So this is going to be a pretty long post. Mostly because I took A LOT of pictures and we did so much stuff in the 3 days we were in San Francisco. Here goes!
So in March we traveled to California. The main reason for our trip was the Veronica Mars Movie premiere in LA (posts about it soon). Since we were going all the way to the west coast I figured it would be fun to stay longer and go somewhere else. I had never been to San Francisco. My mom and dad went on their honeymoon in 1975 and Cheryl was there for work a few years ago. I have always wanted to visit so we decided to go to San Francisco first and then LA after.
Now even though I have been flying a lot more lately I still hate it. I am pretty much petrified the whole flight. Also going against the jet stream (East to West) makes for some turbulent flights. There were points during the flight I was almost in tears the turbulence was so bad, but we made it safe and sound. We forgot to research how to get to the hotel from the airport. We figured a cab would be fine but it was very expensive. We learned about the BART system for the way home. We had decided to stay in Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco since it was a touristy area with a lot to do. We stayed at the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a really nice hotel and just a block away from the wharf. When we were leaving we asked the concierge about the bus tours and places to eat. We bought our bus tour tickets right there! It was perfect and the bus stop was right by our hotel.
We got in pretty early because of the time change (around 11) so we headed over to Pier 39 to get lunch.
We actually wound up stopping at the first restaurant we saw because we were starving. It was called Wipeout Bar & Grill and it was delicious. I had a beer and a salad because at this point I was trying to not go crazy vacation-mode eating like I always do. We were probably one of the only tables ordering beer at 11am but oh well. We had a long trip already and wanted a drink to celebrate making it there.
Next we walked down Pier 39 (after getting some coffees) and went to see the sea lions. It was such a nice day out and they were all basking in the sunshine on the docks. It was so cool.
After we watched the sea lions for a little we decided to stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf. They have all fresh seafood all over the place (you know by the smell) and a lot of shops/restaurants.
As we were walking we saw people selling tickets for the bus tours. A few years ago just for fun we did a NYC bus tour and it was amazing. You pay one price to ride the bus around to all the main areas all day and don’t have to pay for taxis or anything. We knew before we got to San Francisco that we were going to do a bus tour. The one that we booked at the hotel was the Big Bus Tour. We jumped on and sat at the top. It was so nice out! The bus had headphones and headphone jacks at each chair. Our bus had a guide who explained things in the city as we passed by. For foreign tourists they could plug in the headphones and an automated recording would tell them what we were passing.
We decided we would sit on the bus for the full tour today so that we knew where stuff was and the following day get off and explore.
We took the popular red route past Washington Square, the Embarcadero, Union Square, the Civic Center, Fulton Street, Alamo Square, through Haight Ashbury and through Golden Gate Park. When we got to the Golden Gate Bridge north we decided that because it was just too nice of a day we would get out and walk across the Golden Gate Bridge to the bus point on the other side.
We stopped in the gift shop first to look around. I also had heard (from the tour guide) that you could go up in the towers, but he was wrong. We got postcards that we got stamped with the day saying that we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.
The bridge was so cool. There were A LOT of other people walking/jogging/biking across as well. We kept stopping to look at the beautiful view.
We also stopped a lot to take pictures. Luckily there were a lot of other people that understood how to use DSL cameras so they could snap some pictures with mine.
When we got to the other side of the bridge it was still pretty early, even though we had been up for hours! We jumped on the cute trolley that took you on the Sausalito Tour. The first stop area was an old U.S. Coast Guard station. The homes had been converted from barracks to vacation houses, a hotel and a kids museum. It had really pretty views across the bay though and the tour guide stopped and took our picture.
The town of Sausalito is super crazy expensive and most houses are built on hillsides. Supposedly a lot of celebrities live there. We contemplated getting out and walking around, but we figured out the time when tours ended and we didn’t want to be stuck in Sausalito. We finished the loop and got back on the regular tour bus. When we got back to Fisherman’s Wharf it was dark out and getting colder so we went back and got sweaters. Then Cheryl checked the Open Table app and booked us a table at Alioto’s down the block. It was late and we were all exhausted since we had been up for so long. I didn’t let that stop me from ordering some delicious wine and seafood ravioli. After all the walking I deserved a treat! Then we headed home and passed out.
The next morning Cheryl and I got up pretty early (still on East Coast time) and decided to go for a run along the water.
It was a nice morning and the views from the path were amazing. There were a lot of homeless people though. They didn’t bother anyone it just always makes me sad to see. After our run we decided to grab breakfast. We stopped at Boudin Bakery (we had passed it multiple times and it smelled so good) and got egg bowls and coffee. Definitely amazing food!
We went back and got ready for a new day in San Francisco. We jumped on the tour bus and decided to stop first at Lombard Street. It’s the crookedest street in the world. People line up for hours just to drive down it and the hill it is on is STEEP!
