After a long five-hour flight, our plane touched down at San Francisco International Airport. We picked up our rental car and headed straight for our hotel. Our two-week, west coast family vacation, which we had planned for months, was finally under way. Our itinerary called for one day in the Bay City and then a driving tour with stops in Silicon Valley, Lake Tahoe, Zion National Park, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and finally, San Diego.
After we unpacked and relaxed for a little while, everyone was getting hungry. We headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf and found the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company at the end of Pier 39. After about a 10 minute wait, a table opened up and we were seated.
The kids loved the New Orleans shrimp boat theme and we all loved the expansive menu of tempting seafood dishes. Our friendly waiter warned us of the big portions, so, we ordered a few different items and shared. The coconut shrimp was excellent and so was the fried chicken. After we topped off the meal with a very satisfying homemade apple pie, we stopped by the souvenir shop and picked up some cool Bubba Gump tee shirts for the kids.
We all must have been really tired as everybody was sound asleep within minutes of returning to our hotel room. I woke up at about seven in the morning and everybody was already dressed and ready to begin our day in San Francisco. I got dressed quickly and we were out the door and ready to start our day in San Francisco. Taking advantage of the free hot breakfast in the lobby, we filled up on waffles and eggs and then headed straight for our first stop – a ride on the cable car.
I paid the $6 fare for the 20 minute ride through the streets of San Francisco and we found our seats. With the possible exception of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is best known for its iconic cable cars. Cable cars were first introduced to the city in 1873. Prior to their introduction, horses labored to pull street cars up and down the hilly streets. The kids loved going up and down the hilly streets and got a big kick out of the bell-ringer who signaled each stop with a unique ring of the bell.
As part of our cable car experience, we headed over to the Cable Car Museum Video housed in the historic Washington/Mason cable car barn and powerhouse. It was fascinating to see the antique cable cars from the 1870s and learn just how this unique system of transportation works.
Our next stop was a tour of Alcatraz www.nps.gov/alca. The infamous prison, located a few miles out in San Francisco Bay, was something my two boys were really looking forward to seeing. We departed from Fisherman’s wharf for a short boat ride to the island prison that once held the likes of Al Capone and Robert Stroud a.k.a. the Birdman of Alcatraz. We saw the small little cells and wondered what it must have been like to be locked up for life with no chance of escape.
After getting back to the pier, we noticed that half the day was already gone. Without delay, we got in our car and made our way over to Golden Gate Park, our last stop on the day’s itinerary. Golden Gate Park is the largest park in San Francisco. Larger than New York’s Central Park, it stretches 3 miles long and covers 1,013 acres. Features include museums, gardens, shady trees, wide open spaces, lakes, windmills and even an area where you can see a herd of buffalo. We spent the rest of the day walking around the 55 acre San Francisco Botanical Garden and then visiting the city’s main art museum, the De Young Museum. Our day in San Francisco ended with dinner at the Beach Chalet.
Driving back to the hotel, we wondered why we had only allocated one day to spend in the Bay City. There was so much more to see and do that we made a vow to return soon and spend more time in San Francisco.