Monday, June 1, 2015

Bay Area Spotlight - Free Bay Area Museum Days

Bay Area Travel Spotlight
FREE Bay Area Museum Days

By Alberto Escalante

source - John k  //

The bay area has some amazing museums to check out, but visiting them can become a little pricey, especially with kids in tow. There is a solution however, free museum days! Each month, most museums offer at least one free day for everyone to enjoy a day of history and culture. Here is the list of all the free museums this week...

de Young Museum

Free Day / Hours - Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 9:30am to 5:15pm 

Location - 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA
                  at Golden Gate Park

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About - Designed by the renowned Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and Fong & Chan Architects in San Francisco, the new de Young provided San Francisco with a landmark art museum to showcase the museum’s priceless collections of American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, Textile arts, and art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

Legion of Honor

Free Day / Hours - Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 9:30am to 5:15pm

Location - 100 34th Avenue, San Francisco, CA

Website -

About - Built to commemorate Californian soldiers who died in World War I, the Legion of Honor is a beautiful Beaux-arts building located in San Francisco's Lincoln Park. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco, the Legion is most noted for its breathtaking setting. Its collections include Rodin's Thinker, which sits in the museum's Court of Honor, European decorative arts and paintings, Ancient art, and one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the country.

Conservatory of Flowers

Free Day / Hours - Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 10am to 4:30pm

Location - 100 John F. Kennedy Drive San Francisco, CA
                  at Golden Gate Park

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About - The Conservatory of Flowers has captivated guests for more than a century. This gem of Victorian architecture has a long and storied history, and is the oldest public wood-and-glass conservatory in North America. Travelers from all over the earth stroll through the warm Special Exhibit Gallery where biannual exhibits feature prehistoric landscapes or swamps teeming with hungry carnivorous plants.

Contemporary Jewish Museum

Free Day / Hours - Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 11am to 5pm

Location - 736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA

Website -

About - Since its founding in 1984, the Contemporary Jewish Museum has distinguished itself as a welcoming place where visitors can connect with one another through dialogue and shared experiences with the arts, history, and ideas of Jewish culture.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Free Day / Hours - Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 12pm to 8pm

Location - 701 Mission Street San Francisco, CA

Website -

About - Yerba Buena Center for the Arts was founded in 1993 out of an expressed need for an accessible, high-profile San Francisco venue devoted to contemporary visual art, performance, and film/video representing diverse cultural and artistic perspectives. Distinguished by its support for contemporary artists from around the world, YBCA is also recognized for the important role the organization plays in the San Francisco Bay Area arts ecology and in the community at large.

Bay Area Discovery Museum

Free Day / Hours - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 9am to 5pm

Location - 557 McReynolds Rd, Sausalito, CA

Website -

About - The Bay Area Discovery Museum is designed to ignite creative thinking in children. The 7.5 acres of natural beauty inspires families to engage in a world of possibilities. Framed by the majestic backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Museum is a space for imaginations to run wild. Every curated detail of our exhibits brings creative thinking to life for all stages of childhood. Navigate winding tunnels to develop physical and intellectual risk-taking skills. Feel the rush of cold-water tide pools that surprise and awaken curiosity. Imagine new worlds by transforming into a spider, a ship captain, or a bridge builder. At every turn is a new opportunity to challenge the boundaries of creativity.

Pez Museum

Free Day / Hours - Thursday, June 4, 2015 - 10am to 6pm

Location - 214 California Drive Burlingame, California

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About - Three Museums in one!An icon of American pop culture, PEZ has been dispensing fun and candy for over 60 years! Over 900 unique Pez characters have been produced since 1950. 

The Classic Toy Museum features the favorite toys of the 20th century.Original toys on display include Mr. Potato Head, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Ant Farms, Erector Sets, Colorforms, Wheel-Os, Slinkys, Frisbee, View-Masters, LEGO and an Easy Bake Oven

The Banned Toy Museum features many of these toys, including the Atomic Energy Laboratory, Lawn Darts, and the "potty mouth" talking Po doll.

History Museum of Redwood City

Free Day / Hours - Friday, June 5, 2015 - 10am to 4pm

Location - 2200 Broadway Street, Redwood City

Website -

About - The San Mateo County Historical Association started in 1935. Dr Frank Stanger, the first executive director, goals were preserving the county's historical sites, developing an archive for the county’s history and creating a museum dedicated to preserving reminders of the county’s past.

Oakland Art Murmur

Free Day / Hours - Friday, June 5, 2015 - 6pm to 9pm

Location - Grand to Broadway Streets Oakland, CA

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About - Approximately 30 member galleries are open to the public from 6-9 pm. Additionally Telegraph above Grand and below 27th is closed to car traffic, and craft, art, and food vendors are set up along this corridor as part of Oakland First Fridays.

