San Francisco Excursion 2015

It’s been a year since our last San Francisco excursion, and since we were out in San Francisco for my grandma’s 109th birthday, we┬ádecided to be tourists for a few hours. We always go out to SF to visit with friends and family, so the girls don’t understand that people go to visit it as tourists! So fun to show them around our hometown! ­čÖé

I would imagine that being a real tourist in SF would be tricky because the maps are a little deceiving. It looks easy to get from one place to another, but you have to take into account the one-way streets, steeps hills, lots of other tourists, and having to look for parking! To give you an idea of a time frame, we got to Coit Tower at about 3:30pm and left Chinatown at about 5:30pm.

Trip Itinerary

  • Coit Tower
  • Cable Car Museum
  • AA┬áBakery

More on my grandma┬álater… (photo credit: my cousin’s hubby Jason)

Coit Tower
We left my grandma’s around 3:30pm and headed to Coit Tower. I have been there a few times, but I have always┬áwalked there from Chinatown to watch the sunrise during the weekend of our youth group 30-Hour Famine lock-in. I had no clue about how to actually get there by car or about the parking situation. Luckily, there were signs that pointed the way there. The parking area at the top is quite small (maybe space for a little more than a dozen cars), so plan to park down the hill (but NOT in the residents’ driveways or your car will be towed) and walk up some stairs (we were fairly close but still had to walk up 50 steps or so) or the walkway. Even the view from where we parked was amazing, so if you don’t want to shell out $7/person to go to the top of the tower, you won’t be disappointed.

View from where we parked


Walking up

Coit Tower

Murals inside the tower

Statue of Christopher Columbus

Cable Car Museum
We got to the Cable Car Museum a little before 4:30pm.┬áIt is always hard to find a parking space in the area, so if you drive or have a rental car in SF, be patient…someone will eventually pull out of a spot. You maybe need to circle around a few times…it will take at least┬á15 minutes to find something in the area. Yeah, it’s not very convenient… Taking MUNI or a cable car would be your next best bet to getting to the museum. BUT, once you are there, the museum is FREE, so there’s that. :p Warning: It does smell like oil in the museum, and it is pretty warm and stuffy inside since┬ámachinery is running inside. The hallway to the restrooms and exit, where the 1906 earthquake exhibit is, has a nice breeze blowing through it.

Can you tell they were excited to be here?

The four remaining cable lines are running down there!

Ringing the bell *ding ding*

Interesting facts and videos about the earthquake…quite eerie to read about the impact of the shake

Yay!

We decided to make one last stop to Chinatown. It is a short (5ish minutes depending on where you are going) walk to all the shops. The store where we usually buy tea was closed, which was a bummer. We usually go to Napoleon Bakery for buns, but since it was the end of the day, there wasn’t a huge selection to choose from. We went across the street to AA Bakery. The buns were super yummy as usual! And…we were excited to head home after a long day.

The girls always ask about the Transamerica Pyramid when they see it in SF. In case anyone is wondering, it is not open to the public to tour, but there is a visitor center in the plaza level. We’ll have to visit here for some day.

Headed back home across the bridge

It was a beautiful day to visit SF!

The album is not organized at all, but if you want to see other photos from our SF excursion, you can check them out HERE.

If you want a whole day’s adventure (11ish hours with 2 kiddos and actual visitors!), check out THIS POST.

Even though I’m a huge homebody, we definitely have the travel bug, so we are always planning another adventure.

What is your favorite travel destination and why? Have you been to San Francisco? What are your fave places to go or things to do in SF?

31 Days in SF Bay: SOMA (San Francisco)

This is Day 21 of our 31 Days in SF Bay series. To read all the posts in order, start with this post, then visit the Landing Page to see the outline for the whole series.

sfbaybannerNorm used to work here for more than three years, so again, there are lots of good food recommendations. ­čÖé

AT&T Park – We got to see an exhibition game (A’s vs. Giants) behind home plate way back when before we were married.┬á This is where the San Francisco Giants play and it’s right on the waterfront.┬á Players can hit home runs (splash hits) into the water.┬á There’s a huge slide you can go down where the Coca-Cola bottle is and a symbolic cable car.┬á It’s a great park to walk around in and the food is better quality (although slightly pricier) than most ballparks.┬á Norm has also been in the luxury suites for work-related company events.
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We will probably add photos later, but here are some restaurants that we enjoy in SOMA. We have written reviews of some of these restaurants, so they might be linked up.

