Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Day Full of Fun in San Francisco

What to do with three kids who don't start summer camps until July? Play tourist in San Francisco for the day!  We headed up to the city yesterday and found beautiful weather and lots of adventure.  I had booked a walking tour with All About Chinatown.  We parked under Portsmouth Plaza and met the guide a couple of blocks away on the corner of California & Grant.  She walked us around the neighborhood, pointing out the architecture and explaining the history of Chinatown.  We visited an herbal pharmacy, Buddhist Temple, food markets and the Fortune Cookie Factory.  The tour company will include a Dim Sum lunch after the 2 hour tour, but we opted to have kid friendly Chinese food at Four Seas on Grant instead. 

From Chinatown, we drove toward Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge, getting temporarily misplaced in the Presidio along the way.  (If you've joined my National Park Service Passport bandwagon, there's a Visitors Center in the Presidio where you can stamp your book.)   Fort Point has been standing guard at San Francisco Bay since Gold Rush times.  Tucked under the Golden Gate Bridge, it's modeled after Fort Sumter and is the only brick fort west of the Mississippi.  You can tour the enlisted barracks, officers quarters and the magazine room.  We headed straight up to the roof just under the bridge in time to see a cargo ship pass and two military helicopters fly overhead.  Then, to our amazement, we watched a pod of 5 or 6 dolphins play just off shore amongst the surfers waiting to catch a wave.  It was a sight to behold!  Oh, yeah.  Don't forget to stamp your NPS Passport in the gift shop before you leave!

How could we possibly top that??  The kids wanted ice cream and our nephew's girlfriend who had joined us for the day suggested a place called Bi-Rite Creamery on 18th and Dolores.  So, we headed across town in search of frozen dairy treats.  Bi-Rite has unbelievable flavors like Salted Caramel, Malted Vanilla with Peanut Brittle, Honey Lavender, Balsamic Strawberry and Rincanelas (cinnamon with Snickerdoodle.)  It is well worth the drive!  We made a quick stop in the Mission Dolores two blocks away before heading back to the nephew & girlfriend's apartment in North Beach to hang out and wait for the husband and nephew to come from work.  We all had dinner at Calzone's on Columbus, then the Palo Alto crew boarded the bus and headed home. 

A very fun day, indeed!

Filmed in Chinatown:    Good planning book:     Set in Chinatown:


  1. Looks like fun. I have always meant to do a walking tour of the murals of the Mission but I'm waiting for a friend from out of town to come in to have the excuse!

  2. Sounds like another great day:

    Percita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center - private walking tours available

    Balmy Alley murals

    Lunch at my favorite place on Mission, La Taqueria - try the carnitas!

    Maybe a visit to the Diego Rivera murals in town:
    City College of San Francisco
    San Francisco Art Institute

    Coit Tower has a free 11AM daily tour of their murals

    Maybe dinner at the Beach Chalet Brewery:

  3. I'm glad you liked the tour of Chinatown. I got inspired now to take the kids to Fort Point and Mission Dolores. No more full days left though before we leave for Sweden, but we have another year...