This long weekend trip to San Francisco with kids was a first for our family. We were able to get a great deal on flights from Seattle to Oakland on Southwest. We paid under 18,000 Rapid Reward points for all four of us, round trip (we have one companion pass). San Francisco has been on my bucket list to visit as a family for years. But being that we were living on the East Coast previously, it was just such a hike. And we tend to love to do more frequent, shorter trips these days in order to maximize seeing new places! So at less than 2 hours each way, this was a perfect long weekend getaway for us.
Where we Stayed
Being that this was our first time in San Francisco, we decided we were going to stick with all the typical tourist stuff. That being said, we booked the Hyatt Centric right in Fisherman’s Wharf. The hotel was in a great location for us and made it easy to get to most of the things we planned on seeing. We had booked a room with two doubles, which is doable, but not ideal for us. Luckily upon check in, we requested a room with a king and double and were able to upgrade to that instead.
The room was standard at best, and the best part about the hotel was the location in our opinion. Our room was relatively clean, but it looked like the hotel was in need of a good refurbishment. For this trip, considering our only time spent in the hotel room was sleeping, this wasn’t a big deal.
What we Did
Bike the Bridge
A few weekends prior to this trip, we rented bikes in Vancouver, BC and rode them around Stanley Park. We enjoyed this so much that we decided to somehow incorporate another bike ride in San Francisco. Just feel like it’s a fun way to see a lot of stuff, and get some exercise in. In return we can eat all the ice cream we want… haha! We rented our bikes from Blazing Saddles, which had a number of locations around Fisherman’s Wharf. We booked online in advance to save some time and also 20% less than if booked at the store. Our family had no problem getting a kids 20″ bike, two adult bikes, and one trailer for our three year old. Included with the price of rentals was also a helmet and a lock for each biker.
We biked from Fisherman’s Wharf, all the way to and across the Golden Gate bridge and then continued onto Sausalito. Only my subpar iPhone pictures can explain the amazing views along this route – I will just say it was absolutely amazing! Once in Sausalito, we got dinner and drinks and then took the ferry back to San Francisco to return our bikes.
The bike ride wasn’t the easiest, as it involved some hills to bike up and down, some not so smooth roadways, and also required bikers to bike on some roads with cars. But we are VERY beginner bikers and we did it with out any major problems, other than some breakdowns from my seven year old. She wouldn’t want me to mention this now, but I am so proud of her for completing this bike ride that we can now joke about the tears. She has only been biking on two wheels for 6 months, so this was an enormous accomplishment!
My husband’s birthday fell during this weekend trip, so we decided to spend that day exploring Napa and Sonoma with the kids. We rented a car for the day from Sixt. It was our first time using this company so we were a little skeptical, however we were very pleased with the whole experience! We had plans to visit a lot more wineries than we actually did, but by the time we got to the first we were sure those plans would change drastically.
The first winery we chose to visit was Castello di Amorosa which was on the north end of Napa Valley. We chose this one after reading which wineries in Napa were the most kid friendly. This winery is a castle with plenty of space for kids to explore inside and the surrounding grounds. The huge tasting room was in the basement and offered kids a place to color and grape juice to sip on!
We spent a good amount of time just enjoying the drive through wine country. In Sonoma we stopped at one last winery called Larson Family Winery. The kids were so done by the time we got to this one, so it was hard to enjoy a tasting. There was a nice area outside to sit and drink and play games.
We spent some time exploring Fisherman’s Wharf since our hotel was located so close. We ate at a few restaurants in the area, and also enjoyed walking along the water and checking out the views. My girls’ favorite part about Fisherman’s Wharf was seeing the sea lions hanging out at Pier 39.
Ride the Cable Cars
The first day we visited we thought we would just jump on a cable car at any old stop. This is not possible on a busy Saturday. We waited at one stop for 20 minutes and all the cars were too full. We walked down to the very beginning of the line to see if that was a better idea. It was not! The line to get on the cable car there was ridiculous. We were pretty bummed out and were 2 miles from our hotel so decided to get a Lyft back.
The last day we were in San Francisco we went to the start of the Powell/Hyde line near the water. This was a good idea to go earlier before a line forms, and we were able to get right onto a car. We rode it all the way to the end of the line near Union Square. Once we were at that end, in order to get back to Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch we took the F line Street Railway. It was a cross between a bus and a train and was old fashioned looking. So fun! It was a relaxing morning riding some different types of public transportation through San Francisco.
We love to find good dim sum – so made that our mission for lunch our first day. We could walk to Chinatown from our hotel which was convienent. On the walk there the girls convinced us to stop at a fun playground to get some energy out! They love finding playgrounds no matter where we are. Chinatown was very similar to Chinatown in Manhattan. Busy little shops and restaurants lined the streets. It was hard to walk around, so we were happy we left the stroller behind.
Before lunch we stopped at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. We spent no more than 5 minutes here. We watched them make some fortune cookies, ate some samples, and then we bought some cookies to snack on.
What we Ate
Hang Ah Dim Sum Tea House claims to be the first dim sum house in the United States. We’ve been to many dim sum restaurants so we were excited to try one in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Being that it had a large gathering of people outside waiting to go in, we assumed it had to be pretty good. We ordered way too many dumplings, as usual and a plate of sesame chicken for the girls. Unfortunately we were not very impressed at all. The food was okay at best, and we decided we had much much better outside of San Francisco.
We ate here right before we left to return home on our last day in San Francisco. We made a reservation since it seemed to be a popular touristy restaurant right in Fisherman’s Wharf. The restaurant was packed, even considering it was 1:00 on a Monday! The food was nothing to write home about, however, there was an awesome view from the restaurant! *Note: This restaurant had a kids menu with quite a few options.
It wasn’t easy to narrow it down to one place for a Sunday lunch in Napa Valley. I decided to have a few options lined up and then let my husband choose since it was his birthday. He said he was craving Italian food, so Bistro Don Giovanni was the winner. We really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere at this restaurant. They didn’t have a kids menu, but the girls split a pizza and fries which was perfect for them!
After our long bike ride from San Francisco, across the bridge, and then into Sausalito we were all starving! Napa Valley Burger was the perfect place to get a table without a reservation and eat some burgers, fries, and have all the drinks! And by all the drinks I mean we drank so much water to re-fuel, but they also had some good beers too ;).
Located in Fisherman’s Wharf area. They had great pastries, sandwiches, and bread! We also saw a lot of people eating chowder in bread bowls which looked so good!
We went to this bakery the one day we had the rental car since it was not in walking distance to our hotel. As soon as we drove up we saw it had a big line wrapped around the block. This never stops us, if anything it makes us more excited to eat LOL. A line to us means amazing food awaits, which was 100% true for Tartine! We got some goodies to enjoy on our car ride out to Napa Valley and they were so tasty!
Overall our trip to San Francisco was a success. We were so busy and saw so much stuff that on the way home I convinced myself we are in need of a trip that requires us staying at one resort and relaxing for once! The only thing in San Francisco we didn’t get to experience was visiting Alcatraz Island. We will be back one day I am sure – so we will save that for the next trip!
Check out this post for even more fun things to do in San Francisco with kids: 63 Things to do in San Francisco with Kids