Skip to content

Ultimate Road Trip With Kids – San Francisco and Alcatraz

    We woke up that next morning to warm sunshine! It was like summer, finally! The kids enjoyed the ocean view out of our window (though they had to stand IN the window to see it).  And we packed up for our drive to San Francisco.

    We had a beautiful drive starting along the Pacific Coast Highway for a bit and then headed inland through Sonoma and wine country and the vineyards. I think it was the most beautiful drive day so far.

    We drove into San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge which was very traumatic for Dax as for some reason he was convinced that we were going to fall into the bay. We did not (win). We were not totally sure of our plans and the traffic was much worse than we could have imagined. Seriously the whole trip has been crazy for us to figure drive times, we are obviously spoiled in the Midwest. No animals, no curvy mountain roads, no curvy ocean roads, no city traffic, etc. all of these things have made 20 miles take up to an hour and a half!

    We ended up in China town. On a side note we just celebrated our 20th anniversary and the gift for 20th is China – nailed it!  The kids wanted to buy every ninja /samurai knife, sword, and nun chuck that they saw. We thought we might take a trolley to the pier but then realized that they only take cash and a round trip for seven was somewhere near $85 which we had to walk back to the car to get. So we thought we’d try that the next day but we didn’t get the chance.




    We did end up at the top of Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the US, and drove down that (which was sort of anticlimactic after the crooked drives we have taken on the Pacific Coast Highway -lol).


    We decided we should stop at Pier 39 on our way back to the hotel. We watched the sunset over Alcatraz and tried to see the sea lions but it was apparently mating season so all but one lonely sea lion were out mating.


    We tried some chowder, had to be done but only 1 of the kids liked it. So additionally we had to go eat.  We also watched a street performance and peeked in a few shops – before heading back over the bridge for the night.


    We stayed at Embassy Suites outside of San Francisco in San Rafael just a short drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. The hotel was lovely, suites which offered a separate sleeping area and a sitting area with a pullout sofa.  The hotel offered a delicious complimentary made-to-order breakfast which we all enjoyed and snacks and complimentary reception in the evening (which we missed due to our schedule in San Francisco).  The hotel had a beautiful atrium and swim area of which we took full advantage.

    The next morning, after breakfast, we spent a good part of the morning just hanging out at the pool. I think the kids could be happy just hanging out at all the different hotel pools this summer without doing any sightseeing.

    We finally set out with a few ideas of what we wanted to do. The kids have watched and loved Full House so we set out to try to find the Full House house. Some of the info online lead us to Alamo Park and the Painted Ladies. These houses are shown in the intro of the show but apparently are not THE house. We drove to the park and saw the homes, 2 of which were actually being painted. On a side note, we looked up home prices in San Francisco because this town is just gorgeous and it seems every house is a beautiful Victorian “row” house – the median house price is over 1 million dollars. Median. Home. Wow!

    The kids wanted to play at the playground so we stopped and played for an hour or so. The playground was perfect for the little kids and the views of the city were amazing.


    We then drove to an address listed as THE house. I am not altogether sure as they painted it purple and the house in the show was neutral with a bright red door. It appeased the kids and we took a picture in front of it. HA – total tourists!


    We drove through some of the neighborhoods to get a flavor of the town including Nob Hill and Haight-Ashbury.


    Speaking of driving, Scott became quite the master driver! This town is crazy hilly. Grace even started crying a few times as we were going uphill and she was scared we were going to tip backward. LOL, Scott is also a master level parallel parker as he squished our van into a couple of spots on said hills! And even though part of the reason is that it was Sunday – he also managed to find us free parking! If it was just me, in order to avoid driving- that $85 trolley ride would have been well worth it!

    We had snacks at Ghirardelli – including a $10 hot fudge sundae that Scott and I shared because really? A $10 sundae?! I do think it had to be done though and I do think it was $10 delicious.


    We ended the day with a night tour of “the Rock” – Alcatraz. Grace was sure the boat was going to sink. But aside from that, it was a great excursion. We all got headsets with an automated tour of the prison to listen to.  Grace was a little bit too young to fully appreciate it and so Scott and I took turns listening to our headsets and entertaining her. 

    They had a good part of the island open including the hospital wing which we hadn’t seen before and they let Grace and me into some backroom (she asked – I’m telling you this kid is forward but she usually gets things that way!). It was the room in which mug shots were taken and they posed me with an Alcatraz sign for my mug shot. (Grace refused). The kids earned another Junior Ranger badge! And then we locked them up for the night and went out for drinks –just kidding. We did get to see them lock up the cells for the evening but we kept all the kids!



    URT Post 11 – Oregon to the Redwoods
    URT Post 12 – San Francisco and Alcatraz
    URT Post 13 – Yosemite

    Ultimate Road Trip 2014

    Comments Closed


    Terri L

    Terri has been married to her best friend, Scott, for 20 years and together they have 5 children. She has been blessed to be able to be a SAHM since her first was born over 14 years ago. In addition to finding new and creative ways to entertain 5 children, she enjoys date nights with her husband, photography, reading, and traveling with her crew.