By Elaine Glusac
With its zigzagging avenues, funky neighborhoods, and colorful street performers, eclectic San Francisco buzzes with excitement.
Sights to see: Start your tour by driving down one of San Fran's famous byways, either Lombard Street, with its hairpin turns, or Filbert Street, where stairways ascend to hidden houses, lush gardens, and wild parrots. For a new twist on sightseeing, try a Segway tour; a guide will narrate the city's history while you twist and turn through the streets on an electric scooter (electrictourcompany.com, $70). Fisherman's Wharf is worth a stop, but skip the arcade and wax museum and head to the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, where antique schooners, tugs, and square riggers -- many of which you can board -- line the pier.
Family fun: Set sail for Alcatraz -- a.k.a. the Rock -- from Pier 33 and learn about the history of the island famous for housing notorious criminals. Tickets often sell out so book them before your trip (alcatrazcruises.com). Then celebrate San Francisco's unique modes of transportation on the F-line, a fleet of vintage streetcars from around the world. Follow the waterfront route, getting off at the Ferry Building Marketplace for a fish taco, garlic fries, and a hand-scooped milk shake at Taylor's Refresher.
Off the expense account: The sunny Hotel Del Sol in San Francisco's Marina District is a stylishly refurbished motel that offers a children's video library and a walking tour of the area led by a Golden Gate Greeter (reservations required). Rooms from $119. Info: 415-391-2000