Brian had been in San Francisco all week, and was going to be there the following one as well. So the kids and I were coming for a long weekend visit! It worked out well as they already had Friday off from school anyway.
Unfortunately, a snow storm was moving in, and I got nervous about our ability to make it to Denver, so I checked the kids out of school a little early on Thursday to give us some extra time for the drive, and hopefully be able to beat the worst of the storm.
We ended up making it without any trouble, but our flight was delayed. They kept promising that it was close, wouldn’t be much longer now… But meanwhile the snow was piling up deeper and deeper out there! I was starting to doubt that we were going to make it at all, but finally we were boarding.
We had to wait to be de-Iced before heading out to the runway, it was some operation they had going out there! An airport less prepared for snow would not have been able to handle this storm, for sure.
The flight was uneventful, we just had to make a quick stop in Orange County first and then we were SF bound! We quickly grabbed a taxi after landing and headed into downtown to Brian’s hotel. It was late already, but the kids were anxious to see their dad and visit for a few minutes before going to sleep.
We joined Brian for a quick breakfast in the hotel, then he had to head out to work. So the kids and I were left alone to explore the city! We walked over to Union Square and hung out for a little bit, then Lily really wanted to go to the zoo.
It was across town, but Brian had explained the subway system and I felt confident that we could navigate it. We certainly looked like the dumb tourists trying to figure ought how to buy our tickets, but one of the employees kindly and patiently helped us out.
Imagine our surprise when the subway suddenly left is underground track and started running on the road like a bus! That was one detail Brian had left out, lol! The route actually ended a few blocks short of the zoo, and I was a little worried getting off to see that there didn’t appear to be any place to buy tickets for our return trip… Guess we would cross that bridge when we came to it!
It was still quite a while until the zoo opened, so we walked out onto the nearby beach. It was the first time the kids had seen the Pacific Ocean. But this was no tropical getaway! It was cold and windy. Owen was especially freaked out, so we didn’t linger.
We were the only ones at the zoo when we arrived, still 40 minutes until they opened! We could see a few animals and watched them a bit, and the kids got their pictures taken in a photo booth. Finally it was time to go in! We stopped at the gift shop to pick up umbrellas as rain was in the forecast.
One of our first stops was the Penguins, and we got to see their feeding time. Also in the area wee the lions and otters. The whole zoo was very quiet, and not busy at all. It was like a peaceful refuge from the busy city nearby. It probably wasn’t the fanciest zoo I’ve been to, but it had a quaint and relaxed vibe that we really enjoyed.
We had lunch in the cafe, and had fun chasing some monkeys back and forth (across the glass of course). They were being especially cute and playful, and Lily was in love 🙂
One of the main reason we came is because they have sea lions! And not just any sea lions, their se lions are both blind. But they have been able to do an incredible job of training the despite their disability and we were all fascinated watching their demo.
We also saw the Bears being fed and talked to one of the keepers for a while. Again, a very low key and friendly zoo, not what I would have expected in SF.
After we had seen everything, it was time to head back. Figuring out where the subway-bus thing stopped and how to get on was stressful, but we did finally make it, all in one piece, back to the hotel. And I was pretty proud of myself for navigating the city on my own with the kids.
Brian got back from work, and we headed out to find dinner. There was a restaurant a couple blocks away (Cafe Mason I think) that wasn’t busy- which should have been a warning sign on a Friday night. It was”ok” but definitely not a place I would go back to. And Owen fell asleep in the booth before hardly touching his food, oh well!
We were up early and headed over to breakfast at a little gem Brian had discovered on previous trips- Taylor Street Cafe. Tiny, but great food that was very original and fresh. Then we had a rental car to pick up, as we were heading out of the city a button explore!
First stop – the Golden Gate Bridge. We took a steep, twisting turning path to get there, and drove through neighborhoods unlike anything we had ever seen before. It was turning out to be a beautiful day!
The bridge itself was magnificent of course, we stopped at the viewing area on the other side to take some pictures. Then we continued our journey north into Marin County. Lily was still heavily interested in sea lions and marine life, so she had specifically asked to visit the Marine Mammal center.
We took a guided tour that showed us many of the rescued seals and sea lions, as well as the facilities they use to care for them. And Owen took part in a short skit about conservation.
Afterwards we headed into the Golden Gate Recreation Area, near Sausalito. I had picked up sandwiches for a picnic lunch yesterday, and we found a nice spot in the grass to eat, with a great view of the bay and bridge!
Our next adventure was a hike to the Point Bonita lighthouse. The trail followed a rocky cliff with spectacular view of the ocean and city. We even saw a few seals resting on the rocks far below us. At one point the trail passed through a tunnel.
We had to wait a bit to get into the lighthouse because it was so busy, but in typical SF fashion, an orderly line was formed and we used the lull to take some pictures.
We enjoyed exploring the lighthouse once it was our turn and learning some of its history. The kids even picked up jr ranger booklets to take with them.
We still didn’t need to be back in town yet so we drove over to the beach and let the kids play for a while. Much better weather than our beach experience yesterday! The and was very course, really more like rock, but still easy on the feet and we all enjoyed the time to relax.
We had a light dinner in Sausalito and did just a big of sightseeing there. We see contemplating the possibility of needing to move to SF in the near future, and of course this was never far from our mind as we explored. We would love to live here in Sausalito, but the location wouldn’t be very practical for Brian.
We returned the car and turns in early for the night, everyone exhausted from our adventures.
We grabbed a quick breakfast at a roadside bagel stand in downtown, it didn’t look like anything fancy but it was good! We didn’t have a solid plan for the day, but ended up wandering over to Yerba Buena Gardens. Mostly a big park, with some nice fountains.
The children’s museum was nearby and we decided the kids would like that. It had an arts theme, especially using digital media for art. The kids made some cute videos of various kinds of animation, and performed a octuples for songs for one as well.
Afterwards we rode the carousel , the took,the trolley over to Fishermans Warf. There we picked up a snack, and generally wandered around looking at the different vendors and seeing the Bay Bridge.
But before long, it was time to head back. The kids and I were flying home that evening and since we would have to navigate the subway system again I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time.
The kids were sad to leave their dad, burglar we got to spend the weekend with him anyway. Our flight ended up being delayed. I wished I had known that because we wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to leave. Oh well.
The drive home was tricky, it was so late at nigh (after midnight when we landed) and another snow storm was blowing in. But somehow we made it. And the kids slept most of the way, so getting up for school wasn’t too hard for them. Just me , lol!