First long haul trip with both kids to San Francisco – 5 [some traveling notes]

It’s definitely not a detailed one but I’m just writing down some notes to myself, and maybe it can serve a purpose as a reference for those who plan to visit SF with kids in the near future.

We bought the city pass when we were purchasing the admission tickets at California Academy of Sciences. It’s $84 for adults and $59 for kids from 5-11 years old. It includes 7 consecutive days of unlimited cable car, mini bus and historical streetcar rides, and admission to 3 museums and 1 cruise trip that you must use them within 9 days from the day you purchase or you first start using it. They would stamp a starting date on the pass.

If your kids are older than 5, buy a pass for them is a great idea. But if your kids is 5 under, or just over 4 but not yet 5, like J, then no need to buy although some of the places included in the pass that you can visit require tickets for kids above 4 (eg The Aquarium of the Bay and California Academy of Sciences). The admission tickets of the 2 places for kids won’t add up to $59, maybe less than $30 together, so better just buy separately.
The rest visits on the pass and the rides are all free for kids under 5.

For details of city pass San Francisco, see link below:

Since we bought the pass, we just visited all the places that are included in the pass.

Between 2 aquariums to choose, we picked The Aquarium of the Bay, it’s smaller but closer to where we live, it accommodates our needs as we have a younger child that her battery doesn’t last long and wouldn’t sleep in a stroller, so we avoid long trip to the bigger aquarium which is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Plus, J is not a super fan of aquariums anyway.
And as an expectant mother, I get tired easily too.

Between The Exploratorium and De Young museum, we chose the former. It’s a fun place for all ages that you can spend long hours there.
We have not been to De Young Museum but passed by as it’s just right opposite to California Academy of Sciences. We sense that it should be a place with more artsy stuffs, exhibitions of arts and paintings. So if you or your kids are really into arts than sciences, then the latter maybe better choice for you or your kids.
We think art museum might be a bit boring for our kids, especially when J is not particularly artistic. However, we could be wrong because we also thought The Exploratorium is more for older kids at first, that we didn’t plan to stay for too long but ended up both kids loved it so much. We ended up were there for 4 hours, yet, still couldn’t finished checking out everything.

A note to myself – the cruise trip means nothing to A as she’s too young to understand and a bit too long (one hour) for J as he wasn’t too interested in listening to the audio guide, therefore after seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, he’s already asking when we could get back to the pier.

Cable car ride – J’s comment was bumpy and noisy. Indeed, SF is a hilly city with so many steep slopes up and down, the ride was much bumpier than we expected. Same applies to the bus ride. A was crying on both bus and cable car rides, as if she were terrified by something.

Historical streetcar – if your kids are fans of chuggington trains, they will love them as the streetcars look so much like them. J was shouting out all the names when he saw them passing by, “Hey, that’s Wilson!" “We rode on Coco!" he claimed. And they are not bumpy as they mostly run along the pier line, no steep hills up and down like the routes of cable cars and buses. I maybe wrong as I’m not familiar with all the routes but it’s just my general impression.

We also went to the SF zoo ($17 adults & $11 for kids from 4-14 years old) which is not included in the pass. You will pass ocean beach when you head there. It’s just a fascinating place for kids who love sands and waves! J was wow’ed when he saw long coastal line and waves. And we told him, we were facing the Pacific Ocean, look straight to the very end, it should be HK!

The zoo itself is OK, not particularly impressive but got most major animals covered. The tiger and lion den was closed on weekdays, don’t know why though you could still see them napping from fences far apart.

There’s the little puffer – a little steam train ride that is $4 for adults and free for kids 4 and under (as I remember it was free for A but not for J), not included in the admission ticket.

All museums and zoo have cafe for food. So no worrying about eating. The Seaglass restaurant right next to The Exploratorium was quite nice. You don’t have to be in the museum in order to get in the restaurant, they have separate entrance for it. Food is good but a bit over-priced.

The cafe in California Academy of Sciences was nice, too, but food wasn’t too impressive.

Besides the places on city pass that we’ve covered, we also went to the fisherman’s wharf, took J to see a WW2 submarine. It’s free for 5 and under.

It’s quite interesting for J and there’s a retro Game Center nearby which is really nostalgic.


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