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This notorious island right off the coast of San Francisco was once thought to be cursed by Native Americans, who dubbed it “Evil Island.” Home to the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast, military fortifications and a rather large seabird colony, Alcatraz Island is most famous for the prison that held prisoners for 30 years and was thought to be inescapable. The island’s bloody and violent history came to a peak in 1946 when a failed escape attempt by 6 prisoners turned into the Battle of Alcatraz, which resulted in the gruesome deaths of 2 guards and 3 inmates.

Tonight, at 9|8c, the Ghost Adventures crew visits Alcatraz Island to see if those inmates and guards who spent their last hours inside the prison walls still linger among the cell blocks. While you watch, don’t forget to hangout with other GA fans in the Fan Lair and share your thoughts on the lockdown!

Want to take your own tour of Alcatraz Island? Plan a trip to San Francisco with the help of our travel guide, but before you go, see how the guys prepared for The Rock.

photo by Patty Hodapp

San Francisco often sits shrouded in a heavy fog bank — a clash of salty Pacific Ocean air and savory aromas wafting from food trucks. Like most cities, there’s a riot of noise: boat horns blasting in the harbor, buses screeching as they whip around corners, racked surfboards knocking atop cars, tourists talking in several languages. But don’t let it fool you. Despite its concrete-jungle appearance, there are plenty of outdoorsy things to do for the active first-time Bay Area visitor. Here are 4 ideas to get you started:

Bike Along the Embarcadero and Marina Boulevard

Bay Area Bike Share launched at the end of August to increase cycling in San Francisco. 700 bikes placed at docking stations around the peninsula and Bay Area are now available for both city dwellers and tourists to use. Grab one of the new mint green bikes (skip the rental stations that charge a fortune) and cruise west from the Ferry Building along The Embarcadero’s piers. From Marina Boulevard, you can jump on the paved path and bike toward the Golden Gate Bridge. When you’re done, simply return your bike to the nearest docking station. A 24-hour pass costs $9. Heads up, trips longer than 30-minutes incur small overtime fees.

Trail Run in Presidio National Park

The Presidio, located on the northwest tip of the peninsula, is actually a historic military post that was converted into a national park. It now offers quiet trails prime for running that weave through treed bluffs home to 130 bird species. You can climb up to several vista overlooks of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge — my favorite is Inspiration Point, situated above the park’s largest watershed, Tennessee Hollow.

For up-close, postcard-like views of the Golden Gate, follow signs to Crissy Field Overlook. Tuck your phone in your shorts pocket. You won’t want to miss this photo op.

Writer Patty Hodapp hiking through the Redwoods.

Hike Through Redwoods in Mt. Tamalpais State Park

Hikers looking for a workout as they experience California’s legendary Redwoods shouldn’t park at Muir Woods National Monument (what most guidebooks recommend, and what most tourists opt for). Instead, take Mill Valley’s Panoramic Highway a couple miles higher into Mount Tamalpais State Park. Park your car at the wide roadside access point. From here, take Ocean View Trail, which switchbacks down from redwood treetops to the Muir Woods’ forest floor. As you descend, you’ll notice wider trunks, and a pleasant charred, earthy smell. You can still hike around Muir Woods once you get down, but this 5-mile round-trip adds a challenging, less-traveled spin to the Muir boardwalk.

Stand Up Paddleboard in Sausalito

For paddlers not afraid to brave the Bay’s chilly water temps, the best stand-up bet lies in sheltered Sausalito — the oceanfront neighborhood on the north end of Golden Gate Bridge. With Sea Trek, located in Richardson Bay, you can paddle for $20 an hour through yacht harbors next to the seals, or sign up for a SUP fitness class. The group also offers guided tours under the Golden Gate. Time your visit right, and you can snag a spot on the full moon tour to catch the city’s night skyline from the water.

by Patty Hodapp

Patty Hodapp is a freelance writer and solo traveler reporting from the intersection of fitness and adventure. Her slew of expat addresses runs deep — most recently, a tropical Spanish island in the Mediterranean. She covers endurance sports, outdoor gear and adventure travel. Besides Travel Channel, she has written for Outside, Men’s Fitness, Shape and several other publications.


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If you think watching sailing is less than exciting, think again. America’s Cup finals, a regatta legend, has landed back on US water for the first time in 18 years. San Francisco Bay is currently playing host to the world’s top 2 teams — Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand — as they compete in the best-of-17 series that runs until September 21. Wearing lifejackets and helmets, these world-class sailors foil above the water and carve through massive white caps, led by their captains and tacticians to manipulate 72-foot catamarans. Not impressed? Here’s a video that might change your mind.