The hill is very intimidating from the bottom and man is is a hard walk. You have to lean so far forward just to get momentum to go up. Cars have to park on an angle or sideways. My mo gave up halfway to the top and told us to go without her. Luckily she rested for a little then powered her way up to meet us. After we watched a few cars drive down we started to walk over to get the bus again. A lot of hills have stairs because they are so steep. I can imagine most people in San Francisco being fit.
We jumped on the bus again and got off at the stop for the Painted Ladies. If you don’t know what that is you might remember the opening of Full House. They are old houses all in a row. It’s really pretty and there is a park right across the street.
After we somehow convinced our mom to walk to our next destination instead of taking the bus. I wanted to get some exercise in and it wasn’t a terribly far walk. The problem was it was hilly and hot so we had to stop a few times to rest. We eventually made it to the Haight Ashbury section. It is the “hipster” area with a lot of electric stores and restaurants. I bought a cute dress and a vintage Disney shirt. We got lunch at a really cool burger place and had beer with it.
At the end of the block we picked up the bus again and rode over the Golden Gate Bridge and back to the Palace of Fine Arts. This was the closest stop we could find to our next destination…the Disney Family Museum. I felt like I HAD to go. Especially after all the Disney we had experienced in the past year. It was a pretty far walk but we took our time.
The museum was really cool. It was more about how Walt Disney grew up, his family and how he got into making cartoons. They had a lot of old artifacts and drawings he made. I loved the huge model of how he wanted Disneyland to look with all the rides and attractions. It got really sad at the end when they talked about his death and had all the drawings from artists. The crying Mickey’s are so sad. I am really glad we went, even though it was far. It really gave me a whole new respect for Disney and his dreams that became reality.
Now it was the end of the day and we were once again tired and starving. I had decided earlier that I really wanted ice cream from Ghiradelli. We walked down to Ghiradelli Square and found a cute bar/restaurant called The Pub. I decided to get fish tacos and a side of mac and cheese..because why not!
After dinner we went to Ghiradelli and got ice cream sundaes. It smelled so good inside. We ate the sundaes on the way back to the hotel and of course halfway through I started to feel sick. Me and sugar are not friends. I still ate it all anyway and curled up in bed and slept.
We decided to do Alcatraz on our last day in San Francisco since we no longer had the bus tour passes to go around the city. Cheryl had pre-bought early morning tickets for us. I didn’t get up to run because for some reason my back hurt when I woke up. We walked down to the pier and stood in line for the boat.
It was once again a beautiful day. It was chilly in the morning on the boat so we had jackets, but the ride to Alcatraz was so pretty.
I can’t image knowing you were going to be kept in a prison on an island. My parents had visited Alcatraz in 1975. She said a lot of stuff looked very different than when she was there the last time. She said she didn’t remember all the graffiti left behind from the Indian Occupation, but it had to have been there.
Inside Alcatraz you get headphones and a device where you push numbers and it tells you about the part of the prison you are in. It’s kind of eerie walking around with hundreds of other people in total silence. Taking off the headphones was interesting.
There was a lot of leeway in some areas and others that were completely restricted. I liked that they let you inside the cells in solitary confinement. The problem with so many people there at the same time though was people kept walking into pictures.
After our headphones ended we decided to walk around outside. It was a beautiful day. We had such great weather there.
We found some stairs outside that people we walking up so we decided to see what they led to. Somehow inside we completely missed the exercise yard part of the tour, but we got to see it before we left. We spent a good chunk of the day on Alcatraz learning about the history of the island and the people that had been kept there. Very cool to visit!
Since it was the afternoon we thought “why not get lunch”. Then we thought “why not get lunch in Chinatown”! My dad had bought my mom a robe in Chinatown on their honeymoon. She had accidentally left it in the hotel. He never let her forget it and she wanted to get a new one to remember him. Since we no longer had bus tickets we decided to ride the cable cars to Chinatown. We picked up the Beach and Hyde Street line in Fisherman’s Wharf. We had to wait a pretty decent amount of time to actually get on the cable car. They must only have a few running at a time. Finally we got on and I made sure I could stand on the outside.
It was such a cool experience. You always see people riding the cable cars in movies and TV shows. It was a rush going down or up the steep hills!
Once we finally got to Chinatown we realized how hungry we were. We walked around but a lot of places were closed since it was in-between lunch and dinner. We finally found a place that had good reviews and accepted credit card. I cannot remember what the name of the place is but it had THE MOST AMAZING FOOD. I have been trying to find honey chicken as good as it was there to no avail. It was truly a fantastic meal.
After we ate we walked around and I bought more souvenirs and my mom got her robe. We were pretty beat at this point so we jumped back on the cable car back to Fisherman’s Wharf. We had an early flight the next morning so we decided to just relax for the rest of the night. We wound up going back to Boudin Bakery to get takeout dinner. Once again it was amazing food.
The next morning we took a charter van we reserved online back to the airport. We were going to take the BART but it was VERY early and the vans were definitely cheaper than a taxi.
I had an awesome time in San Francisco. We fit in a lot of fun activities into a very short amount of time, but it was worth it.