Over spring break, we took a road trip with the kids to San Francisco. We had booked an apartment in Telegraph Hill / North Beach (SF’s Little Italy) via VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner). VRBO is a great alternative to staying in hotels. It’s especially nice to come back to a home where you can spread out (vs. tiny hotel rooms) — when traveling as a family.
Our apartment was at the top of Telegraph Hill (quite a hike up the hill) – but had AMAZING views from all of the windows.
Telegraph Hill / North Beach is the Northeast part of San Francisco. It’s a great place to stay, as you can easily walk to Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Pier 33 (Alcatrez Tours), the Ferry Market Building, and Chinatown. Plus, you have the benefit of being in the “best food area” of San Fran!!! I’ll do a separate post on our great restaurants and boutique finds in North Beach.
We did hit all of the major tourist attractions, but here’s what our teenagers enjoyed the most.
1) The Sea Lions at Pier 39
We all could have watched the sea lions for hours. They are quite entertaining … how they climb over each other and bark, some of them, non-stop. While I personally think Pier 39 is a tourist trap … it’s definitely worth the visit to see the sea lions. (They are located on the Northwest side of Pier 39).
2) Eating in North Beach
The kids loved eating pizza and gelato in North Beach. It reminded Natalie of being in Italy. We had some wonderful meals in SF. (Jeff and I loved getting cappuccinos in the mornings and bringing back pastries for the kids).
3) Tour of Alcatraz
We took the tour of Alcatraz (Alcatraz Cruises) — which was very interesting. It’s a short boat ride over to the island. Once on the island, there is an audio tour – which is very thorough. I would recommend booking tours in advance, especially if you want to take the evening tours, as those always sell out in advance.
4) Lombard Street
Natalie thought Lombard Street was very cool. We did get Nick to look up from his phone a couple of times. It’s fun to drive it and walk it.
5) Coit Tower
Our apartment was just a few hundred yards from the steps to Coit Tower. There were great views from the tower (very similar to those from our apartment).
On the walk over (on Montgomery Street), we saw this statue of a man on someone’s deck. Natalie and I thought it was quite creepy … as it looked like the eyes followed you as you walked by.
We took the less-touristy route through Chinatown. Our kids were grossed out by the smells and food that was sold on the streets. We did have a great Dim Sum lunch and enjoyed seeing how fortune cookies are made. I will do a separate post on our tour through Chinatown.
We also drove through the Presido, Golden Gate Park and the Palace of the Arts. The kids slept through most of the drive so they thought it was uneventful. We saw cable cars, walked through the Financial District, shopped the Ferry Market Building and walked through Fisherman’s Wharf, too.
Overall, it was a great trip to the city!