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San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

Essex, UK
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San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

Hi, we will be in San Francisco from 10-13 April (2 adults, kids aged 14, 11, 8). We are driving up from LA on Thurs 10th and staying at the Buena Vista Motor Inn on Lombard St. Hopefully we will arrive mid afternoon so need to fit in some sightseeing. Will be leaving the car in their garage pretty much for the duration.

Friday am we have the Alcatraz trip booked - the 8.45 one. Suggestions for the afternoon.

Saturday am we have booked bikes etc to cycle over the bridge and get the ferry back which will take the best part of the day.

Sunday we are driving to the airport for a 1.30 flight to Vegas. We were going to drive over the bridge and back (the kids want to do this) before we set off for the airport and also drive down Lombard Street. Is this allowed?

So my questions are, please - what to do on the first day, for a couple of hours after we arrive. We thought of Pier 39, go and see the seals and possibly cable car/street car rides. Friday afternoon the kids want to see Lombard street from the bottom end. Possibly on the way through the park to the bridge stop at the Japanese gardens?

Also, any half decent kid-friendly restaurants that we won't have to queue for ages for. Have been reading some of the trip reports and most say that you have to queue for dinner. The kids like relatively simple food, steaks, pasta etc.

I know its a bit of a whistle-stop visit but it was all we could squeeze in, so for me something is better than nothing. I have tried to read the top questions but I'm usually on the mobile site and can't get them, so I am trying to piece bits together.

Grateful for any help, especially from the very kind destination experts.

Dublin, California
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1. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

I just have one advice. If you plan to drive the Golden Gate Bridge (south bound, into the city), you'll have to pay toll ahead of time. It is no longer possible to pay cash at the bridge. You can pay ahead of time (with your car's license plate) on the web, using a credit card.

Bloomington, Indiana
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2. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

Here's a few semi-random comments/suggestions:

1. At some point you should wander Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39 for the sights, sounds, view, sea lions, tacky tourist trinket shops, Ghiradelli chocolate, etc. It's between your hotel & Alcatraz, so it might be a natural to do after you do Alcatraz and/or you might might do it the afternoon you arrive. I'm one that think it deserves a walk through (maybe a couple of hours), but generally not an all day (or even half-day) thing.

That said, it may appeal to the kids a little more and there are a few things that are worth more time. The two that come to mind right away are the Maritime Museum/Hyde Street Pier (old ships, a WWII submarine & more) and the Musee Mecanique.

2. Exploratorium. Also near Alcatraz and this would probably be my vote for the afternoon after you visit the prison. This is the original hands-on science museum for kids and, while I haven't been to their new location, even as an adult I enjoyed going to it.

3. Another option for your first day is is to walk north & then west from your hotel, basically check out the bay front area, bridge views, Palace of Fine Arts, etc while you work your way toward Marina Green & Crissy field. "Good" part about this is you can make it as long or as short as time (and your stamina) allows.

4. Quickly a few other ideas: Ride the F Market (antique streetcars) from the FW area along the waterfront to the Ferry Building (and check it out), ride a Cable Car (given your (lack of) time, you might want to do the California Line as there is never a line), wander to & through Chinatown and/or North Beach. You could do a loop of riding the F Market (checking out the Ferry Building), California Cable Car to Chinatown and then walk north through Chinatown/North Beach back to the FW area.

That's all for now, I'm sure you'll get plenty more suggestions,

hlo

San Francisco...
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3. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

>>I have tried to read the top questions but I'm usually on the mobile site and can't get them, so I am trying to piece bits together.

Well we appreciate that. Just for you -- the trip reports and Top Questions are in the first sticky posts on the SF forum (posts 1 and 2) so you can get access to ALL the Top Questions on your Mobile. There is one on what to do with kids -- please check it out. There are thousands of restaurants in SF and they will be happy to host a family and you can get simple food in most... go explore. If you need reservations for dinner check out www.opentable.com Check out the ferry building for food you can pick up and eat there or sit outside and eat.

