Road Trip from Seattle to San Diego ~ part 3: San Francisco.

This summer, we made a gorgeous, unforgettable trip with our family of four. We took two airplanes, several cars (including Ubers) and an RV to get from Seattle to San Diego. We've seen and done amazing things.

I'll describe our trip day by day, while highlighting important cities, lovely campgrounds, cool landmarks, great restaurants and of course fun things to do with kids. My boys are 8 and 12 and they are used to traveling long distances. Flying from Chicago to Seattle was very short, compared to the annual trip we make from Chicago to the Netherlands.

Of course I'll show you what it all looked like, because I am a relentless (hobby) photographer. I sometimes make my family crazy with my pics. Ha!

This part is about San Francisco. How did we get there? What did we see on our way? Where did we stay? What did we rent? And how did we like all of it?

San Francisco!

San Francisco!

As I told you in my previous blog, our boys really enjoyed the San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA, the swimming pool was their favorite. Of course we wanted to see more than a swimming pool. That's why my husband took an Uber to bring him to the nearest Hertz  rental company, to rent a car. After he got back from that, we drove to San Francisco.

The KOA was about an hour drive from downtown San Francisco. And about 44 minutes from the Vista Point in Sausalito. There was an option available at the KOA to take a bus from the KOA into San Francisco, but the rent we paid for our car, was less and we could just drive where ever and whenever we wanted.

Drive to Sausalito from San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA.

Drive to Sausalito from San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA.

First we drove to 'Vista Point' (Sausalito) to take a look at the Golden Gate Bridge, there weren't many parking spots, but we were lucky. Unfortunately the Golden Gate Bridge was covered in clouds.  We didn't drive on the Golden Gate Bridge, this day. We did that the day after. Don't forget about the toll you have to pay. We did that the day before, via this website.

After that we went for dinner at the Barrel House Tavern, a nice restaurant overlooking the Bay. It's in a historical building: it used to be the first ferry terminal to and from San Francisco. We enjoyed the food, drinks and the ambiance.

Surrounding that area, there were lots of small shops, that looked rather crafty and different. I love shops like that, you can find treasures out of the ordinary. We walked around a bit and then decided to drive back to our RV.

Our drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Our drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.

The next day we scheduled a whole day in San Francisco! First we drove to the Golden Gate viewpoint again, unfortunately the bridge was stil covered in fog . After that we drove to Lombard Street, which is known as 'the World's Crookedest Street'. If read the article I linked at the words Lombard Street, you'll learn that it actually isn't. Anyway, it was fun to drive down that street. While we drove down, there was a photo shoot taking place. I am not sure how that worked out, since it was very busy and they seemed to be waiting for the moment when there would be no car. Good luck with that!

Lombard Street, San Francisco.

Lombard Street, San Francisco.

After driving down Lombard Street, we parked the car and walked back to Lombard Street, to take pictures and walk around in the area. It was so full of people there, that it was impossible to take a picture without people in it. After all, we still wanted to see more of San Francisco.

Love all the height differences in SF! It felt like walking in the movies...

Love all the height differences in SF! It felt like walking in the movies...

If you are capable of walking and you have a few more days then we did, I would recommend going on one of the free walking tours through San Francisco (don't forget to tip the guide!) If you are with more than 8 people, you have to book a tour.

Fisherman's Wharf sign.

Fisherman's Wharf sign.

We then took the car and drove to Fisherman's Wharf, which was just a 10 minute drive, you can even do that by foot, in about 20 minutes. There are a lot of parking lots behind Fisherman's Wharf and even though it was a busy day, we found a parking spot immediately. We parked at ImPark, the address was:

By then, we were hungry and had a quick bite ( we didn't want to waste time eating) at Frankie's Pier 43. The food was okay, we had the fishwich (big portions, I recommend sharing), but the restroom was horrible. We all really had to go, but I've seldom seen such a dirty restroom. The view on the backside of this place was good though, we could see Alcatraz from there.

Alcatraz.

Alcatraz.

