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7 Awesome Experiences Unique To The Bay Area

    Even those who live here year-round still feel the draw of the Golden Gate Bridge or want to spend a day in the wine country. Here are some uniquely Bay Area experiences that top our list.

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    Golden Gate Bridge

    San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge is easily accessible for those who wish to walk or bike across. You can grab some limited parking on either side (or use public transit) and traverse the span of the bridge. It can get pretty windy, so hold onto your hats!

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    Alcatraz Island

    Not many former military facilities and federal prisons have the lure of Alcatraz, drawing regular crowds of tourists. Take a boat out to the island, where you can listen to audio recordings from correctional officers and inmates, then visit the island's lush gardens. Want something a little different? Try the night tour.

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    NASA Ames Research Center

    NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field
credit: NASA Ames

    The NASA Ames Research Center (at Moffett Field, about 15 miles out of San Jose) is closed to the public, but there's a visitor center where you can spend a good hour learning about all the cool stuff that goes on there. The visitor center has a self-guided tour and exhibits include a high-res immersive theater (including Mars missions and simulated flights through the Milky Way); models of spacecraft missions from NASA Ames; and a real lunar sample from the Apollo 15 mission.

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    Meadowood Napa Valley

    Room at Meadowood resort
credit: Courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley

    There's not much that Meadowood in Napa Valley doesn't offer for those seeking some rest, relaxation and recreation. The St. Helena resort has beautiful views, luxury accommodations, a newly opened spa, wine sampling, golf, tennis, croquet, hiking, swimming—and a Michelin 3-star restaurant on-site.

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    NightLife at Cal Academy

    Credit: Jason Mongue (with permission from Cal Academy)

    The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park has plenty to do and see during the day, but every Thursday the museum keeps its doors open a little later for its NightLife program from 6-10 pm. Open during that time to those 21 and older, NightLife brings together scientific talks and presentations with an eclectic mix of art, exhibits, DJs and live bands, depending on the theme. NightLife VIP tours include cocktails.

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    Mount Tamalpais

    To see the natural beauty of the Bay Area, take a hike down Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County to Stinson Beach. If you time your hike right, you can catch a bus to shuttle you up the mountain then hike back down to where you left your car.

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    Winchester Mystery House

    Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
credit: Winchester Mystery House

    What list of unique Bay Area experiences would be complete without mention of San Jose's Winchester Mystery House, one of the most unique homes in the nation? Built by Sarah Winchester between 1884 and 1922 (rooms were constantly torn down or added), the home is a maze of twisting hallways, stairs that go down seven steps and up 11 and secret passageways. And, yes, ghost stories are a big part of the home's allure.