Exploratorium, Fisherman's wharf, Cal Academy in Golden Gate Park over the Japanese garden are things you may want to see. Vegas with kids ? Really. Perhaps you can add a day to you SF trip instead of many days in Vegas -- just my humble opinion

Edited: 21 March 2014, 21:36
Forestville, CA
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4. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

hi...i second belomiser's humble opinion about Vegas and kids and ever so humbly suggest staying in the Bay Area for wonderfulness and the real deal.....ferries around the bay (good stuff), Exploritorium, Crissy Field (vistas, water, sand, paths, grass--rent bikes around Fisherman's Wharf), cable cars, F-Line trolley on Market, the Embarcadero, Chinatown, North Beach playground, Children's Playground in Golden Gate Park, the Carousel at the Children's Playground, drop-in art classes at the Sharon Art Studio in Golden Gate Park, the Sutro Bath ruins out by the Beach, trying to find the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill...Italian food in North Beach....

Forestville, CA
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5. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

food options for your kids (and you) ----go to North Beach in the early morning head straight to the LIGURIA BAKERY kitty corner to Washington Square Park (they sell out by noon, only take-out) ... enjoy mouth watering slices of focaccia with different toppings (the pizza sauce one is delicious) and relax in the park....the wild parrots have been known to frequent. Go to MARIO'S BOHEMIAN CIGAR STORE for delicious espresso drinks and incredible hot oven-roasted meatball sandwiches (small old time cafe, corner of Union and Columbus), across from the park. TONY'S PIZZA NAPOLTETANA, kitty corner to the park.

San Francisco
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6. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

You are in for a treat as the first two Alcatraz tours on Friday and Sunday have the option of taking the Gardens of Alcatraz tour. These are given by docent/volunteers of the Garden Conservancy who have been working to restore Army officer and prisoner gardens on the island since 2005. The tour takes an additional hour or so but I highly recommend it as you get to go to parts of the island otherwise off limits to visitors. And they have great stories as well. http://www.alcatrazgardens.org/visit.php

I might think twice about an 8 year old getting across the bridge on a bike. It's not the distance but there are some significant uphills as well as congestion on the rather narrow bridge sidewalk. I don't say that to freak you out but to consider whether your 8 year old is sufficiently bike savvy to make the trip.

I agree with the rest, Vegas, IMO is not family friendly.

For dining options, stay away from Fisherman's Wharf and hit the spots in the Marina/Cow Hollow instead: dela Rossa on Chestnut (early dinner), Dragon Well (Asian), Los Hermanos (Mexican and probably better for take out), Tacolicious, Pacific Catch, Squat & Gobble, Pluto's and tons more.

Santa Clara...
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7. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

Good advice already. Here is the link for that sticky for TQs on a mobile:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60713-i30-k664179…

I, however, disagree that Vegas is not family friendly. Have been numerous times with kids and had a great time. It is certainly different from SF but kids enjoy all lights and noise etc. Perhaps the naysayers have not been there in a while...

Melbourne
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8. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

When I was 11 our family went to Vegas and we all adored it! I honestly remember more about Vegas than SF (that's why I'm going back to SF as an adult!). I'm sure you'll love everywhere you go, don't go changing your plans at this late stage! Have a great trip.

PA
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9. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

My daughter (13 at the time) and I started our trip off last year with 2 nights in vegas and she loved it! But two days was enough and I was ready to go... we ended our trip in San Fran for three nghts which just wasn't enough time.

If you change your mind about biking... we did a tour Dylans tours which took us through Sausalito & to Muir woods (big gorgous trees) and other highlights of SF in I think 4 or six hours.

San Francisco
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10. Re: San Francisco in 2 weeks time, a little advice appreciated

For the poster that was in Vegas some years ago, there was a time (in the 90s) when Vegas tried to be very family friendly. I admit I haven't been in a decade but I believe that effort died out.

These days those who tout Vegas as "family friendly" will talk about all the things to see 1-3 hours away! (I mean, really, you want your kids to know what "porn slappers" are?)

TBH .. Vegas is a love it or hate place. Very few people are neutral about it. But count me in the later group.