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Trip Report San Francisco and Beyond

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Went to San Jose for a family wedding in late April. We spent our first four nights in San Francisco and the last three in San Jose. We are two 40-somethings with an 11-year-old son.
I am an excellent trip planner (although an over-scheduler) but my follow up work could use some improvement. Before I leave for a trip I am resolute about returning home to write a lengthy trip report and put together fabulous photo albums. These things inevitably fall by the wayside as I unpack and then begin researching our next annual family vacation.
So here goes. I'm hoping someone will benefit from my travel details as much as I've benefitted from others' in this forum.
And We're Off!
Well, not exactly. Our initial flight out of Milwaukee was postponed because of weather in Chicago. We sat on the runway for about 90 minutes. As I sat, I called United and asked to be put on another flight out of Chicago to San Francisco as I was sure we were going to miss our connecting flight at ORD. I was told that wasn't possible. We then deplaned and were instructed to go to another gate for information regarding when and if our flight out of Milwaukee was going to leave; only the gate agents had no information. Back we traipsed to our original gate where our pilot informed us we'd been cleared to leave in 25 minutes. We missed our connecting flight in ORD but found space on a later one and meanwhile enjoyed some surprisingly good sushi at the airport. We arrived in SF about midnight (8 hours later than anticipated).
We took the airtrain to Budget car rental where we had a speedy pick up of our reserved car. (I guess there are some advantages to arriving in the middle of the night.)
We drove to the Marina district (thanks for the tip Fodorites), parked the car and checked into the Chelsea Motor Inn. Our room was spacious and clean. The location was ideal and the staff was helpful-- I wouldn't hesitate to stay here again. My only criticism is the very bright fluorescent lighting in the bathroom. The strange green pallor it gave had me convinced I was taking on the city each day looking a bit ill.
First Full Day in San Francisco
Up and out by 7 (o.k. 8) we headed a block down to Mel's Diner for breakfast. We all gave it a thumbs up and my son was particularly fond of the smoothies. Good diner fare.
We then returned to the Chelsea for jackets-we'd been fooled by the sun outside our hotel window-and were about to start exploring on foot, following my carefully researched itinerary (see above). That is until the man behind the front desk called us over. He wanted to tell us about the "real" way to see the city. "Buses can take you to bad neighborhoods, parking is too expensive-take the Hop on-Hop off Bus!!!" Sigh. Husband was sold on it however, so off we went with somewhat glum me in tow.
To be continued.........

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