Our “School-Moon” Trip: Get Clued In heads West to California

Monterey Beach

Very last minute, we decided to make a family trip, albeit a short trip to the west coast… California!  I love Cali no matter what part we go to.  For our baby moon (before our first kid was born) we went to LA, and the southern area including San Diego and I really wanted to do a trip before my oldest daughter started Kindergarten.  We could not decide where to go – Virginia Beach or California?  Well, the opportunity presented itself so off we went to Northern Cali- San Jose, Monterey, Carmel, and San Francisco – all in 4 days!

Alcatraz from Pier 39

But it was fun and the highlight for my kiddos was hanging out with their cousins in San Jose!  They loved all the different toys, and meeting new kids they could play with.  For us, of course, the highlight was getting out and about.  I actually loved Monterey and only wished the fog had cleared in San Francisco.  My husband never got to see the Golden Gate Bridge so there is one here I posted from when I went another time in March of 2010. You can see our foggy shots, and our pictures of Alcatraz.  We loved San Francisco, and walking around it, but the highlight for my hubby had to be swimming in the

Aquatic Bay Park near Ghiradelli where daddy swam in the Bay and the girls enjoyed the cold windy beach

Bay at Aquatic Bay Park – a little piece of heaven right in the middle of San Francisco.  Ghirardelli was a huge hit for the kids and I only wished I could have made it to the Stinkin’ Rose, a Garlic Restaurant.  It was only a mile from our hotel but I could not make it this time.  The kiddos passed out early from exhaustion so dinner was a nice quiet dinner in our hotel room from Boudin’s – soup in a bread bowl – wonderful on a cold, San Francisco evening.

We stayed at the Marriott Fishermans’ Wharf (not the courtyard) and it was a great hotel, but be prepared to pay for parking in San Francisco no matter where you go or stay.  It sucks but it is the price of admission.  Pier 39 was a lot of fun and kinda like a carnival. We bought a lot of stuff, some of which we did not need but alas, all in all, great time to go, and to see the seals laying out in the sun.  Eating from the food stands is cheap and maybe the best way to go or getting pizza on the strip for lunch.

carousel at Pier 39

If we had more time in San Francisco, we would have spent it all doing the great things in Golden Gate Park because there is a lot to do and see there.  I think for San Francisco and with kids, you need at least 3 full days and then, you can probably say you did most of the city although I doubt it.  The city is very impressive and if you want to do a trip to Alcatraz, be prepared for a 4-5 hour block of time there as well.  There are plenty of tours of the Bay where you get closer but don’t go into Alcatraz as well.

boo hoo we can’t see the bridge behind us

My tips for San Francisco and the Bay Area- no matter when you go:  Pack a jacket, pack some warm clothes even in the summer; socks, good walking shoes, and sunblock.  And don’t forget your camera.  There is so much to do, so much to see, and so many amazing moments.  Oh, and bring plenty of money because you can’t do any part of California on a dime.  You can order cheap food from vendors/stands near Pier 41 and from food trucks but California is not cheap over all.  BTW, the people in California’s area we visited – some of the nicest people anywhere and why wouldn’t they be- there is nothing to be cranky about in California and we hope to return to see you again soon!

This is a view of the bridge from March 2010

The best view we got of the bridge the entire time
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