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Friday 28 June 2013

Playing Tourist in San Francisco

One of the great things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is that there's just so much to see and do here. We're always finding new places to visit and we love sharing our discoveries with friends and family here on Little Hiccups.

Having friends and family actually visit us in person (rather than just online!) is such a great opportunity to get out and about and explore San Francisco a little more. Kim's sister and her family recently visited from Australia and we had a great time playing tourist with them.

We spent an afternoon in Dolores Park, ate the most delicious ice cream from Bi-Rite, took in a Giants game at AT&T Park, ate too much chocolate at Ghirardelli Square, walked down Lombard Street, took in the sights of the city from Coit Tower, rode a carousel in Yerba Buena Gardens, made wishes throwing pennies in fountains, ate too much chocolate again and walked and walked and walked all over the city. So much fun packed into just a few short days.

The girls were so excited to see their cousins and had so much fun playing with them. They were both pretty upset when they had to say goodbye. In fact, a teary Ava asked if we could move back to Australia so she can see her cousins more often. Aww...

Here's a look at some of the fun we had playing tourist in our own backyard...

On our first day of playing tourist we met up in Union Square. The girls were a little shy at first when we met up with their cousins but they warmed to them pretty quickly. Lola has been telling everyone about "my cousin Grace" after speaking to her on Skype a few weeks back so she was excited to meet her in person.

Our meeting point on the first day and such a great San Francisco landmark

After a coffee stop in Union Square we hopped on Muni and headed to the Mission District. Our first stop: Bi-Rite Creamery for ice cream. We usually visit the Mission District on weekends when Bi-Rite is always super busy. This means that we usually skip the long queue and instead buy the soft serve of the day from the window counter. The soft serve is delicious but I've been hanging out to try the real ice cream. On this day however we were lucky to arrive just before the queue and we treated ourselves to the most delicious ice cream I've ever eaten. Honey Lavender, Balsamic Strawberry, Basil, Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake... it was hard to choose just one or two flavours!

Choosing flavours

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After we'd filled our bellies with ice cream we headed to the playground in Dolores Park. We ended up spending much of the afternoon here and the kids had the most wonderful time playing on all of the equipment and running around after each other.
Hanging out in Dolores Park


Lola didn't want to pose with the other kids!

Time for a race

Lola struggles to keep up with the big kids

We were all pretty excited about what the evening had in store for us: our first Giants game at AT&T Park. We've taken the girls to a few Oakland A's games and they've always loved it. They never have any idea of what's going on but they just love the atmosphere - and the copious amounts of junk food that come with it! The A's were playing away while our visitors were here but we were in luck that the Giants were playing at home. Unfortunately the Giants weren't in luck this particular game and went down 6 - 3 to Miami Marlins. No matter. We still had a great time.

AT&T Park

Baseball fingers for everyone!

Cotton candy for everyone!

The blue colouring in Lola's cotton candy left her looking rather Smurf like!

Cotton candy eyebrows!

Little Giants fan

Ava crashes a family photo!

Lola wouldn't get in the group photo. Instead she insisted on having a photo by herself!

The following day our visitors put on their walking shoes and went for a big walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Ava is a little scared of walking across the bridge after we did it on a very cold and windy Winter's day back when we first moved here. We decided to give the walk a miss and instead met up with them later at Ghirardelli Square for sundaes and hot chocolates. As always I remembered afterwards that I really don't need both a sundae and a hot chocolate. One or the other would definitely have been enough!

So much chocolate!

We walked off our chocolate overdose with a trek up to the top of Lombard Street's crooked section, a few blocks up a very steep hill. Once there we joined the hordes of tourists and made our way down the street. Lola had fallen asleep in her stroller by this point and this is when we remembered that much of Lombard Street's sidewalk is actually stairs. Oops! This just meant we got a little more exercise carrying the heavy stroller and worked off more of that chocolate!

Lola and her stroller get carried down Lombard Street

Ava joins her cousins for a family shot

Ava, Grace and I at Lombard Street

Grace just hanging out

As it was a Saturday and therefore very busy with tourists wishing to drive down Lombard Street there were plenty of parking and traffic police around with their little three wheeled Interceptor vehicles. One of the police officers offered to let the kids sit in one of the Interceptors for photos. Even though we've been here almost two years and see these little vehicles almost every day we still find them pretty funny! Well, they are pretty hilarious looking. Not really the toughest police vehicle, although Kim likes to think that they're named after the Interceptor from Mad Max! With three kids sitting behind the wheel these little Interceptors instantly became even less tough looking than usual!

