Seated in your kayak, you're surrounded by cerulean waters that stretch out into the horizon. To your left, the San Francisco skyline looms in the shimmering afternoon sun. You drift by a raucous Giants game, a village of houseboats, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Led through undulating waters by American Canoe Association– and Wilderness First Aid–certified guides, San Francisco Kayak & Adventures' nautical tour groups traverse the San Francisco Bay or Sausalito waterfront during the day, at sunset, and under the light of the full moon. The guides lead their groups through calm costal waters in sturdy, closed-deck tandem kayaks, which keep legs dry and don't require typical Flintstone-style paddling. The guides regale their group with area history while pointing out local marine life. They only shepherd about eight paddlers to keep tours intimate and personal and customize paddling instruction to the ability levels of the group.
Guides also help visitors explore the natural world on land during hiking excursions between redwood trees in Muir Woods, along a coastal trail in the Tennessee Valley, and past ghost-town buildings at China Camp Village. To expand visitors' wilderness exposure, they also lead adventures such as sailing, rock-climbing, cycling in the city, horseback riding on the beach, and sleeping in phone booths.
Nestled in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area Discovery Museum draws 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.
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Sausalito Picture Framing's team of meticulous artisans harnesses more than 20 years of experience when customizing borders to flatter and conserve artwork of all sizes and types. The quaint storefront's walls showcase multitudinous molding samples, waiting patiently to grace the edges of paintings, tapestries, and blue ribbons from hot-dog-eating contests. A library of image-preserving mounting options includes acid-free matting, archival hinging tape, and UV-shunning glass, helping keep keepsakes' colors vibrant for years to come. The shop also hosts a 44-inch Epson 9800 Ultrachrome K3 inks printer, capable of printing family portraits in such high quality that parents often realize their twins aren't identical at all.
Modern Sailing School & Club unfurls its sails and unveils the beauties of the bay from atop its fleet of large keelboats. Near the nautical avenues of quaint Sausalito, sailors of all skill levels trade in land legs and climb aboard a 30- to 32-foot keelboat for a six-hour sail (10 a.m. to 4. p.m.) throughout San Francisco Bay’s placid waters and bathysphere enthusiasts. Departing on Saturdays or Sundays, boats entrust themselves into the experienced hands of a Master's-licensed skipper, who controls the sails, steering wheel, and inboard diesel engine with breezy ease. Cool heels with restive lounging fueled by home-packed picnics, or join in the crew’s sailing efforts, tightening jibs, taking the helm, or explaining excessive speeds to Neptune’s highway patrolmen.
With the blood of the Stevens family—an American sailing dynasty that included America Cup pioneer John C. Stevens—coursing through his veins, captain Steve Hocking was destined for greatness aboard the open sea. As the owner of Ohana Sailing, he's armed with a US Coast Guard license and racing chops that earned him an invitation to the prestigious Rolex Invitational Big Boat series. Steve indulges a passion for sailing that began when he bought his first boat in Canada and steered it straight to San Francisco. At the helm of his 45-foot Beneteau, the Ohana, Steve pilots moonlit or daytime cruises during which passengers can lounge between the wood panels of a luxurious master stateroom and two guest rooms.
Steve also holds three-month racing courses aboard the Ohana, enabling hands-on learning by including participation in three or four races each month. At individual sailing lessons, pupils board the Roadrunner, a 23-foot Ranger boat, and master techniques for navigating the diminutive vessel through open waters and between the sentient statues that guard them.