We were sad to leave Yosemite, but we were also quite excited about the next part of our vacation… San Francisco.
We weren’t sure if we might get another chance to see the Golden Gate bridge, so instead of driving straight to our hotel, we looped up north around the city so that we could see and drive across the bridge. We have been very lucky on this trip in that we have seen things with our own eyes that many people never get to see in person. The Golden Gate bridge linking the Marin Headlands with San Francisco is one such magnificent sight.
Our hotel – the Hilton in the Financial District – has served us well. It is clean, modern, and located right on the edge of both Chinatown and the North Beach little Italy neighborhood. Our central location has helped us easily explore the city on foot… we have walked up and down hills these past two days like you would not believe! San Francisco is a very interesting city… it is bustling like most major cities, but in many ways it still has a small-town feel to it. Very much a residential city, we have enjoyed wandering through eclectic neighborhoods like Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Marina, Pacific Heights, Haight Ashbury, the Mission, Telegraph Hill, Chinatown and North Beach… note how many neighborhoods have the name “hill” in them? We all agreed that San Francisco is definitely already one of our favorite cities.
Only having three nights in the city we wanted to pack as much sightseeing as possible into our time here. In addition to our urban hill-hiking, we hit some of the more touristy hotspots like Fisherman’s Wharf where we had lunch and saw the sunbathing sea-lions, The Exploratorium filled with hands-on Jack-friendly science activities, the very crooked Lombard Street, and of course we just had to ride the cable car… an awesome experience! We grabbed prime seats up front, and watch as Jack and Sam play “Punchbuggy” (Mini Coopers count too!) as they ride down the hill toward Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz off in the distant bay.
After drinking tea and eating crackers in the Japanese Tea Garden, we had the most amazing burritos for lunch at El Balazo on Haight Street. Needing to walk lunch off, we wandered over to see the “Painted Ladies” – a row of brightly colored Victorian houses on the edge of Alamo Square. We also visited the oldest building in the city; the Mission Delores which was founded in 1776, and also happens to be the oldest intact Mission in California. Food as always was high on the list of priorities. During our stay in the city, we had pizza at both Tommaso’s and North Beach Pizza… both highly-rated and excellent, but San Francisco pizza isn’t quite the same as New York pizza 🙂
Sunday morning will see us leaving the city and heading south toward Monterey and Big Sur. Everyone is excited about this latest part of the trip, especially Jack who can’t wait to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He is hoping to see some Great White sharks! We have been very fortunate throughout this trip as we have had the opportunity to see the rural California central valley, the magnificent mountains and vistas of Yosemite, the city sights and sounds of San Francisco… and now we get to experience the Pacific Ocean and Big Sur… can’t wait!