Bank of America Free Weekend Perks

About - Holders of Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit cards and debit cards get free admission to six Bay Area museums and two Sacramento museums for the first weekend each month.

Participating Museums -

San Francisco - Contemporary Jewish Museum // de Young Museum  //  Legion of Honor

Oakland - Chabot Space & Science Center

San Jose - San Jose Museum of Art  //  The Tech Museum of Innovation

Mountain View - Computer History Museum

Sacramento - Crocker Art Museum  //  The California Museum

Asian Art Museum

Free Day / Hours - Sunday, June 7, 2015 - 10am to 5pm

Location - 200 Larkin Street San Francisco, CA

Website -

About - Strategically located on the Pacific Rim and serving one of the most diverse communities in the United States, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco – Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is uniquely positioned to lead a diverse, global audience in discovering the distinctive materials, aesthetics and intellectual achievements of Asian art and cultures, and to serve as a bridge of understanding between Asia and the United States and between the diverse cultures of Asia.

Oakland Museum of California

Free Day / Hours - Sunday, June 7, 2015 - 10am to 5pm

Location - 100 Oak Street Oakland, CA

Website -

About - When the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) first opened its doors more than forty years ago, it brought together three historically independent disciplines—art, history, and natural sciences—under one roof. This progressive multidisciplinary approach was to celebrate the many facets of California. Our collections—comprising more than 1.9 million objects including seminal art works, historical artifacts, ethnographic objects, natural specimens, and photographs—and our programs explore and reveal the factors that shape California character and identity, from its extraordinary natural landscapes, to successive waves of migration, to its unique culture of creativity and innovation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

San Francisco Restaurants: Chinatown

San Francisco Restaurants: Chinatown
July 22, 2014
By Andy West

photo by David Yu - - Creative Commons

     San Francisco's Chinatown sprung to life in the mid-1800's as a colony within the young western city for Chinese immigrants. Many of these immigrants were drawn to the United States for the proliferation of work available at the time, particularly on the budding railroad system. The areas around the San Francisco neighborhoods of Telegraph Hill and North Beach became a home away from home for the city's considerable Chinese population, who designed buildings and decorated the streets in the traditional styles of their native country. Over the decades, the emphasis on maintaining cultural roots through architecture, Chinese businesses, and traditional Chinese parades and festivals has helped keep the area a vibrant, unique, and exciting part of the city at large.

     As Chinatown developed over the years, so did its reputation of being a home to some of the finest cultural exhibits and endeavors - both Chinese and America - such as literature, film, art, music, and of course cuisine. Many of the traditional Chinese restaurants located in the area are as old as Chinatown itself, including some landmark San Francisco restaurants like the Far East Cafe. The Far East Cafe that stands today was built in 1920 to replace the original restaurant that was compromised in the famous quake of 1906. One of the most popular culinary destinations in Chinatown, this restaurant serves traditional Szechuan and Cantonese dishes.
     Another longtime resident is the Chinatown Restaurant, opened in 1919. The Chinatown Restaurant is famous for serving both traditional Chinese dishes and Mongolian cuisine. It is famous for its dim sum, fin soup, and steamed fish dishes. Famous visitors such as Leonardo DiCaprio are frequently spotted here. 
Photo by - Adam Fagen -
 - Creative Commons - 
     While many of the San Francisco restaurants in Chinatown are traditional Chinese eateries, the area hosts some of the hottest club spots in the city. One of the most famous nightlife spots is the Blind Tiger, located on Broadway, which provides a fun and fresh dance atmosphere melded seamlessly with an Eastern flair. Grant Avenue is home to the Buddha Cocktail Lounge, which features reasonably priced drinks and food along with a massive Buddha statue located behind the bar. And of course Red's Place, the oldest bar in Chinatown, is a must visit for those who want to sip a true piece of San Francisco history.
     Whether you are looking for traditional Chinese cuisine, an exotic club atmosphere, or just a little bit of General Tso's chicken as you take in the sights of the city, you will find the best of San Francisco restaurants in the intoxicating neighborhood of Chinatown. Yet as you stop in for your meal, remember that the neighborhood is a vibrant, historically-charged locale that has much more to offer than just exquisite cuisine. Be sure to stop and take in the grandeur of the famous Chinatown Gate, or the other worldliness of Waverly Place, or Buddha's Universal Church, the largest Buddhist church in the United States. You will feel completely transferred away from the American Pacific Coast to the intriguing, striking, and foreign world of the Far East, yet be able to be home by dinner. Now who's ready for some authentic dumplings?
     Andy West is a writer on a variety of topics, including San Francisco. Eating at San Francisco restaurants in Chinatown is just one of the many San Francisco things to do in this great city.

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