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.