We recently returned from a really fun few days in San Francisco, and I want to thank all those who give advice here. Because of what I learned from a few months of reading this forum, I was able to put together a great trip for my family. So here is a rundown on our itinerary in case anyone else needs a few pointers. I can say I would do nothing different if we had the chance.
We arrived at SFO around 10 am and had no trouble grabbing an Uber to the Courtyard Fisherman's Wharf. I believe with tip, the trip was right at $50. Yes, that area is touristy, but it was just fine. We were in town Thursday to Saturday and the only time we saw crowds was Saturday afternoon. We loved the convenience and proximity to activities, so no regrets choosing that neighborhood or hotel. We dropped off our bags (the room was ready early YAY!) and headed out to Ghiradelli square for an ice cream sundae for lunch. That was another situation where there were no regrets! I'm still thinking of that Chrissy Fields bowl of goodness!
With almost full bellies, we Ubered to Chinatown to the 2 pm meeting spot for our SFFoodTours Walking Taste of Chinatown Tour. Our tour guide was excellent and we loved seeing parts of that neighborhood that we would've never have found on our own. It was the only Chinatown tour I found that had an afternoon start time and would fit our schedule. We loved it, learned a lot, ate ourselves silly, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend the tour to others.
Afterward, we walked a few blocks to the Powell/Hyde stop and grabbed a cable car to the top of Lombard Street. We walked down, admired the pretty homes and flowers, and took a few pictures. By that time our feet were starting to hurt, but we decided to walk to Trader Joes to grab a few snacks and some drinks (we don't have TJ whiskey here in Texas). I glanced at our mileage for the day and saw we were knocking on 7.5 miles plus it was almost dark, so we called it a night.
Friday called for a 90% chance of rain, so once we got settled in for the evening, I checked my email to find that the people from Dylan's had offered us a change of tours. We had originally booked the Bike the Bridge/Muir Woods, but with rain and up to 20 mph winds, that didn't sound like such a great time anymore. Dylan's offered us seats on their Famous/Muir Woods tour instead, and we agreed that not getting soaked or blown off the bridge would probably be for the best.
The next morning, we grabbed a delicious, albeit extraordinarily expensive breakfast at Joanie's Happy Days Diner and headed in the rain to meet up with our tour. Our guide was great, and we really enjoyed the tour. I don't "love" bus tours, but I have to say this one was educational and the guide was pretty darn funny. We were all glad that things worked out the way that they did because we saw parts of San Francisco that we wouldn't have otherwise. Plus we got some GREAT pictures too. We had another expensive meal in Sausalito and headed on to Muir Woods, which I LOVED. I felt such a profound sense of peace walking those paths and smelling that delicious air. I now have a new happy place in my mind and I can't wait to visit again.
My teen daughter's one wish on this trip was to shop at Brandy Melville (insert eye roll here), so we Ubered over there after we were dropped off from the tour. We got that taken care of (thank goodness) and Ubered over to Tony's in North Beach for dinner. It was so fun to sit outside, sip my wine, and people watch. Of course, this was also an expensive meal and the day has since become known in my family as the day our food cost as much as our mortgage (now another eye roll). On our Uber back to the hotel, I checked our foot mileage, and we had only clocked a measly 6.8 miles.
Saturday started out wet and rainy too as we headed to Latte Express on Beach St for breakfast. This was a much more economical choice, and my Vietnamese coffee and breakfast sandwich was just as good as the meal the day before (and we can still pay our electricity bill). We rode a streetcar over to Alcatraz Landing for the Early Tour. We enjoyed our time on the island and really learned a lot. I knew there are gardens on Alcatraz, but was still surprised at how gorgeous they were. I think it's a place everyone should see once.
After, we walked to Pier 39 and saw that sea lions, (they were so funny and not as stinky as I thought they'd be) and grabbed a mediocre lunch from I can't remember where. We paid the $5 per person to do the hall of mirrors and laughed our heads off. By that time the crowds were setting in, so we headed back towards Fisherman's Wharf, grabbed some bread at Boudin's and the kids did a little last minute souvenir shopping. We walked to the hotel, picked up our bags, and Ubered to the airport. This day, our mileage totaled only 6 miles.
So to sum it up; we had a fabulous time. We walked a lot, we saw a lot, and we ate some pretty great food. We also spent a lot, but we knew going in that was probably going to happen. Yes, we saw homeless and a couple of instances of open drug use, but never once felt unsafe. We were aware and educated about our locations. Through research, I knew when to walk and when not to. We had such a fun few days and taking the time to prepare for our visit made all the difference. But I'm preaching to the choir here since if you've made it this far in my missive, you're a travel junkie and obsessive planner too.
My top tips; download the MUNI app and pre-buy some fares. Also, use the trip planner within the app. Utilize Google Maps to see when to walk and when not to. For instance, it's only 2 miles from Ghiradelli Square to Chinatown. But that's 2 miles no one in their right mind would want to walk. Take comfortable shoes and a waterproof light jacket. Bring more money then you think you'll need and most of all, have fun!!!Edited: 7:22 pm, April 10, 2019