With the Thanksgiving weekend approaching, we realized that we had four days we could use to do some more exploring. San Francisco has always been on our ‘bucket list” so on the Monday before Thanksgivinig we booked out flights and accommodation! I had been to San Francisco about 7 or 8 years previously and loved it – I remember spending three days walking and exploring the city so I was excited to share the amazing city with Anthony and the boys.
We flew out on the Wednesday night of the Thanksgiving weekend, which is one of the busiest holiday weekend in the US, I suspect that it is even busier than Christmas! We had been at the boys school for their “Thanksgiving Concert” which was fantastic. The boys were so serious as they sang the three Thanksgiving songs – “Mr Turkey” was my personal favorite!
Thankfully we convinced our lovely neighbor Chris to drive and drop us off at the airport, and we were very glad that we did as the queues into the airport and check in were huge! But we were soon on the plane and flying north to San Fran! The boys loved the flight and were so excited about taking off and landing. It was the first flight they had been on in a while – and the first of quite a few they would have in the coming months.
We arrived into San Francisco late in the evening for the boys, so we headed straight to the hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn located in Fishermans Wharf – it has a great location and was very reasonably priced considering how well located it was. After a big day the boys thankfully had a good sleep.
Anthony and I always find that the best way to get our bearings and also see as much as possible of a new place with the kids is to jump on one of the “red Bus” or any hop on and hop off bus tours! The kids love sitting up on the roof (even if it is freezing as it was while we were in San Fran). As we were only really had three full days to tick things off our list. We decided that the bus was the best option. The bus was great and we were able to see the “Painted Ladies,” the crooked street’ and all the key landmarks! We decided to stop at the Sutra Baths where there are amazing views of the Pacific ocean. That afternoon we explored the Fishermans Wharf which the kids loved, especially when we headed to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory for sundaes and to watch the Christmas Concert – which included snow. The boys were amazed.
One of the things I remember doing and loving when I first visited was riding over the Golden Gate Bridge over to Sauslito. So the next day we rugged up the boys and hired bikes. I have to admit that riding up hills with a 16 kg 3 year old on the back your bike while you struggle with horrible morning sickness, was not ideal. However as soon as we reached the bridge and were riding over the sun came out, I was loving it again.
As we cycled down the other side towards Sausltio was came across the “Bay Area Discovery Museum” (https://www.baykidsmuseum.org). We had not realized it was there and we were so glad that we decided to go. The boys loved it. It was in an old Military barracks looking back over towards the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline. There were lots of areas for the boys to explore, both inside and in the outside areas. The gravelled construction zone area was a definite highlight and it was a difficult extract the kids! I vaguely remember riding away with Sam screaming to go back! We then caught the ferry to the city which went past Alcatraz. I had been to Alcatraz when I first visited, however we could not get Ant a ticket as they book out so quickly – and especially over the holiday weekend. So hopefully Anthony can sneak back one day to check it out.
We are very fortunate to have a friend who lived (she has now moved to Sydney) in San Francisco, who Anthony had met when he was going his MBA. We were hoping to see Jen, Stephen and their baby girl Elyse, but poor Elyse was not well, and Stephen stayed home to care for her. So we had Jen all to ourselves! We met her at the California Academy of Science (http://www.calacademy.org) which is within the amazing Golden Gate Park. The day we went it was actually raining, so it was a perfect place to visit with two active boys. The boys loved it – especially the planetarium.. they chased (maybe terrified) the butterflies. They also enjoy watching all the fish in the in aquarium.
On our final day, it was literally pouring with rain.. more than we had seen in a very very long time! We loaded the boys in the pram and walked our way through puddles to the Exploratorium (http://www.exploratorium.edu). This, I have to say, was such a fantastic place to visit with the kids, and i think we actually enjoyed it more than the California Academy of Science, mainly for the reason that there were so many exhibits and the boys able to interact with them all. It was an extraordinary collection of scientific experiments which the kids could mostly do by themselves.
We loved San Francisco, it was obviously a very kid centric trip so we did not explore the fantastic resturants, the fish market and Alcatraz, but thats ok, as we had a great time, and learnt some good lessons about traveling with the boys.. and you never know when we maybe able to head back!
– Do one main activity a day
– don’t try and squeeze to many things in one day
– down time needed… not just for the boys, but for us as well!