So maybe spring doesn't unfold as vibrantly and colorfully as we'd like here in the concrete jungle. But some San Franciscans are lucky (and loaded) enough to have created their own oases right in the city's paved and skyscrapered heart. You can wander through these and pretend they're your own at San Francisco Bay Area Back Yards' "Secret Garden Tour of Sea Cliff," a short, self-guided jaunt through the ritzy neighborhood's landscapes. Every other May, a few denizens of the notoriously exclusive enclave (known for wealthy residents like Robin Williams and late photographer Ansel Adams) open their elaborate Edens to us poor, grimy plebes, allowing us to amble through backyard spaces to our hearts' delight while we take in sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoy food and music, and generally pretend to be rich and famous for a few hours -- until it's time to ride Muni back to reality. Find out what flora is favored by the moneyed when you pick up a map of the tour route starting at noon at 4 Sea Cliff (at Scenic), S.F. Admission is $20 (with proceeds benefiting architectural preservation nonprofit the Victorian Alliance of San Francisco); call 673-5057 or visit www.victorianalliance.org.
-- Jack Karp
Join an after-hours stroll
At a formative age I was impressed by an episode of The Addams Family in which the brood lounged on blankets under the night sky, using reflective devices to improve their "moon tans." Maybe that's why Strybing Arboretum's "Full Moon Walk -- White by Night" sounds so neat. Take it from someone who's strolled sylvan areas after dusk: Even boring gardens gain mystery as evening falls, when shadows blot out the brilliant flowery colors and small nocturnal creatures emerge to eat and play. The moonlight overhead etches the leaves with silver, casts ghostly shadows on the ground, and makes white flowers and plants seem to glow in an unearthly way. Bring a flashlight, carry a pair of binoculars, and discover a new side of a place you've seen so many times before. Participants meet at 6:45 p.m. at the Strybing Arboretum Society Bookstore, Ninth Avenue & Lincoln Way, S.F. Admission is $12 per individual, $18 per two-child/two-adult family; call 661-1316 or visit www.strybing.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Fly a kite for Mother's Day
Take Mother's Day to new heights this weekend as you celebrate rockin' moms, the annual Kite Festival, and the launch of the exhibition "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?" at the Bay Area Discovery Museum's "Grand Opening Weekend Celebration." The exhibit's high points are many -- Sesame Street background information, a Big Bird nest to climb on, replicas of the show's familiar set -- but be sure to leave a few minutes for the kids to make and fly a kite at Fort Baker with Mom (whose favorite present is probably quality time with the fam). The party starts at 10 a.m. both days at 557 McReynolds (at Murray), Sausalito. Admission is free; call 339-3944 or visit www.baykidsmuseum.org.
-- Charyn Pfeuffer
Forward and Upright
Looking for an incredibly easy, pleasant way to become a do-gooder? How about a 1K walk along the famously pretty Embarcadero, to benefit homeless families? That's what Spring Forward offers -- it only takes 20 minutes to complete the lunchtime stroll (though enjoying the snacks and entertainment afterward might take a little longer). The walk begins at 11 a.m. at Justin Herman Plaza, Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Registration is $30-35; call 399-9406 or visit www.compass-sf.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser