San Francsco Day 2: Cable Cars, China Town, and Chocolate

So Much to See So Little Time

On Day 2 of our Epic California Road Trip We Continue to Explore San Francisco.  In this article learn about some of the fantastic sites to be seen in just a few short hours.

San Francisco On Foot

San Francisco is a fascinating city to visit.  Unfortunately, our road trip was so full with so much to see and do, we only had about twenty four hours there.  In California Road Trippin: San Francisco Day 1, I shared our adventures on our first day in this grand city.  We did all the usual tourist things on the Fisherman’s Wharf.  It was breezy and cold during our visit, but the sun was shining and we enjoyed our short time there.
On day two we woke early still being on eastern time and headed out for breakfast. After some less than pleasant encounters due to food allergies, we wondered into Lori’s Diner  in Ghirardelli Square.  What  a gem!  We had the restaurant entirely to ourselves and after ensuring that our children could eat here, we were seated with a great view of the aquatic park in front of the Maritime Museum. 

We were astonished to see swimmers in the water on this cold morning. Our southern bones couldn’t stand the thought of how cold that water must’ve been.  

After a delicious breakfast, we enjoyed strolling around Ghirardelli Square and then headed down toward the water for a stroll in front of the Maritime Museum of San Francisco.

As I said previously, our time was limited, and there were many things we didn’t have time to enjoy.  Throughout the entire eighteen day journey, it was obvious that each of our stops could be turned into extended weekends or an entire week’s vacation.  We were just getting a sampling of all that the great state of California has to offer. 

Hop Aboard a Cable Car

We enjoyed a leisurely stroll and then headed toward the cable cars to get tickets.   In my research, I had determined that we didn’t have enough time to purchase a CityPass for any of the cities we were visiting.  Instead I opted for the 1 day Visitor Passport on the Cable Cars.
If you are planning a trip that includes multiple days in any of the major California cities such as San Francisco, San Diego, or the Southern California area, it may be worth your time and money to research and consider purchasing a City Pass for the numerous attractions available.

We knew if we did nothing else, we had to ride the Cable Cars! This was a decision we did not regret.  We had a great deal of fun hopping on and off to explore San Francisco.  

A Brief Stroll Throuh China Town

We took a brief walk through China Town, known as the “the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as the oldest Chinatown in North America.”

Visiting Union Square

Then we headed to Union Square to see the numerous shops and restaurants.  Apparently, there had been a little mishap with a water line.
After that little excitement, we went inside the Neiman Marcus building, and took some pictures of the Glass Dome (sorry the quality wasn’t great on some of these) There is an interesting history of the Dome on the National Record of Historic Places noting that the controversy surrounding Neiman Marcus’ purchase and subsequent demolition of the building known as The City of Paris which, “represent[ed] the vigor, optimism, and bold elegance with which San Francisco rebuilt itself following 1906 (earthquake).” Despite the controversy, we found it mesmerizing to behold.

By now we were hungry and our time was drawing to an end. We had a two hour drive ahead of us to our next destination and needed to get back to the hotel to head out of town.  

Highlight Of Our Day

We decided to hop on the cable car back to the wharf. Unfortunately, we were passed by five times before getting on a cable car, but the wait proved to be worth it. This time, we had a great driver who let the children stand on the back while they peppered him with questions. As a homeschool mom, these types of encounters always make me smile!  These are the memories and educational moments I hope for when I plan these type of grand journeys.

Lunch On The Water

We enjoyed a meal of Dungeness Crab at the Franciscan Crab Restaurant before getting our car and heading down the road.  Some enjoyed the crab more than others as I was not a fan of this meal, but the view was magnificent.

Scenic Drive Out of Town

We finished our day by driving down Lombard Street and then, of course, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge before embarking on Highway 1 to Monterey, California.  My  youngest wanted to know if Lombard Street was real? Too cute! 

