When you’re in town for RSA, don’t forget to check out some of the interesting sights throughout the city and in the surrounding area. Some of my favorite spots include Golden Gate Park, SF-MOMA, The Academy of Science, Muir Woods, the Sutro Bath House ruins, and the absurd switchbacks of Lombard Street. It can be a challenge cramming it all into one visit, so I wanted to take a couple minutes to highlight some of the more interesting activities.
Alcatraz, for example, is one of the coolest tours you can take. Booking tickets can be difficult, as there is only one cruise line that operates between San Francisco and the prison island. Travelers are advised to acquire tickets through the online website well in advance, but there may still be a few left. Some tickets are reserved for last-minute additions at the gate, so even if you can’t get tickets in advance, it may still be worth taking a shot in the dark and showing up anyway.
There are several different times you can take the tour. The morning slot is generally the last one to fill up and the evening slot is gone before you know it. Perhaps the popularity of the evening tour is driven by the spectacular sunset view of the city as you push out of Fisherman’s Wharf and head towards the notorious defunct military base turned dilapidated inescapable correctional institution. Personally, I enjoy the daylight tours a little more, as you can see much more of the island during the day and the content of the tour is no different. Visitors are guided through the prison with a small audio device and a headset. Each point of interest is narrated by someone who either worked at the prison, or did time there. Either way, it’s an unreal educational experience well worth the time.
Another great tour available in SF is located in the heart of Golden Gate Park near the Academy of Science. Put your dignity on hold and get ready for a surprisingly fun trip around the diverse and thoughtfully organized gardens that make the park what it is. Try to ignore all the pedestrians, pointing fingers and silently judging you as you whip through the trails on a Segway, diligently following your “Electric Tour Company” tour guide. Visitors congregate at the meeting spot nestled in a little shady street running perpendicular to the Academy of science.
A quick training session ensures you understand the basic workings of a Segway and teaches you how to avoid a full face plant or collision with your fellow tourists. Once you master the complex balancing act required to keep the Segway up-right and headed in the right direction, the tour guide begins the procession through a carefully selected circuit winding through some of the more notable gardens. Participants can look forward to stepping back in time as they pass through the Ancient Plant Garden, followed by the clever arrangement of plants referenced by and in the Shakespeare garden, and far too many more to enumerate; the tour guide ever ready to give a full background on each garden and answer any questions. You’ll truly come to appreciate the ingenious transport device as you finally step off, receive you’re corny certificate of Segway competence, and begin reflecting on why your muscles are so fatigued after just standing around all day. So look past the stigma, the spectacle, and your sense of pride, and give the Segway tours a shot. It’s well worth it.
I look forward to seeing you at RSA and hope everyone enjoys their stay in this wonderful city. Find me on the show floor to let me know what you think of these sights and, if nothing else, at least take a few minutes to check out SF-MOMA, located just across the street from the Moscone Center.
San Francisco Tourism Spots for RSA Travelers: