I can already tell it’s going to be hard to sort through the thousands of pictures we took on our trip and narrow it down to just a few. You know how I am when I visit a place I love. I have to come home and share it with you all. And there are just so many great things I want to tell you all about from this trip– starting with San Fran.
We arrived in San Francisco on a Friday to clear blue skies and cool, breezy temperatures. Since this was my husband’s and my second trip to San Fran, we knew that jackets are a must in this city, even in the summertime, and we did end up wearing them pretty much the whole time.
Our first stop after flying in, getting our rental car and checking in to the hotel was to find food. As we drove through town, we came across The Iron Cactus in SOMA and decided to try it out. This was a great place for fresh, authentic Mexican for great prices. Visit from 3-5 on weekdays for $1 tacos! Click here for address and info.
There’s a great shop around the corner from here that I’ll have to tell you about later.
Our next stop was down to the famous Fisherman’s Wharf where all San Francisco tourists gather for great views of the bay and souvenir shopping galore.
We also discovered The Musée Mécanique on Pier 45. This is a really cool arcade, full of antique coin-operated arcade machines all in working condition. Most of them only cost a quarter and the kids loved them.
A short walk down is more shopping and restaurants as well as a great view of the sea lions that have claimed this location for their own since 1990. (Read more about that here.)
The next morning, we started out early for our visit to Alcatraz. This is one of the top attractions in San Fran, so you may want to make reservations ahead of time to be sure you can get tickets. The fog had settled in that day, which just lent itself to the feeling of the place. Cold, damp, yet an interesting part of San Fran’s history.
Riding the ferry over, you can barely see the Golden Gate bridge in the distance through the fog.
I love this pic that Grant took on our way over on the ferry…
After Alcatraz was lunch at Boudin, a San Francisco tradition of clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. You can even tour the bakery and see demonstrations to learn more about this historical icon since 1849. Click here for more info.
After lunch was one of the biggest highlights of our trip and one of the San Francisco Must-Do’s on my list. Biking the Golden Gate Bridge. Dave and I had done this on our previous trip and I could not wait to do it again. There are bike rental places everywhere you look, but we used Blazing Saddles, who gave us a great deal and even matched a competitor’s coupon. They were very friendly, very helpful, and had everything we needed.
The trail is approximately 9 miles from the Fisherman’s Wharf area across the bridge to Sausalito. Most people catch the ferry back from Sausalito and return the bikes back to the city rather than bike all the way back. Just be sure to check in with the ferry when you arrive in Sausalito and reserve times to get back as they can only allow room for so many bikes each time.
This ride took us about 4 hours this time as we have 4 kids, with our 6-year-old riding a tag-along with my husband and our 10-year-old on her own bike.
It was a little challenging due to the cold wind (have I mentioned you will need a jacket?!) and some steep hills, but it’s very easy to get off and walk the bikes if necessary up the hills.
On day 3 in San Fran, we took a bus tour to see some more highlights of the city like the famous Painted Ladies row of houses you may remember from the show Full House.
Another great site is Lombard Street, which some call the “crookedest street in the world”.
There are also several cute shops in the square and, of course, Ghiradelli Chocolate.
Later, we drove back over the Golden Gate to Sausalito which is a seaside town full of more shops and restaurants and beautiful views.
From there, we drove up to the Muir Woods, which is another on my list of my Must-See’s in San Fran.
This was our first chance to see Redwood trees, and they are amazing.
The Muir Woods trail is a gorgeous trial where you can walk a full 3-mile loop or choose the shorter 1-or 2-mile if you would rather. It’s very easy terrain and I walked it in sandals with no problem.
I love this pic Abby took…
But none of our pics can really convey the majestic beauty of this place like I wish they could. If you’ve been here, you know what I mean. Click here for more info on planning your visit.
One last place I want to mention in San Fran is Union Square in the heart of downtown. Here’s where you’ll find the big names in shopping and big city excitement.
For this trip with the whole fam, we stayed at the Residence Inn in South San Francisco in a 2-bedroom suite which was perfect for our family of 6. I highly recommend this hotel if you’re traveling with a large family.
But for a couples’ trip, you really should check out the Westin St. Francis right in Union Square, which is where my husband and I stayed on our first trip to San Fran.
Here are a couple pics from their site, but click over for yourself to see more. It’s a great place to stay and we loved it.
And my one last recommendation for San Fran is just up Powell from Union Square. It was our favorite restaurant on our last trip and we had to bring the kids here to visit again. Sears Fine Food for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s been open in SF since 1938 and it’s a great experience. Click here for the menu and more info.
I apologize for making this the longest post ever! But, there’s just so much to tell you about. And this was just the first 3 days! If you want to see more of our California adventure, stay tuned– there’s much more coming up!