But this particular America’s Cup is even more intriguing than fast boats and a prestigious reputation. Oracle Team USA, the defending champions, started the regatta under major scrutiny, and so far it’s showing in the results.

Just days before America’s Cup started on September 7, an international jury fined Oracle $250,000 and slammed the team with a 2-race penalty. Why? In a cheating scandal dating back to an America’s Cup World Series warm-up event in 2012, the jury found a sailor and 2-dock crew guilty of adding lead pellets to the forward posts of a 45-foot catamaran. Yikes. It’s the most severe penalty ever dolled out in America’s Cup history and — fair or not — the fall out is such: USA must win 11 races to retain the trophy, and New Zealand only needs to win 9. So far, New Zealand has trounced team USA in every race but one. Perhaps USA will pull it together to keep the trophy from the Kiwis. But one thing’s certain: given the off-and-onshore drama, this is a regatta to watch. Here’s how.

America’s Cup Course Loop

The course races 2 loops across San Francisco Bay in a semi-figure-eight pattern from the Golden Gate Bridge past Alcatraz to the finish buoy in front of the Bay Bridge.

Where to Watch

You can glimpse the race from the viewing areas along the northern and eastern San Francisco waterfront. America’s Cup Village, located at Marina Green, has bleacher seating. Or, do what I did and head right to America’s Cup Park at Piers 27/29. This area lines up perpendicular with the finish buoy. Giant TV screens track the boats and provide pretty cool graphic images of wind analysis throughout the race. Watch the finish from the waterside railing behind the park, and hang around for the second race (2 run per race day). Grab a glass of Napa or Sonoma wine at one of the bars in the park areas and kick back on the faux grass with a mix of USA and New Zealand fans. Free entry.

 

By Patty Hodapp

Patty Hodapp is a freelance writer and solo traveler reporting from the intersection of fitness and adventure. Her slew of expat addresses runs deep — most recently, a tropical Spanish island in the Mediterranean. She covers endurance sports, outdoor gear and adventure travel. Besides Travel Channel, she has written for Outside, Men’s Fitness, Shape and several other publications.


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Photo Courtesy of Elon Musk

Planes, trains and automobiles may be a thing of the past if US entrepreneur Elon Musk has his way. The billionaire has unveiled plans for a HyperLoop transportation system that will transport passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in under a half hour, compared with the nearly 6-hour drive that commuters now face on a good traffic day.

Elon Musk, founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors Inc., says the solar-powered system would shoot 28 passengers in an enclosed capsule through a low-pressure steel tube at 8oo miles per hour. According to the 57-page design plan, the project would cost less than $6 billion and transport 7.4 million people each way every year. The tube would be built along I-5 interstate highway, the busiest traffic corridor on the West Coast.

Although an innovative plan, HyperLoop still has a few huge hurdles to clear before it becomes a reality, including receiving the California state government’s approval for the project.  In addition to Cali’s stamp of approval, private companies would have to step in and build the HyperLoop because Musk will be too busy running electric car company Tesla and rocket manufacturer SpaceX. Any takers?

San Francisco is a huge tourist destination, with Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge all drawing crowds. Sure, on my trip out west, I had to see the sights, but right across the famous red bridge was the best part of my getaway: The often-overlooked Mill Valley, located 14 miles north of San Francisco in the beautiful, mountainous Marin County.

What feels like a combination of beach town and Swiss mountain hamlet, Mill Valley offers a quiet taste of NorCal life, with boutique shops, eco-conscious restaurants and enough outdoor space to fill days and days with hiking. When I escaped to warmer climes for a week, stumbling upon Mill Valley was a happy accident.

My Top Picks in Marin County:

Mill Valley Inn
Imagine an upscale beachside hotel. But at the foot of a mountain. Surrounded by woods. With free breakfast, a free wine and cheese reception, a fireplace in the room and a balcony overlooking redwoods, this is my new favorite hotel. They’ll also offer you a bike, if you’d like to explore that way. But beware: there are a lot of hills.

El Paseo

Tucked away in a stone-covered alleyway, El Paseo is Tyler Florence and Sammy Hagar’s take on a traditional chophouse, serving up finely aged steaks and local, sustainable ingredients. The pair worked together to restore this historic restaurant, which was originally opened in 1948. El Paseo retains its rustic feel with exposed brick, reclaimed wood and plenty of candlelight. Also, you have to order a steak. And perhaps the crispy duck wings.

