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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Whether seated in Servino Ristorante's waterfront dining room or on its second-story patio, diners can feast their eyes on San Francisco's skyline and watch sailboats meander past Angel Island. The restaurant's inspiration, however, comes from a distant location: southern Italy. The resemblance is evident in everything from its rustic cuisine to the staff's hospitality.
Light from a wood-burning brick oven flickers in one corner of the kitchen, roasting pizzas topped with combinations such as cremini mushrooms and white-truffle oil or buffalo mozzarella and green garlic. Homemade pasta dishes and hearty seafood entrees round out the menu of trans-Atlantic comfort foods, which are complemented by wine or cocktails.
Though Servino Ristorante takes its inspiration from abroad, the spot keep things closer to home when it comes to sourcing. Chefs source the majority of their organic produce and humanely raised meats from sustainable suppliers in the area. In addition to accolades for its locally sourced cuisine, Servino received recognition from the California Green Business Program, which honored the eatery for its commitment to ecofriendly practices and energy-conservation efforts.
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.
At In The Kitchen (ITK) Culinary, down-to-earth restaurant chefs introduce cooks of all ages and skill levels to new techniques and cuisine. They offer a wide variety of classes, teaching everything from gourmet sauce making to cupcake decorating to knife skills. Chef Scott Davis, whom youngsters affectionately call The Culinary Dude, has degrees in both culinary arts and early-childhood education, and he created the kids' cooking program for Whole Foods. He teaches kids aged 4–14 how to follow recipes, safely cut and peel vegetables, or roll and bake patty-cakes.
Students learn how to create meals in an elegant kitchen with a flat-panel TV with surround sound, a subzero fridge and freezer, two six-burner Wolf cooktops, and two Wolf double ovens. Clients can rent out this space for private parties or private cooking classes.