3 days with 3 children in San Francisco

I like that if my children are tasked with a “What I Did Last Summer” essay in school, they can report “Daddy took us to prison!”

Upon landing in San Francisco on July 2, we checked into the J.W. Marriott at Union Square, walked into Chinatown, and ate spicy awesome hot braised fish with chilis for dinner at Z&Y, because that’s apparently where our 44th President ate while in town. Then we put the children to bed and walked over to Pacific Cocktail Haven for a nightcap.

On July 3, we sailed to Alcatraz, where we learned about its gardens, its famous residents, and about life for the families of the guards who lived on the island as well. My son had many questions for our tour guide, as is his custom.

After we escaped, we had lunch at Absinthe Brasserie before walking to Orpheum Theatre to surprise the children with “Hamilton” tickets (and good seats!); they were ecstatic. In fact, we loved it so much that we’re surprising them again with an encore when the show is in Atlanta this Spring.

After some time at a playground near the theater, we met one of the other “I want to feed Phil” contest winners for dinner at Foreign Cinema and enjoyed a wonderful dinner outside. After a few minutes of conversation, we realized Elaine and I likely saw each other at BlogHer conferences many years ago, and our worlds became a little bit smaller. We made plans to see each other again at Mom 2.0 in L.A. in May, and our youngest girls have been pen pals ever since.

That night after the kids went to bed, my bride and I walked over to Wilson & Wilson Private Detective Agency and Bourbon & Branch, a couple speakeasies fairly close to our hotel, and I loved them (which is why I reserved our seats and secured passwords months in advance!). We found the Library secret room in the secret bar, and it was like Inception up in there.

On July 4, we rented bikes and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for lunch at Barrel House Tavern before taking the ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf. Luckily, we had reservations (as there was quite a line of potential patrons), as the food and views across the water were awesome.

Sausalito looked like Tuscany but with more Americans, and the whole experience of biking along the paths next to the Bay, across the bridge, and down into the quaint town was something the 5 of us will fondly remember as part of a most unique Independence Day.

We spent the afternoon on the docks and piers of the fisherman’s wharf area, having In-N-Out for dinner and playing arcade games at Musée Mécanique before boarding a ship for fireworks on the water (which was the absolute coldest I have ever been in the Summer, including a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska–Mark Twain was right). We were glad the ship had extra jackets.

The next morning, we stood in line for brunch at Mama’s on Washington Square, and it was deliciously worth the wait.

We picked up lunch to go at Molinari Delicatessen (est. 1896–one of the oldest delis in the U.S.!) and headed southeast toward the first of 4 National Parks we’d visit on this trip, starting with Pinnacles (one of our country’s youngest, established during Obama’s presidency)!

A couple people told us San Francisco was full of homeless people (and their poop), drugs (and used syringes), and other filth, but we didn’t see anything worse than we see at home in Atlanta. Even if we had, it’s not a reason not to visit a new place, especially one with as much history, culture, and activities to share as is available there. We loved walking throughout the city, exploring its restaurants and shops , talking to its people, and finding its hidden (or not so hidden) gems on our country’s birthday, and it was a great launching pad for our drive to Pinnacles, King’s Canyon, Sequoia, and Yosemite that followed!


  1. Deborah Moebes

    Biking across the Golden Gate should get a lot more press. That was outrageously good. Also: probably not the last time you take our kids to jail, let’s be honest.

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