A word of advice regarding the Golden Gate Bridge toll.  Be sure to go online and pay it from a lap top or device other than your phone.  We lost an hour nearly on two separate occasions trying to utilize the so-called “FastTrak” to pay our toll.  The customer service hours are very limited and the automated system would not accept our entries despite numerous attempts.

For more information on visiting San Francisco with kids, check out San Francisco with Kids Travel guide by October Acres. 

Here is some inspiration for other North American road trips. 

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Amanda Bowers owner and author at VeraVise WOW Travel


We are a family travel blog focusing on outdoor family adventures, road trips, and Disney Vacations. We hope you find our travel guides and reviews helpful.

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44 thoughts on “Visit San Francisco In A Day: Cable Cars, Chinatown, and Chocolate

  1. Thanks Sharon! We loved San Francisco and all of California! I hope you will come back and read more as I continue to chronicle our great adventure.

  2. Great post! I enjoyed reading about your adventures in San Francisco, as I was there last week! We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, which may be fun for your family if you return to the city. I’m glad you got on a cable car. We were passed by a few times, but usually we waited at a less busy place and had good luck. This summer will probably be terribly busy, but weekdays mid June worked for us.

  3. I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco and I’m finally going next year, I can’t wait. Luckily, I’ll have more than 24 hours, but your suggestions are great. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  4. Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m looking forward to your blog and YouTube channel! Monterey is up now. We had even less time there I’m afraid…our route got changed a bit with Landslides and Disney plans. I def want to go back for a longer time to NE Ca.

  5. I loved San Francisco on our California road trip – we spent a few days there but still seemed barely to scratch the surface, no time to visit Chinatown for starters unfortunately. Love the cable car journey, how great when drivers do something to really make it a memorable experience for kids. Looking forward to reading about Monterey, which was our next stop after the city too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  6. Lovely post! I’m spending the week here and even though I lived here 8 years it’s always fun to see the city from another’s point of view. #theweeklypostcard

  7. I love San Francisco and it has been way too long since we have visited. I hadn’t heard of the Glass Dome so fun to read about that. #WeekendWanderlust

  8. I love the cable cars in San Francisco, but I hate the wait. It is definitely something you must experience though. I love your family picture on the cable car. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  9. I’d love to take my children to San Francisco, its quite a long time since we visited. If I do, that crab restaurant is definitely on the list! #Wkendtravelinspiration

  10. So much fun! Our family always enjoys cable cars/trolleys on our vacations, too. I love the pic of the whole fam hanging off the side of the trolley. It looks like everyone had a GREAT time! #WeekendWanderlust

  11. I love San Francisco. There is so much to see and do there. I visited the city so many times and still would love to go back. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  12. You are going 2 love it. It was such a great place and there was so much more I wanted to see and do

  13. Perfect timing for me to read this post – I moved to the Bay Area within the last month, and am looking forward to making frequent day trips and weekend trips up to San Francisco. It’s nice to know I can see a ton of cool stuff within a short amount of time! Looks like a great trip!

  14. Beautiful photos and great itinerary. I hope to visit San Francisco soon. I’ve heard great things. That seafood plate looks yummy.

  15. I know, we had so much to cram in. If I did it over I would have allowed 2 nights minimum in SF

  16. It was out first trip to California and out west. We packed a lot in everywhere. We are still recovering. Haha

  17. I have never been to San Francisco despite being from the US! It seems like you packed in a lot of activities in a short time! I just love the photo of the whole family hanging out the side of the trolley. So sweet.

  18. San Francisco looks lovely! I’d love to go there one day ? Some of your photos look flipped, it’s very hard to look at them (don’t want to hurt my neck D)

  19. When I was in California two years ago I unfortunately skipped San Francisco (didn’t had time anymore!). I would love to go back one day.

  20. In the midst of planning an end-of-summer trip for my grandparents to Napa Valley and San Francisco. Definitely going to refer back to this article when planning their time in San Fran! Looks like you and your family had an awesome time.

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