San Francisco with a 10 yr old in 3 days (1 of 3)
Given the choice of any city to visit in the continental United states to visit with Mom and Dad, our 10 year old son, Bo, chose San Francisco. For 3 days, we tried to show him the aspects of San Francisco that make it a unique city to visit.
Our home base for this trip was the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf. It is located a few blocks away from Fisherman’s Wharf, and we stayed for 3 nights using points to pay for our room. (I love having zero cash outlay for flights and hotels, but that’s another post.) It’s a well appointed 4 story building with modern decor. Upon arrival, we were upgraded to an oversize room with 2 beds, which was nice for our family of three (this time) to spread out a little more. I didn’t visit the gym, but we did partake of the onsite restaurant, Knuckles. We had breakfast and dinner there once. The food was good, but our visits were based on convenience, not our taste buds. It is a decent option, after spending your day traversing the city and you just can’t seem to take another step.
After taking the morning to fly into town, we started with lunch at the In n’ Out on the Wharf. I know you traveling foodies might cringe a little. But it was Bo’s choice, and we don’t have In n’ Out where we live. This trip was a celebration for him, so he was in charge a lot of the time. Afterwards we headed out on the Wharf.
Our first stop was in front of Boudin Bakery, to watch the bakers make sourdough bread in fun animal shapes.There are large windows and the baker has a 2 way microphone to help keep the kids engaged and answer questions. Inside there is a cafe, shop, factory museum, and also a full service restaurant. Hubby loves their chowder in a bread bowl, but this time we just watched for a while and kept on going.
I told Bo that he had to meet some friends of mine at Pier 39. I know, I know, Pier 39 is a tourist trap with kitchy shops, and the aquarium. But to kids (and adults too), the sea lions at Pier 39 are amazing. Bo could hear them before we got to them and was instantly amazed. Yes, they are loud, and smell too, but it’s still fun. He immediately started video taping their sounds, swimming, and fighting. He said he could try to describe it to his brothers, but a video would tell it all.
We got to pier 33 a few minutes before our departure time for Alcatraz. Just enough time to look at a few scale models of the island, and take a rest at a picnic table. Remember, you MUST purchase tickets several weeks ahead of time for Alcatraz. I’d highly recommend picking a time first thing in the morning, or the last afternoon boat, to avoid the masses. We took the last boat of the afternoon at 3:20pm, and felt like we almost had the place to ourselves as we boarded the last boat back at 6:30pm. The night time tours start a little later, but I’ve never done those.
In preparation for our trip, we watched Escape from Alcatraz. Bo was riveted to the movie and his fascination was fueled even more during our visit. Therefore, the cell house audio tour was a big highlight. Remember that the weather can be much colder on Alcatraz, so bring an extra coat. Walking through cells, sitting in solitary, strolling through the recreation yard, and seeing the “escape route” were all worth a little extra cold and wind. Like all tours, it ends in the gift shop where we were met with an unexpected surprise.
Currently, there are between 2 and 4 former Alcatraz prisoners still alive. William Baker has written a book about his 3 year stint on The Rock. At the age of 83, for a few days a week, he returns to the prison, to sign copies and talk to tourists. We posed for a picture, bought a signed copy, and asked a few questions. Although very cordial, he has very sharp features, and Bo was mesmerized. I know there will come a time soon, when there are no prisoners left alive, and Hubby thought it was the coolest thing ever. Before we left the island, we decided to watch the short film about the history of the island beyond just the prison. It was very informative and added to my visit a lot, since I had been there before, but never knew about the islands use as anything other than a prison. As it was close to the end of the day, we were the only ones in the theatre…nice. I felt like we almost had a private boat ride back to the mainland.
Our last stop for the day was Lombard street. It is a short walk up Hyde Street from the Wharf, but the walk is very steep. If you aren’t up for the steep walk, you can ride the Cable Car, as both the walk and the cable car on Hyde will place you at the top of Lombard Street. Although, that short ride costs $6 per person, so there is not a lot of value in it. Bo was amazed and was a little disappointed to walk down the sidewalk and not directly on the curvy street. If I had to do it again, I would make sure that I arranged some sort of driver to take us on the street. We’ve never rented a car on our visits to San Francisco since the public transportation is so fantastic. But I guess that means we have a reason to go back to this great city.
Visit the blog again in a few days for day 2 of this California adventure!