So my husband and I (we are in our mid-thirties) took 4 days to explore the city with no kids. We weren’t really sure what to expect and neither one of us initially had a huge desire to go to San Fran, but it was a new place to explore, so why not? Being from the Hoosier state, we usually like to go to bars and watch sports and were wondering if we would fit in, in Cali. Or would we stick out like a sore thumb in our cargo shorts and flip flops? The good news is no one fits in, or doesn’t fit in because it’s a melting pot of people.
Here is what we learned.
- Flying Southwest…Spend $35 extra bucks to upgrade your seat to “A” boarding if you actually want to sit with the person you are traveling with on the flight. It’s no fun to be forced to sit in the empty seat between a German husband and wife who won’t give up their window and aisle seat for the Four-hour flight! This was especially bad because I wanted to sit by my sexy husband and BS with him to make the flight a fun experience. We don’t get to do that much with three kids!
- San Fran is broken up into “Districts”. Don’t stay in the business district. There is literally nothing happening. The Embarcadero (the earliest opening breakfast venue – 8:30 am) was ok but is not worth mentioning the name of the place. I honestly can’t remember the name.
- Expect to walk a lot.
- There is some cool architecture around if you’re into that…
- Have exact change for the bus or you lose money (That may be the same everywhere, but we never really ride public transportation). Also, KEEP YOUR BUS TICKET after you pay… tickets are good for the whole day. We figured that out after paying 3 times the first day…
- We stayed at the Herbert Hotel in the Union District. We liked this area a lot better than the business district. This hotel is small and quiet. Very plain and simple, but great staff. I would not stay here with kids. We got a huge discount for booking a room with a “shared bathroom”. We couldn’t wrap our minds around what this actually meant until we got there… We had envisioned a jack and jill style bathroom between two hotel rooms… Not the case… There is a single toilet room and single shower room down the hall. It was totally worth it because our room was 1/3 of the cost, we never saw anyone else, and they were really clean. Also, Walgreens right next door to the Herbert if you need anything.
- The Geary Line 38 and 38R Bus is your best friend. This will almost get you to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate National Park, and close to Haight/Ashbury.
- Places open late and close early. California is 3 time zones away so expect to wake up at 5am – 6 am out of habit but don’t expect much of anything to be open!! Even 90% of the damn coffee shops that are supposed to be open for early risers or café that server breakfast were not open!!
- Homeless—Drug/Mentally ill – They are all around but we found that they seemed to be harmless. That was a good thing because we also noticed an extreme lack of police presence.
- LGBT Community – yeah… I now understand the passion for pushing laws. It is a much larger community than I had ever imagined.
What we Did:
Probably my favorite part of the trip. I love history though. It was worth the money. Also, definitely get your ticket(s) early; I recommend 4 days in advance.
Nothing to see. I’m not really sure why it would be a tourist destination. There were some local vendors with stands selling crafts, but nothing worth flying across the country for. There were a couple of deli shops.
Interesting to see for about five minutes. All of the guides say to get something to eat in China Town. We didn’t take the risk. It didn’t seem like the restaurants would pass any kind of a health code, but maybe I missed out on some amazing “dim sum”.
(I still don’t know what that is, but I guess it is something I should have tried while I was there.)
Golden Gate Bridge
Obviously if you are going to San Fran, you have to see the bridge. It is something that you have to see in person. Although, you really have to go after 9 and before 3 or the fog will cover half of the bridge. There are beautiful views.
Golden Gate National Park
I really enjoyed the National Park. Be prepared to spend money there. We went to the Japanese Tea Garden. Again, it was really calming and a great experience for ten minutes and 8.00 a piece. But, if you go before 10:00 AM, you can get in free.
Then we wanted to go into a botanical garden, which again, would be 8.00 a piece. We didn’t go to any of the museums in the park, so I can’t speak to that. We wanted to cover more ground, so we rented bikes. This was my husband’s idea, and it was a fantastic idea! We rode our bikes to the Haight/Ashbury area.
This ties for my favorite. This was the original hippy district with the likes of Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix and hundreds of other musicians that came up short. Awesome vintage shops and even home to a physician at the west end of the strip that will evaluate people for potential medical marijuana recommendation. We poked our head in and asked if you had to be a resident of California to obtain a recommendation and the gentleman at the door with tattoos all over his body and face said, “I think you might, but I think there is a way to get around that, you’ll have to ask the doctor”… Gotta love Cali…
Not worth it. We would have passed right by the houses if other people weren’t taking pictures. The park across the street is under construction, so it was closed off with a fence and there were mounds of dirt.
Overall, any chance that I can go on an adventure and get away with my husband, I’ll take it! We had a lot of laughs and created many new memories. But, I don’t think I need to experience San Fran again. Once was enough. I was happy to be back in the Hoosier State!