San Francisco is one of the most famous cities in the United States - and, perhaps, in the world. People flock from all over the globe to make business transactions, to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, to take the ferry to Alcatraz Island, and to ride a renowned cable car up the sloping streets. It's a city of beauty and diversity.
After our recent too-short visit, I can't wait until our travels lead us there again.
We stayed at Hotel Del Sol, a boutique joie de vivre hotel in the Cow Hollow district of downtown San Francisco. Colorful and cheery, the two-level hotel features 57 guest rooms that open into an airy courtyard. Limited on-site parking is available directly underneath the rooms ($10/night). The happy courtyard includes a pool, an artificial turf play space, two dreamy hammocks, and palm trees. Every afternoon, guests are treated to cookies & milk - and a simple complimentary continental breakfast is served every morning. Rates are $169-$329/night, depending on the season and day of the week.
On the first night, we walked around and marveled at the pedestrian-friendly climate. Cars give the right-of-way to walkers at every turn. The walkers really do "own the streets." High-end restaurants, bars, and boutiques line the streets - along with a number of glass-walled yoga + dance studios. Most of the citygoers appeared to be in their 20's or 30's - with very few families in sight. Tim and I joked that there must be a one-child-per-family limit in the city. We opted to buy take-out for dinner from Hunan Empire Restaurant and returned to our room, where everyone happily gobbled up chow mien and orange chicken.
On day two, we drove to The Presidio of San Francisco (free admission!), a park and former military base with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge. We were surprised to find that parking was plentiful and free near Crissy Field (perhaps because it was a weekday morning?). The air was crisp. The park was full of bikers + runners. The flowers were in bloom. It would have been a delightful place to have a picnic.
While at The Presidio, we visited the Walt Disney Family Museum. The museum, which opened in 2009, includes 40,000 square feet of exhibits, artifacts, and interactive galleries. Since most of the displays are meant to be read and there are very few hands-on activities, the museum is probably best suited for ages 7+. If you're looking for the glitter of Disney Parks or for trivia about current attractions, this probably isn't the place. If, however, you want to learn about the LIFE of the man who made it all happen, this museum offers a bounty of information. I definitely would like to visit again in the future - when toddler hands aren't pulling me past the super interesting displays. Cost is $20 per adult, $15 for seniors + students, and $12 for youth (ages 6-17). Children under age 6 are free.
On day three, we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge (did you know you can walk or bike across too?) to Sausalito, where we met up with Erin Adams and her four delightful children at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. Located near the water, it's not a must-see for travelers with limited time to the area...but I can see how it might be a popular spot for local families.
On my MUST-DO list for our next visit to San Francisco? Golden Gate Park and the Muir Woods National Monument!
Have you ever been to San Francisco with kids? What travel tips would you add?
* Thanks to Hotel Del Sol, the Walt Disney Family Museum, and the Bay Area Discovery Museum for hosting us.