As 2018 starts unfolding itself page by page in our calendars, we have to ask ourselves, “What is important this year? What do we hope to accomplish? What is it we’re resolving to do?”
Resolutions can take many forms. Some are very goal-oriented: I want to lose 15 pounds or this will be the year I really tackle Shakespeare. Some are very specific to your individual situation, such as resolutions for caregivers or for older adults. We can even make resolutions for people facing very personal situations, such as being with a loved one as they approach the end of life.
This list isn’t any of those. Instead, we want to encourage you to make a broad resolution and help you find ways to do it. That broad resolution? To explore the Bay Area, to find hidden things, and to see parts of your community that you might have missed.
Why We Resolve to Explore
Most humans tend to be creatures of habit. We know what restaurants we like, and we know what we like to order there. That makes sense and isn’t even a negative thing; after all, why waste time and money getting something you don’t like? This belief tends to solidify as we get older and as time becomes more of an immediate issue. And again, it is great to like what you like. But there is a societal belief that older adults shouldn’t explore, shouldn’t branch out, and shouldn’t try new things.
Of course, that is nonsense. Having new experiences is important for older adults, helping you stay engaged with the world around you. Learning new things stimulates the senses and keeps the mind active. Meeting interesting people during your explorations can expand your world, break up routines, and even plant the seeds of lasting friendships. Making new discoveries about your environment as an older adult is healthy both mentally and physically and, of course, it can also be great fun.
Remember, getting older doesn’t mean it is time to stop making memories. Life is about always making new ones. So check out these hidden gems, and resolve to find new and different things in the world around you. From natural beauty to man-made treasures, there are endless possibilities around you. Let’s go exploring.
7 Hidden Gems for Older Adults In The Bay Area
San Francisco is a beautiful city, and the Bay Area as a whole is one of the great treasures of America. Of course, you already know about the cable cars, the Bridge, the Mission, and wine country. You’ve been to Muir Woods, visited Alcatraz, and had more than your fair share of seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf.
But San Francisco and the Bay Area are home to some gems that even long-time locals might not know about:
- The Wave Organ. One of the greatest aspects of the area is the way the human-built cities interact with the stunning beauty of the Bay. The Wave Organ, in San Francisco, takes advantage of that combination. Carved in 1986 by Paul Richards, the organ amplifies—and beautifies—the sounds of the waves as the pouring water pushes air out of the pipes. It’s haunting, exciting, and best explored around high tide.
- Camera Obscura. A camera obscura is a 15th-century invention that captures light, projecting beautiful images on the wall. In the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond district, a human-sized camera obscura that you can walk into captures strange images of the water and the light dancing around the Bay. It’s a strange and stunning sight.
- On the Level SF. One thing about living in a city is that you sometimes miss out on things you pass every day. On the Level SF offers guided walking and bus tours of everything from famed San Francisco neighborhoods to the San Jose Library to historic churches as well as custom excursions planned with your interests in mind. There are even tours designed especially for seniors and those with mobility issues that avoid steep hills and provide plenty of opportunities for rest.
- Secret Tiled Staircase. The Secret Tiled Staircase takes a bit of physical effort, but it can be very rewarding for people who think they can handle it. This 163-step, artistically tiled staircase landmark in the Sunset neighborhood brings you up to sweeping views of the entire city. Not only that, but at the top is a garden specifically designed to attract the Green Hairstreak Butterfly as it moves through the area.
- Parkside Aquatic Park. Right next to a saltwater lagoon in San Mateo, this secluded spot offers warm water to swim or kayak in. With a lovely park and picnic area, studded with palm trees, this offers a slice of the tropics just a short drive from San Francisco.
- Pulgas Water Temple. Located in the Pulgas Ridge Preserve, this water temple is a reflective pool honoring the enormous, 160-mile pipelines that bring freshwater from the Sierra Nevadas to the Bay. Located in San Carlos, this is an easy drive and an easy walk to honor the water that makes the cities survive.
- Sam’s Castle. Overlooking the ocean in Pacifica, this huge castle was built after the 1906 earthquake to be quake-resistant. Through the years, it’s been a haven to booze-runners during Prohibition, a home to army dogs during WWII, and a beloved family residence. Today the castle is open for room-by-room historical tours accompanied by refreshments each month in addition to special seasonal tours. It’s a great way to see how the other half lived in the early 20th century and to experience a vibrant slice of Bay Area life.
We live in a unique and wonderful area, rich in history and natural beauty. It’s changed over the years, from a rough wharf town to a haven for tech millionaires, but it has kept its essential nature.
In a way, that’s a lot like you. Our bodies change, memories impact how we view things, we have traumas and triumphs, and our lives keep evolving with time. But through it all, we remain who we are: someone curious about the world, excited to see more of it, and ready to look for hidden treasures all around us. This is the year to see a new city, even if it is the one you’ve been in your whole life. Let’s resolve to make new discoveries and broaden our horizons this year and every year.
At Institute on Aging, we work to help older adults age at home by providing them with resources for home care, social programs, and more. Contact us today to learn more.