Last June 2019, our family spent my birthday weekend in San Francisco. In this post I share our long weekend itinerary exploring the City By The Bay.
Since hotel check-in was not until 2:00 pm, we decided to have lunch first. First meal in SanFo, Jollibee. #Priorities Born and raised in the Philippines, it brings back good childhood memories.
There are a lot of good restaurants close to the airport though. In my original itinerary we were supposed to have lunch at New England Lobster Market and Eatery.
After lunch, we headed to our hotel to check in. We chose a hotel closer to the airport because they are way cheaper compared to hotels in San Francisco City proper. However, I won’t mention which hotel we stayed at as they didn’t fulfill my expectations. Yes, I matched my expectations to my price point affordability. Yet this hotel still did not manage to get to that level.
Once we we’re checked in and freshened up, we headed back out, this time driving towards San Francisco City proper.
First touristy stop, the Painted Ladies. A row of painted Victorian houses, also known as Postcard Row, popularized by the sitcom Full House. The painted ladies are right across Alamo Park where there is a nice playground. So after a couple of pictures, the kids had about an hour playing in the playground. Then a couple more pictures before we headed to Lombard Street.
This is the most crooked road in North America. Marc parked the car on top of the street and we walked up and down Lombard street for photo ops.
It was the NBA finals at the time we visited, next game is being held in the Chase Centre. There was a red mustang convertible driving down Lombard Street bearing the Raptors flag as we we’re walking back up. I couldn’t help but yell, “Go Raptors!” #CanadianPride The occupants of the car yelled “Go Raptors!” back at least.
Marc wanted to experience driving down Lombard Street, so we piled ourselves back into the car. He drove from the top of the street all the way down. Then it was time to visit the Palace of Fine Arts.
Another SanFo touristy landmark is the Coit Tower. Anybody watch the movie San Andreas Fault? Yes, that’s The Rock.
We chose to skip this place because I read a recent TripAdvisor review written by a mom, that says she doesn’t feel it was safe for young kids. Marc and I have actually been in the tower before, and yes, I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking Kaeden and Kenzie up there based on previous experience.
I did however take photos of the kids on Lombard Street with the Coit Tower in the background.
Palace of Fine Arts
By the time we got to the Palace of Fine Arts, the kids were already tired from our adventure. Kaeden had a power nap in the car while Kenzie had an extended 30 minute nap on the stroller.
We took a lot of photos while walking around the Palace of Fine Arts. I think this was my favorite part of the trip because we were just having quality time with family while taking in the sights.
Dinner was superb! Nothing can beat eating fresh seafood with a view of the bay in front of you.
Although, in all honestly, Marc and I still had a nightcap of Jollibee Chicken Joy. LOL
Another reason we chose the hotel we stayed at was because breakfast was included. Nothing fancy, just your typical continental breakfast buffet spread. It prepared us for the day’s adventure.
Golden Gate Bridge
First stop of the day was Golden Gate Bridge. We left the car in the lower level parking lot and walked all the way up to the bridge. Obviously, also took a lot of pictures along the way.
You can cross to the other side of the bridge through the walkway underneath. The kids had a good time looking at the underside of the bridge. There was also an exhibit explaining the history of the bridge and the engineering design utilized for it.
No tourist tour is complete without visiting at least one gift shop. LOL We browsed but didn’t buy anything. My mom and Dad ended up buying some souvenirs. Did I mention that my mom, dad and brother were with us on this trip?
Barrel House Tavern
After spending almost half the day at the Golden Gate Bridge, we drove to Saulsalito for lunch.
On my original itinerary we were supposed to eat at Scoma’s. I mistakenly did not make reservations, and we didn’t want to wait 45 minutes for a table. So we walked up to Barrel House Tavern and had lunch there instead.
Food and drinks were excellent. Calamari and mussels hit the spot. And the kids had fun sitting on a bar-height table.
After lunch, we walked around this beautiful sea-side town. Marc and I had been here back in 2012. We both remember it being smaller and quaint. Fast forward several years later, it has grown a lot, possibly due to the fact that it accommodates tourists from all over the world.
Lappert’s Ice Cream
A visit to Sausalito would not be complete without trying Lappert’s Ice Cream. We treated ourselves to scoops of ice cream in waffle cones.
I love that they have different flavors inspired by places around the world. The kids definitely enjoyed their scoop of ice cream while looking out to the ocean.
After enjoying our ice cream and a long walk, we piled ourselves back into our Nissan Armada and headed back to San Francisco. The kids enjoyed nap time while in the car.
Ghirardelli Town Square
Since dinner was still a couple of hours away, we spent some time in Ghirardelli Town Square.
There are a lot of things to do here. Several stores have interactive play for kids outside. And did I mention that the Ghirardelli chocolate shop gives generous samples?!
