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A Conference Disguised as a Vacation?

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 9, July-August, p. 150

While you may know that La Leche League International Conferences offer a dazzling array of world class speakers in the cocoon of a family-friendly atmosphere, you may not know that many La Leche League families plan their family vacations around La Leche League International Conferences.

Often baby attends the Conference with Mom while Dad and the older children see some of the sights, swim in the hotel pool, participate in special children's activities such as Chance to Dance, or interact in the Play Room or Teen Lounge. Since there are sessions of interest for all, sometimes parents trade places, with Dad attending sessions and Mom enjoying the family-friendly atmosphere with the children.

However you plan your Conference time and vacation, there is much to do in San Francisco where La Leche League International is hosting its 28th International Breastfeeding Conference: Strength through Diversity; Creating One Breastfeeding World, July 3-6, 2003.

Cable Cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Fisherman's Wharf are often the first things to come to mind when thinking about San Francisco, but this diverse city is also home to many other child-friendly attractions that are often parent-friendly in cost. In the Golden Gate Park area, for instance, a family can take a fragrant walk through a beautiful rose garden and children can play at one of the largest and best playgrounds in the city, the Children's Playground. There, older children can thrill to the challenge of a colossal hillside slide, and children of all ages can enjoy a Carousel ride. They will also relish the giant climbing structure of the park.

When it is tea time and parents need a little refreshment, the Japanese Tea Garden is only a short walk away. Enjoy tea and juice at the little cafe surrounded by exotic bonsai trees and pagodas.

Muni-passes, available from the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau at Powell and Market Streets, offer a Golden Gate Park Explorers Pass that reduces costs further. For the budding artist or computer genius, parents will find a great deal at the Zeum Art and Technology Center. Multimedia tools allow children to create animations and movies, as well as view their finished products. The theater at the Zeum also offers live performances of dance and story telling. All of this is free for Children under five and reasonably priced for others. The Zeum is located in the Yerba Buena Gardens Area, which includes beautiful gardens, a robotic sculpture, and a fun atmosphere. Free-all-the-time museums include the Cable Car Museum, named one of the world's 10 best free museums, the Chinese Historical Society, the Museum of the City of San Francisco, National Maritime Museum, Presidio Museum, Treasure Island Museums, and Wells Fargo Historical Museum.

A city pass includes a seven-day passport for unlimited use on the Cable Cars. It can also be used as a passport to five popular San Francisco attractions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Palace of the Legion of Honor, which houses the works of masters such as Roden. Something of great interest to children and others who enjoy beautiful views (also included in the Passport) is a Blue & GoldFleet Bay Cruise that can be exchanged ahead of time for the Alcatraz Tour. The Exploratorium is a hands-on museum that beckons "please touch" to children with 600 blinking, buzzing, and beeping exhibits. Adventurers who want to see the earth, sea, and sky will find all this and more at the California Academy of Science that includes the Steinhart Aquarium and Morrison Planetarium.

There is so much to see in San Francisco that it is hard to believe that immediately outside of this area nature has much to offer. If you drive north along the majestic ocean cliffs you will find giant sequoia along with the famous wine valleys. Driving south you find fabled Monterey and Caramel, an ocean playground to playful otters.

But you do not have to leave the city proper to enjoy awe-inspiring sights. San Francisco is an incredibly beautiful city perched upon 43 different hills that break dramatically toward a breath-taking bay. It is a culinary paradise with almost 3,500 different restaurants featuring everything from famous Californian dishes to every imaginable ethnic cuisine. It is a city of many museums. It is a city where you can rent a bicycle or a kayak, catch a ride on a cable car or a catamaran, or simply enjoy the July temperatures with an average high of 66 degrees F and a low of 54 degrees F. It is the city where you can attend LLLI's 18th International Conference.

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