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Off the Brochure Travel Guide: San Francisco, California

Locations in this article:  Amsterdam, Netherlands San Francisco, CA

golden_gate_bridge.jpgWe’re heading back west to the great city of San Francisco. When visiting the Bay Area, it’s practically a rite of passage to shop ’til you drop in Union Square, cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and gobble down a sourdough bread bowl of steaming clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco also boasts some excellent museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art and Legion of Honor, where you’ll find the works of Klee, Monet, Picasso, and Rembrandt.

Once you’ve taken the dizzying drive down Lombard Street, we’ve got some more ideas that can make your trip a real San Francisco treat.

As Peter can tell you, exercising on the road or in your hotel room is crucial, especially if you want to avoid that jet-setting rump. For a great workout while sightseeing in the city, join Michael Isgar on a run. For 25 years, Isgar has been a professional runner, and he has been a resident of San Francisco for 20 of those years. He not only helps people train for the famous Bay to Breakers race, but he also provides guided SF Run Tours throughout the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Haight-Ashbury, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. Don’t worry; you don’t have to be a marathon runner to enjoy his tours. He will customize runs for a variety of fitness levels and interests. 415-377-0700,

San Francisco Haight AshburyIf running—or even walking—is not your style, then try the Segway of San Francisco tours. These relaxed tours take you along seaside trails in Pacifica, 14 miles south of San Francisco, and you ride quiet Segway Personal Transporters. The tours are from one to three hours, and before the tour, you will have a half-hour briefing session on how to operate a Segway (don’t worry, it’s virtually impossible for you to lose your balance). The Pacifica tour highlights include Rockaway Beach and Quarry, views from Linda Mar Beach and its surrounding hills, and Pacifica’s Pier. The Golden Gate Park tours are expected to be available by July 2007. Group rates are available for five or more, and tours begin at $60. 877-873-4929,

For more regional travel, visit our California travel section.

Open 24 hours a day, the outdoor labyrinth at Grace Cathedral offers a serene walk and great views, day and night. You’ll often see people taking measured steps in prayer or meditation.

Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CAAnyone—religious or not—is welcome to take the walk. Circular seating dots the outer edge of the labryinth, and you can take in views of the cathedral’s design inspired by 12th century French Gothic architecture. Standing on the labyrinth and looking east, you can see Huntington Park, the northern third of the Fairmont Hotel, and the Transamerica Pyramid.

And, if you visit in the early morning, you may just catch a sunrise that floods the labyrinth and Nob Hill area with an apricot-colored glow. Even celebrities have discovered the labyrinth: Kathleen Turner recently walked it in jeans and a baseball cap, and Jeff Bridges raved about it on Martha Stewart’s show last year. 415-749-6300,

Don’t miss Five Tips for Photographing the San Francisco Bay Area.

Transamerica building - photo by Lee FosterStar Wars fans, take note. Check out George Lucas’ Letterman Digital Arts Center, home to Lucasfilm. The center replaced an old, nine-story hospital and is located in the Presidio (a national park), and although the buildings are technically closed to the public, you can enjoy a stroll through 17-acre park with a lagoon and flowing creek. The park is beautifully landscaped with a lagoon and flowing creek, and you can even spot a bronze statue of Yoda. World-renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin designed the center’s grounds. 415-395-4900,

If you do plan on visiting the Legion of Honor, make sure to check out its Symphonic Organ. In 1924, Jon Spreckels commissioned the organ to be built, which is located in the museum above the main galleries. The organ, which is housed inside the museum above the main galleries, has some 4,500 pipes, a battery of pneumatically operated percussion instruments and a set of tubular chimes. It even has a thunder pedal, which is used as a musical representation of storms.

The organ concert program not only plays Bach and Gershwin, but it also plays Sousa marches, Gilbert and Sullivan, and film music of Hollywood. The museum offers a free weekly recital on Saturdays and Sundays from 4 to 5 p.m. Also, you can get into the museum for free on the first Tuesday of every month. Regular admission to the museum is $10 for adults and $6 for children. 415-863-3330,

If you’re traveling to San Francisco, don’t miss this guide to its culinary delights: Three Days, Nine Meals: San Francisco.

If you want to learn about something called “easy cooking” this summer, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture recently launched Easy Market Meals, a culinary program at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Every other Tuesday until August 21, you can watch a free cooking demonstration and learn some ideas for quick, 20-minute meals.

San Francisco Cooking DemoThe program features local ingredients found at the farmers market, and you will leave with a sample, recipe, and a suggested shopping list. Easy Market Meals will take place on the north side of the market June 26, July 10 and 24, and August 7 and 21. 415-291-3276,

Does dinner in bed sound like a treat? Then dine at supperclub. A trend that began in Amsterdam, this restaurant mixes good food, music, performances, and art. From the moment your hostess escorts you to your “bed” with comfy pillows, you will be taken aback by this unusual dining experience. It offers a variety of special dinner or after-dinner events, several of which require reservations, so make sure to book ahead. The supperclub has its own DJs, and it features unique, experimental performances, such as aerial dancers dangling on a ring suspended from the ceiling. The restaurant also exhibits a variety of art forms, such as oil painting, photography, installations, and graffiti. 415-348-0900,

By Monique-Marie DeJong for

If you’re traveling to San Francisco, don’t miss this guide to its culinary delights: Three Days, Nine Meals: San Francisco.

For local shopping, don’t miss Suzy Gershman’s Bay Area Baubles.

Don’t miss: Five Tips for Photographing the San Francisco Bay Area

Nearby, don’t miss Sausalito, California as well as Half Moon Bay, California.

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