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San Francisco Visit Length?

San Francisco Visit Length?

Old Jul 23, 06, 3:43 pm
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Question San Francisco Visit Length?

Hoping to make first family visit to SF next July but wondering what other members would recommend for trip length. We intend to go to Vegas for a couple of days after SF before heading to Florida. Any recommendations on things to do (have looked on Tripadvisor as well) with an 8yr old daughter to keep amused.
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Old Jul 23, 06, 4:01 pm
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You'd probably want to get some theme parks in for the 8 year old. Great America is in Santa Clara, and Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo.
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Old Jul 23, 06, 5:30 pm
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While I agree with Tom911, both Santa Clara and Vallejo are a ways outside of San Francisco itself.

For things an 8 yr. old might enjoy that can be worked into a family itinerary I might suggest:

Aquarium of the Bay at Fishermans Wharf

California Academy of Sciences near Union Square.

or the Exploratorium.

and a ride on the Cable Cars is always fun.
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Old Jul 23, 06, 6:48 pm
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Thanks for the suggestions. In terms of length of stay would 3/4/5 days be best to get a good look around SF for newbies.
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Old Jul 23, 06, 7:19 pm
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Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge is the Bay Area Discovery Museum.

http://www.baykidsmuseum.org/

It's a children's museum your daughter would love. About half of it is outdoors with beautiful views of the Bridge and the Sausalito hills.
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Old Jul 23, 06, 8:15 pm
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Originally Posted by NatsDad
Thanks for the suggestions. In terms of length of stay would 3/4/5 days be best to get a good look around SF for newbies.
Tough question to answer, depends too much on your style of travel. SF is physically small. If we gate the trip on the attention span of an 8 year old, I'd say that three days would be enough to say you have "seen" San Francisco. Say arrive morning of day one, depart morning of day four.

Do you have a list of what you consider the "must do" items?

Just you and daughter, or entire family?
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Old Jul 23, 06, 8:24 pm
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I vote 3 or 4 days

Some suggestions for things to do:
Alcatraz
Golden Gate bridge and view from Marin headlands
Exploratoreum and palace of the arts
Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park Stow Lake (rent a paddle boat with the kids, climb the hill in the middle of the lake for a view).
Botanical Gardens or Conservatory of Flowers
Angel Island hike...you can hike around the perimeter of the island and get nice views
Various Musuems (if you like that sort of thing...deYoung, Moma)
The Aquarium

I think that's enough for 3 or 4 days. You could also get outside the town to some of the destinations mentioned in the above postings.
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Old Jul 23, 06, 10:42 pm
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Originally Posted by Northern_Autumn
...Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park Stow Lake (rent a paddle boat with the kids, climb the hill in the middle of the lake for a view).
Botanical Gardens or Conservatory of Flowers...
Excellent ideas, all of which are fun for kids and adults. Even better, they are all within a mile or so of each other.

See numbers 14, 18, 19 & 34 on this map:
http://www.sfgate.com/traveler/acrob.../ggparkmap.pdf

Information you don't need: My wedding ceremony was at No. 24.
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Old Jul 24, 06, 12:00 am
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Some thoughts...


Eat sourdough bread! Eat chocolate! Eat ice cream!
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Old Jul 24, 06, 3:17 am
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San Francisco is an awesome town (perhaps the best place to visit in the US). It is unique, has great food, and there is always something going on. One of the best parts about SF is the day trips you can do from there. I suggest giving yourself the full 5 days - exploring all the great suggestions above - and then doing a day trip to one of the following:

Here is a page on Napa Valley with kids:
http://gocalifornia.about.com/cs/nap...canapakids.htm

To the south is Monterrey:
http://www.mbayaq.org/

Muir Woods National Monument (where you can explore the giant Redwoods) is pretty close to the north
http://www.nps.gov/muwo/
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Old Jul 24, 06, 9:42 am
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Originally Posted by birdstrike
Tough question to answer, depends too much on your style of travel. SF is physically small. If we gate the trip on the attention span of an 8 year old, I'd say that three days would be enough to say you have "seen" San Francisco. Say arrive morning of day one, depart morning of day four.

Do you have a list of what you consider the "must do" items?

