December before Christmas is a great time to travel with family and kids. Cities abound with Christmas lights, festive decorations and fun family events. More importantly, people get in the Christmas spirit and somehow they are more likely to accomodate fussy kids. We decided to make San Francisco the travel destination two weeks before Christmas. My husband, I and my toddler girl.
Renting An Apartment Was A Great Choice
To make our life easier we opted for renting an apartment in a central location. Our toddler girl had plenty of space to run around and explore. And we could enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine, without watching her every minute. A view was also paramount. San Francisco is known for breathtaking vistas and we wanted to enjoy them from our apartment. Plus, renting a place on one of the hills (Nob Hill, Russian Hill), allows not only for a view, but for walking distance access to lots of attractions. And the bonus was that throughout our vacation we stayed fit, despite all the yummy meals. Streets like Washington or Mason in Nob Hill feel like they are at 45-degrees incline.
Fun Attractions for Kids Abound
We discovered that San Francisco was full of fun attractions for kids and parents. Union Square, a central shopping destination, welcomed us with Christmas music, fully decorated palm trees, and a ice skating ring. Near by, Huntington Park on Nob Hill was a neat park to stop by. The park features the beautiful Grace Cathedral and a fun, old-school play ground. Further away, Yerba Buena Gardens in SOMA hosted the Children’s Creativity Museum, a large playground and an antique carousel.
Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 are well documented touristic attractions. A bit further is Ghirardelli Square known for its famous chocolate and newish dessert shops like Kara’s Cupcakes or Crown & Crumpet Tea Room. Along the ocean there is Crissy Field in the Marina with its beach, wide green field and breath taking view of the Golden Gate bridge from right beneath. Other attractions for kids worth visiting are the Exploratorium by the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina, or the California Academy of Sciences and the Koret Children’s Quarter Playground in the Golden Gate Park.
Dining Proved to Be an Extravagant Experience
Dining with small kids can be tricky and sometimes deter you from trying out sophisticated places. San Francisco has quite a lot of kid friendly resturants, especially ethnic. But if you are interested in kid friendly fine dining there is hope too. We found out that great places to go, if the wallet permits, are 5-star hotel restaurants. The bonus is the impressive, right out extravagant Christmas decorations downtown hotels in San Francisco display, which turn to be great attractions for kids.
The dinner at the Westin St. Francis hotel was in an elegant room with dim lights. Yet, it featured high-chairs, lots of noisy kids at tables, and the best french fries I ever had. The secret: they were cooked in duck fat. Of course, my little girl loved them. Plus, the hotel featured the country’s largest Sugar Castle in the historic main lobby created by the Executive Pastry Chef, Jean-Francois Houdré. Resembling a French Chateau, the 100% edible castle weighs more than 1,200 pounds and features more than 20 grand circular towers, approximately 30 rooms, and is surrounded by a quaint village and a running train.
I lived in San Francisco when younger and single, and it was fun. It’s equally fun to discover it as a travel destination with kids.