The hills are alive in San Francisco…

Golden Gate Park – This park is one of the largest urban parks in the world and is truly a playground for all ages. In addition to the California Academy of Sciences which is home to an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum, you can enjoy the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the Herschell-Spillman Carousel. Throughout the park you’ll discover gardens, playgrounds, lakes, picnic groves, trails and monuments. Plus, there are an array of cultural venues, events and sports activities.

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PIER 39 – Located along the historic San Francisco waterfront known as Fisherman’s Wharf, PIER 39 offers a bounty for your senses. This location affords spectacular views of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the impressive city skyline. You’ll marvel at the sea lions that have made the pier their home. Indulge your senses with the famous clam chowder and sourdough bread. From shopping and dining to entertainment and attractions, PIER 39 has it all.

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 The Cable Car Museum – The first cable car went into service on Clay Street in 1873. Located in the historic Washington/Mason cable car barn and powerhouse, the museum deck overlooks the huge engines and winding wheels that pull the cables. From downstairs you can view the large sheaves and cable line entering the building under the street. In addition to housing three antique cable cars from the 1870s, one of which is the only surviving car from the first cable car company, on display are historic photographs and the mechanical devices needed to operate the system.

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The Presidio – What once a military post for over 200 years is now a natural park site and recreational wonderland replete with historic and architectural riches, amazing vistas, spectacular flora and fauna and a wealth of military accomplishments. The entire Presidio is designated as a National Historic Landmark with 470 of the 870 structures on the former post considered to have historical significance.

 

 

San Francisco Zoo & Gardens – Nestled against the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Zoo is home to over 1,000 exotic, endangered and rescued animals representing more than 250 species. In addition, the impressive gardens, abundant with native and foreign plants, are part of the conservation effort in place throughout the zoo. You’ll hear from the keepers and see the passion they have for the animals that will surely leave you with a lasting impression – one of caring, dedication and overall well-being for the animals.

 

Amusement Parks in Virginia

Virginia is for lovers… of roller coasters! Boasting some of the most scenic country and historical sights on the East Coast, Virginia also has some of the best amusement parks in the nation.

Adrenaline and roller coasters: have no fear (or maybe have a little fear)! Here are a couple of the best amusement parks in Virginia.

Busch Gardens
Busch-Gardens

Perhaps one of the most recognized amusement parks in the nation, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, located in the Historic Triangle area, is renowned for its stunning grounds. It also earns its title with some very thrilling rides. Take, for instance, Apollo’s Chariot. Since its inception, the roller coaster has repeatedly earned its place among the top 10 steel roller coasters in the world, and with the first drop exceeding 200 feet, it’s easy to see why people keep coming back. Another ride, the Alpengeist, is the world’s tallest inverted roller coaster (riders’ feet dangle), and has been a fan favorite since it’s completion in 1997.

Lines for these and other coasters can get long which can get pretty grueling to wait in when the temperature’s high. To escape the heat, attendees should ride The Curse of
DarKastle. This cool, spooky ride utilizes some of the best 3D technology to give riders an immersive fright.

If roller coasters aren’t your thing, Bush Gardens also offers stage productions, musicals, seasonal events, depending on the time of year (including Bier Fest and annual Halloween attractions).

Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion
Another Virginia amusement park is Kings Dominion, located 20 miles north of Richmond, and close enough to Washington D.C. that tourists and political thrill-seekers should make the drive.

Some of the famous roller coasters at Kings Dominion include The Intimidator and the Dominator. A must for those who aren’t afraid of heights, The Intimidator falls a stomach-churning 305 feet in its initial drop. The Dominator is the longest floor-less, steel coaster in the world.

Strange attractions in Southern California

When people think of Southern California, they often conjure up endless summer, beach bodies, Hollywood, and a never-ending party. Despite its sunny disposition, however, Southern California is home to many strange and odd attractions—it’s like that saying: the brightest photographs have the darkest negatives. Here are a couple unique attractions that veer from the norm.

Haunted So Cal: The Whaley House
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Compared to most places in the world, Los Angeles and San Diego are relatively young cities, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have rich, ghostly histories. The Whaley House, located in Old Town San Diego, is considered one of the “most haunted places on Earth.” Among many of the ghosts that are said to haunt the place, the most notorious is Yankee Jim, who was convicted of grand larceny and hanged in the gallows on the property in 1852. Although the Whaley House may seem like a tourist trap, the colorful tour guides and genuine creepiness of the place make it worthwhile.

Don’t have a cow: Crazee Burger
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San Diego has a great variety of craft cuisine and delicious eats,
but Crazee Burger, located in North Park San Diego, is one of the most diverse restaurants in the area. At this establishment, foodies venture out of their comfort zones and try exotic burgers  made from buffalo, ostrich, kangaroo and even alligator. Of course, regular beef patties are also available for the non-adventurists.

Just deserts: Joshua Tree National Forest and the Salton Sea
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For those wanting to escape the crowds and traffic of Southern Californian cities, the deserts to the east offer a wide assortment of strange sights and attractions. Joshua Tree National Park, a popular destination for Los Angelinos, is full of natural landscapes and vegetation that feel straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Farther south, perhaps the strangest attraction is the Salton Sea. After an effort to turn the lake into a beach resort in the 1950s, the water inflow/outflow stagnated, increasing the salinity and diminishing the ability to support life. Now, the beach is covered in fish skeletons; ghost towns and abandoned structures surround the lake. Simultaneously haunting and beautiful, the Salton Sea offers a post-apocalyptic glimpse of the past.