Madame Tussauds, San Francisco

Wednesday March 4, 2015 at 8:08 AM | 0 Comments

Police lineup outside a cell at Alcatraz in Madame Tussauds San Francisco.

Police lineup outside a cell at Alcatraz in Madame Tussauds San Francisco.

When I thought of wax museums, I pictured creepy mannequins of British royalty with eyes that follow you around a hushed museum space.

Well, I’m pleased to report, that Madame Tussauds San Francisco, the new San Francisco attraction at Fishermans Wharf, has completely upended

Queen Elizabeth at Madame Tussauds.

Queen Elizabeth at Madame Tussauds.

my imaginings. Though there is an obligatory cluster of royals when you first walk in.

It turned out the day I visited was Lunar New Year, a holiday for San Francisco Schools, and I four kids to entertain. I didn’t tell them where we were going. I wanted it to be a surprise. Plus I wasn’t sure how to explain it.

They were captivated before we even entered the building. A life-sized Leonardo DiCaprio greeted us at the door. The two seven-year-olds stared at him for some time before wondering aloud, “is he real?”

Inside, the space is divided into sections, some with vignettes that encourage interaction. It begins with “Spirit of San Francisco” — we meandered through the Haight where one of the boys picked up a guitar and jammed with Jimi Hendrix, while the girls begged me to take mug shots of them at Alcatraz.

Roman jams with Jimi at Madame Tussauds.

Roman jams with Jimi at Madame Tussauds.

The first figure to completely stop me in my tracks was Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg sitting barefoot and crosslegged on a chair, computer on his lap. He looked so real. I couldn’t stop staring.

This floor also included historical and political figures like Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and President Obama in the Oval Office.

We then watched an interesting video on how the figures are made and the kids got to create wax replicas of their hands with help from a member of the staff.

Upstairs rooms are dedicated to pop music, movies and sports. A likeness of Abbey Road is set up with all four Beatles walking along. Parker had tea with Audrey Hepburn, Josie sang with Beyonce and we could barely pull the boys away from the large screen interactive football video game.

One vignette explains the fascinating life of Madame Tussaud who escaped the guillotine during the French Revolution due to her wax modeling skills. She was employed to make death masks of the Revolution’s most infamous dead including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Marat and Robespierre.



I had a dream...

They had a dream…

Insider Tip

Walk by the Boudin flagship location where you can view the demonstration kitchen and watch bakers make bread with a recipe nurtured since 1849. Then stop inside for clam chowder in a bread bowl, the real San Francisco treat.

145 Jefferson Street @ Mason
San Francisco, California 94133

Post and photos contributed by Lisa Dion. I was a guest of Madame Tussauds.

6 Things I Learned at Women’s Travel Fest

Monday March 2, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

Now in its second year, Women’s Travel Fest attracts women (and some brave men) from the United States and Canada. This was my first time attending this annual event that empowers and inspires women’s travel. Last years inaugural debut took place in New York, while this years conference took place at the San Francisco Design Center in California. This multi-day event offered insights from many women in travel. Here are six things that I learned at Women’s Travel Fest.


Patricia Schultz, author

Patricia Schultz Author 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


I. Always stop for homemade pie
“Always stop for homemade pie,” laughs Patricia Schultz Author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. “Always stop for an authentic experience that lets you peek into the back door of the place you are going to.”

2.Solo Travel
“If it can go wrong, it probably will, so fix it now!” says Felicity Aston, the first woman to ski across Antarctica alone. She learned many things about herself during her travels, but said that the most important lesson learned was the power of perseverance. The hardest thing about her journey was not the blizzards, the crevasses or the frostbite, it was getting out of her tent every morning. Her life lesson take away, “if you chip away at something, you will eventually make progress. So keep getting out of the tent!”

Felicity Aston, solo travel

Felicity Aston on solo travel. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


3. Poshtels
Do you know about Poshtels? “When you are traveling and looking for a hotel deal, think about Poshtels,” notes Travel Expert Courtney Scott. They are posh hostels. It’s like staying in a boutique hotel, but at the price of a hostel. Generator is one of the best brands leading the charge with a new property opened in Paris, France.

