Let me tell you the one of the most important things you need to know about me. I LOVE to travel. I guess it is a good thing I married a pilot then huh? Because of this constant itch to see the world, I am always on the hunt for amazing things to see and do in all the cities I can. Granted, things got a bit crazier when we added our mini to the pack, so we had to find kid friendly things to do and plan on cutting our days a little shorter.
Recently we opted to take a mini family vacation before the hubs hit up training. Naturally we decided to go to one of our staples. San Francisco. I LOVE the feel of the city, and the weather -- oh man. Taking this family trip was one for the books, so I thought I would share with you!
Here are my top 10 things to do in the bay area with your mini(s).
1. Cable Cars
If your little is like mine, he loves all things cars. So naturally a 'street-car' was one for the books. I mean how can you not? We bought a 2 day pass and used it on the buses, cable cars and subway. We are HUGE fans of using public transit and seeing the city up close and personal. Each of our rides were memorable for him. He was over the moon when we boarded and he could stand on the edge, granted we didn't let him stay there for the ride but he was in heaven non the less. The cable car driver was soooo sweet and let him ding the bell and stand on the bench to watch the ride. His face is one I will never forget.
You can catch the cars at Powell & Mason or Powell & Hyde. The Powell / Hyde turn around is based by Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory -- don't worry, I am gonna talk about that... yum -- and ends at Market st. Powell / Mason starts at Powell & Market (a few blocks up from the wharf near Pier 39) and ends at Taylor & Bay. If you are wanting to see Lombard Street, I would ride the Powell / Mason. You can see it from the base, and look up. It is quite the view! The rides do take a little bit longer, but I thought it was well worth the ride. We had a BLAST!
Check out more here!
2. Pier 39
What else can you ask for than a giant carousel, ice cream parlors, cookie shops, a magic store and toys? I mean it is like a kids mecca in there. We of course let the mini decide where to go. We watched the magic show, went to the magic shop and had them do a trick for us, stopped for dessert and picked up a few toy cable cars. It is a neat little pier with boats and views galore. You can hit the end and see Alcatraz, the golden gate and the tip of the bay bridge. It is one that you have to do at least once when you hit up the bay area.
It is like a shopping mall, so things can get pricy. It also is covered with street performers and tourists galore. So make sure you prep for a crowd, cause you are 99% sure to get one. But I wouldn't have missed it to see the look on his face seeing the magic, carousel and all the toys.
See all the stores here.
3. Ocean Beach
This beach. Oh man this one is an amazing beach. One that we love oodles. It is a bit of a ride from the wharf, but worth the drive. We opted for the bus, cause we are all for transit. It took us about 43 minutes on a frequent stop bus out, and about 20 minutes on the subway back. It has miles and miles of shore line. We love it cause we can always find a solid sea shell wash up. My favorite is the sand dollars. I mean we found a handful of them in tact and beautiful. This beach is a bit chilly, so be warned that it might not be swimming friendly - granted that didn't stop our mini from diving in. It is near a 4 lane road, which you have to cross, but they have awesome crosswalks with lights for you.
This is our favorite cause it is family friendly, it is wide open space, the views are killer and it is peaceful. There aren't usually a lot of people there. You can find some amazing shells.
4. Painted Ladies
Oh Full House, how I adore you. I think this is one of those staple things you HAVE to see when you are in the area. These beauties are Victorian and Edwardian style houses painted multi color so you can see all the details. The amazing thing about these, is they line the side of a park. So you can sit and bask in the colors on top of a grassy hill. Or... if you have a hyper active mini like we do, you go to the park at the top and let him play on the playground while you glance at it and then convince him to come sit and look with you.
The view is killer, and it is right off a bus stop. So worth the ride!
Learn more about them here.
Ahhh... one of my other loves, chocolate. I don't know how people survive without chocolate. I mean, it is a staple in my life. So naturally whenever I go to SF, I have to stop in there and stock up on my snacks -- hello caramel filled squares! The amazing factory has it's own square that sits at the end of Fisherman's Wharf, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. They have an amazing cafe that is serving up yummy desserts, that is every little's dream. Granted when we visited it was 8pm, which was bedtime so we had to do a drive by chocolating.
Did I mention they give you a free square when you walk in?? Learn more about this sweet spot here.
6. Fog Harbor Fish House
There is nothing better than fresh seafood, straight from the bay. My personal favorite is clam chowder. Especially in a sourdough bread bowl. My husband would argue and say he would rather have crab, salmon or the catch of the day ... but I can't go wrong with my soup. This place is a bit on the fancier side. No not dressed up, but glass cups, and full sets of silverware. Might not be idea for really little mini's, but if they can behave, it is worth the stop. It is located in Pier 39, on the top level. So you get a killer view of the bay as you eat, the best time is of course at sunset. I mean glowing ocean while you eat?! Winning.
Check out the menu here.
The seals are the best for little kids. Our little thought they were so so funny. Watching them fight each other for the rafts, crying out the whole time and then of course splashing in the water. It is a great source of entertainment. They are on the south end of Pier 39 towards the end. They have a protected area, with viewing benches and all. I would suggest you hit it up in the day time hours so you can watch them interact. We did both day and evening, and since we had seen them before, it was much easier for him to spot them in the evening. It is like going to a zoo for free!
8. Wipeout Bar & Grill
Now this is a kid friendly place. It is also found at Pier 39 and is a surf and turf type of place. Their seating outside is at picnic benches, which is PERFECT for a kiddo. They had amazing food -- I had the carne asada tacos! -- and a great atmosphere. Our little was enthralled with the fire pits, the benches and all the people. He of course made quick friends with our neighbors, and thankfully they were great to him.
If you are looking for seafood without the fancy, then I would say hit this place up! It was great tasting and reasonably priced.
Check out the food here!
9. Boudin Bread Factory
Oh my... you know I couldn't write a SF guide without putting sourdough bread somewhere on the list. This place is the staple of sourdough and sooooo good. They have a large bakery & cafe on the wharf that is amazing! Not only can you watch them make, shape and bake the bread but you can eat there, or get stuff for home. I would highly recommend their pizza, it is killer. I mean a done up pizza on sourdough crust, FREAKING GET IN MY BELLY. We of course always nab a little loaf to take home, cause I mean how can you not?
The little loved watching them make alligators and teddy bears through the window, and I have to admit I was a titch mesmerized too. What?! It is amazing to watch! So make sure and stop by when they are baking, even if you don't like sourdough, and see the creativity in action!
Water your mouth with photos here.
10. Baker Beach
This beach is close to just about everything wharf. It has a great up close and personal view of the golden gate, it is near the palace of the legion of honor, and surrounded by some amazing trees. One catch with kids -- it is also a nude beach. So beware of the other visitors there, but if you want a GREAT view of the golden gate, it is worth the trip.
When ever we go anywhere with our mini, we try and stay close to where we know we will spend most of our time. Our mini is 3, so we need down times, naps, and easy access. When we opted to visit SF we decided to stay at the Hotel Zephyr. This hotel is my kind of hotel. It is very modern, family friendly and just a few blocks from the wharf. This made it PERFECT for staying with a little.
Pssst. When you have all your adorbs photos, cause they are gonna happen... I use Mixbook to order up prints & memory books.
Well there you have it... tell me what is your favorite thing to do in San Fran? Leave me a comment below!