San Francisco and San Diego with children

Old Sep 13th, 2008, 01:20 PM
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San Francisco and San Diego with children

Hello Everyone,

I am just in the first stages of planning a trip to California next July (3rd - 15th) with my husband and our two 5-year olds. We are flying out of Miami. I can't decide if we should fly to San Francisco first or San Diego. My daughter is not a fan of long car trips. So our plan is to fly to and from San Francisco and San Diego. I have allocated 4-5 nights to San Francisco and 4 nights to San Diego and now have been swayed by the wonderful suggestions on this board, to visit Monterey and its environs for 3 nights. Though we would likely drive (2.5 hours is it?), is there a train that runs between San Francisco and Monterey? Is this recommended? We would have to return to San Francisco and then overnight before flying out.
I would really appreciate any suggestions for age-appropriate sites and restaurants to visit with our young children. So far, we have at the top of our list, LEGOLAND and the SAN DIEGO Zoo. In San Francisco, we'd like to ride the cable cars, visit Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown and then maybe the Boat Ride to Alcatraz. In Monterey, the Aquarium, of course.

Thank you in advance.
Kate227 is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 01:40 PM
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Make sure you make a pit stop at the end of the Golden Gate Bridge. They have a little park area at both ends I think. One end has a little gift shop, a pretty garden area and pathway and some fun areas for learning a little history about the bridge. Nice place to let the kids run around and burn off some energy! I think it is called Golden Gate Park.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 04:09 PM
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I would do San Diego first. Within driving distance the is: Legoland, San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Balboa Park, Old Town, Cabrillo Mounment, Sea World, the beach, La Jolla for a picnic, and of course shopping. A 2 hours drive up to Los Angeles for Disneyland and Knotsberry Farm plus a bunch more. Good Luck!
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 04:12 PM
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Wild Animal Park is a DONT MISS.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 07:48 PM
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Check out the calendar at sandiegozoo.org it covers both the Wild Animal Park and the Zoo.
In July they have sleepovers at both places. Maybe the kids would enjoy that?
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 10:10 PM
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Just a couple other little thoughts from my experience, in addition to the GREAT suggestions already made on here.

Do your kids like big things? When I was in San Francisco about 9 years ago I made a stop at Muir Woods, just across the Golden Gate Bridge. The trees there are simply enormous... some were so large I was able to stand completely inside the cracks in their trunks and have my picture taken. I know some young kids, but not all, would be mesmerized by walking in the woods and seeing the giant redwoods trees.

Also, if they like ships and planes, the USS Midway is pretty neat in San Diego. They wouldn't be so much interested in the rooms on the ship, but they'd love going on the aircraft carrier and seeing all the jets and helicopters on the flight deck. They can even go inside a few of the helicopters. I can see from your message that at least one of your children is a girl, and this might appeal more to little boys, but it is just another thought.

As I said, the other suggestions are great. This wasn't meant as a post to give "better" options, just additional ones.

