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Spring Break

so, you're stuck in the bay for this long-awaited week of freedom. here's some free and cheap, fun and educational, relaxing stuff to do…

Go hiking at Mount Tamalpais State Park. The park closes at sunset, or you can stay later for showerless camping. 801 Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley.

Do somersaults across Stinson Beach. Lay in the sun, wade in the waves or go half a mile south to explore the tidepools at Red Rock Beach, where bathing suits are optional and poison oak is abundant. Take the "Hwy 1, Stinson Beach" exit off the 101.

Walk, bike, or skate across the Golden Gate Bridge. Take in the scenery, get a little fresh air and exercise. Find parking lots on either side of the bridge.

Explore Alcatraz Island. The ferry leaves from Pier 41 every 30 to 40 minutes starting at 9:30 a.m., and the island closes at 4:30 p.m. You can take a tour or explore on your own. Visit for more info on all the educational and entertaining opportunities, and for ferry information. Just remember to learn through your Mills student's critical eye.

Paint some pottery at Brushstrokes Studio, a woman-owned, friendly space with a colorful garden and pots of tea for all customers. You have to wait six days to pick up the finished product, but that and the $6 flat rate are worth the fun. 745 Page Street, they're open until 8 p.m. on weekdays, 6 p.m. on weekends.

Adopt-A-Beach at the Berkeley Marina, and volunteer to do some much-needed cleaning, or just run around in the kid-designed Adventure Playground built of all recycled objects.

Watch the sunset or see the skyline twinkle at night from Coit Tower's waterfront vistas. Murals created as part of the Depression's Works Progress Act line the inside lobby. All this for free, but an elevator ride to the top is well worth the $7 at 1 Telegraph Hill.

Spend your entire break in front of the screen at the 24th International Asian American Film Festival. Students pay $8, visit for a full list of showings.

Visit the African American Museum and Library. The building in itself is special, built in 1902, it was the city's first main library. Now it houses an extensive collection of works by and about African Americans. The museum's exhibit shows a retrospective of Oakland artist Arnold White's abstract expressionist images of the city. Open Tuesday-Saturday, noon until 5:30 p.m. It's all free, at 659 14th Street and MLK Jr Way.

Picnic at Lake Merritt. Make your own lunch, or pick up some affordable, delectable French food at the take-out-only Gregoire's on Piedmont Avenue. Call ahead at (510) 547-3444. Then walk off your fullness around the lake.

Wake up early to almost fully experience Tilden Park. You can hike or stroll through nature trails, climb rocks and chill in caves, swim or fish in the lake, ride a carousel, sniff your way through the botanical garden and even ride a pony, all in the heart of your favorite hippy town! Open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., parking is free, dogs are welcome, and public transit will take you there. Visit to find your way.

See the new baby giraffe at the Oakland Zoo. The highest admission fee is $9, and be aware that they can not accept bills over $20. The interactive children's zoo is not to be missed. If you drive, parking is $5 at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580.