So It Begins in SF…
The budget rent a car in San Francisco could not be any slower. I am not 100% sure what people do in line for an hour before getting to the counter but it definitely isn’t get there crap together to make the process easy at the counter. My favorite part though was the managers that would hover behind the counter back and forth making sure the level of misery for everyone was being maintained.
Our San Francisco | Itinerary
The following is our experience and may not be representative of your experience.
Hopefully you have a better one!
San Francisco / Day One
We started our day by heading down to the Science Academy near Golden Gate Park. Since we were spending three days in San Francisco, we bought the three day Go San Francisco Card which covered all our activities in San Francisco and was well worth the cost. This place had some great exhibits. We started by glancing at some alligators that seemed fake until they finally moved and then headed downstairs to an amazing aquarium.
From the large display tank to the variety of fish this was among one of the better aquariums we have been to. One of our favorite displays was the fish tank tube where you are completely surrounded by fish. We also got to watch a planetarium show about the universe which was entertaining although at some points dizzying. One of the unique exhibits the science academy has is the rainforest exhibit. The sphere emulates a rainforest environment with many animals freely wandering the sphere. As you move through the layers of the rainforest you start noticing the abundance of butterflies in the sphere and when you reach the top you end up surrounded by large colorful butterflies.
After lunch at the science academy we went for a walk along the green walkways to the conservatory. The grounds at the conservatory are beautiful and a great place to just lounge among the flowers. We did pay for admission into the conservatory because we thought that the corpse flower was blooming, we were wrong. In my opinion the free grounds outside were much more beautiful than the actual conservatory but we did enjoy the lilypad pond in one of the conservatory rooms.
We walked the grounds some more and made our way to Stow Lake for a casual walk and paddle boat ride around the small island. We had never been here before and were amazed to find an actual waterfall, Huntington Falls. We climbed some of the rocks and got close to the fall and enjoyed the view of the park until we got hungry from all the walking and headed back to the hotel.
San Francisco / Day Two
I am a sucker for amusement parks and when I heard that California Great America was included in our passes, we decided to spend a day there. I was amazed how short the lines were, my only advice is that if the lines on the wooden coasters are long just avoid them as you will probably spend your day there for mediocre rides. The interesting thing about this park that we didn’t know is that you get admission to the water park for free.
Unfortunately, we were not dressed for it although I really just wanted to jump in with my clothes. The park did have some water rides that didn’t require water wear so we enjoyed those repeatedly. Great America was a damn good park that reminded me a bit of Knott’s Berry Farms with all the Peanut characters.
San Francisco / Day Three
We spent our third day at the historic Pier 39, the place me and Lucy had our first date. Although I have never been a fan of waxed museums we had admission into the Madame Tussauds included in our passes. I have to admit that these wax models were much better and the placement of them was very clever. If you stare at a wax figure dead on you can see that they are fake but when you see the next one out of the corner of your eye you think that someone is actually there. I have to admit I was impressed with how good some of the wax figures looked.
We continued the day with a Harbor Cruise of the two bridges and Alcatraz. It was a pretty windy and cloudy day but we were fortunate to be able to see all the sites clearly when we got to them. There isn’t much more you could ask from the harbor cruise, you get a beautiful view of the city, you get to see some seals, the historic golden gate bridge and the new oakland bay bridge, definitely a must do.
Since, we were in San Francisco, we had to have some clam chowder for lunch at a small place called Chowders. Not bad, better than most tourist traps in the area and filling enough to get us to our next stop.
We had some time to kill before our Big Bus Tour so we went through the Ripley’s Believe it or Not exhibit. If you have never been you should go atleast once but once you do, they don’t really change from city to city, different exhibits but usually the same apathetic response.
We wanted a tour of the city and boy did we get one. We boarded the Big Bus tour thinking it would take at most two hours but unfortunately it ended up taking three. The other problem is there is no entertainment and the only information about the city comes from a soundtrack being played over headphones. Granted we started the tour during rush hour and it wasn’t a horrible tour it just felt like an eternity. Especially since it was supposed to be a hop on hop off tour but it felt as though the bus was stopping every three minutes at a new stop. I think the highlight of the bus tour was riding on the top level with high cross winds across the golden gate bridge. Holy crap was it cold and windy and genuinely dangerous but damn was it awesome.
When we got off the bus it was too late to visit the aquarium at the pier so we headed to an unexpected highlight, the San Francisco Dungeon. I can’t say enough good things about this place and I don’t want to spoil anything but this was an amazing experience. The cast puts on a play in different rooms. You move from room to room and encounter weird characters from the history of San Francisco. The show is part crowd interaction and part performance but completely entertaining. This was a nice way to end our night on a high note after the Big Bore Bus Tour.
~ Happy Travels! ~