Thursday, April 18, 2013

East Brother Light Station

Last week, I finally visited East Brother Light Station, a Victorian lighthouse on a small island just off the Richmond (East Bay) shore.  The beautiful lighthouse and keepers' home was built in 1873.  After years of neglect, a non-profit organization took over the buildings and restored them to their former glory.

East Brother is a ten-minute boat ride from Point Molate, not far from Point Richmond.  The drive to the dock is an adventure as you pass through the old naval fuel depot and by the Winehaven Winery castle.  The road to the Point San Pablo Marina hasn't seen fresh asphalt in many years so drive slowly or you'll be paying for a new suspension for your vehicle.

Richard, one of the keepers, will pick you up at the marina and take you to the island.  The ride is usually calm as this is a protected part of  San Pablo Bay.  When you arrive at the island, you will climb a ladder to the light station.  Your bags, along with the boat, will be hoisted up to the island.

Once you arrive, you will be treated to beautiful views of the Bay, Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, and San Francisco.

If you are visiting for the day, like we were, Richard will take you on a tour of the light station.  We got to fire up the old fog horn and let it blast a few times.  We were then left to enjoy the picnic lunch that we brought and to relax with friends for a few hours.

If you stay overnight in the bed and breakfast, you will be served dinner and breakfast.  Since water is very scarce on the island, visitors may only shower if they stay more than one night.  If you visit between November and early April the current fog horn sounds regularly.  Some guests can sleep through the noise while others find sleeping difficult.

If you enjoy lighthouses, I recommend visiting East Brother.  Day trips are available on most Saturdays during the dry season (April - October).  Overnight accommodation is available year round, Thursday to Sunday.  Most folks stay one night.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Exploratorium Opens in New Home on April 17

San Francisco's interactive science museum, the Exploratorium, left its long-time home in the Palace of Fine Arts in January.  This Wednesday, April 17, the wonderful museum will open in its new home at Pier 15 on The Embarcadero.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to see the new facility.  While not all of the exhibits were operational, I saw many old favorites as well as quite a few new exhibits.  Children of all ages will enjoy exploring these many wonderful interactive science lessons.  The new building houses six galleries, each with different areas to explore.  In addition, beautiful views of the bay can be seen from the deck at the rear of the museum.  

One of San Francisco's iconic chefs, Loretta Keller, developed the food program at the museum.  The Seaglass Restaurant is a sit-down restaurant at the rear of the building that offers beautiful views of San Francisco Bay and family-friendly fare.  On the street side of the Exploratorium, the Seismic Joint Cafe offers food to go.

The Exploratorium is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 until 5:00, except on Wednesday when it closes at 10:00.  On Thursday from 6:00 until 10:00 p.m., the museum is open only to adults age 18 and over.  Various ticket packages are available with discounts offered to Bay Area residents.  The new museum is sure to be a hit so buy your tickets in advance.  Take public transportation to the museum as parking is limited.  The F line, with its historic streetcars, stops in front of the museum.

If you are visiting San Francisco with children, the Exploratorium is one of the city's must-see attractions.