staycation


Playing tourist in the city

staycation san francisco

3 picture perfect spots in San Francisco

There are very few things in San Francisco us locals can never do on a summer Saturday: casually walk around the Golden Gate Bridge, explore underneath the bridge, park in front of the Palace of Fine Arts, walk around without crowds, and park in front of the Painted Ladies and snap photos.

These are popular tourist activities, and locals normally visit them during the off season-or really early in the morning before the tourists wake up. While I am not celebrating the current lock-down, it does cut down on traffic, and allow for some stress-free activities we normally would not think of doing on a summer Saturday when there isn’t any fog.

We arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge parking lot-the one right in front with only twenty-five spaces-at 9:30am on Saturday morning. The fog had already burned off, and it was a perfect day for sight-seeing. I had to pinch myself when I got a parking spot inside the main lot-which is always full on summer days.

Excited about our parking spot score, we paid the fee and started our walk across the bridge. But don’t get too excited: just because we scored a fabulous parking spot, didn’t mean everything was going to be smooth sailing. One minute of walking on the bridge, and the police stopped us. There was “police activity” on the bridge, and the walkway was blocked off. They wouldn’t tell us what happened, but when we saw five squad cars, and a fire truck, we knew something bad was up; so we changed course, and took a walk underneath the bridge instead. This was a really good hike since it is very steep going under there!

We walked to Fort Point underneath the bridge, and snapped photos; just like tourists would do, next to the water. It was really fun! The last time I was there, was for a field trip when I was in grade school, so it was nice to bring the kids to a place which is normally crowded and eagerly avoided by locals.

The Palace of Fine Arts is leftover from the 1915 World’s Faire. When I was growing up, it was the Exploratorium. They moved the Exploratorium to the piers, and now I think of the Palace of Fine Arts as a tourist attraction. I haven’t been there since the it was the Exploratorium! It was weird walking around and looking at it, instead of walking past it to grab a good place in line to get into the Exploratorium. I don’t think I really ever took the time to enjoy how beautiful the structure is!

Another summer miracle, was grabbing a parking spot right in front, on a late Saturday morning, during the summer, on a non-foggy day. I really needed to pinch myself! It was fun showing the kids around the Palace of Fine Arts, and my oldest daughter really loved all the ducks!

After wandering around the Palace of Fine Arts, my husband suggested we go take pictures in front of the Painted Ladies. I protested. “No way!” I said to him. “It will be full of tourists, we won’t be able to park, and we will get stuck in summer tourist traffic.” He laughed when I said that, and assured me the city was free of tourists right now. Resigned, I got in the car and drove our family to the Painted Ladies.

I ate my words when we found a parking spot right in front. No joke, I parked in front of the apartment building next to the Painted Ladies, without waiting or circling for a spot, on a sunny Saturday in July. Now I realized I must be in the Twilight Zone.

My husband was really excited, and directed us across the street to the park so we could take the perfect, touristy family photos. An iPhone photo-shoot happened. It was very surreal. I have never been able to park and actually look at the Painted Ladies. I would normally avoid the entire area, and if I got stuck near them, and I do say stuck, very colorful words would flow out of my mouth as it would normally take me ten minutes to navigate out of the tourist-traffic-heavy area. Since my husband also grew up in the Bay Area, he understood the novelty of the situation; hence his excitement.

My “playing tourist,” and very comfortable, outfit details:

So there you have it! We were actually able to play tourist in San Francisco without hitting any traffic, crowds, or parking issues. I am still pinching myself to make sure it was all real.

If you are local, definitely plan a staycation day in the city! It’s the perfect time! If you are not local, these are three beautiful spots to check out when you visit our beautiful city. If you visit during peak tourist season, just take an Uber everywhere. It will eliminate any stress from trying to park. Take lots of photos, and enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO

Cathy


Relaxing family walk

We finally visited Hakone Gardens! OK, you might be wondering what I am talking about. Well, let me introduce you to a hidden gem in Saratoga, California; Hakone Gardens!

These beautiful Japanese gardens are located in Saratoga just past downtown as you head south-ish on highway 9. Hakone Gardens is a relaxing property which includes Japanese Gardens, a small museum, and event areas. The gardens are currently set-up to encourage social distancing with one-way signs, and some areas blocked off to walkers. It made our visit very private, relaxing, and safe. Loved it!

The self-guided tour is a nice and relaxing walk along the paths inside the gardens. There is a little bit of uphill and downtown walking, making it a nice little exercise. I would place this walk in the easy hike category. It’s a great place to bring kids!

Hakone Gardens is a great place to see some local Japanese history too. It is over 100 years old, and one of the oldest Japanese estates in the Western Hemisphere. You can learn more at Hokone.com.

If you decide to visit, be sure to wear walking shoes and bring some water with you. It took us 45 minutes to walk through the gardens on the designated pathway.

wearing: earrings / mask / grey tee / black joggers / necklace / gold chain bracelet / chain cuff / turquoise and gold cuff / summer nail polish / blue handbag / white sneakers /

I’m looking forward to returning to Hakone Gardens in the near future. It’s so nice to have a beautiful place to visit and walk around, so close by!

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO

Cathy


Pigeon Point Lighthouse with the family

pigeon point lighthouse

Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a lighthouse built in 1971 along the coast just south of Pescadero. It’s a fun, historical monument to visit after a hike, or a beach day, in San Mateo County. This historical monument also includes a youth hostel which was established in the 1960’s. It’s a nice diversion off highway 1 where you can explore local history, and enjoy our beautiful coastline.

We took a walk on the grounds of the lighthouse on our way home from a beach day along the coast, and also read the placards which are set up around the property in order to learn more about the lighthouse. It’s always nice to learn local history!

There is a cute little pathway along the coastline, and the cliff, by the lighthouse, which offers a nice and peaceful walk along the grounds. We had fun walking on it and snapping some family photos.

If you are looking for something to do as our local lock-down continues, this is something you can explore! You can combine Pigeon Point Lighthouse with an easy hike, and also learn about local history while enjoy our beautiful coastline.

It’s too bad the lighthouse isn’t in operation anymore. It looks like it would have been pretty to see lit up. Parts of the grounds were being fixed up when we visited, but we were still able to enjoy the area and see the buildings close up. I highly recommend stopping by if you are local to the Bay Area. If you are not local, and are planning a trip to the Bay Area coastline, be sure to add a quick visit to Pigeon Point Lighthouse to your itinerary!

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your trip!

XOXO

Cathy