I’ve shared before how special San Francisco is to O and I and we’ve had many special trips back since leaving our time there, but being there with both our kids takes the cake. We spent most of our time in California based in Menlo Park which makes for the perfect home base if you’re going the Airbnb route. As much as we love the city, when we have the kids we always skip the hotel in California and stay just outside of it. Things tend to be homier and much less expensive when you get out of that city zip code!
O loves to stay near Stanford campus so we can visit football practices, catch up with coaches and walk around the grounds where he came to know the Lord. If Palo Alto isn’t the spot for you, try going north of the city to Marin or if you have little interest in San Francisco, you can go even further south and stay in Santa Clara or San Jose. Day trips take a little more planning and calculating traffic, but they’re always worth it.
In the weeks before the trip, the kids practically memorized the book ‘San Francosco, Baby!‘ The book goes through all the important landmarks like Lombard Street, Union Square, Fishermans Wharf, Cable Cars and more. O and I made a plan based off the book, packed up a bag of meals and snacks and our trusty tour guide (San Francisco, Baby) and hit the road.
Parking at Union Square makes for a great home base and it was a rare near-empty day for us to sit in the sun and eat lunch before exploring. When I lived in the city, I was about a three block walk from Union Square. I always get a rush of those new college jitters when I see the square and remember long walks to class, catching the bus to volleyball practice, meeting O for a date and getting homework done last minute. I’ll always be grateful for my college experience in that crazy city.
The kids had been talking about the cable car for days and I wish you could have seen Oshiolema’s face when he heard that bell for the first time! Breaking down a stroller and hopping on makes for a couple tense moments but try not to smile the entire ride. I dare you.
We got off at Lombard Street so we could walk up one of the steepest hills in the city, the reward at the top? The best view behind you and the zig-zag street lined with stunning hydrangeas ahead of you. For real though…if you want to make the walk while pushing a stroller, be prepared to sweat!
Deciding between our double stroller and our single stroller is always hard but in the end it just boils down to what our biggest needs are. In Europe, we know both kids will be sleeping on the go at some point every day and we’ll be walking for hours which means Oshiolema will get too tired to keep up. Double stroller, no question. But for this trip, there were only a few days where we’d log multiple walking hours so our favorite stroller on the planet would do the trick. I love traveling with the Bugaboo because it’s so easy to assemble and so lightweight. We get stopped and asked where our stroller is from every single day on vacations and the travel bag means after almost four years of use, it’s still in perfect condition.
We decided based on traffic and wanting to stop in to visit my brother and sister in law that we wouldn’t go through the whole book and decided to stop by a few favorite stops instead. We went to Jane on Filmore for lunch and wandered to Mudpie a couple shops over to let the kids explore this beautiful children’s store. If you live in the are, be sure to visit! They have the most perfectly curated selection of toys and clothing for littles and it’s one of those places you leave inspired by every single detail. Credo, a completely natural skincare and makeup store, is right across the street so I never miss an opportunity to pop in there.
Our last stop of the day before heading to visit with family was Wholesome Bakery. It’s a fully vegan bakery and offers tons of gluten-free options as well–I highly recommend it! We had the best day in San Francisco and already can’t wait for our next trip. If you want to see more about what we love to do in the city, you’ll enjoy this post from our kid free trip this past summer!