San Francisco Tour

Our March trip has really become one to appreciate. There’s not a whole lot of planning that goes into the day–other than maps and driver communication for staying together. We get to see and do a bunch of things that are close by, and free, that most if not all of our kids have never seen or done. It’s six different stops in the Golden Gate Bridge area, all in about eight hours. So here we go…

We started our day at curvy Lombard Street. We drive down in cars, then park, and walk the street again. We were glad to see the wild parrots, who announce their presence with their decidedly un-urban squawks. From the top of the hill, we saw Angel Island and Alcatraz, and a cable car rode right past us. For a bonus stop, we also hit the Palace of Fine Arts. Fewer kids get to see this beautiful spot than when it was attached to the Exploratorium. So it’s a worthwhile 15 minutes.

Next it was on to Fort Point, at the base of the bridge. The kids brush up against the history of the fort, and check out a few of the exhibits there. But mostly they enjoy the building itself–walking around with friends, hiding and seeking, and enjoying the views. We hung out for about an hour, and moved on up the hill to the bridge visitor center.

If you haven’t heard or been, the construction around the visitor center is pretty much done, and is done very nicely. We ate lunch at the statue of Joseph Strauss, and made our way out to the first tower–just a 10 minute walk each way. Looking over the rail, we got to see a dolphin–how often do you get to see a dolphin in the wild?! What a treat. And a unique experience just to walk on the bridge itself. (I was also enamored by the new “zipper” median on the bridge–hadn’t seen that yet.)

On we went across to Marin. At the Marine Mammal Center, we used our connections and got a brief presentation by an old friend who now works at the center. Courtney gave us a great intro to what goes on at the MMC. She told us about this year’s El NiƱo, and all the starving sea lions that they’ve been treating so far this year. The kids got to see pelts, and skulls, and learn how the staff capture, rehabilitate, and release the seals and sea lions. We watched as young seals, too young to hunt, were force-fed the “fish milkshake”.

Our final stop of the day was at Battery Spencer, overlooking the bridge from the Marin side. As usual the views were spectacular, but this time, the fog was rolling in. I have always wished I could see this in person, and after years and years of stopping here, I finally got my wish. It was mesmerizing. Despite the views, as I’ve learned over the years, the kids most of all love the freedom. They run, and play, and jump, and climb, and sit, and talk, and just enjoy being out in a special place together. And then they complain when we have to leave. All the elements of a great day.

The slideshow video with all the photos and clips can be found here:

April’s trip is back to Alamere Falls in Point Reyes, and then camping in Yosemite in May. Let us know if you’d like to come along for camping–we are beginning the planning now.