After eating, we went and took a tour at the USS Pampanito, which I highly recommend. The audio tour was very interesting, with voices of the officers and crew. It felt like going back in time. I've been inside the U505 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago as well, with a tour guide, but this was way more lively. Our boys (aged 8 and 12) really enjoyed it too.

USS Pampanito - I highly recommend the audio tour.

USS Pampanito - I highly recommend the audio tour.

We then strolled to Pier 39. On our way up there, we passed a store, called: 'San Francisco Kites and Toys'. We bought a pretty cool, durable kite there, which we tried out a few days later. On the way to Pier 39 there were all kinds of artists doing their thing on the sidewalk, from musicians, to dance, to a magic show, we've seen it all.

Musicians on our way to Pier 39.

Musicians on our way to Pier 39.

Pier 39 is very touristic. It wasn't really my thing, but it was nice to have seen it. It's funny to see the sea lions that are sunbathing. There are mostly shops and restaurants, you can find a map here. We went inside the Alcatraz Gift Shop. Not sure why, probably because we were too late buying tickets to go visit Alcatraz.

Pier 39's Sea Lions.

Pier 39's Sea Lions.

We didn't really schedule this trip beforehand and we found out, while traveling, that this Alcatraz Tour was booked until August 21st, when we were there in July. That was a bummer. There is only one company allowed on the Alcatraz Grounds, which makes it hard to get tickets. Right now, it isn't as busy as back then. If you plan on visiting Alcatraz during summer, you can book tickets 90 days in advance. I would certainly do that. 

Pier 39.

Pier 39.

Although we didn't get to go on the real Alcatraz tour, we did book another boot tour, that passed right next to Alcatraz. It wasn't as cool, but still worth it. We bought tickets for the San Francisco Bay Tour.  The tour lasted about an hour and took us passed Alcatraz, to the Golden Gate Bridge. There was an audio tour available in 16 languages, and we got headphones on the boat. It was very hard to hear the audio. Mine was on the loudest level and I still couldn't really hear it (I tried my sons too, but it was the same). After pushing the headphones almost in my ears for a while, I decided to just enjoy the views and take pictures.

View on San Francisco during our boat tour.

View on San Francisco during our boat tour.

After the boat tour, we walked around the Fisherman's Wharf area for a while, and we bought some sweaters at a cool shop. You could pick your own color sweater / shirt and then pick the print you wanted on that sweater. The guy that helped us, just started working there and he was very kind. One of his colleagues not so much, he kept putting this new guy down. We bought 4 sweaters in total and because of that, we got a shirt for free. I can't find a website for this store, but it's on Jefferson Street, next to #283.

The shop we bought our sweaters at.

The shop we bought our sweaters at.

We then picked up the car and drove to Chinatown. You can take tours through Chinatown as well. We didn't have time nor energy left to do that (I was still struggling with my RA).

Chinatown, SF.

Chinatown, San Francisco.

Chinatown in San Francisco is way bigger than Chinatown in Chicago. It is called the #1 Chinatown of the United States. We drove through most of it and really enjoyed the views. My husband travels to China on business trips and he said it's still nothing like the real China. I can only believe him on his word, because I've never been to China.

Back at the KOA we enjoyed a great campfire in our new sweaters.

Campfire after a great day in San Francisco.

Campfire after a great day in San Francisco.

Part 4 of these series will be about our trip to Los Angeles and Los Angeles itself. I look forward to telling you all about what we did there!

You can read the other articles about our Road Trip here:

Road Trip from Seattle to San Diego ~ part 1: Seattle. 

Ten reasons why Road Bear RV is way better than Cruise America.

Road Trip from Seattle to San Diego ~ part 2a: on our way to San Francisco.

Road Trip from Seattle to San Diego ~ part 2b: on our way to San Francisco.

Road Trip from Seattle to San Diego ~ part 4: Los Angeles

Road Trip from Seattle to San Diego ~ part 5: Las Vegas

 

 

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Filed under: Road Trip, San Francisco

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