Paula Froelich, Laura Ling

Paula Froelich of Yahoo! Travel and Laura Ling of E! Network; how to stay safe while traveling. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


4. Pack light
Whether you are a woman traveling solo or on a river cruise in Europe, packing light is an important key to travel. For safety reasons, you don’t want to be lugging multiple suitcases on your journey, as you don’t want to be perceived as a vulnerable target. Beth Whitman of Wanderlust and Lipstick says, “my big travel safety tip is to pack light. Most importantly, never carry more than two pairs of shoes no matter wear you are going.”

5. Safety travel tip
“Take your street smarts with you,” says California-based writer Marybeth Bond of Gutsy Traveler. “Trust your instincts, but don’t stay home!”

Mickela Mallozzi, Women's Travel Fest, San Francisco

Travel does not end when you have children. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


6. Traveling with kids
“Travel does not end when you have children,” said Mara Gorman author of The Family Travelers Handbook. “In fact, it can be the beginning of some of the best adventures you’ll ever have in your entire life. The best way to teach your children about the world and different cultures is to take them with you on the road.”
When’s the last time you attended a travel show? Next year, the Women’s Travel Fest will take place in New York. I hope to see you there! Thanks to Go! Girl Guides for inviting me to cover Women’s Travel Fest and Expedia for sponsoring the conference. I look forward to learning and speaking about travel with you.

If You Go:
Women’s Travel Fest

Checkpoint Friendly Backpack

Friday February 27, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

I’m not good at one night stands. I’m a monogamous relationship kind of gal. The same can be said for some of my relationships with travel gear. I actually felt like I was cheating on someone when I traded Tom Bihn for Hercules, the checkpoint friendly backpack from ECBC.

Hercules laptop bag, computer bag

Hercules laptop computer bag. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


Tom Bihn created my Checkpoint Flyer Bag. This checkpoint-friendly messenger bag has carried several laptop computers through airport security to different parts of the globe and been a faithful travel companion; never lost, never broken. So why the break up? Like all relationships that eventually end in one party getting dumped; I found something better. That something is the ECBC Hercules Laptop Backpack.

Test drive
I brought the laptop backpack with me to Las Vegas recently for a light duty test drive. Like a new car, I’m still learning the many features of the backpack, but so far, I like what I see.

checkpoint-friendly backpack, ECBC Hercules backpack

Checkpoint friendly backpack looks good, feels good on the road.


Backpack features

The laptop holds up to a 17″ computer with thick padding in the main pack to protect the computer. There’s a deep pocket with velcro closure inside the backpack to hold my power cords in place. This backpack reminds me of a Scottevest in that it has a pocket for everything. With two side zip exterior pockets, you can stash a water bottle on one side and store a smart phone in the other. These pockets also work well for holding glasses.

The front exterior pocket holds my video camera and Moleskin notebook. On the top of the backpack there is another zip pocket for my power cords, pens and there’s an interior snap for holding my car keys in yet another (mesh) pocket for easy viewing of contents.

Tsa-friendly computer bag, daypack

Foldout Fastpass is TSA-friendly. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


For the frequent flyer, the best part about this backpack is that is TSA approved. With the FastPass system, you simply zip down the main flap, laptop firmly secure, and slide the backpack on the conveyor belt. No need to remove the laptop computer.

Why move from messenger bag to backpack? I like the convenience of a backpack instead of a purse for active adventure travel. On a subway or on the back of a horse, I feel secure with this sturdy Kodra nylon Hercules Laptop Backpack. The backpack comes in a variety of colors, black, blue, berry, green and linen.

Portable power pack
For an additional fee of $42.99 the ECBC Portable Power Pack recharges your phone, tablet or additional tech gear while it’s in the bag!

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @ecbctravel on Twitter. ECBC Hercules Laptop Backpack sells for a suggested retail price of $139.99. Check the website for current pricing.

laptop bag, backpack

ECBC Hercules laptop backpack. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


Where to Buy:
ECBC Hercules Laptop

Article written by and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. ECBC supplied me with this laptop backpack for a travel gear review, however, all opinions are my own.