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Family Fun in San Francisco On A Bicycle

SmarterTravel

Author: Jill Weinlein
Date of Trip: July 2015

Checking into the family friendly Hyatt at Embarcadero on the Fourth of July, we noticed the car traffic and pedestrian sidewalks were packed. Cars were moving at a snail pace. Street cars were packed with people. We decided the best way for our family to explore San Francisco was either by foot or bicycle.

We parked our car in the nearby Embarcadero parking lot, checked into our room on the 9th floor and inquired at the concierge about bicycle rentals. We were handed a brochure of Bike and Roll with a 10% off your rental card. Since the rental stand was located outside of the Hyatt, we decided to ride bikes while exploring the magnificent City by the Bay.

We had two options – either rent bikes for one hour for $8 or spend $30 per bike for 24 hours with our discount card. We opted to keep the bikes for 24 hours. With helmets, bike locks and a map, we started at the Ferry building and followed the green painted bike path to Pier 39.

We stopped at the Boudin Bakery and tried to catch freshly baked sourdough rounds and rolls that were being thrown to visitors in the streets. It’s a tradition the bakers enjoy doing on certain holidays.

We continued on the designated path to the Fort Mason area. A grand stage along Jefferson St. offered a DJ and live music throughout the day. Up the hill to Fort Mason was a challenge, yet the views were worth the burn.

Our next stop was the Marina area passing the architecturally beautiful Palace of Fine Arts and then over to Crissy Field. We wanted to ride across the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge, however the fog came in and it became very windy. We decided to circle the lagoon area around Crissy field and rode back to the park by Fort Mason. After a rest, we continued on to Fisheraman’s Wharf and to the less crowded Coit Tower.

Stopping at the Levi Strauss Plaza, we locked our bikes and walked around the lovely fountain with water features, before climbing up the stairs to Coit Tower.

There are beautiful gardens maintained by locals along the stairway up to the top of the hill. The views on a clear day are magnificent.

Getting hungry, we walked down towards North Beach and dined at the Asian Fusion restaurant, The House. Known for their soft-shell crab with cold noodles, grilled octopus with yellow roe and tempura potatoes and roasted black cod on bok choy with a sweet soy ginger sauce and topped with ribbons of avocado roll sushi. It’s a newer dining destination filled with a younger foodie crowd.

We walked back to our bikes and home to the Hyatt. The staff allows guests to walk their bikes into the hotel to store in their hotel room. As we rode up a glass elevator to the 9th floor with our bikes we received smiles from other guests.

The views from the Hyatt are spectacular overlooking the bay, tour boats, Bay Bridge and Ferry building. During Fourth of July, the piers are filled with visitors to see fireworks all around the San Francisco Bay area.

Looking out our window, we saw a multitude of small boats and dinner cruise ships coming back to the dock after the firework display.

Next morning we walked our bikes through the Hyatt to go for another ride outside. We first locked our bikes up at the Ferry Building to get breakfast. The Imperial Tea shop offered steamed pork and vegetarian Bao and lychee green tea. Nearby the Acme Bread Company displayed flakey croissants, large cinnamon rolls, giant apple turnovers and four different types of artisan sandwiches. We sat outside with a bag filled with goodies and watched the boats motor by before getting back on our bikes and riding to Pier 39 along the designating bike path.

We rode out toward the end of the pier and locked up our bicycles to explore the festive pier filled with shops, restaurants and entertainment. The docks that are usually filled with sea lions were empty. There were only three sea lions clustered together to stay warm. I’ve been here in the past when there were 100 sea lions swimming around the docks and sleeping on top of them.

Since my ten year old pleaded to see some fun tourist attractions, we walked over to the Musee Mecanique, one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines. We put quarter in to see “Laffing Sal”, “Susie the Can-Can Dancer” and play a few arcade games. It’s located at Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Next we walked over to Madame Tussauds to take photos with wax figures of President Obama, movie star George Clooney and tennis star Venus Williams. My daughter enjoyed making a wax replica of her hand for $13 and riding a bicycle with E.T. sitting in the front basket.

With only an hour before we needed to return our bikes, we walked into Boudin Bakery for sourdough bowls topped with New England Clam Chowder before riding back to the Hyatt.

Getting around San Francisco by bicycle is easy and a fun way to get your exercise. Try it next time you visit Fog City. Hopefully you will be lucky and get to see the city with the sun shining.

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