OK, since its Christmas time - you need to go into the City (Union Square). All of the fancy department stores are decked out, especially Macys has awesome window displays. We always take BART into the city so we don't have to worry about parking. Also - something free. Visit the Oakland Temple. Its decked out in Christmas lights and the have concerts almost every night in December. http://www.templehillevents.com/Hope that helps!
*I reccomend checking out the SF botanical gardens:http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org/*Also you should go to Ghirardelli square and eat ice cream at the Ghirardelli ice cream shop. Talk about YUM! http://www.ghirardellisq.com/ghirardellisq/food.php?id=16*Then of course there is the golden gate bridge.That's all I can think of for now, but I suggest you look into museums for sure. They are usually pretty cheap to get into. If I think of anything else I'll post again. :)
Oh I thought of one more thing. The temple! It's over in Oakland and I am positive they will have lights up and probably some performances for Christmas time.
If you go to SF, you don't have to spend a ton of money-- except for parking and bridge fees. I like the garage under Ghirardelli Square because it's close, usually has a spot or two, and isn't as pricey as some. It's free to drive down Lombard Street and to walk around Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. If you go across the Golden Gate Bridge you have to pay a toll to come back towards SF, but the view from the observation point across the bridge is awesome-- SF skyline, Bay Bridge, ocean, Golden Gate Bridge, etc. And they have a bathroom there. I like Muir Woods, too. It's north of SF, across the Bay Bridge in a state park, so up some windy roads, but cool big redwood trees. You can hike, but they also have a paved trail that's short enough and flat enough to not be too bad walking. Even along that route you can find burned out middles of trees big enough to stand inside for a photo. And if you splurge on dessert in SF Ghirardelli Square has sundaes-- probably $7 each (or $20 for the big one, 8 scoops to share), but that's our go-to place.
Lombard is cool not only because it's the "crookedest street in the world," but driving to get to it from Van Ness or so is a few very steep blocks going up. They put the stop signs at the top of the steep hill, so you park at a 45 degree angle and hope not to roll back while cross traffic goes, and then you (they're on flat road, you on steep) are the ones that have to start from scratch and get your momentum against gravity. Use a parking brake with a manual shift. :)
Half Moon Bay is nice for ocean, beaches, and quaint town, too.
Oh, and you can see elephant seals at Ano Nuevo park (spelled with some more fancy letters than mine). http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=523 It's not too far from Half Moon Bay if you're going that way.There's a lot of hiking you can do, but I'm guessing that's out for you. But the temple has a visitor's center, and they usually have Christmas lights they light sometime around Thankgsiving or first week of December, plus tons of free music groups and performances there once they do. You probably have a pamphlet at church or will soon with the events and schedule. My South African friends thought it was cool to see a mission-- the California Spanish-style Missions that Father Junipero Serra set up. They have them in Carmel, Santa Clara (on Santa Clara University campus), and Fremont, and San Juan Bautista (a couple hours south of you). I'll keep thinking. I hope you don't mind 10 comments from me about it. :)
Christmas in the Park in Caesar Chavez Park in downtown San Jose, if you're in the area. I wouldn't drive there just for that necessarily, but it's fun to see if you're that direction (and free). I have a handout with stuff to do in the Bay Area, day trips from there, etc. somewhere. If I can find it I'll email it to you. It was for a class at a RS conference one year, giving ideas of things to do in the area. Do you have PowerPoint?
yay!! i can't wait!! then you can come and visit me.
Golden Gate Park is way fun! Alcatraz Island (although I don't know how much it costs) where felons like al capone stayed... Haight/Ashbury, which is the neighborhood where the hippy movement started (and the 1st Ben and Jerry's)... Oh and the 4 level Old Navy is pretty great and I hear there is an equally awesome h&m there too! (all the good shopping is in Union Square)
ice skating in union square, walk the gg bridge, bike around the city, take a ferry to sausalito, hike lands end, i could go on for awhilelove this place :)
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