Muir Woods National Monument#13 in Best Things To Do in San Francisco
What better exemplifies California's dramatic landscape than sky-high redwood trees? That's what you'll find at Muir Woods, the beautiful and expansive national monument just 16 miles north of San Francisco. This attraction is a must-see for anyone looking to get up close and personal with some of California's most famous topography, not to mention a nice break from the bustle of the big city. The largest redwood tree in Muir Woods measures about 258 feet tall. To give you a better visual, imagine 45 six-foot-tall individuals stacked on top of each other. And if that wasn't enough to impress, the average age of redwoods in Muir Woods is 600 to 800 years, and that's not even some of the oldest in the park at the moment.
There are 6 miles of trails visitors are able to explore at Muir Woods. The hikes at the national monument are generally short (between 30 minutes and an hour-and-a-half). Those looking for a trek should venture to the nearby Mount Tamalpais State Park. In addition to giant redwood groves, travelers also have the option of exploring on-site beaches, including Rodeo Beach, Muir Beach or the larger Stinson Beach, which is closer to Mount Tamalpais State Park.
Travelers consistently report being in awe of Muir Woods National Monument, often calling it beautiful and serene. And for such a popular attraction, visitors were impressed with how well-kept the grounds and trails are. Though some attribute the excellent maintenance partly due to the lack of crowds. The reason for this, according to some, is the lack of adequate parking. Past visitors have said that lots fill up fast and some had to park on the roads to get in. To avoid this, arrive early or schedule alternative transportation (such as a bus tour).
If you don't have a car, you can take the bus to Muir Woods. The Route 66 Muir Woods Shuttle bus can take you there, however, it doesn't leave from San Francisco. The closest shuttle stop from San Francisco is from Sausalito, which can be reached from San Francisco via ferry from either Fisherman's Wharf or the Ferry Building. Admission to Muir Woods costs $15 for adults and is free for those younger than 16. Muir Woods welcomes visitors every day at 8 a.m. Closing times vary by season. For more information, consult the National Park Service website.
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#1 California Academy of Sciences
Attention all traveling families: recent visitors said this is the perfect place to bring kids in San Francisco. The California Academy of Sciences brims with plenty of things to see, including an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and even a rainforest.
The Steinhart Aquarium is home to about 40,000 animals representing more than 900 different species, including a penguin colony from Africa, a swamp with an albino alligator, a shark lagoon and a separate 100,000-gallon tank that mirrors the ecosystem of the California coast. Meanwhile, the Osher Rainforest houses 1,600 animals, including 250 free-flying birds and about 100 reptiles and amphibians in its four-story complex. The Morrison Planetarium is known for its 75-foot-diameter screen, which screens "Tour of the Universe" shows daily. And the Kimball Natural History Museum boasts dinosaur fossils, an interactive science exhibit and a unique earthquake simulator.
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