Junior traffic police

Not the toughest looking police vehicle!

From Lombard Street we kept walking downhill (so much easier) to North Beach. We jumped on a bus just before the road started heading uphill again and made our way up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower. We hadn't visited Coit Tower before but were keen to check out the views over the city and bay as well as the art deco murals painted on the walls inside.
The views over the city and bay were fantastic. It was pretty crowded at the top of the tower but the kids still found space to run around and have fun together. Lola was pretty excited about the fact that the window sills around the tower were covered in various coins from around the world. Of all those interesting coins on the window sills she was most excited by the pennies! She's a little obsessed with pennies at the moment and loves collecting them - which is pretty easy seeing as they're worthless and people drop them all the time!

View over Treasure Island, Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge

San Francisco and the Bay Bridge

The Financial District 

Lola and I at the top of Coit Tower

San Francisco from Coit Tower

Always a silly pose

Lola checks out the pennies on the window sills

There's Alcatraz - and that San Francisco fog

A chain reaction of hair pulling and torment - but so much fun!

Finally... A photo with no hair pulling or hat stealing!

Lola loved being at the top of Coit Tower

Reaching for the stars

Ava photobombs Lola's jump shot

Kim checks out the murals

Hanging out in a 1930's street scene

Lola at Coit Tower

Hooray for Coit Tower

That's a tall tower

Not quite tall enough

Dancing to their own rhythm

After we left Coit Tower we walked along the Embarcadero toward the Ferry Terminal Building. The kids were full of energy and we had lots of acrobatics and gymnastics displays along the way!


On our walk along the Embarcadero we were lucky enough to have a fantastic view of the super moon rising above the Bay Bridge. What a sight. The photos don't do it justice. I wish I'd had my big zoom lens with me.

Super moon rising above the Bay Bridge

Super moon from the Embarcadero

As well as the sight of the super moon, as the sky got dark we were lucky enough to watch the Bay Lights as they twinkled against the clear sky. So pretty.

Twinkly lights and and a giant moon. Love the reflections on the water. 

Day three of playing tourist was much quieter. We met with our visitors here in Berkeley and after a quick trip up to our roof top deck (where unfortunately there was no view thanks to the cloudy sky) we headed back into San Francisco for Ava's ice skating lesson. We stopped on the way to ice skating for more Ghirardelli hot chocolate. Just what we needed on this cold, grey day. We had a little spare time before ice skating so we treated the kids to a ride on the Children's Creativity Carousel (formerly Zeum Carousel). Poor Lola was fast asleep and missed out. She loves that carousel. Ava had a lot of fun riding it with her cousins and Lola was none the wiser.

Riding the carousel

Look Mum! No hands!

Spinning round and round...

After Ava's ice skating lesson the kids played in Yerba Buena Gardens. As you can see from their attire it was a little colder today. It wasn't quite as cold as Lola's jacket, beanie and gloves would suggest though. She just insisted on keeping them on after we left the cold skating rink!
The kids had fun running around in the park, throwing pennies into the fountain to make wishes and getting soaked by the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Waterfall.

Posing in Yerba Buena Gardens

Ah, Summer in San Francisco!

Little poser

A quick photo stop before getting back to running around 

Everyone was pretty tired by the time we hopped back on BART to head back to Berkeley. So many late nights in a row (and jet lag) were getting to the kids and the gentle rocking of the train put them to sleep - despite the fact that BART is incredibly noisy!

Poor Davis just couldn't stay awake. The others weren't too far behind him.

We all had a great time hanging out in San Francisco with family. We got to visit some places we hadn't been before as well as a few of our favourites. Plus we got to do it all with family who we hadn't seen in almost two years. It's a pity we didn't have longer together but we certainly had a great time while they were here.

We're all looking forward to having more visitors. We've got a few more visitors lined up for later in the year and the start of next year, but we've always got time for more, so get booking your tickets!


  1. Wow, what an eventful visit! How long were they there for? Love all the photos - a great travel advert for SanFran. Gosh, you will be so sick of doing touristy things by the time we finally get there.... Love the candy eyebrows by the way!

  2. I don't think we'll ever tire of playing tourist in San Francisco! There's always so much to see and do.
    Our visitors were here for 5 full days but we only spent 3 days with them. They spent a day on Alcatraz which we didn't join them for as we've already been and there was one other day when plans just didn't work out.


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