San Francisco - what shouldn't we miss?
Rhiannon · 13/06/2001 07:51
I'm taking the kids on a budget trip to San. Fran. to visit a friend soon. Has anyone been and what should we see and what should we not bother with. We will be staying just South of the City. Is Yosemite worth a day trip bearing in mind the kids are 6 and 2?
Hmonty · 13/06/2001 09:39
Ooo...where shall I start! I lived in SF for 2 years and it a wonderful city. Admittedly I didn't have children at the time so I'll try and temper my view a little! A word about the weather. SF can actually be quite chilly. Even in the summer make sure you have a jumper with you all the time. Especially bad time for the fog. Autumn/Spring are the best times of year to visit weather wise.
Firstly, Americans love children. They won't even blink if you take them to posh restaurants etc. and you should find no problems with high chairs, changing facilities etc. You'll find childrens meals in most restaurants although you may get a bit sick of the 'fries with everything' approach.
Places to go outside SF:
Yosemite is amazing. Can't rate it too highly. The most breath taking scenery I've ever witnesses. However, it's a long drive away. (5 hours or so if I remmeber rightly). Stunning scenery. Loads of places for the kids to run wild. Lots of walks (if you're into exercise) and guided 'train' rides (on carriages pulled by a tractor) if you're not. Should be places to hire bikes if you're into that.
Tahoe - Again a fair drive away (5 hours or so) but it's beautiful up there. Lovely walks and big lake. (You may even catch the last of the snow if you fancy a quick ski although it won't be the best quality snow).
Calistoga - North of SF. famous for it's sulphur spings. if you can get a few hours away from the kids try a mud bath. Smelly but very relaxing.
Napa - Again North of SF. Major wine region. You can go on a wine tasting trip by just driving from one vine yard to another. Most don't charge for tasting and normally have a non alco grape juice that the kids could 'taste'. Best bit is you don't even have to buy any wine and can get quite sloshed! (So make sure it's someone elses turn to drive...They're very hot on drink driving and on speeding in California).
Muir Wood - Just north of SF. It's a protected area of redwood forest and has a lovely trail and, I believe, they do guided tours with the park rangers. Best bit is that the park rangers look just like the one from Yogi bear!
Great America theme park - A small theme park by American standards but it still puts Alton Towers to shame. It's down the bay, Santa Clara/San Jose way.
Beaches - I forget the names of the beaches but if you head north of SF again and turn left you'll hit some lovely golden sandy beaches. Also, you could always head for Santa Cruz. Golden beach and tacky boardwalk with mini funfair.
Things to Do in SF (Apart from shopping!):
Golden gate park is a must. there's a boating lake and a carousel, plenty of room to run around and, especially at the weekend, all the cool San Franciscans hanging out on their skates. You can hire bikes/skates and try it out yourself! (How's your balance?).
Almo Square: Small park with stunning views of the city and lined by the 'painted ladies' (old typical san franciscan houses).
Cable cars: Great fun. More expensive than the buses but has to be done. Try out the cable car museum too. Last time I was there it was free.
Ghiradellis: Sure I've spelt that wrong....Really tack tourist trap but good ice cream sundaes.
Pier 39: Again a tourist trap. Normally to be avoided but the kids might like to see the seal lions that have taken over part of the area.
Alcatraz: Excellent audio tour. probabaly not the best thing to do with the kids but they might enjoy the boat trip over to the island.
Coit Tower: Nice view. Don't waste your money paying to go inside though.
Lombard street: So it's a wiggley road. Big deal. Not worth queuing to drive down it.
Embarqadero (sp?): touristy shopping but quite nice and they may have added some attractions for the kids. Has a cinema (movie theatre!) there as well....Maybe you can see a movie before it's released back home? They have a skating rink there in winter but it's probably not there this time of year.
China town: Busy but really interesting. Not sure that the kids will enjoy it much though but you have to check out the weird and wonderful things they sell in the food shops.
Exploratorium: A must for your 6 year old (and the 2 year old should be amused too). A science museum done American style. Lots of knobs and buttons and levers etc to play with.
Things to eat:
SF is a wonderful mix of cultures. They have the best Thai food I've tasted anywhere and very authentic Chinese. Not to mention mexican and your typical American Diner. Book a diet for when you come back....and don't bother with starters unless you're planning on sharing a main course as the portions are huge.
Ummm...I'm sure I've missed loads....I'll post again if I think of anything else!
Bells1 · 13/06/2001 09:58
I second Yosemite - definitely worth the trip. The only drawback though is that like most US national parks, the accommodation is all centrally controlled and is very expensive relative to staying outside of the park. The food was also awful!
Mooma · 13/06/2001 10:27
Hmonty's list is fairly exhaustive, but for children I would definitely recommend 'Marine World Africa USA'. The whale and dolphin shows are wonderful and sensitively presented.
