Take a California Road Trip: Day 1 San Francisco

We have just returned from our California Road Trip after eighteen wonderful days driving through this amazing state.  As I reflected upon the trip and began sorting through the pictures, I realized that I should have journaled every day of this whirlwind trip.  We flew over 2100 miles one way, stayed in ten different hotels, had meals in more than a dozen cities, and logged nearly 2100 miles on the rental car over the course of 18 days with three kids! Phew, I’m exhausted just typing that out!  

At VeraVise  our trip reports and reviews highlight the experiences and businesses that truly WOW us! We also  provide tips and ideas for  your next great adventure. In keeping with that theme, over the next several weeks I will share reviews of the hotels, restaurants, and destinations that packed the most punch. I will say much of California truly took our breath away! I hope this will inspire you should you decide to go on an extended California road trip. Incidentally, I highly recommend you consider doing so! It was the trip of a lifetime! Now, let’s get started with Day 1 of the Epic California Road trip!

Day 1: Epic California Road Trip East Tennessee Goes West!

4:15 am Eastern: We were up and at ’em with everyone early on day 1. We were out the door by 5:10 am and checking in at the airport around 5:40 am. Our first flight to Charlotte was uneventful and the kids were very excited. Since they were practically the only kids around as most are still in school, they got a lot of attention. They were very good on both flights, however, so I was grateful.

Our first flight was a little long in taking off so we had very little time between flights. Lunch was lots of pop tarts and snacks. Yikes!  So much for planning ahead. The kids’ food allergies make it difficult for us, and while I thought I would have time to pick up something at Charlotte airport, I was wrong.

9:30 am Eastern: We essentially boarded the flight for San Francisco immediately after landing. This five hour flight took F-O-R-E-V-E-R to taxi and take off, but the pilot made up the time and we landed in San Francisco just before noon Pacific time.  I won’t go so far as to say we were “Wowed” by American Airlines, but given the abysmal experiences of other airlines in the past, the service was very good and very friendly. The kids always seem to help out in that area as most people cater to them. That is one of the benefits of traveling with such cute kids. Insert mommy bias. Just before we landed, we were able to get some great pictures of the snow caps.

12:00 pm Pacific time: This was the bad part. Hungry and tired, we had a long way to go to get the car and the line at Budget was terribly long. We were not leaving in the car until 2:30 pm.   I knew it would probably take that long, but I had not anticipated being unable to feed the kids prior to this.  Remember, at this point, we are all still surviving on pop tarts, bananas, and raisins. Major mommy fail!

3:00 pm Pacific time: Traffic was busy, but not horrible. We’ve experienced worse in Downtown Atlanta rush hour. We enjoyed the scenery, though I have to say, the hillsides reminded us of Tennessee except we all noted that it was funny seeing hills made mostly of grass and not trees.

We stayed in the Courtyard Marriott in Fisherman’s Wharf.  Again, I wouldn’t say we were wowed, but it was clean and the staff were SUPER FRIENDLY! That always wows me a bit!

Courtyard San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf
In the fall of 2016, Marriott acquired Starwood Properties merging into one company. This means as Starwood Preferred Guest members, we now have access to over 5700 hotels and more than 30 brands! We are elite members with Marriott thanks in a large part not only to travel, but to our use of the SPG American Express card!  We were able to get an upgrade to a Bay View King suite with pull out sofa. I love these perks! The pull out sofa, however, was the tiniest I’d ever seen and was only big enough for one small child. Thankfully, the staff was more than happy to provide us a roll away for the boys.  Everyone was now satisfied and settled.

4:00 pm Pacific Time:  Time to find food!  We head straight to the wharf! It’s WINDY and COLD (upper 50’s).

I read numerous accounts and had plenty of referrals to be sure to have  the Sourdough bread bowls in San Francisco at Boudin Bakery. Because my oldest son has an allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, and coconut, and my daughter is also allergic to peanuts, there is always an added element of strain when seeking somewhere new to eat. In fact, the one thing that will have me either raving or warning about a restaurant is how they treat food allergic customers.

So here is my WOW referral for Boudin’s!  I was absolutely THRILLED to discover that they were not only able to accommodate us, but they had none of our allergens in house.  My kids could eat anything from the menu; even the COOKIES! We were definitely WOWED by Boudin’s! They were very  friendly AND TOTALLY NUT FREE! HUGE YAY!!!

We split two clam chowder bread bowls and a pizza. Very yummy! Mommy liked the sour dough best as others remarked it was a bit “too sour” but I thought it was perfect!