  • Osha Thai (good curries)
  • Roy’s Restaurant (Asian Fusion)
  • Palomino (definitely try their amazing Happy Hour!)
  • Samovar Tea Lounge
  • Thirsty Bear Brewing Company (I don’t drink beer much, but reserve a room for company functions)
  • The Butler & The Chef (try their quiche!)
  • Sushirrito (the original location with a line around the block!)
  • Buca di Beppo (Family-style and sized.┬á There is a circular table with Pope John Paul’s head in the middle)
  • The Sentinel (Dennis Leary’s famous sandwich shop)
  • Koh Samui & The Monkey (good Thai food)
  • Delancy Street Restaurant
  • Brick House Cafe
  • Mel’s Drive-In
  • Red’s Java House
  • Primo Patio Cafe
  • Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria (try the clam pizzas and the A.J. Rosen’s cheesecake)
  • Tres Tequila Lounge & Mexican Kitchen
  • Cafe Centro
  • Mexico au Parc
  • 21st Amendment
  • Town’s End Restaurant & Bakery
  • Farmerbrowns Little Skillet
  • Nama Sushi
  • Acme Steakhouse at AT&T Park
  • City Gourmet (falafels and gyros)
  • Canton Seafood and Dim Sum Restaurant

Other places to visit… (We will link photos and such later on. Come back to visit!)

  • Lucky Strike Bowling (used to be Borders Cafe and Books)
  • Safeway
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Caltrain Station
  • Southern part of the Embarcadero (great for walking/running/sightseeing)
  • San Francisco Fire Department Fireboat (Guardian) at Pier 22 1/2
  • Pier 30 & 32 (Old site of X-Games and planned site of new arena for the Golden State Warriors in 2017.┬á Also, site of America’s Cup boat racing.)

This is part of our 31 Days in SF Bay series.

31 Days in SF Bay: Union Square (San Francisco)

This is Day 20 of our 31 Days in SF Bay series. To read all the posts in order, start with this post, then visit the Landing Page to see the outline for the whole series.

sfbaybannerUnion Square is just a hop skip from Chinatown, so we spent many afternoons after church/youth group walking through the Stockton tunnel to Union Square. I’m sure there is more to it, but to me, it is just a ton of shopping. So, our trip to US were mainly for browsing purposes, as we were poor high school students. It was also how I got to Chinatown when I was working since the BART station was there, and I had to walk through it to get to church. This is always a fun place to bring out-of-town guests. Christmastime is a great time to come and see all the lights and the tree.

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Image Source: wikimedia

I will probably add photos later, but here are some restaurants that we enjoy in Union Square. We have written reviews of some of these restaurants, so they are linked up.

  • Blondie’s Pizza
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Burger Bar
  • Lori’s Diner
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Scoop Shop

Other places to visit… (I will link photos and such later on. Come back to visit!)

  • Apple Store
  • Westfield San Francisco Centre
  • Macy’s
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Crate & Barrel
  • Jos. A. Bank
  • Payless ShoeSource
  • NikeTown
  • The North Face
  • GAP
  • Old Navy Flagship Store
  • US Post Office (lower cellar level of Macy’s)
  • Hertz Rent-A-Car (we rented the white Jag for our wedding here)
  • Cable Car Turnaround
  • American Conservatory Theater (ACT)

This is part of our 31 Days in SF Bay series.

31 Days in SF Bay: Sunset/Richmond (San Francisco)

This is Day 19 of our 31 Days in SF Bay series. To read all the posts in order, start with this post, then visit the Landing Page to see the outline for the whole series.

sfbaybannerNorm grew up at Sunset Chinese Baptist Church out in the Sunset district and also went to Lowell High School, so he knows this area quite well. He also went to his aunt’s house for weekly piano lessons in the Richmond district. Joyce’s grandma used to live out in the Sunset district too. (Note: We definitely are leaving off too many things from this list. I recall lots of fun things we have done in Sunset/Richmond District, but I can’t remember the names of the places. We will give an update of when we make updates and additions to all these lists.)

Stow Lake
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We came here for our very first date 14 years ago. We went paddleboating. It is a nice serene area to take in the beautiful greenery. It is also a good place to propose. And it is also a great place to take engagement photos. ­čśë

Bison Paddock
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Bison in San Francisco? Yup, there they are! Sometimes there are a lot, and other times there are only 1 or 2. If you take part in the San Francisco Brain Tumor Walk, this is one of the areas of Golden Gate Park that you will pass by. You can see photos of the Brain Tumor Walk from 2011 and 2012.

