're highlighting these merchants' deals with a special badge to show Groupon's pride in working with people who share our values.
While students at Temple of Poi, , a school of movement and flow arts, perfect their fire-wielding skills, they also focus on channeling balance and harmony within themselves. Classes are designed to not only to help students develop techniques, but to also help them rejuvenate through performance and meditation and improve mind awareness, discipline, and self-empowerment. To keep these experiences safe, the staff stresses fire safety, and only encourages those who feel ready to dance with flames to do so. And those who are not yet ready can join the skilled dancers and perform at festivals and special events.
With students ranging in age from 9 to 82, crackling hot flames whizz by as dancers twirl their ropes of fire in mesmerizing circles. For these dancers, fire is a form of self-expression. They set hula-hoops and staffs afire, and perform duets with the fans of flames. Though they make it look effortless, these masters of the art were once novices, who learned their techniques at Temple of Poi.
Temple of Poi’s instructors teach fire-dancing classes with several props. In beginner and intermediate poi classes, students set fire to balls suspended from a handle, which create brilliant circles of flames when swung. Hula-hoop and staff classes also allow students to create a dazzling show with props doused in seemingly everlasting flames.
The next time you're on the roof of a five-story building, look down at the ground, and you'll get a rough idea of just how high people climb at Touchstone Climbing. The gym's seven locations feature lead walls that rise as high as 50 feet off the ground, though height isn't the only dimension that makes the space feel immense. Each spot has at least 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, not to mention as much as 3,000 square feet of bouldering.
To prevent newcomers from feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the environment, the gym holds introductory classes. During these sessions, participants learn the basic techniques they'll need if they want to conquer the gym's crack systems and boulder problems. The classes are also an opportunity for students to scope out the terrain features at each location, such as Diablo Rock Gym's steep prow, which juts out crookedly like a thumbs up from a dizzy ballerina. While they're at it, the visitors might notice something else: the social nature of the gym. As the San Francisco Chronicle recounts, the fact that lead climbs require two people means that climbers are constantly asking around for new partners and chatting back and forth as they ascend.
Each location also boasts a weight room, cardio machines, and a studio space for everything from yoga to spinning to core classes.
Noeteca‘s owners spent their lives looking forward to running their own restaurant, so it’s no surprise that the French-inspired tapas spot feels comfortable in its own skin from early morning meals until late into the night. During the day, Noeteca seems like a cafe, where patrons sip on international coffees from local roasters brewed by the cup or for personal-sized French presses. At brunch menu, familiar dishes share space with ambitious French-inspired offerings—the croque monsieur becomes a croque Napoleon with slices of bread pudding layered with black forest ham and emmantaler. When the weather is nice, guests can wander out to a patio colored by a flower and herb garden to learn the sun’s secret handshake.
As evening falls, candlelight fills the dining room and guests switch their focus to wine. The award-winning list includes more than 30 varieties, each available by the glass or half-glass. For dinner, patrons can build their own cheese plates or share a tarte flambèe, Alsatian flatbreads the San Francisco Bay Guardian said have “a lovely thin, blistered crust that was a bit softer and more luxurious than a typical pizza crust”.
Since 1963, the Chinese Historical Society of America has collected the documents and artifacts that chronicle the history of Chinese American citizens. The society's permanent collections are typified by pieces such as One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in America, a vivid mural by Chinatown native James Leong that charts the progress of Chinese Americans over the course of 100 years. On a smaller scale, the Chinatown Miniatures Collection depicts three-dimensional scenes of San Francisco's Chinatown as it looked before artist Frank Wong built his shrink ray. Other exhibits change frequently, often in conjunction with special events hosted for members and their guests.
The museum can't contain every bit of Chinese American history, however. With that in mind, the society’s guides lead school groups on walking tours through the bustling streets and alleyways of San Francisco's Chinatown. Free from the confines of the museum, they point out the neighborhood’s distinct architectural landmarks and underlying social significance. Throughout the year, the museum also puts out publications such as the CHSA Bulletin, which chronicles different stories within the Chinese American community.
Pump It Up's indoor inflatable arenas launch socked striplings into the air with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Staffers supervise fun-filled visits, during which adult counterparts leap around with their kids through gargantuan bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an inflated obstacle course.
The colorful venue also hosts custom birthday parties and private team parties, each themed to please the partygoers in question. These soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. The birthday boy or girl even gets to blow out the candles on their cake seated in their blow-up throne. Occasionally, the staffers switch off the lights, arming the roomful of players with glow sticks and bracelets as they navigate the air-cushioned obstaclescape. Relying on the staffers' vigilant, watchful eyes, guardians can rest assured that their charges will stay safe, and each piece of the inflatable playground is held to the floor and ceiling by a complex series of anchors installed according to strict safety standards.