5:00 pm Pacific time: After our meal, we had to walk back to hotel because everyone wanted to dress differently and get coats. On our way back out, I stopped to ask concierge where we needed to go to see  the “sea lions”.  A VERY FRIENDLY Asian man gave us directions and then a thirty minute overview with maps and information on ALL OF CALIFORNIA. It was great other than the length of time it took, but I didn’t want to be rude.  He was so enthusiastic and excited about his job and his state.  He seemed genuinely thrilled to tell us all the wonderful things we needed to see on our road trip.

After we finished speaking, we headed straight to Pier 39 to see the sea lions and seals. I’ll let the videos and pictures tell you about that. It was a wonderful experience! We were definitely WOWed.

6:30 pm Pacific: After wandering around for quite some time, we snapped a few pictures of Alcatraz.  Unfortunately, time didn’t allow for a visit and I had previously decided that some of my children were too young for Alcatraz.  We saw some amazing fruit stands, and other touristy areas, had dinner at the In and Out burger, and headed back to hotel as it’s 9:30 pm for our crew at this point.

Being a Southpaw, I had to snap a quick picture of this Lefty store.

9:00 pm Pacific: We were all in bed asleep by this time as it was nearing the midnight hour for us, but we had a fabulous first few hours in San Francisco and we had seventeen more wonderful days ahead of us here in Sunny(but cold) California!


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23 thoughts on “Take a California Road Trip: San Francisco Day 1

  1. Boudin is my FAAAVORITE! We have some down here in LA but it’s just not the same unless you’re at the Wharf in SF ? Loved all your pictures – visit LA sometime! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you this weekend! xo

  2. Oh, I’m so excited and slightly jealous!!! Are you driving up the coast? Any other areas you will visit?

  3. I love this. So you guessed it my friend, we are planning a California trip for November and of course after staying in Anaheim (ahem clad with my mickey ears) we are heading to San Fran! I must check out Boudin’s! So glad they could accommodate the allergies well. That would be difficult on a trip. Thank you for joining Fly Away friday and we hope to see you this week!

  4. Thanks so much! It is true, we accomplished a lot for such a short time. I had hoped to get the park in as well, but unfortunately, that will have to be for another trip. It was on to Monterey and Carmel by the Sea!

  5. We love San Francisco! You guys packed in some great sights in a short time. I think that’s part of what we like – you can have a full day and see a lot without having to drive all over. Looking forward to the rest of your trip on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  6. Oh great! Well, I’m an East TN gal so I hope I do it justice! Be sure to check back tomorrow, my next post about our 2nd day in San Fran will go up. We had so much fun, I only wish I could have stayed longer at each stop.

  7. I’ve never been to San Francisco- but the cool temperatures sound divine- and that clam chowder bowl looked yummy. You should get a pat on the back for remembering to bring your survival Pop Tarts (I would have forgotten!) Cranky, hungry kids are not a good way to start the day- so yay Pop Tarts!

  8. Haha…you haven’t seen anything yet, as a Disney nerd, I’ve learned how to put a lot into a day! Next post on our full day in San Francisco will go up this week, so be sure to come back and check us out. Thanks for the feedback!

  9. Oh my gosh – you sure packed a LOT into one day, what with traveling and all! Very impressed. Food allergies always make traveling a little more stressful, so awesome you were able to get so delightfully accommodated at Boudin! And, being a current CA resident, glad to see you made the requisite In and Out visit too! Eager to see the rest of the trip!

  10. What a journey this will be! I am looking forward to following it. You’re off to a delicious start.

  11. Carmel was AMAZING!! I’ll be posting about that next week. That is such a beautiful piece of our world!

  12. Took this road trip so many times… I live in Southern California and we love San Francisco. Thanks for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard

  13. This was our first big trip out West ever, but trust me, Oregon and Washington,and many others are now at the TOP of the list! Thanks for the tip, I will archive it for my plans in the future. I’ll be posting about La Jolla later, but we were able to see them there too. It was great fun!

  14. We love observing the sea lions, they have so much personality 😀 you should visit them in Oregon too, we have a great sea lion cave up near Florence, Oregon that is a once in a lifetime experience. Beautiful trip 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

  15. Yes, it was a bit stressful. I pretty much expect Day 1 of every trip to be disastrous, so this one was pretty good. Haha

  16. Great Courtney! We were there 18 days so please stick around, I have SOOOO much more to share! It was so amazing and I could have stayed for six months! California is an amazing place!

  17. Overall sounds like you are off to a great start. I have had issues with long rental car lines too unfortunately. Fisherman’s wharf is a great area to stay in. I love watching the sea lions. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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