Just you and daughter, or entire family?
It is the family (2 adults + child). Nothing is must do (although O/H & DD may say the ice cream & chocolate) as it is our first trip to the West coast so just looking for ideas.
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Old Jul 24, 06, 9:43 am
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Thanks for all the excellent suggestions. We can sit down now and work out what we would like to do. I knew FT'ers would be the most helpful
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Old Jul 24, 06, 2:17 pm
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Originally Posted by dbuckho
San Francisco is an awesome town (perhaps the best place to visit in the US). It is unique, has great food, and there is always something going on. One of the best parts about SF is the day trips you can do from there. I suggest giving yourself the full 5 days - exploring all the great suggestions above - and then doing a day trip to one of the following:

To the south is Monterrey:

Muir Woods National Monument (where you can explore the giant Redwoods)
I agree with dbuckho that there are many great day trips from SF...the scenery driving the PCH from SF to Monterey is wonderful, and I hear the aquarium is great too. Muir Woods is impressive, but it may get a bit boring for an 8 yo. IIRC the Alcatraz tours sometimes sell out, so you may want to buy tixs in advance for that.
If you drive over the GG bridge - take the exit right after the bridge and you can go left to get a great view back over the bay of the entire city, or go right to Sausalito for a nice shopping stop. I think you should allow at least 3 days in the city and a few more for day trips to outlying areas.
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Old Jul 24, 06, 2:42 pm
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I wouldn't recommend a special trip just for Children's Fairyland in Oakland. I take my girls there from time to time, but they (6 and 9) are getting a bit too old for it. Also, there's nothing else of interest nearby. In short, too little payback for so much time driving to and fro.
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Old Jul 24, 06, 3:21 pm
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Skip the amusement parks. Really. There's so much more to do in the Bay Area and SF itself than those and they're in the middle of the 'burbs.

You could spend and entire day in a few blocks in SF and not have either parents or children get bored.
There's the California Academy of Sciences on Howard, between 4th and 5th.
At the corner of 4th and Howard there is a big carousel, the Zeum(A kid's experiential hands-on science and tech. museum).

I'm surprised nobody here has mentioned the Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts, down near the Marina, the last exit in SF Proper before heading over the Golden Gate bridge. The Exploratorium is the original hands-on kids' science museum. Everything there is meant to be handled and tested, and played with and prodded and poked at while at the same time teaching kids about how our world works.

The first exit off the other side of the Golden Gate goes right into Sausalito, probably a bit boring for a kid, but lots of galleries and restaurants.
Taking the ferry from the Ferry Building down along the Embarcadero is also a good way to get across to Sausalito and the Ferry Building has lots of cool shops and restaurants as well as a farmers' market on the weekends.


One of my favorite spots in the City is Twin Peaks. The Peaks themselves are climbable and provide a 360-degree view of the whole Bay Area. Even at the parking/observation area that cuts down only to 270-degrees. You can see the ocean, the Golden Gate, Marin headlands, across The Bay, The City, East Bay and all the way down to SFO if the fog's not too thick.

Ocean Beach is nice and there are two public transit lines that go there, the 38 Geary Bus and the N Judah light rail. A big huge, long expanse of beach right on the Pacific Ocean. What kid doesn't like splashing around in the ocean?

Outside of the City, Muir Woods is great and only about a 45-minute drive away.

If you're going to go down south, drive past the amusement parks in Santa Clara and instead go to the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. Both kid and parent friendly. Lots cool geek technology stuff

Further south is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Two hours south of SF, but TOTALLY worth it. Monterey Bay is beautiful, the aquarium is quite kid-friendly/oriented, but still interesting enough for adults to have a good time. The otters which are the star exhibit are native to California and very cute. There's a big huge reef tank with all sorts of sharks, rays, freakin' HUGE ocean sunfish and other critters native to the Pacific.

The Cable Cars are a ride in and of themselves, but they tend to get crowded during the summer. I'd save it for a beginning/end of the day kind of thing.
I used to work in the offices down @ Ghirardelli Square and would take the cable car home from work sometimes just because I could.

(No, I don't work for the SF Tourism Bureau, I just really love my City )
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