San Francisco with a 10 yr old in 3 days (3 of 3)
Part of the reason that Bo wanted to visit San Francisco was because of Chinatown. His older brother, Duke, had been to the chinatown area of New York City, and would not shut up about it. I think the sights, sounds, and smells are so different from home, that he was mesmerized. Lucky us!
After much research, we picked a morning tour and lunch with All About Chinatown. From the Wharf, we took the cable car to the Chinatown neighborhood and took a short (but hilly) walk to meet our guide. Note: the cable car is fairly expensive for a short ride, so we picked this commute to take a long ride in the morning when it is least crowded so that Bo could stand on the side rails. He was beaming!
Anyway, the company only takes small groups, so it was a group of 6 total. Our guide was David Jung, a retired lawyer that grew up in Chinatown. He had amazing stories about the parks, shops, and buildings that make up Chinatown. His tour was twofold. We saw these places as they are today, but through his descriptions, we could picture it as it was when he was a little boy running around the area. Bo could especially relate to him because of his stories of him as a child. Although their company does tours for school groups, I would be hesitant to book this for a child younger than 10 when traveling as a family.
Sights among the tour: Buddhist Temple, Tai Chi, Chinese herb/medicine store, grocery store (complete with live frogs), fortune cookie factory, parks, chinese chess, family association buildings, and more. We continued our discussion with David at a prearranged Dim Sum lunch. Although we enjoyed the conversation during lunch, I would not go to lunch for the food, as it was mediocre at best. If you child is a picky eater like Bo is, it was an extra $20 wasted. Be sure to book this tour well in advance, as you have to send payment by check, and they were booked about 2 months ahead.
Soon enough, the afternoon was upon us! Since we didn’t rent a car for our short trip, the only way to get out to Muir Woods, was by renting a car or taking a tour. We signed up for a semi-private SUV tour with Golden Horizon Tours. We lucked out again, although being in the middle of the week I knew we had a shot, and got a private tour at the semi-private price. Our guide picked us up at our hotel and was a fantastic guide. She spoke knowledgably the entire way to Muir Woods. The National Park service will not allow guides to take people through the park. So once we got there we were on our own. We took a leisurely hike from the main gate. Although a serious hiker might want to immerse themselves in this park more, our 1.5 hours there was enough to get a taste of the majestic trees and serene forrest.
After stopping in the cute little town of Sausalito for some ice cream, our guide gave us some choices, so we decided to see the majestic houses of the Pacific Heights nieghborhood and a short stop in the Presidio. In Pacific Heights we got to see million dollar homes and their views. This might sound completely boring to a 10 year old, but our guide was full of fantastic information. She made sure to take us past Larry Ellison’s modern home, as she knew we had been on the old Oracle (his comapany) boat, the day before.
Hubby and Bo are HUGE Star Wars fans. Therefore, he knew that Lucas Film was located in the Presidio complex of buildings and that there was a Yoda fountain outside of it. Since there is a public Starbucks in the complex, our guide told the gate guard that was where we were headed, and parked as close as she could to the statue.
Okay friends, I have to say I was nervous. I felt like we were breaking the law by not heading to the Starbucks, but turning the other way towards the Yoda statue. I was sure we were going to be seen as imposters, get kicked out, and I did not want to see what the power of what Lucas Film could do to trespassers. Bo and Hubby were in heaven, so they didn’t think about any of those things.
Then our guide lost her head and said, “sometimes the lobby doors are unlocked and you can just walk around, lets go check it out!”
We followed her like sheep, with me nervous as all get out, and Hubby and Bo thinking they had won the lottery. They spent about 15 minutes (it felt like an hour to me) taking discreet photos of the displays. Most of them were movie props like full size Darth Vader and Boba Fet, Han Solo’s blaster and many more. I stood by the door ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble. I truly think the only reason we got away with it, was that it was early evening and there were lots of parents and kids coming and going from what I assume was the company daycare.
In the end, it was one of the highlights of their trip, for sure. Nevermind that I was trying hard to keep my blood pressure down, and my nerves in check. All’s well, that ends well. Whew!