Golden Gate Bridge
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Not the best photo of us, but here we are with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background in 2003(?). We have never been touristy enough to walk or bike across, but it is on our to-do list!! I, however, have been able to go to the TOP of the bridge before!! We have a friend who used to work there, and he was able to bring us up there…signed my life away and put on the hardhat. It was a lovely view, and it almost felt like I was in the 98 Degrees music video. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re either older or younger than we are. :p

I will probably add photos later, but here are some restaurants that we enjoy in . We have written reviews of some of these restaurants, so they are linked up.

  • Park Chow
  • Aziza
  • Naan-N-Curry
  • Crepevine
  • Ton Kiang
  • Brothers Restaurant (Korean BBQ)
  • Pluto’s
  • Kabuto Japanese
  • King of Thai Noodle House
  • Kiki Japanese (frequently did take-out with coupons)
  • Pasta Pomodoro
  • Roadside BBQ
  • Toy Boat Dessert Cafe
  • Mel’s Drive-In
  • ABC Bakery Cafe
  • Eggettes
  • Won Ton Noodle House
  • Quickly
  • Hawaiian Drive-Inn
  • New Hong Kong Restaurant
  • Jumbo Seafood Restaurant
  • Okazu Ya
  • Polly Ann Ice Cream
  • Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant
  • Kitaro Japanese
  • River Side Seafood Restaurant
  • Donut World
  • Sunset Bakery
  • Jamba Juice
  • The Art Cafe
  • Tart To Tart Bakery
  • Villa Romana Italian
  • House of Banquet
  • Hukilau (Hawaiian)
  • Lucky Penny
  • Beach Chalet
  • The Cliffhouse
  • Round Table Pizza
  • My Favorite Cafe

Other places to visit… (I will link photos and such later on. Come back to visit!)

  • Harvest Christian Bookstore
  • SF Zoo
  • Golden Gate Park
    • Stow Lake (where Norm proposed to Joyce)
    • California Academy of Sciences
    • San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers
    • Japanese Tea Garden
    • Polo Fields
    • Bison Paddock
    • DeYoung Museum
    • Children’s Playground
    • Dutch Windmill and Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden at Golden Gate Park
  • Presidio
  • Family Billiards
  • Cheap Pete’s (Photo Frames)
  • The Hobby Company of San Francisco
  • Legion of Honor
  • Ocean Beach
  • Fort Miley (and Ropes Course)
  • Kezar Stadium
  • UCSF
  • Stern Grove
  • Lakeshore Plaza (Len and Norm went there after school every day for grocery shopping with their mother)
  • Stonestown Galleria
  • Lake Merced
  • Lowell High School, San Francisco State University
  • Temple Baptist Church (where Len and Bonnie got married at)

This is part of our 31 Days in SF Bay series.

31 Days in SF Bay: Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 (San Francisco)

This is Day 18 of our 31 Days in SF Bay series. To read all the posts in order, start with this post, then visit the Landing Page to see the outline for the whole series.

sfbaybannerWhen we were up in Seattle for our vacation this summer, I was totally reminded that we have never really taken the girls to San Francisco as tourists. Melody lived there her first year of life, and we have gone there many times to visit family, friends, and church, but they have never seen the sights. Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 is similar to Pike Place Market area. There are many things we have yet to do, so we might eventually buy a CityPass and have a little “staycation” in San Francisco.

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Image Source: wikipedia

I will probably add photos later, but here are some restaurants that we enjoy in Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39. We have written reviews of some of these restaurants, so they are linked up.

  • Boudin Sourdough Bakery and Cafe
  • Joe’s Crab Shack
  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • McCormick & Kuleto’s
  • The Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop

Other places to visit… (I will link photos and such later on. Come back to visit!)

  • Dennis Raye Fine Art (Dr. Seuss exhibit)
  • Alcatraz Island
  • Alcatraz Island Night Tour
  • Alcatraz Cruises
  • Blue & Gold Fleet
  • Sea Lions Marina
  • Street Performers

This is part of our 31 Days in SF Bay series.

