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san francisco - limited time with a 3 yr old, what to do efficiently!?!?

san francisco - limited time with a 3 yr old, what to do efficiently!?!?

May 6th, 2013, 01:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2007
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san francisco - limited time with a 3 yr old, what to do efficiently!?!?

We are visiting friends in Burlingame, Foster City and Belmont. We are staying at the Villa Montes in San Bruno. My husband and I will be travelling with our 3 year old daughter. Our only free time to do any activities (other than visiting the above-mentioned friends) is Saturday after 4pm, and Sunday between 12:30/1pm and 6:30pm. We will have a car as we are driving from Los Angeles.

These are places I THINK we might want to try to get to (but not set in stone):

Fisherman's Wharf & Pier 39
Union Square
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Bridge
Ride a Cable Car

Are we crazy to drive to the city twice - both saturday night and sunday during the day? is there anything to do south of the city with a 3 yr old, given the fact that we're staying in San Bruno and might not want to drive to City TWICE.

I was thinking of driving to Union Square saturday night and taking Cable Car to Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39. Or would the reverse be better in terms of parking?

And then Sunday during the day Golden Gate Park and Golden Gate Bridge? (gotta get back to Burlingame for late dinner).

Exploratorium is a back-up for if the weather's bad sunday, but it's expensive. and the aquarium would not interest any of us much.

any suggestions welcome, or even on HOW to make MY ideas work most efficiently in terms of transportation/quickness/parking!!

thanks in advance...
newlyweds13 is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 02:05 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
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I'd skip Union Square altogether (other than possibly to park) because it's an "adult" area - mainly shopping and eating.

You might want to consider taking BART and therefore not driving or parking at all (BART goes from Millbrae, which is one town north of Burlingame, and the station has plenty of parking).

If the weather is good, I'm sure you would enjoy Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park and a cable car ride.

The Exploratorium is fantastic (or was -- I haven't been to the new one yet).
sf7307 is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 02:48 PM
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I agree with taking BART. We live in the City. Parking is very expensive when you do find a spot. Bart will take you to the Embarcadero stop where you can easily take the antique trollies to Fisherman's Wharf or Pier 39. If you stay on Bart till Powell station you are right at Union Square. I live in SF and still hate driving around the city. It is not easy. Use BART.

Another benefit of BART. If you get off at the Embarcadero stop and come up out of the station you will be at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and you will bump into the cable car stop for California Street. Just depart Bart and hop on the cable car to climb California street, switch lines at top and go to the wharf area. Reverse your way back and head home to San Bruno on Bart. Trust me: This is the way to come into SF.

The new Exploratorium opened on the Embarcadero on April 17, 2013. A $300 million dollar upgrade from the old one. It is near the Ferry Building at Pier 15 and magnificent. A kid would go crazy here playing with stuff. They are open late on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday from 6 to 10 is adults only as the place is made to appeal to kids.

Try a Hop on Hop off bus also if you have time. It will take you to all the spots you mentioned and you can hop off to spend more time at any one area and get on the neext bus that comes. Or you can just stay on and enjoy the sites. It is a double decker open air bus.
traveldawg is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 03:55 PM
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Kid might like The Kite Shop in China
spirobulldog is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 04:05 PM
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Travelgawg has given you some excellent information. One day I would take BART as he suggests, and the other day I would drive to explore the city (Google "49-mile Drive").

Golden Gate Park is a sprawling place. If you aren't determined to see one of its attractions, I think you should spend your limited time elsewhere.

Union Square is the heart of the city. I can't visit San Francisco without going there. If your child is a good walker, I would start in Union Square and walk to Fisherman's Wharf through Chinatown and North Beach, and I would take the cable car back to town from the wharf.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 04:07 PM
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That would be a great walk but it would be even better if your 3-year old were in a stroller, not walking herself.
sf7307 is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 04:43 PM
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Any 3 year old would have been in heaven at the old Exploratorium. If the new one is even better,it would be a well worth the $50 for the three of you.
There were plenty of things there that will also amuse the adult mind, but the real the joy is watching the thrills that your child will find in all the interactive displays.

We didn't find traffic to be a big issue on the weekend. Everything seemed to flow well around all the areas that you want to visit, apart from Union Square. Parking seemed plentiful around the Golden Gate Park, but we departed that area by mid afternoon.

The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is also fabulous. I much preferred the Aquarium there to the main Aquarium. It is possibly more suited to older children, but I still think that an inquisitive 3 year old would find it absorbing.
shanek is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 04:47 PM
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It would be too much to walk from Union Sq to Fisherman's Wharf with a 3 yr old. You'd definately need a stroller.

The Exploratorium is great, but I think your 3 yr old would be young for most of the exhibits. It seems designed for older kids who can understand some science.


There is an Academy of Science museum at the Golden Gate Park that has a jungle walk thru with 1600 live animals, and a hands on project called Little Naturalists every Wed. @ 9:45 specifically for ages 3-5 years.
nanabee is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 06:22 PM
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San Francisco is such a wonderful city to explore, I can't imagine spending any of the little time you have inside any indoor attraction unless cold, wet, and wind force you inside.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 09:56 PM
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The aquarium at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park IS the "main aquarium".
sf7307 is offline  
May 7th, 2013, 01:05 AM
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I was referring to the "stand alone" aquarium at Pier 39 which I was presuming that the OP was also making reference to.
shanek is offline  
May 7th, 2013, 10:31 AM
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shanek, I was just referring to this in your previous post - "The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is also fabulous. I much preferred the Aquarium there to the main Aquarium". I didn't want anyone to get the idea that the aquarium at Pier 39 is somehow considered the "main" aquarium. I've never been, but I've only heard not-so-good reports.
sf7307 is offline  
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