Went to the OC Fair today. Saved a lot of money with special promotions, it was $1/ride from noon-7pm and from noon-4pm, each food vendor had samples for sale for $1 (for example, 1/2 hot dog is $1 and an extra-small soda is $1). You have to ask some of them what their special is, though, they don’t all advertise. For people with smaller kids, the Kidland area near the Green Gate is the best place to be.
It’s Tuesday and our goal is to get home to Orange County by midnight. We took a beautiful scenic drive across the Golden Gate bridge and walked along the Sausalito boat docks. The kids were thrilled when we looked in the water and saw two white jellyfish and a large tan one swimming in a natural environment.
An hour later, we were visiting the two southernmost wineries in Napa. The scenery was absolutely beautiful.
P.S I stumbled on this site after I got home and wish I had I had seen it before I left. I’ll use it the next time I take a trip, since we didn’t have enough time this time, anyways, to get to all the places I wanted to visit.
The Academy of Sciences admission is included in the CityPass.
It’s a fun place for kids, with the highlight being the rainforest where butterflies flitted freely and tree frogs lived in pools of water on the leaves. There is also a large aquarium under the rainforest.
We ended the day with a bus ride and hike up to Lombard Street’s crooked road, followed by sugar overload at Ghirardelli Square.
I don’t think driving in San Francisco is as tortuous as driving in L.A. I didn’t encounter as many rude people speeding around and trying to cut other cars off. However, the difficulty is in finding cheap parking. We opted to park at a garage on Ellis-O’Farrell and on weekends, the rates are cheaper than weekdays. I think we paid $10 for all day parking. From there, we walked over to the Visitor Center on Market St and purchased a CityPass ($64 for adult). This turned out to be well worth it as we went to 2 of the 5 attractions and took the Muni buses and cable car everywhere. Don’t be in a hurry if you want to take the cable car, the lines are very long.
Chinatown. It’s packed, the stores are loaded with items for sale, and it’s hard to categorize the prices. T-shirts cost around $1.99/each while a ZhuZhu pet cost $25! OK, so no one goes there to buy a ZhuZhu pet but my kid didn’t care whether or not she’s there for the Chinese type products or for the toys, and of course, she’d aim for the toys. I asked the saleslady about the huge mark-up, Target sells it for $9.99, and she said she should go to Target to buy them because they order from the internet and get charged over $10 for each and have to pay shipping. Is she pulling my leg?
We took the bus over to Japan Center in Japantown from Chinatown. In stark contrast to Chinatown, this place was a bit empty and very clean. There were a lot of little Japanese restaurants with reasonable prices for bento box meals and I regret we didn’t eat lunch there. The lunch we had at a fast food place in Chinatown was THE worst I have ever had. I’m sure their sit-down restaurants must be better than fast food.
I also went on a quest for tapioca milk tea with boba, and tossed the one I got in Chinatown into the trash. Found another place in Japan town that had decent milk tea, but there’s a slight difference in taste from the kind I get in Little Saigon.
After Japantown, we still had time for another site. Off we went on the bus to Pier 39. Our CityPass had tickets to the one hour Bay cruise so we got on a little after 6pm. It’s a rather tame cruise. We went under the Golden Gate bridge and saw Alcatraz from afar. Alcatraz looks like a neat place to tour. The kids were a little bored with the pace of the ride, but being from Southern California and having been on a number of cruises before, that’s to be expected. Actually, the highlight was when we pulled back into the pier and saw a ton of sea lions lying on the planks in the water. Everyone was too hungry after the cruise so we headed for McDonald’s for the kid’s sake, but it was one of the dirtiest and busiest I have ever been to. We skipped touring Fisherman’s Wharf, I’ve been there before and don’t really think you’re missing much if you’ve been to other seashore piers and I don’t have any fond memories of good places to eat here.
After 13 hours of driving, we’re in South San Francisco at the Larkspur Hotel. I had two criteria for the hotel we stayed at: 1) they had to take pets 2) there had to be a separate bedroom area from the living room because my folks snore too much! It turns out Larkspur is a pretty nice hotel, the rooms are quite large. We had a one-bedroom suite, a pullout sofa in the living room, a kitchenette, and a double sink bathroom. The only thing are rude guests who don’t clean up after their pets. One morning, while walking down the hallway, I smelled poop, and sure enough, someone’s dog had done their dirty deed and my dad ended up scooping it up so no one else would step on it. Overall, I would highly recommend this hotel.
Love this drive! The coast line is stunning, and driving is slow due to twist and turns and road work where it goes down to one lane only for both directions (meaning, you have to wait for the light to turn green before you can take a turn at the lane so that cars in the opposite direction don’t run into you).
Talk about windy and cold! I pulled over suddenly to get this picture but no one else wanted to come because the wind was whipping hard! It’s July, didn’t expect it to feel like November!
Got to Carmel and all the shops were closed! It’s around 7pm and the streets are packed with cars but everyone is in a restaurant so we window shopped only. I’m starving. I got onto yelp.com and couldn’t find anything in the single $ price range, sheesh. However, we did find a Chinese restaurant that turned out to be pretty delicious and I’m not even a big fan of Chinese food. The place is called Tommy’s Wok and it’s a bit hidden from the street:
Sticker shock! Gas was $4.92/gallon for 89 octane. In Orange County, I had paid $3.17/gallon. Well, it’s about as far as I can get on my tank and gas stations are few and far between, I put $10 in and figured I’d make it to Carmel on that.
During the restroom runs, again, we found a beautiful scenic viewing area through some walkways. What luck to have stopped here and accidentally discover this. I wish I could remember the name of the place we got gas…there was a little restaurant and gift shop by the gas station.
Dog and kids are all holding up just fine and not yet sick of driving.
Got to Solvang, a cute little Danish village, around noon. I’ve been here before so kept the group to around an hour with shopping and sightseeing. Mom, who’s a shopaholic, wanted to keep looking but at the rate we’re moving, we might not get to the hotel until midnight if we don’t limit our stops. We had ice cream for lunch, everyone went to the restroom, including the dog (they have public restrooms and the line was verrrry long) and then junk food on the road. The buildings are cute but it’s mostly shopping and eating, so guys, be prepared to sit around and wait for the ladies if you go here.
Road trip! Left Huntington Beach at 9:15am, heading to San Francisco via the coast. Driving my truck with Audrey (4 years old) and the dog inside, as well as mom and dad. The cousins and their 3 kids are following us. I’m wondering how the kids are going to do with what I estimate to be at least a 12 hour trip but I’m determined!