US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 4 (Mama’s on Washington Square and California Academy of Sciences)

I had many breakfast places listed for our time in San Francisco, IHOP was after all only a skip and a hop away (pun intended) and Boudin’s Bakery was also not too far off. However when a friend gave us a very timely recommendation on Facebook, the night before our last full day in SFO, we decided to give it a try. 

Mama’s on Washington Square opens at 8am but we read that many people come up to an hour before opening time to queue for the first seating. An hour was too ambitious for us so we decided to take a chance and arrived at 730am. The queue was already long and we were 2 tables short of the first seating. While the wait was long, it was rather pleasant because they had a very good system going. We were ushered into the restaurant at 825am but soon learnt that that was not the end of our wait. We queued along the counter and were tempted by all the baked goods. We finally got to the cashier where we could place our order at 840am and then we were seated shortly after at 850am. The reason why we had to queue to place our order is because they try to only take your order as a table is being cleared for you. It took another 20 mins for our food to arrive but I will tell you that it was soooo worth it! Mama’s French Toast, Banana Pancakes and Dunguness Crab Benedict! It was so good that we wanted to come back again tomorrow before we head out of the city but it was a pity that they are closed on Mondays. Next time for sure!

We headed to California Academy of Sciences after breakfast. Thankfully they opened at 11am that day, we were running really late for their usual 10am opening time because of breakfast. Haha and you know how I can’t stand to deviate from schedule :p We joined the longest queue we saw which was for the ticket booth but my very observant husband noticed that the self service machine had no queue and told me to try it! Voila! So yes, please use the self service machine to buy your tickets 🙂

We were initially contemplating whether to drop this attraction and try something else. We weren’t sure how interactive it would be and whether it would capture the kids’ attention. I will tell you now that this is an absolute must do! I am so impressed by how they curated their content in a way that appealed to all age groups. There is literally something for everyone and each subject matter is presented in a way where you can simplify it for the young ones like Jah and Bella, yet still impress and wow the old cynics/ parents who think we have seen it all 😉
My advice to you would be to head straight in, to look for the planetarium show ticket queue as the tickets for shows run out very quickly and they have different shows for different times. There is also a show for smaller kids in a smaller auditorium in case you think your kids can’t cope with a long show. 
We learnt about earthquakes and entered an earthquake simulator. Climbed up the Rainforest exhibit which is kind of like our Cloud dome at Gardens By the Bay but ends up with you being at the top of the Rainforest surrounded by free flying butterflies. We went through this exhibit 3 times!!

The kids also discovered dinosaurs, tickled starfish and stared at scary alligators. We were there till almost 4pm and yet we could not finish everything! Oh how we wished we lived in SFO. The kids asked to come back again but we had to break the news to them. Sorry kids, this is our last day in SFO on this trip but I promise you guys that tomorrow will be even more fun! 😀

JahBella’s Mummy

Next Up – Swanton Berry Farm and Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

1) How we survived flying 15 hours with the kids and coped with jetlag

2) US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 1 (GoCar & Pier 45)

3) US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 2 (Lori’s Diner, Cable Car Tram and Koret Children’s Playground, Hog’s Island Oyster Bar)

4) US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 3 (Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market and Children’s Creativity Musuem)

US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 2 (Lori’s Diner, Cable Car Tram and Koret Children’s Playground, Hog’s Island Oyster Bar)

After spending almost a day being cooped up on a flight, we decided that the kids needed an outlet to release those pent up energy. So we decided to spend the first full day of our time at San Francisco at a park. 

We headed to Lori’s Diner at Ghirardelli Square for breakfast. The Diner was about a 10 mins walk from our hotel but the kids were more than happy to oblige us especially Jah who was looking forward to visiting an American Diner which he learnt about in school recently. So yes off we went for pancakes, French toast, scrambled eggs and of course milk shakes!

After breakfast, we walked across the street to the start of one of the cable car tram lines to begin our journey. There were of course other cheaper public transport options to take us to The Golden Gate Park where the Koret Children’s Quarters are but we figured that the kids would love the experience on the cable car tram. They were both scared and excited to be sitting on the exposed side of the cable car tram and were thoroughly thrilled by the view that they got of the streets. 


We rode the cable car tram to the end of the line at Mason & Powell which always meant we got our money’s worth 😉 From there, we got onto the local Muni & Judah train and it took about 15 mins to take us to the USCF/ Paranssus station. Once we got off, we followed our phone GPS and walked another 5 mins till we got to the Golden Gate Park. The Koret Children’s Quarters was very close to the entrance. 

The kids were so happy to be out in the open space. Running, climbing and swinging! The park was quite crowded for a Friday late morning and we noticed many daycares or school kids there with their teachers. Come early if you want a picnic spot because they tend to grab all the shaded areas but if you are happy to be just running around the playground then it’s fine and there were more than enough stone benches.

There was also an ice cream stand and an old school carousel ride nearby. Of course we rewarded ourselves with an ice cream and a couple of rides after a crazy time at the playground.

By the end of it, the kids and us were famished and we decided to take a walk back towards the entrance we came in through. You would be able to find tons of restaurants a few streets down outside the park (9th Ave being one of the streets) and of course the phone GPS came in handy again and we found ourselves some lunch rather easily. 

