You know in the old TV shows when a person would pull out their slides of their recent trip and was so excited to show them to their dinner guests? They probably only invited them over for dinner for that reason. And then the camera would pan over to the before mentioned dinner guests and they would look less than thrilled? I get it. We went on a trip, I want to share, and you may or may not be jumping for joy at the thought of looking at our pictures. This was our first REAL vacation. So I also get the whole "Oh look what they got to do but we will never get to do" feeling too. I have been on Facebook for over 5 years and have seen ALL my friends post pictures from their vacations while I did not have any vacation photos to share. So I will still love you to pieces if you do not want to see pictures from our trip. But if you are thinking about making this trip in the future (San Francisco on up the HWY 101 to the Oregon Coast) then you may want to read on. I will share what we did, hidden gems, and if I thought certain places were worth the time. You may find it helpful :) At least that is my hope.
I fell madly in love with San Francisco. I hope I have a reason to go there again someday. It was colorful, eclectic, breezy, and stunning. If you have never been there before and are wanting to go I have one piece of advice....
Wear good walking shoes.
Holy hills Batman! I knew Lombard street was steep but no one told me the entire city is made up of hills. And there is basically no parking so we walked and rode the cable cars across the city. But we mostly walked.
We flew in to San Francisco Saturday evening. I have flown with a couple of my kids when they were tiny (and free). But none of them have any memories and some hadn't even flown at all. So the flight in and of itself was amazing for them. We got our rental car, found our hotel (which was a HOLE and didn't look a thing like the picture online!), got some dinner, and then went to bed. We switched hotels the next day and it was SO much nicer.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention. We also found a grocery store and bought a cheap cooler. We filled it with groceries, drinks, and ice. This is what we do to help save money when we travel. We eat breakfast at the hotel (free) and then most lunches and dinners we have sandwiches, fruit, string cheese, etc. We picked a few meals to eat out at restaurants over the course of the trip. Doing that saved us money (and calories!).
The first real day in the city was Sunday. We went to church and then walked around looking at all the amazing homes. I took a billion pictures of houses. My husband and I were loving it! We also decided this would be a good day to walk up the famous Lombard street. Do you want to test how in shape (or out of shape) you are? Walk up Lombard street. There was an old little grandma in front of us that was booking it. Do you want to feel like you have "let yourself go"? Walk up Lombard street behind a grandma.
Once you get to the top of the hill, the street curves back and forth. This part of the street is nicknamed "crooked street". It was fascinating to watch the cars go down it. Some of the prettiest homes were along this street but I don't think I could live there because you would basically have tourists on your front step everyday.
This is the view when we were standing at the top of the hill on Lombard street.
These homes! I just couldn't get enough. We went down all sorts of streets all over town just to snap pictures of houses. My husband being in the architecture field and me loving design so much..... we were in heaven.
What I loved the most was that there were so many styles of homes all bunched up together. One second there would be a mediterranean style home, then a modern contemporary one, and then a victorian mansion.
I loved how most buildings and homes had planters or flower boxes in windows. Everything was landscaped so beautifully. It really is a gorgeous city.
And there were so many fun details. Eye candy.
At some point we went back to the hotel and changed out of our church clothes. We packed up a beach bag full of food and headed to a nearby park. There are so many parks there but this one had a fun playground for kids. It was called Lafayette Park. And I didn't get a single picture because at that point I had food in my hands and blisters on my feet. I just sat. I have no idea how the kids had any energy left to run around. It was two blocks east of HWY 101/Van Ness on Washington. I am sure all the parks are nice, but the playground here was awesome! And there were some gorgeous, HUGE homes across the street. Sorry no pics. I was limping home at this point, people. Limping. And the kids slept very well that night ;)
This is one of my favorite memories. My little guy sat here looking out our hotel room window every possible second. He would say "Mom! I can see the WHOLE world!" He was in such awe. I love seeing things through the eyes of my children.
We woke up and ate at the hotel. Even though we checked out and would be leaving that night to go to the next city on our list, the hotel agreed to let us park there all day for free. Luckily we stayed in a hotel close to Fisherman's Wharf so we could walk. Along the way we stopped at Ghirardelli Square. There is nothing wrong with icecream at 10 am when on vacation, right? It was a fun little place but other than eating icecream and buying chocolate, I didn't see much to do. Maybe we missed something. So after we ate we decided to move onto the wharf.
My boys would have been happy to play in the sand right there near the piers. But since we had 7 more days (most of which would be at the beach) we made them move on to the shops and sights along the bay.