Good luck with the planning and enjoy your trip!
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 04:43 AM
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Thank you for all of the wonderful suggestions. I will have a look at the sandiegozoo.org site and will definitely plan a visit to the USS Midway (haven't come across this attraction before. It will be enormously appealing to my children). Love the idea of all Parks.
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Old Sep 14th, 2008, 08:19 AM
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Midway is a great tour. It is also right next to Seaport Village so there are a lot of shops nearby. Would also recommend driving up to the Cabrillo Monument in Point Loma for the viewpoint.
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Old Oct 4th, 2008, 12:07 PM
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We live in Monterey. We have two small children (5 & 7). It takes us about 1.5 hours from our house to Union Square in SF with NO traffic. Be aware that July is predominently our foggy and cool time of year. The city of Montery hosts a fantastic 4th of July party during the day (community parade and music in the park with food for sale from local non-profits) and fireworks on the beach on the beach at night. The aquarium is a must! Not sure if you want to stay 3 days in our area since there is so much to do in SF. We go to SF with our children on a regular basis. A hit in SF for our kids is Zeum in Yerba Buena Gardens. It's an arts & technology museum for kids. Our 7 year old actually passed on a big birthday party with her friends to take 1 friend to SF to visit Zeum. The MOMA is across the street from Zeum. Our 5 year old begs us to take her to the MOMA. Good luck with your plans and have a safe trip!
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Old Oct 4th, 2008, 12:16 PM
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At the San Diego harbor you can tour the Star of India saililng ship--and then do have lunch at one of the the nearby Anthony's seafood restaurants. The gulf shrimp salad with avocado is fabulous.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 11:12 AM
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Hi,
Congratulations! You have picked three great kid friendly destinations to enjoy. There are no trains that run from San Francisco to Monterey. You will want to rent a car anyway. It's a beautiful drive down Highway 1. Not terribly long. Santa Cruz is a great place if you do want a train experience. Roaring Camp Railroad up in the Santa Cruz Mountains runs steam trains. They have fabulous fourth of July festivities over several days and also have a train that runs to the Santa Cruz beach Boardwalk which is a very unique and fun amusument park. I have written a guidebook to Legoland California, but the Boardwalk still may be my favorite amusement park because of the vintage roller coaster and Merrygoround and it's location next to the beach.

In Monterey Dennis the Menace park is free and a five year olds paradise. You can also go kayaking. I am trying to figure out whether that would be feasible with my own brood 9,4,and5. If you have some mature non wiggly five year olds it would sure be fun. You can see sea lions, harbor seals, and tidepool critters on the pilings of the docks. You might even catch a glimpse of a sea otter.

When is San Diego, if you stay in North County you could take the Coaster train to most fun San Diego Destinations including the Midway. On that subject, my older on enjoyed the Midway, but I haven't taken my little ones on the advice of a midway docent. There is a lot of climbings stairs. You might want to investigate whether it would work for your age group.

BTW, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in the Marin Headlands is amazing. Might be fun with the kids.

Have Fun,
Bridget Smith
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Alcatraz really isn't for 5 year olds. Why not substitute the ferry ride to Angel Island instead? Or just take the ferry from SF to Sausalito and walk around Sausalito?

Using up one whole day and driving all the way to Monterey just for the Aquarium might not be worth it, especially when you have the newly reopened Academy of Sciences right in Golden Gate Park in SF:

http://www.calacademy.org/
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Old May 7th, 2009, 02:44 PM
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My 8 year old grandson wants us to go to SF to see the Golden Gate Bridge, his favorite bridge! We plan to fly there at the end of July taking his parents, too. Where is a good place to stay in SF? It doesn't have to be fancy, but kid friendly!
Also, we want to drive up the coast to Oregon so that he can mark off another state on his travel map. What should we do in southern Oregon and where should we stay?
Thanks,
TXJL
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Old May 7th, 2009, 03:31 PM
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TXJL, you might want to look into the Cow Hollow Suites group of hotels, because they have rooms big enough for all of you, come highly recommended on this board, have free parking, and are within easy walking distance of two distinct neighborhood shopping/eating streets (Union Street and Chestnut Street). They also happen to be close to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Exploratorium (which your grandson should love -- it's a hands-on science museum). You'll probably also want to visit Muir Woods (redwoods).

Are you aware that the Oregon border is quite a ways north? About 7 hours driving? (You can make it faster on the inland freeway though).
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Old May 7th, 2009, 03:42 PM
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Your kids may enjoy the Rainforest cafe in Fishermen's area of SF.

http://www.rainforestcafe.com/
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Old May 7th, 2009, 03:48 PM
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If baseball is at all of an interest to you, I think AT&T Park is a lot of fun. From the stands, there is a beautiful view of the Bay, sailboats, and beyond. Kids would enjoy it because Coca-Cola has a little playland for them, and ther is a mini cable car to play on. The coke thing has a big slide that the kids line up for. Right now, tickets to a baseball game are super-cheap. It also helps that you can bring your own food and drink into the stadium. There is a Safeway market and other fast food places all around the stadium. I save lots of money by buying my food before entering.
I don't care for baseball, but the stadium is beautiful, so I take my out of town guests here all the time.
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