Our trip to San Francisco involved all of those modes of transportation, and more, just not in that order 🙂
This trip started with 46 hours on an Amtrak train, from Osceola, Iowa to Emeryville, California. This was such a cool way to travel. We slept through the rest of Iowa and Nebraska, then woke up as we pulled into Denver, Colorado. This means that we spent the whole day with gorgeous views of the mountains. We set up camp in the observation car and spent the day playing card games, reading, listening to music and drawing pictures. We counted tunnels – 63 in total and ate multiple desserts a day. As with any trip or experience, there were learning opportunities along the way – like when we had to teach our kids what “mooning” is when we saw rafters on the Colorado River 😉
The second day involved a little more restlessness, but overall, it was still a good experience! When we arrived in Emeryville, we rented a car and drove across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and checked in to our Airbnb.
The next morning we were up bright and early (thanks, time difference!) and got ready to drive up to Muir Woods. We hiked through and the kids completed their Junior Ranger booklets. We loved being able to stand inside the tree trunks to take in their massive size and enjoyed finding the banana slugs along the way. We drove over to Muir Beach, enjoyed a picnic lunch and then put our toes in the Pacific Ocean. The kids kept creeping further in until a bigger wave came their way. They weren’t able to outrun it and Devon was knocked over. Without a change of clothes handy, this ended our time at the beach pretty quickly. Weeks later, we’re still finding sand in the pocket of the sweatshirt he was wearing!
On our way back to our home for the week, we stopped to take pictures in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and then over to Lands End Lookout, where we explored ancient baths, a cave and took in some more views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Day 2 in San Francisco involved Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies (Full House opening!!), a ride on a cable car, sourdough bread, the sea lions at Pier 39, Aquarium of the Bay, Ghiradelli Square, Lombard Street and In-N-Out Burger. It was a fantastic day, full of iconic SF sights and I was starting to wonder what we had left to do. Thankfully, there was a lot more to see!
We had returned our rental car the day before, so we were completely at the mercy of public transportation for day 3. Even so, we managed to stop at the see the Tanner’s house (once again, think Full House!) The kids had watched all the episodes on Hulu, so at least 75% of our family was really excited about this! Then we hopped on another bus, detoured to our second San Francisco park and spent the rest of our morning at the Exploratorium. After lunch with a view of the sea lions, we took a Bay Cruise out under the Golden Gate Bridge and back. It was a windy, choppy ride, but neat to see things from that perspective.
By this point in the trip, we had been on a train, car, cable car, bus and boat. We had also done plenty of walking! An underground train took us partway home that night and we’d eventually take a taxi and airplane to get back to Iowa. But first, we had one more full day of fun!
Our last full day was also Chloe’s 9th birthday! In her honor, we had a second breakfast of crepes before hanging out at our third park of the trip. We stayed closer to home and spent the day in Golden Gate State Park, with most of our afternoon at the California Academy of Sciences. Of the three museums we went to, I think this was everyone’s favorite. There were a variety of exhibits, including a planetarium show and live animals.
After dinner, we found a rolled ice cream place, because – birthday!
Before heading to the airport, we had about a half day left to explore. We stuck close to “home” – and more importantly, our luggage we didn’t want to cart all over the city – and explored even more of the enormous Golden Gate State Park. We saw the Japanese Tea Garden from the outside, played at park number four and even saw police officers on horses 🙂
Right as we arrived at the airport, we got a notification that our flight was cancelled. They couldn’t get us home until the next day, so we stayed in a random hotel and let the kids watch movies all evening. That was a rough ending to the vacation, when everyone was tired and potentially a little cranky. On our way home, I tried to say “yes” to the kids as much as possible, to make the experience as bearable as possible. I’m not sure how successful my plan was, but we made it home in one piece!