Because of time, we decided not to do the tour out to Alcatraz. Surprisingly my kids didn't seemed too excited about it which made the decision easier. I have heard that while it takes a good chunk of time, it is pretty fascinating. We were planning on doing a whale watching boat tour later on in our trip so to save money we opted not to do a boat tour here. It would have been fun to go out under the Golden Gate bridge. Maybe next time :)
The seals were cute even if they were stinky. There were street performers that were pretty fun. We decided to have one of our restaurant meals be dinner that night. It was pricey and not very good. But the view was amazing! We were at a seafood restaurant and of course they order Mac and Cheese.....
The cable car station was near here. I had always thought the cable cars were called trolleys. But the other public transportation cars are called trolleys and what you think of when you think of riding a trolley are the cable cars. We almost bought the wrong tickets. Don't worry, my husband embarrassed the kids by singing the Rice-A-Roni jingle the whole time and I may have sang them the theme song to Full House.
We rode them down to Market street and then from there walked to the Pinterest offices. If you missed my behind the scenes post you can read it and get caught up.
Market street was kind of nuts. It was the part of town that most reminded me of New York City. It had tons of shopping and lots of crazy people.
So the first part of the day was at the Wharf and then we rode the cable cars to Pinterest, and then rode them back up to the pier to eat dinner and shop a bit more. After all of that we walked back to the hotel and got the rental van.
We missed seeing the painted ladies. It would have been fun to see those iconic homes. But other than those homes I think we did everything we expected to do while we were there. If there is a next time, we will explore Golden Gate Park, play at the beach below the Golden Gate Bridge, tour Alcatraz, and do a boat tour that goes under the bridge.
We drove to our next destination which was Fort Bragg, CA. While we drove, we past vineyards. It was such a pretty drive!
My next post will cover the whole rest of the trip. I only separated San Francisco because it felt like a vacation in and of itself.
We stayed in the following cities along the iconic HWY 101:
Fort Bragg, CA
Gold Beach, OR
Lincoln City, OR
I can't wait to share!
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Love all of your pictures! We went to San Francisco a couple of years ago and it will always, always be my favorite city in the US! It is amazing. Did you guys go to Golden Gate Park? It's unbelievable! The Japanese Tea Garden is so beautiful. I have a bajillion photos. It was the first big trip we've taken without our three kids. We are going to San Diego in November and I can't wait to be in California again!
Your pictures are beautiful! I totally agree that San Fran is such a pretty place. For my senior year of high school I went up to Placerville, CA to stay with my dad (it's about an hour North of Sacramento). My aunt took me to San Fran a couple of times and it was so fun! Did you know that Lombard Street is windy because with how steep it is, it would make driving very difficult? It totally makes sense but I didn't even think of why it would be like that until my aunt told me. =]
I did but only because my husband told me :) My kids were bummed we didn't drive down it. Maybe next time!
I just read that they are thinking of closing this section of the street for non-residents. It's too congested for the residents. I didn't get to drive down it several years ago because it was too crowded.
My favorite of your photos is your little guy sitting on the window ledge looking out, and his comment. I'm glad you had so much fun! I think vacations are way more fun with kids!
I live near San Francisco so it was fun to read your experience coming to our city. I'm glad you liked it! My husband and I just got back last week from driving up the coast, eventually ending up in Portland. We had such a great time and were enthralled with so much natural beauty. I'm looking forward to see how your experience with Northern CA/Oregon coast compares to ours! Your photos are wonderful!
Holly @ Coconutheadsurvivalguide
Hi Stacy - I was in Sacramento for work a few years back, and took an extra day on my own to tour SF. I was a one-day trip and I hit the highlights - Ghiradelli, sourdough bread, Pier, and drove up the coast and through wine country. I haven't been back since, and hope to one day get to see more of SF than just a few hours. Beautiful pictures and what fun memories for your family. Hugs, Holly
Heart and Haven
My family was just there for NYE (driving back to Cali from Portland, after working on one of our rental properties). We were only in the city for about 8 hours, but my kids LOVED it! We hit many of the spots your family did (minus the Pinterest headquarters, lol). Glad your family had fun.
One of my favorite family vacations was driving down the OR/CA coast! (again driving home from Portland...we had a couple "extra" days since repairs at one of our properties took less time than expected). We also stopped in Yachats and Gold Beach, lol. We went off-season end of Dec. so got lucky to stay in ocean-front hotels/condos that would've been cost prohibitive during summer months. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your adventure!
I love armchair travel. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to next installment.
This vacation is definitely on my bucket list - sounds like a wonderful time!
Your pictures are so pretty!! Love all the different types of houses in SF and it seems they have put a lot of effort into planting flowers everywhere :)
May I ask which hotel you stayed at (the second, nice one). My husband and I are currently reading through hotel reviews for our fall vacation but still aren't sure which one to book. It looks like there aren't any well located hotels under 170$...
We stayed at the Comfort Inn By The Bay. http://www.comfortinn.com/hotel-san_francisco-california-CA004 They had 4 or higher stars on all the sites we visited and the staff was SO nice!