I think the kids went back a couple of times for chocolate. LOL. Marc and I may have also gone back for seconds, we won’t confirm.
After buying some Ghirardelli chocolate packs to take home, it was time to start walking towards Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner.
Since our rental SUV was quite tall, it was too high for the underground parking at Ghirardelli Town Square. So we opted to park near the park to the left of the square. There are a few spots there. However, parking is only for 2 hours. So just before we headed to dinner, Marc moved the car several spots down. There were more spots open then because our dinner reservation was booked for 7:00 pm.
For my actual birthday dinner, I made a reservation at Cioppino’s, an Italian Seafood restaurant. Because seafood and pasta, how can you go wrong?
The service was great but the food was okay. It wasn’t mind-blowingly good. Also the restaurant is slightly dated in appearance.
But the servings are massive. All of us had to take about half of our meals back to the hotel. LOL. But in all honesty the service was excellent. I wish I can remember the name of our server.
We woke up bright and early on Sunday for our day 3 adventure. We were first in line at the breakfast buffet.
Marc wanted to watch an NBA finals game but ticket prices were ridiculous. So he just opted to drive up to Chase Centre for a photo op.
Security was tight though because of the NBA finals so he didn’t even have a nice photo. But at least he saw the arena. While the kids and I had some time to catch some sleep before we started the day’s adventure.
After we parked the car again in the same area near Ghirardelli Square, we walked over to the Cable Car station. Tickets for a 1-way trip cost $7 per adult.
We rode the cable car down to the downtown area. Kaeden and Kenzie at first were terrified, thinking they would fall off. But then they got the hang of it and enjoyed.
Downtown San Francisco
Once in the downtown area, we stopped by Starbucks for drinks. We walked around a tiny bit. There was a huge event happening, so there were too many people, and we are just not into that.
We took a few pictures and decided to head back to Fisherman’s Wharf. We lined up to take the cable car back. The line up was so long!
Luckily we spotted the Senor Sisig food truck near the line up. This is one of the most popular food trucks in San Francisco. Bonus that it’s Filipino cuisine based.
We purchased a couple of orders of sisig and happily ate lunch while lined up. The kids had Burger King chicken nuggets and fries. Everyone was full by the time we boarded the cable car.
We got off the cable car at a different spot where we initially boarded. So we left the kids with my mom & dad in Starbucks, while we walked to the car.
This time we parked the car underground in the building where Ross is. It was a $10 parking fee, but it was a hot day and the fee was for the entire day.
After we met up with my parents and the kids at Starbucks, we headed down to the pier. At the pier we purchased tickets for the Bay Cruise, this is what we plan to do in the afternoon.
Originally we wanted to go on the catamaran cruise, but with the kids, we thought the boat cruise would be less stressful for us adults. LOL.
Since our cruise time was not until 3:30 pm, we decided to walk around the Fisherman’s Wharf area, take some photos, and try the famous fish and chips from The Cod Mother’s Fish and Chips. It’s our linner! The meal between lunch and dinner when you’re on holidays. LOL.
It was fun to just sit back, relax, and have the boat tour us around. A nice break from all the walking we’ve done so far. The kids certainly enjoyed it!
Note that we specifically did not go to Alcatraz because Kaeden and Kenzie will not appreciate it. They’d probably just be scared if we go in there. The Bay Cruise went close enough that they can see it and we can touch on the subject but not delve too deep into it.
After getting off the boat, we headed back to the car and drove to Red Ribbon. This is a famous bakery for Filipino people. We bought a lot of pastries to take back home. There is no Red Ribbon in Canada yet.
All of us got stopped at airport security, our baggage checked, because it was just full of spice blends. LOL
The kids were allowed to buy a $10 item in Target as a souvenir, obviously they each chose a toy.
For dinner on our last day, we decided to try a popular local Filipino restaurant. We chose Isla Restaurant through a recommendation by my Mom’s friend.
Dinner was excellent! Definitely satisfied my Filipino taste buds. And they gave us a free dish because it was still my birthday week. Gotta love that!
Our flight back home was at 12 pm. As usual we had breakfast at the hotel. Did a rejig of our luggage – each of us only brought one carry-on suitcase and a back pack, including the kids. So we had to distribute the pastries and spices accordingly.
Dropped off the rental car and was surprised that there was no line up at security.
We were relaxing inside the airport about an hour and a half before boarding time. So we had time to eat a mini-lunch and let the kids burn off some energy before flying back home.
I hope you enjoyed and picked up a thing or two from our long weekend family itinerary in San Francisco. If you want to see photos of our trip, head on over to our Instagram (@this.family.life.we.live). If you like what you see there, please follow us. We always appreciate new tribe members!