When I visited San Francisco for a quick two day trip with the family, I tried desperately to plan out every minute; trying to make the most out of our trip.
I wanted us to visit the national historic landmark Alcatraz, see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and walk along Fisherman’s Wharf on the waterfront.
The children loved learning about Alcatraz and being able to check out the prison cells and the views from the small island.
They marveled over the Golden Gate Bridge and the views from it.
However what they think really delighted and surprised us the most, was riding the cable cars on our second day, and discovering interesting places along the way. Visitors can walk down to the turntable at Fisherman’s Wharf to catch one, or can pick it up along the stops by jumping on during its brief stops at various corners. A one-day pass costs $13.00 and children 4 and under are free.
What I liked most was being able to get off when we spotted something of interest and check it out. For instance, we made a stop at one of the crookedest streets in America (Lombard Street) which was also featured in the Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “Vertigo”.
The kids loved seeing the crazy hairpin turns of the road and it has great views from the top.
Our next hop off was at the cable car museum. It’s free to visit and the museum deck overlooks huge engines and the winding wheels that pull the cables. My nine-year-old son was enthralled by it.
Downstairs is a viewing area of the large sheaves and cable line entering the building through the channel under the street.
There are a few antique cable cars to view and tons of historic pictures line the walls.
A penny machine that costs fifty-one cents, allows children to immortalize their visit by embossing a cable car picture on to their penny.
We later got back on a cable car and took it up a few blocks to China Town, the largest China Town outside of Asia.
The historic buildings are incredible, as are the bakeries and eateries along the way. The kids were also keen on visiting all the little shops that lined the streets.
Our last stop of the day was at the Aquarium of the Bay. It’s located along the water’s edge and has tons of hands-on interactions with the marine life as well as an impressive crystal-clear overhead tunnel, which allows for fish to swim all around you as you walk through. A family rate (2 adults and 2 kids are $50.00).
Although there are many things to see and do in San Francisco that we will have to plan for another visit, the sheer spontaneity of the cable cars made it a fun, inexpensive way to explore and appreciate the city during the short time we had.