On a mild February day in 1926, San Francisco theater magnate Samuel H. Levin address an anxious crowd of cinemagoers at the opening of his newest movie house. Ever the family man, Levin saw himself as a man providing entertainment for all ages. "In the New Balboa, as in all my theaters," he said, "I seek to supply the comforts and intimate surroundings
associated with the higher ideals of home life."
Nearly 100 years later, the lights of the Balboa Theatre's maquee still burn against the night sky, calling patrons
into a cozy cinema suffuse with classic designs pulled from the Golden Age of Hollywood. However, these historical flourishes belie the modern innovations behind the scenes. The theatre was completely overhauled in 2011, with technicians retrofitting each auditorium with state-of-the-art digital sound and projection systems.
This technological refresher helps the Balboa continue its main mission: showcasing must-see movies. These often take the form of first-run blockbusters, but the Balboa doesn't simply mimic the faceless megaplexes. Family films, motion-picture classics, and buzzed-about documentaries all find a place on the theater's twin screens, celebrating both the film world's diversity and the Balboa's original purpose.
Five Things to Know About Artists’ Television Access
Artists’ Television Access cultivates the work of creatives who trade in film, photographs, paint, and other mediums. The nonprofit organization has thrived for over three decades, with roots that stretch back to a collection of artists coming together in 1983 to produce work for local television.
Here’s more on their creative collective:
They still broadcast weekly. Every Sunday at midnight, you can catch about 30 minutes of ATA’s original artist work on cable; you can even mail in your own submissions (though that makes it extra hard to avoid spoilers).
ATA also screens in person. Seating about 45, the screening room shows independent films and other media.
The screening room doubles as an art gallery. Photos, paintings, and other large-format works hang above the seats.
You don’t have to go inside to view art. ATA maintains a display space in its front window.
They’re always looking for volunteers. Commit at least four hours a week, and you can come to the shows for free.
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.
No matter how many times his fans request it, Elton John is not going to play "Tiny Dancer." Not this Elton, at least. Thanks to Madame Tussauds San Francisco, the singer-songwriter remains frozen in a perpetual state of warm-up, which grants visitors a rather unique opportunity: a chance to step up to his piano and snap a photo.
At Madame Tussauds's brand new San Francisco location, there are no ropes. No barriers. No wax bodyguards. Visitors get up close and personal with famous musicians and Hollywood A-listers from past and present, finally making it possible to cast George Clooney and Marilyn Monroe in the same silent, motionless film. Historical figures from the Dalai Lama to
President Barack Obama also make appearances, as do some of the biggest names in sports.
Madame Tussauds features local icons including Steve Jobs, Harvey Milk, and Jerry Garcia inside the San Francisco section, which visitors enter beneath a recreation of the Golden Gate bridge. The attraction is itself a piece of history, as shown in a behind-the-scenes video that profiles the process for creating new wax figures and the history of Madame Tussaud herself, who began practicing her art in 1770s Paris.
Behind the Scenes at Madame Tussauds
An expert pulls back the velvet curtain on the world of wax figures, from celebrity encounters to lipstick smudges on Justin Bieber.
Quick: talk about river otters. Here are a few facts to get you started: they're members of the weasel family, they can swim at speeds reaching 7 miles per hour, and a group of them is known, tellingly, as a romp. The keepers at Aquarium of the Bay have spent months studying these sorts of facts and figures, studiously preparing for the arrival of their brand-new residents. In Otters: Watershed Ambassadors, these river kings and queens get some well-earned attention, with exhibits tracing everything from their daily habits to their conservation status.
The otters aren't alone, of course. The 50,000 square foot facility houses three main exhibit areas devoted entirely to marine life native to San Francisco Bay. These include Under the Bay, where Moon Jellies float amidst ambient lighting inside a 725-gallon cylinder tank. They share the exhibit with two tunnel tanks, which provide an undersea view of giant Pacific octopuses, spiny dogfish, swirling schools of anchovies, and the sevengill shark, the largest shark native to the bay. Visitors eager to put their other senses to work can head over to the aquarium's touch pools, where their fingertips can graze juvenile bat rays, leopard sharks, and sea stars.
Daily programs enrich visits with interactive presentations in the Bay Lab?the aquarium's land animal area?including feeding shows. And though not included in this Groupon and membership, behind the scenes tours escort guests through all of the aquarium's highlights. Over in the Bay Theater, 3D films and award-winning documentaries examine subjects such as shark species and marine conservation, while magician Timothy Noonan's 75-minute interactive show blends family-friendly comedy with illusions such as pulling a whale out of a hat.
The San Francisco Maritime National Park Association welcomes boating enthusiasts and history buffs alike to board antique ships—including a 1930s sloop yacht, an 1890 steamboat, and a nineteenth-century wooden-hulled scow schooner—docked at piers in and around the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The association even lays claim to a pristine World War II submarine, the USS Pampanito, which sees more than 110,000 visitors every year and boasts National Historic Landmark status for its world-class example of maritime preservation. They've even restored and repaired the equipment inside to full operation for an immersive and realistic experience. Another huge draw is the Balclutha, a moored 1886 square-rigged tall ship with three massive masts.
The land-locked Maritime Museum, housed inside a WPA-built structure designed to look like an ocean liner, keeps the seafaring fun going with hands-on activities and exhibits that explore the city's nautical past. In addition to answering questions and helming educational programs, staff members also recruit volunteers to pitch in aboard and around the old ships, where they can learn firsthand how to care for museum pieces, practice public speaking skills, and memorize nautical terms that will help make their stories of pirate heritage way more believable.