Explore a piece of America's naval and space exploration history when you visit the the historic aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the East Bay city of Alameda. Launched in 1943 and originally based in Alameda, the USS Hornet (CV-12) served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and played a pivotal role in the Apollo space program, recovering both the Apollo 11 space capsule and its astronauts after their voyage to the Moon in 1969.
On board the restored Hornet you'll find a variety of fascinating exhibits, including several aircraft of the types that could have served on board the carrier, including a World War II TBM Avenger, an FJ-2 Fury (the naval version of the famous F-86 Sabre), an F8U-1 Crusader, and more. You can also check out objects related to the Apollo space program, including an Apollo space capsule, the mobile quarantine facility from the Apollo 14 mission, and the SH-3H Sea King helicopter used in the movie Apollo 13 and the same type of helicopter that recovered the Apollo 11 and 12 astronauts to the Hornet.
Like many long-time Bay Area residents, I've always considered the San Francisco Zoo to be "The Zoo". For some reason, going to the Oakland Zoo in the East Bay city's Knowland Park never really crossed my mind. Recently, we'd heard some great things about the Oakland Zoo, so we decided to make the trip across the Richmond Bridge and check it out.
Located off Interstate 580 in the southeast part of Oakland, the Oakland Zoo is fairly small and compact, and easy for a family with small children to take in. It's pleasantly designed, too with an overall African theme to it. Many of the buildings have an African style to them and bear Swahili names. There's even an African village area with a replica of a tribal women's house.