An­cient Rep­tiles in Flight

Where San Francisco - - The Guide Sights -

A new ex­hibit at the Cal­i­for­nia Acad­emy of Sciences will take you back hun­dreds of mil­lions of years. “Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Di­nosaurs” of­fers a rare glimpse into the life of an­cient fly­ing rep­tiles called pterosaurs, the first ver­te­brates to evolve pow­ered flight. Walk be­neath a life-size model of the gi­ant crea­tures, ex­am­ine pterosaur skulls and an­cient fos­sils, learn about the lat­est re­search from lead­ing pa­le­on­tol­o­gists and ex­pe­ri­ence flight for your­self. 55 Mu­sic Con­course Dr., 415.379.8000

AT­TRAC­TIONS & SIGHTS AL­CA­TRAZ CRUISES

This is the only way to get to “The Rock,” the fa­mous for­mer fed­eral pen­i­ten­tiary that housed some of the na­tion’s most no­to­ri­ous crim­i­nals from 1934-1963. Now one of San Francisco’s most pop­u­lar vis­i­tor at­trac­tions, fer­ries depart reg­u­larly for the is­land from Pier 33 start­ing at 8:45 am. The dy­namic 45-minute cell­house au­dio tour, of­fered in 11 lan­guages, fea­tures the voices of for­mer Al­ca­traz prison guards and in­mates who re­count es­cape at­tempts, prison ri­ots and soli­tary con­fine­ment. The night tours in­clude a nar­rated boat ride around the is­land. Tours sell out quickly, so be sure to make reser­va­tions in ad­vance. Pier 33, 415.981.7625.

AQUAR­IUM OF THE BAY

Visit San Francisco’s only water­front aquar­ium to get up close and per­sonal with the bay’s amaz­ing marine life. Walk through crys­tal- clear tun­nels of water filled with more than 20,000 aquatic an­i­mals, in­clud­ing se­v­engill sharks, the bay’s largest preda­tors. You can touch leop­ard sharks, rays and sea stars. Daily events in­clude an­i­mal feed­ings and nat­u­ral­ist pre­sen­ta­tions. Don’t miss the per­ma­nent river ot­ter ex­hibit, where you can watch ot­ters play­ing, swim­ming and eat­ing. Pier 39, 415.623.5300.

BAKER BEACH

This mile-long beach lies at the base of the rugged cliffs west of the Golden Gate. No swim­ming here, but bring your cam­era for great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Head­lands and Lands End. 415.561.4323.

COIT TOWER

Upon her death in 1929, so­cialite and art pa­tron Lil­lie Hitch­cock Coit be­queathed funds for the “beau­ti­fi­ca­tion of the city.” Her heirs used the money to build Coit Tower on Tele­graph Hill. Com­pleted in 1933, the fluted col­umn pro­vides bird’s- eye views from an ob­ser­va­tion deck near the top. Lo­cal artists com­mis­sioned by the Works Progress Ad­min­is­tra­tion (a New Deal agency em­ploy­ing mil­lions of un­skilled work­ers to carry out pub­lic works projects) painted the mu­rals in­side in 1934. Ad­mis­sion to the ground-floor gift shop and mu­rals is free. Open daily 10 am- 6:30 pm. Guided mu­ral tours 11 am Sa. 1 Tele­graph Hill Blvd., 415.249.0995.

CON­SER­VA­TORY OF FLOW­ERS

The botan­i­cal won­der­land in Golden Gate Park is the old­est wood and glass con­ser­va­tory in North Amer­ica. The strik­ing white ex­te­rior is as eye- catch­ing as the in­side, which houses nearly 2,000 plant species in five gal­leries. Closed M. 100 JFK Dr., Golden Gate Park, 415.831.2090.

CRISSY FIELD

A na­tion­ally pro­tected for­mer U. S. Army air­field, this strik­ingly scenic water­front re­cre­ation area is now a fa­vorite among ac­tive lo­cals and vis­i­tors. A wide (stroller and wheel­chair-friendly) trail be­tween Ma­rina Green and Fort Point is per­fect for an easy walk, jog or bike ride. Of­fer­ing un­par­al­leled views of the Golden Gate Bridge in one di­rec­tion and the city in the other, the shore­line is home to sandy beaches, pic­nic ta­bles, tidal marsh over­looks and a na­tion­ally renowned wind­surf­ing site, as well as cafes, book­stores and an en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter. 415.561.7690.

FERRY BUILD­ING MAR­KET­PLACE

The his­toric, ren­o­vated ferry ter­mi­nal at the foot of Mar­ket Street is now a world- class food mar­ket with more than 40 shops and restau­rants fea­tur­ing some of the area’s most prized ar­ti­sanal treats: rich Cow­girl Cream­ery cheese, but­tery Mi­ette Patis­serie madeleines and Rec­chiuti choco­lates redo­lent of laven­der and gin­ger. It is also the spot for one of the na­tion’s best and big­gest farm­ers mar­kets on Tues­day, Thurs­day and Sat­ur­day morn­ings, fea­tur­ing col­or­ful dis­plays of lo­cal pro­duce, meat, cheese, flow­ers, cook­ing demos, food trucks and more. 415.983.8030.

FISH­ER­MAN’S WHARF

You’ll find crab stands along the side­walks, seafood restau­rants and a bevy of sou­venir shops in the his­toric heart of the city’s fish­ing in­dus­try. Sev­eral bay char­ter boats depart from the piers. Nearby is the bustling food and shop­ping cen­ter Ghi­rardelli Square, scenic Aquatic Park and his­toric Hyde Street Pier. 415.673.3530.

FORT POINT

This pow­er­ful fort guarded the Golden Gate Bridge en­trance for al­most half a cen­tury un­til its orig­i­nal can­nons were re­moved. Vis­i­tors can ex­plore its brick case­mates, grand arches and spi­ral stairs and even par­tic­i­pate in a can­non drill. Long Ave. and Marine Dr., Bldg. 999, 415.556.1693. Map 2, E1

GHI­RARDELLI SQUARE

The ren­o­vated for­mer choco­late fac­tory site is now home to bou­tiques, restau­rants and the orig­i­nal Ghi­rardelli Ice Cream and Choco­late Shop. Find gifts and sou­venirs at Lola Toy Shop, Gigi + Rose,

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