San Francisco with a 10 year old in 3 days (2 of 3)
The second day of our trip to San Francisco with Bo was all about active adventures!
Our morning activity was designed to get out on the Bay in a boat. There are endless options. The street corners are filled with people that want to sell you some trip on a boat in the bay. But sitting on some giant motorized boat while a tour guide announced all of the sites over the loud speaker, is not my idea of a good time. I also thought it would bore Bo to tears, not to mention me.
Did you know that you can book an America’s Cup Sailing experience in the San Francisco Bay? AC Sailing SF has retrofitted the single hull Oracle boat that raced in The Cup in 2003 for leisure use. It measures in at 84 ft long and 115 ft high. Now, I am not a sailor, nor have I ever been. But this 2.5 hour adventure costs $140/adult and $70/children 5-12 and was one of the highlights of our trip. We had 4 crew people, but it actually takes at least 10 to run the boat, so we get to become the crew. From hoisting the sails, grinding, and steering the ships wheel, we got to participate in it all.
I have to admit I’ve done this twice, paid for it each time myself, and I would do it again. We set sail and breezed past Alcatraz with great views of the city, and even went underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. I was actually at the helm and turned the wheel so we could tack right underneath that famous bridge! Oh wait, this trip was for Bo, but he got to do all of that too! The boat leans way over just like you’ve seen on TV. But don’t worry, it won’t tip over, due to a giant 19 ton bulb attached to the bottom of the boat for weight.
There is something spectacular about gliding through the water with no noise of an engine. It’s magical. Bo loved grinding to trim the sails, and was decidedly nervous when at the helm. Although 2.5 hours might seem like a long time, there was plenty of activity to take part in if you wanted to. Captain Jon was great at answering millions of questions and enticing Bo to take part in the fun, and we even spotted some sea lions in the water. The day was kind of gray when we started, but was gloriously sunny about half of the time, which I think is one of the benefits of the length of this experience.
During the busy summer season be sure to book ahead as there are only 20 spots available and only 2 sailings a day. We were there is early June on a weekday, and there were only 8 guests on the boat that day. Since we visited, they have added a catamaran to their fleet to keep up with the changing America’s Cup boats. That tour is only 90 minutes, but the boat goes faster, and a minimum fitness level is required. The minimum age on the catamaran boat is 15, so I can’t wait to try that one!
After such an exhilarating morning on the Bay, we were not done with our active adventures yet! Our family has gotten in the habit of trying to do some sort of biking tour. We like to get some exercise and get a lot of great information at the same time. Bo had this obsession with the accomplishment of riding across the Golden Gate Bridge. Based on our time schedule, the California Sunset Tour at Bay City Bikes was perfect. It started at 4pm and lasted about 3 1/2 hours. It is stop and start to hear the tour guide, so there are lots of breaks in that time period. We lucked out, and were the only 3 people on the tour. Although it was the first week of June, we packed gloves and hats just in case the famous fog rolled in, and boy were we glad we did!
Now I know what you’re thinking. Biking the hills of San Francisco? Are you nuts? It truly was not that hilly or horrible. We started at their shop just off Fisherman’s Wharf, then biked through Aquatic Park, Fort Mason, Marina District, Crissy Field, The Golden Gate Bridge, Vista Point, Presidio Park, Lombard Gates, and finished it off at the Palace of Fine Arts. It was 13 miles total, and the hardest (hilliest, is that a word?) stretch was after Crissy Field, and getting up to the bridge. The bridge has a pedestrian side, and a bicycle side, so the traffic factor was non-existent.
Apparently, the fog rolls in every evening. So as we crossed the bridge you could not even see the other side, or even the next tower on the suspension bridge. It sort of made it creepy, like you were biking in a horror movie. We stopped at one of the stanchions and looked below to the water. Several barges floated by and honked their fog horn (of course) as they went by. Amazing sounds! I know that we will always think about the bike ride when someone talks about fog. One of Bo’s favorite parts was the speed limit sign that could measure your speed and tell you how fast you were biking as you went by. On the way back over, some of those commuters were really booking it.
We really enjoyed the bike ride as it helped us get “off the beaten path”. If you book an earlier tour, they allow you to keep the bike the rest of the day to explore new territory or revisit something you saw along the way. But you’ll always have the bragging rights that you biked the Golden Gate Bridge. If your kids are younger and the 13 miles might be too much, a lot of the companies, including Bay City Bikes, offer a self guided tour that takes you across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito so that you can ride the ferry back to town. I’ve never taken a bike on a ferry, so that would be interesting too.
After such an active day, we made made it to dinner around 8pm that night and fell into bed soon thereafter. I’ll do a separate post on our dining choices for this trip, so keep your eye out for that. Coming up..day 3 with Chinatown, Muir Woods, and a little Star Wars thrown in!
Catch up with day one of this trip, here.