San Francisco vacation

The winding city of cool bay breezes

For me, travel is about soaking in the sights and sounds, relaxing, and exploring a new environment. It’s about snapping that perfect picture or capturing that moment. I made sure to snap photos of the things I ate so that I could share my food experiences in addition to the beautiful places we encountered.

Officially this is the last family vacation with our daughter in the home. It’s also a great opportunity for her to take photos of Northern California. She heads off to college this weekend, so this was a kind of send off vacation. It was also an opportunity to visit Northern California in preparation for my “Life without kids bucket list”

We began our summer vacation on a beautiful sunny day in the beginning of August. Cruising the 101 up through LA and Ventura county was amazing. It’s still so surreal to me to be living in California. I know it’s been over 20 years that this Boston, seafood lovin’ girl came out here, but I am blessed to be able to live in such a beautiful state. I don’t take living 7 miles from the beach for granted.

Our first stop was Santa Barbara. We stayed at the beautiful Fess Parker Hilton Resort. Great accommodations, our room and view was right across the street from the beach. We immediately went for a long walk to the pier.

We ate Italian food at Pascucci’s Restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara. Very good food. I ordered the chicken picatta, best I’ve ever had! Great garlic bread. Great atmosphere, 5 stars.

They happened to be celebrating Old Spanish Days Fiesta while we were there. Fiesta nights are featured by street dances, the singing of old Spanish songs by strolling troubadours, entertainments in the sunken garden of the County Courthouse, and by a pageant in the Santa Barbara County Bowl, portraying episodes in the history of the city under Spanish and Mexican rule. Children’s parades, a flower festival and a rodeo in the old Spanish style are other attractions of the four-day celebration. People were selling eggs on the street. When you crack the eggs confetti flies out. It was an opportunity to learn about some local history.

On our way to San Francisco we stopped by Pismo Beach. It was overcast, and cool, but God’s incredible creation needs no words.

We continued on the 101 through the rolling hills of wine country with its endless grape vines, and patchy vegetation.

We stopped for a snack which ended up being dinner at The Lobster Shack in Redwood City. I had my favorite…fried clams (with whole bellies). Total stamp of approval. It tasted just like I was in Boston again! A must try place whenever you’re passing through! My family loved this. We’ll be back.

We arrived in San Francisco Friday evening. We stayed at the Hilton in Union Square. We had such a heavy early dinner, that the kids ended up grabbing some pizza later that evening.

Saturday morning we hit the ground walking. We found a Daily Grill for breakfast right around the corner from our hotel. It was great.

We took a taxi to Pier 39 and eagerly awaited our boat ride over to Alcatraz Island. Unfortunately it was quite cold and misty, although it made a great, gloomy setting for visiting one of the most notoriously dangerous and isolated prisons in all of America (oooooohhhh)! It was great history, but I can only look at prison cells for so long! (No pictures of that excursion).

We returned to civilization and walked to Chinatown, which wasn’t far, but 2 steep hills wore me out. You think I would have walked 10 miles! We ate at Hunan Homes. Very good Chinese food. We ordered family style; Soups, beef, chicken, and shrimp dishes. It was great to walk all that food off on the way back to the hotel. My husband managed to guide us so that we missed the steep hills this time.

We wanted to get a head start on Sunday morning, and I’m glad we did. We drove north across the Golden Gate bridge and had a quaint little breakfast at Sausalito Bakery and Cafe. Great Latte and fresh fruit. This is one the places that I tagged that we’re coming back to later (“Life without kids bucket list”).

Our next stop was Muirwoods National Monument. We wanted to take the kids to see the redwood trees. The forest was beautiful. My daughter took so many pictures, we couldn’t get her out of there! It was quiet and peaceful. Lots of walking and hiking!

Glad we got an early start that morning. At 11:00am there was  no parking, when we were leaving it was a zoo! We headed back out of San Francisco, back over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Our drive to Monterey was great. We stayed at the Monterey plaza hotel.

Did a little bit of walking around Cannery Bay, and then went to dinner at Fandango Restaurant in Old Town Monterey. A great little restaurant with a wide variety of menu choices.  A little price, but the food was delicious, another good choice.

We went back to the hotel and crashed! Everyone was tired from the great hike in Muir Woods.

We couldn’t head back home without stopping in Carmel, so we decided to get an early start and stop by Carmel by the Sea on the way home. We got some light breakfast at one of the many cafe’s there, walked around a bit. My daughter loved the galleries. We made a quick visit to the beautiful Carmel beach in town, and we were on our way back home.


We had a great time with each other. Time that I hope our children will cherish.

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