HomeAway staffer Gina Dainello gives us a tour of San Francisco:
There are many reasons why this trip was so very special, but the most important reason – our 4 year old. This was her first time to fly on a plane much less, going to a destination farther than to visit family in New Orleans.
Our trip began with the flight. Isabelle (our daughter) was amazed that every seat had a little TV, while we did have movies downloaded for her, she couldn’t help but partake in the whole flight experience and all it had to offer. Upon arriving, we drove to Sonoma Valley and experienced the beauty of the wine country. We ended the day by dining at the El Dorado Kitchen. It was a glorious dining experience. I highly recommend the beef tenderloin, it is truly delightful!
The next day we headed back to San Francisco and the next few days we toured the city, shopped and ate at amazing restaurants.
Highlights of our trip included, walking through the Japanese Tea Gardens, exploring the California Academy of Sciences, hanging out with the fishes at the Aquarium (Fisherman’s Wharf), and watching the seals bask in the sun on pier 39.
The Japanese Tea Garden allows one to experience the natural beauty, tranquility and harmony of a Japanese-style garden in the heart of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The garden was originally created as a “Japanese Village” and spanned about one acre and showcased a Japanese style garden. The garden has since been expanded and covers approximately 5 acres. With the haze of the San Francisco fog, it truly makes for a magical experience. In the middle of the gardens is this beautiful steep bridge, which makes for an excellent photo opportunity.
Just down from the gardens, also in Golden Gate Park, is the California Academy of Sciences. While ideal for little ones as there is so much to see and do, it is fun for everyone. While it is a bit pricey it is definitely worth the price of admission. They have a planetarium, a rain forest, a huge aquarium, and you are able to touch starfish and they have staff on hand to answer any questions you may have. The highlight of our trip there was the earthquake simulator. Being that we live smack dab in the middle of Texas, it was a unique experience to be able to take part in something that has had such a huge impact on San Francisco in year’s past.
The Aquarium of the Bay, while small, offered up a unique experience. After you walk thru the underwater tunnel, you end up at the “nursery”. There you are able to pet baby stingrays and sharks. It was a wonderful experience! We fell in love with the baby stingrays. All were very friendly and would swim by and offer up their wing to give everyone a little “high 5”. Definitely worth seeing and experiencing!
Lastly, the seals at Pier 39 – while they do smell, they are quite adorable! There is no charge to see these spectacular mammals and they are such fun to listen to as they “fuss” at each other.
We love San Francisco, and cannot wait to go back! There is so much to see and do. This trip was tailored to our little one, but between all the parks to see, the amazing food to eat, and the nightlife, it is definitely one of our favorite places to visit!
San Francisco, Aug 20-23, 2013