Hawaii Mom Blog: San Francisco in the Fall




February 2, 2017

San Francisco in the Fall

This past Fall we took the kids to San Francisco for the first time.  I found a great deal on Hawaiian Airlines (just $398 RT!), so I immediately made reservations to coincide with my kids' fall break in October.

San Francisco welcomes over 18 million visitors and convention-goers a year, but I quickly found out that if you plan on traveling to San Francisco in October, be prepared to pay more than you normally would the rest of the year for a hotel room.  October is a huge convention month, which means rooms are at a premium.

And the closer you are to the "49-square mile" city (it's actually 47.335 square miles) , the more you'll have to spend for lodging (and don't even get me started on parking in the city!), so we opted for a hotel 30 minutes away, with free parking (and free breakfast!).

While in San Francisco, we considered taking San Francisco Muni options and the BART, but when researching routes, times, and fees, it made more sense for us to rent a car.

Yes, parking rates are pretty crazy just about every where in San Francisco, but if you are willing to walk a bit (and don't mind hills), you can find great all-day rates.  On our first day in San Francisco, we found a $14 early-bird all-day rate (compared to the $5 - $10/hour rates closer to the attractions).

We were in total tourist mode while in San Francisco.  We rode a cable car, went on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour (which I highly recommend - no need to drive through the crazy SF traffic yourself, and you'll learn so much about the city), cruised under the golden gate bridge, visited a number of museums, and checked out several attractions on Pier 39.

We also indulged in popular San Francisco eats - chowder in a bread bowl, Ghirardelli sundae, and IT's-IT ice cream.

On our final full day, we drove to Vallejo (about 60-90 minutes away from San Francisco) to visit Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.  If you find yourself in Vallejo, be sure to make a stop at the Joy of Eating Cafe - one of the most popular brunch spots in the area (don't get discouraged if there's a line of people - it moves quickly, and the food is worth the wait!).

The microclimates in the Bay area mean layering is essential.  Most days long sleeve tees were all we needed (and on a couple of days it felt like even short sleeves would've been fine).  It rained a couple of days in SF (a friend who lives in the area mentioned how it hardly ever rains!), and we found ourselves caught in one of the worst storms ever one evening (it was so bad we couldn't see in front of us and blindly ran through the parking lot to find our car), but for the most part, we lucked out with clear skies and cool temps.

Lombard Street
Traffic was a given just about any time of the day.  I was a bit shocked to see several muni drivers get into arguments with car drivers while at stoplights!

However, I was very impressed with how friendly and helpful people were, especially at the airport. Employees made sure we went on the correct AirTran line and made sure we got off at the correct stop, and a frequent flier gave us a tip in terms of a shortcut to the AirTran back to the airport.
Riding on the AirTran
We had five full days in San Francisco, yet I feel like we barely scratched the surface of all that there is to see and do.  The city if full of history, innovation, and some of the world's most famous landmarks, and I look forward to visiting again - any time of year.

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