31 Days in SF Bay: Financial District (San Francisco)

This is Day 17 of our 31 Days in SF Bay series. To read all the posts in order, start with this post, then visit the Landing Page to see the outline for the whole series.

sfbaybannerToday we are sharing about the Financial District in San Francisco. This is where Norm works, so of course, he knows a lot about the different food places here. Many of the restaurants and food trucks that Norm have visited have been posted on our review blog, so check them out, and the next time you are in the FiDi, you’ll know where to go! ­čÖé

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I will probably add photos later, but here are some restaurants that Norm enjoys in the Financial District. We have written reviews of some of these restaurants, so they are linked up.

Other places to visit… (I will link photos and such later on. Come back to visit!)

  • San Francisco Bubble Man (meets every other Friday)
  • Off The Grid: Vallejo and Front (three food trucks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays)
  • TruckStopSF alley (three food trucks every weekday)
  • St. Mary’s Square
  • Crocker Galleria Shopping Center (with rooftop deck where you can eat at when it’s nice and sunny)
  • Wells Fargo History Museum
  • US Post Office on Sutter
  • Walgreens (multiple locations)
  • TransAmerica Pyramid
  • H2 Cards

This is part of our 31 Days in SF Bay series.

31 Days in SF Bay: Chinatown (San Francisco)

This is Day 16 of our 31 Days in SF Bay series. To read all the posts in order, start with this post, then visit the Landing Page to see the outline for the whole series.

sfbaybannerWoohoo! We are starting in on some fun places in San Francisco! We will start out in Chinatown. I just want to disclose that the remainder of these 31 Days posts will continue to lack photos (so we can just finish), but we will add them as we find them in our archives. If we are friends with you, and you have photos from some of these places we have visited together, send them our way. ­čÖé

Since we went to church for a long time in Chinatown, a lot of the places listed are restaurants and other food places where we went out to eat after Sunday school. ­čÖé But really, that’s what people come here for anyway, right?

What you need to know about Chinatown before you go there: 1) It is not the cleanest place. 2) There aren’t restrooms readily available unless you are a customer. Even then…refer to #1. 3) Many restaurants and shops are cash only. 4) Don’t expect cheery customer service everywhere you go. I’m not sure why that is, but if you don’t get a smiley greeting, don’t take it personally. 5) If you are a picky eater, the restaurants here might not be for you. However, if you are willing to try something, order a cha siu bao (pork bun) or daan taat (egg custard tart). 6) Be ready to get culture shocked (true for most of SF), in a good way. It’s East meets West, old meets new, and everything in between.

chinatownI will probably add photos later, but here are some restaurants that we enjoy in Chinatown. We have written reviews of some of these restaurants, so they are linked up.

  • Napoleon Super Bakery
  • Golden Star Vietnamese Cuisine
  • Golden Flower Vietnamese Cuisine
  • Capital Restaurant (one of my uncle’s favorites and has good Bok Choy Beef Flat Noodle Soup)
  • Golden Dragon/Imperial Palace
  • Washington Bakery and Restaurant (one of the only places you can get Chinese donut to go)
  • Hong Kong Clay Pot Restaurant
  • Hang Ah Tea Room
  • R&G Lounge
  • Far East Restaurant
  • San Sun Restaurant
  • New Woey Loy Goey Restaurant
  • Hon’s Wun Tun House
  • New Asia Restaurant
  • Yee’s Restaurant
  • Penang Garden
  • ABC Bakery
  • AA Bakery
  • You’s Dim Sum
  • Gourmet Kitchen
  • Empress of China Restaurant
  • Kam Lok Restaurant
  • Pacific Court Cafe/Meriwa Restaurant
  • New Moon Restaurant
  • Little Paris
  • Four Seas Restaurant
  • Tong Kee Restaurant
  • Grand Palace Restaurant
  • Noodle Bar and Grill (Thai)
  • Golden Gate Bakery (famous egg tarts)
  • Cafe Honolulu
  • Uncle Cafe
  • Blossom Bakery
  • Joy Hing BBQ Noodle House
  • New Sun Hong Kong Restaurant
  • Gallery Cafe
  • Quickly

Other places to visit… (I will link photos and such later on. Come back to visit!)

  • Dragon Gate (on Grant and Bush)
  • Chinese Rec Center
  • Cable Car Museum
  • CIBC, Chinese Methodist, First Chinese Baptist, CCC, Chinese Presbyterian
  • Chinese Hospital
  • Chinatown Library
  • Portsmouth Square (old people play Chinese checkers/chess there)
  • Golden Gate Fortune Cookie (Factory)
  • Cable Car Corner
  • Joy’s Hair Salon (Norm got monthly haircuts here)
  • Golden Star (Norm went to get Nikes there)
  • Silver Star (the other place Norm went to get Nikes)
  • Orange Land (Produce)
  • Rainbow Station (Sanrio)
  • Hap Yuen Jewelry (Joyce got her wedding jewelry here)
  • Ming Lee Trading Company (two-story grocery store)

This is part of our 31 Days in SF Bay series.

