A great day in San Francisco always begins with brunch because, well, who needs an excuse for brunch, especially when you’re in a city that does it so incredibly well. If you don’t believe me read my post on Brunching in San Francisco – I guarantee you’ll be drooling in 2 minutes!
After the much important business of filling our bellies was out of the way, we got down to the next thing on the agenda…exploring San Francisco. We only had three days in the city and while this leaves enough time to soak up San Fran’s relaxed hip vibe and see most of the main sights, we still wanted to fit in as much as we could. So a San Francisco CityPASS was the perfect way to make the most of our time here and ours were waiting for us at our hotel as soon as we arrived. The CityPASS booklet provides access to some of the best museums and tourist attractions in the city as well as public transport options to get you there, saving you a whole load of money if you want to see as much as possible like we did.
There are a range of museums to choose from in the booklet including the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum, but we decided to go for the option that sounded most fun.
A pleasant stroll along the waterfront in the sunshine took us past the adorably cute but extremely smelly sea lions at Pier 39 to the Exploratorium, a museum combining a host of fascinating experiments and installations, from science and art to human perception. With over 600 interactive exhibits it’s the perfect place to take children in San Francisco and can honestly keep them entertained for hours. I had my big kid (aka Mr Ayla) with me so we fitted in perfectly but even for adults, this place is thoroughly entertaining and interesting.
It was refreshing to just wander around and have some fun for a change instead of the constant sightseeing we had been doing so far on our American adventure (although don’t tell Mr Ayla I said that otherwise he’ll expect me to be more relaxed with our itineraries in future!).
Unlimited use of buses, trains and the cute vintage cable cars is included in the CityPASS which meant we could easily hop on any public transport to explore other areas. A sweet relief from walking in a city as hilly as San Fran!
Our adventures took us to the colourful row of Painted Ladies in Alamo Square where we sat in the sunshine with a view over the city; to buzzing Union Square surrounded by trendy shops and fancy cocktail bars; and up to Lombard Street, one of the crookedest streets in the world, that was buzzing with tourists and cars all attempting to navigate the windy road.
I was most looking forward to using the historic street car, an old fashioned tram with uniformed conductors who pull a big lever to get going and ring the bell as we set off. Grabbing a spot on the outside is the most fun where you stand leaning out of the car – as long as you can manage to hold on tight enough going up those hills!
It’s no secret that I love my animals so one of my favourite inclusions on the CityPASS is a visit to either the Aquarium of the Bay or the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We would be driving down the coast through Monterey a few days later and, as I’d already heard that its aquarium is one of the best in the world, we decided to save our passes until then. I love that CityPASS lasts for 9 days from when you first use it – much longer than the usual 48 or 72 hour passes you often get in cities – as it meant we had plenty of time to get to the ocean blue town of Monterey.
Monterey Bay Aquarium is without a doubt the best aquarium I have ever visited. The brightly lit pools full of jelly fish slowly bobbing up and down in the water; huge rocky pools with penguins and sea otters splashing about; touch tables with baby sting rays and coral for learning about; and the most ginormous tank that felt like a cinema screen filled with swirling schools of fish, hammerhead sharks, sea turtles and the oddest looking fish in the world which only had a head and no tail! Every single display was out of this world and I could have stayed in this underwater wonderland all day.
If you’re visiting San Francisco for a long trip or just for a few days like we did and plan on seeing as much as possible, then I highly recommend grabbing yourself a CityPASS. Those extra dollars you save can all go towards another delicious brunch!
Have you visited San Francisco? What else would you suggest exploring in the city? Let me know in the comments below or at: