Let’s jet across to the other coast and visit California! The first thing you will want to do when considering a visit to San Francisco is book your trip to Alcatraz. Don’t let the fact that this is a prison scare you off. This is a terrific place for kids and adults, but the spots fill up fast. Take advantage of the special guided tours of different areas where marvelous storytellers
capture the imagination with tales of attempted escapes. We spent hours here. A good book for kids to read that takes place on Alcatraz is Al Capone Does My Shirts by Jennifer Choldenko. You can also take a combination tour that takes you to Angel Island, the west coast equivalent of Ellis Island. Read Hannah is My Name by Belle Yang for younger kids.
Emperor Norton’s Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine History Tour was a very informative and lots of fun. We got a Groupon. “Emperor Norton” walked us around showing us spots from the early smuggling days of San Francisco to the 1906 earthquake, and a lot of architecture. This is a great place to start, because you get a sense of the history and layout of the city.
Have lunch at Boudin Bakery for some marvelous sourdough bread in interesting shapes. Have dinner almost anywhere on Fisherman’s Wharf for some delicious chowder or seafood.
Lombard Street, the curviest street is worth a quick look, as well as a climb up Telegraph Hill, for a view of the city, then a hike down through a neighborhood of stairs, instead of streets, the Filbert Steps. The Painted Ladies, that famous row of Victorian houses is a pretty sight, if you have a car. And if you are out for breakfast, find a place that serves Millionaire’s Bacon!
The free Cable Car Museum will complement some rides on the cable cars, 1201 Mason Street. Here you get a glimpse of the underground cables that pull the famous cars. Take the cable cars into Chinatown where you can do a self-guided walking tour or try Free Tours on Foot for the price of a (be generous) tip. Definitely have dinner there!
San Francisco has a long naval history to explore. Take a drive down the Embarcadero, then head to the Maritime Park for a tour of Balclutha and other historic ships. The park rangers offer free tours.
We had a fun experience taking a Chocolate tour from http://besttours.com. It was a great walk through the Financial District for great chocolate in a variety of styles and flavors. Speaking of chocolate, do not miss Ghirardelli Square!
Golden Gate Park is a gorgeous place to play and any little girl will enjoy the Japanese Tea Garden. If you would like to immerse yourself in some art, try the California Palace Legion of Honor de Young Art Museum.
Golden Gate Bridge is a really fun hike. We took a bus to the other side, the Marin Headlands and took a look at the Point Bonita Lighthouse, then hiked across the bridge, back to San Francisco.
Remember that is always cool in San Francisco, so bring a jacket, even in the summer. There are lots of great side trips, too. Look out for my post on other California trips. What are your favorite things to do in San Francisco?
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