31 Days in SF Bay

You’ve heard of The Nester, haven’t you? Well, if you haven’t, you can meet her at The Nesting Place. In October, The Nester has a 31-day challenge.

Our blog has naturally become a documentation of our daily adventures in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I figure I would write about some things to do in here in our lovely home community. I will try to write for 31 days, but you know…life. :p There are also a lot of fun things I will probably miss, but hopefully, we will pick up the series another time to include more fun things to do in the Bay. If you have places in the SF Bay you want to share with our readers, leave a comment, and I will try to blog about it.

sfbaybannerI will update the landing page for this 31 day challenge with links of the different blog posts. Come visit again! ­čÖé If you think your readers will be interested in this series, you can grab a blog button on the sidebar (just copy and paste in a post or page) and add it to your blog. Thanks! (You can find the landing page in the drop-down menu under the About tab at the top of the page.)
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31days

Field Trip: San Francisco Symphony Concert for Kids

This was the second year Melody attended the Concert for Kids event at the San Francisco Symphony. It’s a great way for kids to get exposure to classical music, different instruments, and something people would usually pay $100 or more to see. These concerts are only $5 and geared towards kids (each concert is less than 45 minutes long)! The children’s concert (grades K-3) was sold out this year, so we attended the youth concert (grades 4-9). Melody invited Joyce’s brother, Eric, as a guest to come along this year. It was pouring rain when we arrived in San Francisco for the concert.

Double Bass

Our Lower Level Box Seats

Melody’s view of stage left

Checking out an app on Kow-Fu’s iPhone (I think it was Draw Something)

Getting ready for the concert

The brass section (they were hilarious in bringing out different colored brass toward the end of the concert)

The concertmaster playing “A” for everyone else to tune to

Maestro Donato Cabrera

Conducting the first piece

Talking to the audience

Invited a composer to come and share about how he came up with his piece (complete with explanation about instrumentation and dynamics). The composer also narrated.

Composer with the symphony

The SF Symphony with Flute Soloist, Annie Wu from the San Francisco Youth Orchestra

Melody clapping during one of the songs in demonstrating rhythm

Maestro departing after the concert was over

We went to Brenda’s French Soul Food for lunch afterwards. Last year, we didn’t get to go because of the long line and big group we went with.

Cup of Chicken, Sausage & Okra Gumbo

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Hush Puppies with Chipotle Remoulade

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Flight of the Beignets (Crawfish, Granny Smith Apple, Chocolate, and Plain as shown below from top to bottom)

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Eric’s Pulled Pork Sandwich with French Fries

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Melody’s HUGE Buttermilk Pancakes with Seasonal Fruit and also eating her Granny Smith Apple Beignet

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Melody pointing to where we were on the BART System Map

Patiently waiting for our BART train to take us home

– Norm

Our Week in Photos (Week 11 of 52)

Our Week
We started out the week with a visit from Joyce’s high school classmate. She came to drop off some stuff from the 10-year high school reunion last year. She brought her sons, one who is a week younger than Melody and the other just 2.5 months old. They had fun playing together. You can check out some photos here: Week 11 of 52. We actually headed out to San Francisco for dinner with Norm’s family on Tuesday instead of them coming over to our place. Melody was super excited to go back to her first home. hehe Crossing the Bay Bridge she kept pointing to the Bay and saying, “Boats!” Not too many boats out, but some cargo ships.

Updates
*Norm has a phone interview today (10AM PST).
*Joyce has a doctor’s appointment on Monday.
*Melody’s anxiety has evolved. If we give her a heads up on what’s going to happen, she gets nervous about it and cries before it happens. Like when I told her my former classmate was visiting, she cried, but after they arrived she was fine. Same with going to church, she cries before we get there, and once there she plays okay. Poor girl.

Small Things
Completed everything again this week! Woot! Yesterday’s Small Thing was an easy one because Melody is an awesome little helper!! She usually cleans up after herself without being asked. At night, she puts stuff away (like her blocks) and says “Good night” to them. We’re really blessed! We’ll be stopping by for “Coffee” some by this weekend. Have a great Friday everyone!

From Week 11 of 52