SAN FRANCISCO – WEEKEND FAMILY FUN (TRIP REPORT)
I love San Francisco! It’s not one of the top destinations in the world for nothing. It’s a beautiful city full of culture, character and energy! I’m just so fortunate I only live 3 1/2 hours away and can escape there anytime for the weekend. Every time I drive over the Golden Gate Bridge I’m in awe of the structure. It never gets old to me. The Golden Gate Bridge is truly a unique landmark and that is why it’s known all over the world. Here’s a photo I had to snap as we were driving over. I love the clouds in San Fran. Always cloudy even on the sunniest days. Makes for some incredible pictures.
Well, it was a short weekend trip but we squeezed in as much as we could. On Saturday, we headed to the California Academy of Sciences
. Here is the huge dinosaur you see when you first enter the center.
We spent most of our day there and still felt like we could have seen more. The California Academy of Science
is a multifaceted scientific center. They have so much to see and experience you really need more than one trip to feel as though you’ve seen it all. The place was packed with families and kids. It was like a total kid feast! My children loved everything but some of their favorite exhibits were the planetarium, the rainforest, and the aquarium. My favorite was the rainforest. It’s a completely enclosed rainforest inside the science center. You have to enter through a secured area a few people at a time. Then you walk through starting at the lower level and finishing at the top floor of the rainforest. It was really fun because my son and I were just covering rainforests this year in our science curriculum; learning about the different floors of a rainforest and what animals live on each. Wish we would have had more time inside by it was hot (83 degrees I think), humid, and my littlest one was tired because it was way past nap time. You can see that we were on the bottom of the rainforest when I took these photos.
My husband & older son loved the the Morrison Planetarium. The Morrison Planetarium is the largest all-digital planetarium in the world. State-of-the-art projector and software technologies allow the planetarium to produce the most accurate and interactive digital Universe ever created. My son described the feeling of being in the planetarium like being in the Star Wars ride at Disneyland. That is his favorite ride at Disneyland. So from an eight year old perspective it was “way cool”! Here is a picture from the outside
You start from the bottom floor and end up at the top floor. Here is a picture of the exit on the top floor.
We also loved the aquarium where they had so many sting rays and sharks in an open air tank. You could almost reach down and touch them if you wanted. The kids loved it. Here’s a little video clip.
The penguins, huge stuffed animals, and the live snake discussion were also highlights.
So much to see at the California Academy of Science.
What is great is that it is absolutely fun for the kids and the parents. Doesn’t always work out that way but I love it when it does. We had never been before and thanks to all who recommended it to me. You were right on the money! Now we are thinking about when we will return again.
After five hours at the California Academy of Science,
we were ready to head to downtown San Fran for some dinner. A friend recommended Buca di Beppo
on Howard Street. It’s a chain Italian restaurant that specializes in family style dining. It’s located a few streets down from Market street. Buca di Beppo was a fun family restaurant, easy with the kiddos and good location. As far as the food goes nothing special. I’m a tough critic though with Italian food. Having been to Italy a few times I know what good Italian food tastes like. But it was perfect for a nice family dinner in the city after a busy day and easy on the wallet.
After dinner we were a tired little family and ready for a nice pillow to rest our heads on. So we headed to Oyster Point which is in South San Francisco about fifteen minutes from downtown. Staying in downtown San Francisco doesn’t really appeal to me. It’s busy, hectic and the hotels require a ton of points. If you stay just a little outside in South San Fran it’s much more mellow and costs you less points. So I booked us at the Marriott Residence Inn at Oyster Point
. Category 4, 20,000 points or 15,000 Point Saver. Pretty location right on the water. Great place to stay if you are flying in or out of San Francisco airport because it’s right next to the airport. They also have a free shuttle to downtown San Francisco via the Cal train or Trolley to Pier 39 (waterfront wharf). Nice free breakfast every morning. Great walking path around the Oyster Point Bay. Perfect for families. I was very pleased with our accommodations. Nothing fancy, but very clean and efficient. We had a 2 bedroom suite, the nicest room they offer thanks to my “Platinum” status. I used a free status upgrade in another program to acquire Platinum status with Marriott and we are really enjoying the benefits. We have a couple trips this year that we should be able to maximize the benefits before it expires. I’m sure I’ll find another promotion then and get upgraded again. If you don’t have any status with your hotel programs, check out the “Free Status Upgrades” category under Topics and get yourself an upgrade on your next stay too. Here are a few pictures of our two bedroom suite. Wow was it sweet!!! We had 3 T.V.’s, 2 bathrooms, tubs, 2 closets, a living room and kitchen. What more could you possible need. Way over the top but we loved it! The kids thought it was so fun going back and forth between the rooms. Plenty of room to stretch out! Needless to say we had a very restful night!
This day started off with a nice continental breakfast down in the lobby eating area. Nothing fancy but good enough to get you going. Kiddos loved the waffle machine! Then we headed for the Bay Area Discovery Museum
. You just cross over the Golden Gate Bridge and the museum is right off the second exit, Alexander Avenue in Sausalito
. The location is absolutely beautiful. The Bay Area Discovery Museum
is a indoor and outdoor children’s museum at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is located in a national park and I believe the buildings were formerly military barracks. It is geared for ages 6 months to 8 years old, although I think children even older can still appreciate it. The unique location and the indoor-outdoor activities make this one of our favorite museums ever. We have been here before and we continue to visit on trips to SF. Highly recommend this museum for any families visiting San Francisco. Without a doubt worth putting on your itinerary. It’s only $11 a person but you can get a $2 off coupon here
. You can also get a $5 dollar off coupon for the California Academy of Science there too.Here are a few pictures to give you a little idea. Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the inside, only a few outdoor ones. You can visit the website here
for much more details.
How about the view from the museum?
This is the coolest fort you’ll ever see. It’s vines twisted together that are still alive growing. Really unbelievable.
After we finished up at the museum, we drove down the road about 5 minutes to the little seaside town of Sausalito. If you come to San Francisco, you must visit Sausalito. No trip to San Francisco is complete without visiting this beautiful town. You can take a ferry over from the San Francisco wharf. Information here
or you can drive over the Golden Gate Bridge like we did and get off at Alexander Avenue exit just after the Vista Point. I love the ferry ride. It’s so relaxing being out on the water and romantic too if you come without the kiddos. Kids enjoy it too though.
So we spent the rest of our day walking around Sausalito. We had lunch at one of the waterfront restaurants, ate ice cream at Lamperts
and just shopped around. It was a perfect end to a nice weekend away.
Bye bye San Fran. Until next time……..