We didn’t think the kids or the adults could cope with another multi transfer public transport ride to get back so we got ourselves an Uber and it took us back. The 20 mins ride cost us about US14 and we were all ready for our afternoon nap. Yes for those who don’t know we all still do afternoon naps even when we are on holidays. :p

We got up at 6pm from our nap and the urge to skip dinner or have room service was almost too hard to ignore. But I persevered and dragged everyone out of bed. I even insisted that we head to the Ferry Building where the Hog Island’s Oyster Bar was located at. I don’t know what possessed me to choose that restaurant for dinner, on a Friday night of ALL nights. The kids were pretty cranky the entire way and when we saw the snaking queue we were ready to give up. It was already 730pm and it didn’t look like we would get a seat for at least another 45 mins. But for a lack of better option in the vicinity, I was unwilling to give up. So Joel very bravely brought both kids to Starbucks while I stood in line. Thankfully the queue moved pretty quickly for a table of 4 as most people were there in big groups. We were also willing to take a table at the bar which fortunately gave us a good sunset view and a view of the food being prepped 🙂 

We ordered ourselves a raw oyster platter, some raw halibut, the best clam chowder we have ever had and will have on this trip and a grilled cheese sandwich. Actually we ordered ourselves 2 oyster platters because the kids absolutely loved the raw oysters and we found Jah polishing off half a dozen of them on his own!!! Blue cheese and raw oyster lovers, what kids are these? 

By the end of the night, everyone was in high spirits from the wonderful food and that’s when Joel and I realised how much these kids are like us! 🙂

Stay tuned for Day 3 at the Kids Creativity Musuem! 

JahBella’s Mummy

US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 1 (GoCar & Pier 45)

We arrived in SFO bright and early at 9am on a Thurs (gained a day after having also departed at 9am on a Thurs woohoo!) Check out our post on how we survived our 15 hour flight with the kids here.

 
We breezed through immigration quite easily but ended up waiting quite abit for our transfer from airport to hotel. There were several options like airport shuttles to city hotels that charge on a per pax basis and honestly may have been faster, given that we waited 30 mins for our driver. However we didn’t know if the kids would be cranky after a long flight and whether we needed to deal with tantrums so we had preferred to pay slightly more for an option with a meet and greet service. We paid about USD110 or so for a meet and greet service that would chauffeur the 4 of us plus our 3 big suitcases in a huge MPV and send us directly to our hotel.

 
We arrived at our hotel (Hyatt Centric @ Fisherman Wharf) at 11am. Our room was ready shortly after our arrival (normal check in time is 3pm) but we decided not to bother freshening up in case we procrastinated and got too tempted by the beds. We headed straight for our planned activity which was just a 3 min walk away – GoCar.

 
We had pre-booked a 2 hour tour slot with GoCar, it is essentially a self drive tour using a 2-seater scooter car which was fitted with a GPS that will guide you along the route and give you a commentary of the sights on the route. There are options ranging between 1 hour to half a day but we chose 2 hours as we figured it was bearable for the kids and would be just enough to take them to nap time.

This was taken by Jah while I was driving!

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The pre-briefing – I promise I was not sleeping

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The kids totally enjoyed the novel experience of the ride and were happily pointing out the sights and views. Less ideal for the parents because we were focusing on driving the Go Car and ensuring that we were driving on the correct side of the road!

 
The GPS worked fine for us, up till our half way point at the Golden Gate Bridge and then it kind of all went downhill from there. (No pun intended) After a few detours because several roads were closed on the route and we couldn’t follow where the GPS wanted us to go. We found ourselves on the ‘fringes’ of the demarcated route which also meant that the GPS would stop working as it was no longer within ‘the zone’. By that time, we were past over our 2 hour tour time (which meant incurring extra charges on a per minute basis!!!) We were essentially circling round and round and the adults started to panic as we noticed that we were getting on busier roads with faster cars and no longer recognise a lot of the road names. To be fair we were given a hard copy map to use if the GPS should fail us but it was impossible for me to drive and read the map at the same time and my 6 year old passenger wasn’t much help at that point. Thankfully we had set up our mobile wifi by then and Joel reminded me that I could use my handphone GPS to navigate us back. Phew! We got back to the pit stop at 230pm (30 mins late) and the staff was nice enough to waive the extra time incurred because they realised that there truly were a lot of road closures that day.

It was truly a nail biting experience for us haha and a true test for any marriage I tell you!

We had a quick lunch at the Codmother (a fish and chip food truck) across from our hotel and proceeded to our room for a much much needed nap.

We dragged the kids up after a 2 hour nap and trust me it was an almost impossible feat but we had to make sure that we got dinner in those tummies and that everyone quickly adjusted to the US time zone.

Our hotel was located in the touristy Fisherman Wharf area close to Pier 45 so we took a slow walk down towards Pier 39 and found ourselves at the Crab House for a seafood dinner and a glorious sunset at 8pm!

The kids entertained themselves with carousels rides and a 7D shooting game at the pier after dinner. We had quite the blast before heading back to our hotel at 10pm. The kids definitely didn’t want their night to end but we decided to call it a night as most places were closing for the day and the adults needed their sleep. :p

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It was an awesome Day 1 to our much anticipated trip.

More on our trip coming up! 🙂

  1. How we survived flying 15 hours with the kids and coped with jetlag