Helenmh · 13/06/2001 10:59
i we took the kids to yosemite when we were in sanfrancisco for 2 and a half months. they were 2 and 5 months at the time. We stayed in a log cabin whci they loved. I would say that all the places already suggested are great. We lived near golden gate park whch was great. There is also a nice park in pacific heights. North beach is great for italian restaurants and a nice grassy square. Baker beach is nice and you get a good view of the golden gate bridge. further afield the coast around monterey and santa barbara is great and monterey has a wonderful aquarium and whale watching trips. We also went onto the north coast of california. We had a book published by frommers I think whch was calle "Take the kids to california". It had lots of tips on where to eat.etc. Oh dont forget the big toy store called FAO scwartz and the cable cars.
have a great t
Hmonty · 13/06/2001 11:56
I forgot the Monterey Aquarium. They have a great touch tank where you can stroke sea cucumbers (!) and the like. And you can see the wild sea otters being fed. You can also go whale watching from Monterey...although I don't think summer is the right season!
Incidently, even though it's a bit touristy you must try the clam chowder served in a bowl made of sour dough bread. Very San Franciscan!
And if you do happen to go to Candlestick park (renamed 3M park whilst we were there I believe) to watch the baseball take plenty of woolies as it's very windy...
And if you do go to Tahoe nip over the boarder to Nevada and you can try your luck at a casino. (If you win your fortune I will, of course, demand a commission).
And....Ooo the list is endless. Very jealous. We've been meaning to go back for ages. Where does your friend live?
Glee · 13/06/2001 16:39
I live in Sacramento, approximately 90 miles from San Fransico. Although it's been a while since I've been to San Francisco for "fun", I recommend you:
Go Sony's Metreon, in the South of Market area. There is one section dedicated to Maurice Sendak's story "Where Wild Things Are," as well as floors and floors of Sony Play Station games, new Sony electronics, etc. Their website is: www.metreon.com/
Also in the "SoMa" area is the San Francsico Museum of Modern Art.
See a baseball game at Pac Bell Park (located in China Basin, near the Bay Bridge) or at the Oakland Coliseum. Pac Bell Park is new - - I think this will be its second season. Good news, I hear it's much warmer than 3Com. I use to have to wear a down jacket in July if I attended an evening game there! They have a cool website where you can not only purchase your tickets, but also see a virtual view of the field from your seats!
Golden Gate Park also has Steinhart Aquarium, a Japanese tea garden, and the DeYoung Museum. I think Exploratorium is there too.
If you are south of San Francisco, you may want to visit Santa Cruz. There is a nice beach and a Boardwalk/amusement park.
If you like shopping and you are south of SF, go see the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. You may also want to visit Stanford Univeristy (where Chelsea Clinton attended)
Factory Outlet shopping is very popular here. There is a huge factory mall in Gilroy (south of San Jose).
If you're there during 4th of July, go see the fireworks from Crissy Field, near the Marina district.
Have a wodnerful trip! There really is a lot to do in the bay area.
Marina · 14/06/2001 10:50
Never been, but for you (not the children...) before you go, read Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series, try and catch the C4 dramatisations on video if you can, and then make sure you visit Barbary Lane. You lucky thing! Have a fantastic time. I've always wanted to go and all these tempting suggestions have got me even keener.
Nw · 14/06/2001 11:33
If you do go to Alcatraz you need to book a slot, if you go to the port first thing you can choose your time, it gets busy very quickly. I think it's called Pier 39 where all of the sealions are, there are good seafood restaurants and lots of knicknack shops, chinatown is busy and mad. The coast road down to LA is beautiful for a drive with picture postcard towns along the way. We are planning to do the same thing in the next couple of years, let us know how you get on, my one worry is the flight, my boys are 1 and 2.
Rhiannon · 14/06/2001 18:18
Hi Nw, it's very much going to be a visiting trip, sitting by the pool etc with a few trips out as I'm all spent out as we've just got back from our 'proper' holiday.
We have a California trip planned for 2003 when the kids will be 8 and nearly 5. We're flying into Las Vegas and staying at the MGM for a week. Then an internal flight to San Francisco and pick up a car (visit my friend again) and then take another week explore the coast road going south. Then find somewhere to stay fairly centrally for the last week so we are able to visit Disneyland, Legoland and Seaworld! If this is possible. I have just started my monthly savings plan for this trip!
Mooma · 14/06/2001 18:57
If you drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, visit Randolph Hearst's amazing house at San Simeon, and then stay at the 'Tickle Pink Inn' in Carmel (no, I'm not kidding, that's its name, after the owner, Senator Tickle, and it's painted...pink!)you may find that, like us, you come back with more than a souvenir T-shirt. Our fourth child is 'made in California', and that's why I love it so much!!
Rhiannon · 12/07/2001 17:13
Well here we go, signing off for a couple of weeks. I'll tell you all about it when we return.
Rhiannon · 25/07/2001 16:15
Wow, California is beautiful. Went to San Francisco took a boat to Sausilito had a wonderful lunch at The Horizon looking over the water. Went to the Monterey Aquarium. Didn't do much else except lie in the sun (with a bit of shopping thrown in).
Mooma · 25/07/2001 16:51
Horizon - my favourite restaurant. I have pictures of all three of my daughters, as toddlers, standing in one of the flower pot thingies along the aisle inside the main room!
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