Bungalow 44
A stylish bar with large, cushy booths, Bungalow 44 prides itself on its California cuisine, as well as its creative cocktails. It doesn’t get much fresher than their cucumber margarita and perfectly cooked ahi tuna. Even though I ate here before the live Jazz started, I still felt like I was dining in a 1940s supper club.

Super Duper Burger
This place may claim to serve fast food, but it is anything but typical. There are 5 locations throughout San Francisco, and luckily there is one right down the street from the Mill Valley Inn. The beef is delivered from San Fran’s own Niman Ranch and ground fresh daily. The pickles are homemade and the buns are toasted. Top it all off with fries finished with fresh garlic and 6-month aged cheddar. I mean, come on.

Stinson Beach

Even on a foggy day, Stinson Beach is a beautiful place for a walk. Climb over rocks and watch the waves crash below you, or sit along the shore and watch the surfers take their chances. Hidden on the other side of Mount Tamalpais, (if you’re prone to car sickness, watch out – the road is CURVY) this beach feels worlds away from Mill Valley. On the drive back, pull over wherever you can find a parking spot, because sure enough, there will be a trailhead with spectacular views of the water.

Marin Headlands

If you pull off the road right before getting on the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll come across the Marin Headlands. Drive up the road a little and you’ll find overlooks that’ll take your breath away. After grabbing pics of the San Francisco skyline, hike a little further. Not only will the Golden Gate look so close you could touch it, but there you’ll also find the historic Fort Barry and Fort Cronkhite. Or what’s left of them.

Can you handle the lockdown? Tonight at 9|8c, the guys investigate a century-old theater that now houses a strip club. The dancers and the bouncers report encounters with malevolent spirits. Could they be the spirits of the janitors who died in the theater so many years ago? Also, Zak meets a psychic who truly terrifies him with what she knows.

See sneak peek photos, and check out Aaron’s Vlog below to see what happens behind the scenes:

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Chinese New Year falls on Sunday, Feb. 10, but you don’t need to cross the ocean for the party. The most widely celebrated Chinese festival is a time to welcome longevity, wealth and prosperity into your life. Spot a dragon, the bearer of good luck, or set off some firecrackers to chase off evil spirits in one of these cities – our picks for the best cities to ring in the year of the snake! READ MORE

Football fans unite! The big game is heading to The Big Easy, where 2 of the most dominant defenses in the last decade are set to square off. The culmination of the 2012-2013 NFL season comes down to one final game between the San Francisco 49ers, led by head coach Jim Harbaugh, and the Baltimore Ravens, led by Jim’s brother, head coach John Harbaugh. In a game that’s being dubbed “The Har-Bowl,” football’s biggest stage is set, and you better believe N’awlins will be hoppin’ more than NOLA’s Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.

New Orleans may be the destination for the big game, but these 2 teams hail from opposite ends of the country. And although the Lombardi trophy may be the ultimate prize for winning the Super Bowl — both San Francisco and Baltimore are filled with plenty of prized attractions.

From the National Aquarium, to the Sports Legends Museum, to delicious food in Little Italy, Baltimore is so much more than just a football town. Check out some of our picks for the best things to see and do in our Baltimore travel guide.

Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered if you’re looking for fun in San Francisco.  The City by the Bay is a foggy wonderland of attractions that include the Painted Ladies in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, Ghirardelli Square, and Golden Gate Bridge.

And don’t forget about the delicious Creole cooking featured in our New Orleans travel guide for those of you who’ve made your way to the Crescent City. Cafe du Monde is still serving up the best beignets you’ve ever tasted, and Cochon is still dishing out some of the city’s tastiest traditional Cajun delights.

If you were lucky enough to score tickets to the big game, we’re sure you’ll need a few recommendations on where to go for the perfect place to tailgate or where to find the best spirits and best sports bars in New Orleans. Travel Channel’s got what you need to get you ready for one heck of a Super Bowl.

San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus store goes BIG for Christmas, or perhaps it’s just the perspective of Instagram user omnivoredilemma’s photo. Got some great holiday lights photos? Instagram them with the hashtag #TCHolidayLights to be featured in our 12 Days of Sparkle!

Real Housewives of New York

Photography by NBC Universal

The women on the infamous Real Housewives franchises are always traveling.  Last season, the cast of Bravo TV’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta took a grand safari trip in Africa. Here at Travel Channel, we like to focus on the cool cultural experiences that come with traveling — but where there are housewives, there’s always drama. READ MORE

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