First, let offer a sincere thank you to the managers of this forum. My research really paid off and we had a lovely trip. My eight year old son and I arrived in San Francisco on a Monday afternoon. We took the shared van to Fisherman’s Wharf. It took quite a while to get the van and drop off guests. I think that we should have probably spent the extra money and taken a taxi.
We checked in at the Tuscan Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf. I like that The Tuscan has the feeling of a boutique hotel but was conveniently located in the middle of the FW action. FW action was exactly was what we were looking for…if I want to shop I do not bring the boy along. Monday afternoon was rainy…something that I am told is a rarity in June. We didn’t mind too much. In fact it was nice to check out the wharf without so many people on the streets. We had a good (not great) dinner at Cioppino’s. I had the cioppino and my son had a kid’s shrimp dish. We checked out Museum Mechaniqe, picked up our Muni passes at Walgreen’s and wine and water at Trader Joe’s and went to bed early.
Tuesday the action began. When we booked, the hotel had been running a special that offered free breakfast if we were willing to take a queen/queen room rather than king. We assumed each morning we would grab a muffin or something similar. What a nice surprise it was when we were seated in Pescatore, the hotel’s restaurant and told to order anything we’d like. After breakfast (Greek yogurt for me…two eggs, potatoes, bacon, toast and fruit for the boy!) we were ready to start our tour with Dylan’s Tours. We did the city/Muir Woods tour with Brendon. I would highly recommend this tour. There were only 11 guests so it never felt rushed or boring. Things moved quickly, we learned a lot and Muir Woods was beautiful in the misty drizzle that stuck around one more day. We got back in time for the hotel’s complimentary wine hour and then ate dinner at the dreaded Rainforest Café. We were seated next to the elephant who trumpeted every 15 minutes. I told my son he owed me…BIG.
Wednesday we took the cable car to Chinatown (after breakfast of course). We met up with a Discover Walks guide at 10 am in Portsmouth Square. There were only two other tourists joining us on this tour! It felt as if we had booked a private tour. We were taken to the back of the “grocery store” to see the (still alive) items for sale. We were also treated to some history and taken to a funeral store and the cookie factory. It was a great 90 minute tour and the cost….whatever you’d like. She stated that the average tip was $10-12 per person…which I thought was a steal. Evidently not everyone thinks that way though. One other person on the tour thanked our guide warmly and then stiffed her…I gave her $30 and felt we got a great deal. I would greatly recommend this company. They also do tours of North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf. We then wandered Chinatown on our own and finally sat down at the Yummy Yummy restaurant. We were the only non-Chinese Americans in the place and I was ready to sample their dim sum. Seating was cramped and two older ladies were smiling, pointing at my son and speaking softly in Cantonese. I assumed they were commenting on how cute he is. I then looked down and realized my fairly well traveled son looked miserable. I finally whispered, “We can leave if you want”. He responded, “Isn’t the Italian section right next door? I think I’d prefer that”. Ugh! He won again. We excused ourselves and slipped out. Outside we giggled because he was upset that we might get yelled at or worse, chased down the street. Next we accidently wandered into the red light district but eventually settled into a little Italian place for pizza and pasta salad. We walked to the embarcadero and caught the F streetcar back in time for wine hour. Score one for Mom. That evening we had a light meal at The Buena Vista. The calamari was good but the Irish coffee was divine! I slept well that night. My son ate half a bag of fortune cookies. I guess some “Chinese food” is acceptable.
Thursday we took the 39 bus up to Coit Tower. The sun was shining and the views were fantastic. We then walked down the Filbert steps to the Ferry Building for the market. We also enjoyed the public art and fountains near the building. We had a great meal at Pier 23. Fun atmosphere, good food and friendly staff. We then got on the evening tour of Alcatraz. I was surprised at how much I liked the Alcatraz tour. It is really well done. We got some extras like hearing the doors slam shut and going in the infirmary.
Friday we went to Yosemite with Extranomical Tours. I know this is not suggested but I really wanted to go. If I could do it all again we would have spent the night. It was a long ride each way and the park stop was rushed but the day flew by and the guide was excellent. We did a hike at one stop and waded in the river at another. The park was stunning…even if it meant being on a 6am-9pm tour.
Saturday we had our last free breakfast and then hiked up the hill to Lombard to take pictures. We went through the maritime museum and Hyde Pier and finally had a sundae at Ghiradelli. (heaven…almost as good as the Irish coffee). We shot a few more pictures and bought some locally made (really…we found a few artists set up near Hyde Pier) souvenirs.
We took a town car to the airport because we decided we’d seen enough of shuttle vans. I guess we got out of town just in time….between the heat, transit strike and extra bodies in town for the Pride Parade the city must be crazy today! We had a great trip.