Zoo day! We were so excited when we heard the San Francisco Zoo was allowed to re-open. It’s a great place to go with the family; and since it is outdoors, it is very safe.
The SF Zoo has tons of safety protocols in place, which made it a fun, relaxing way to get out of the house while staying safe.
The Zoo now offers online reservations so they can limit how many people enter the zoo at one time. This is great because it leaves a lot of space between visitors. I felt like I was taking a VIP tour of the zoo! You know I love me some VIP treatment!
In addition to spaced out visitors and easy reservations, everyone wears a mask. The zoo also roped off high touch areas in order to remind visitors to visit touchless. We felt really safe, and enjoyed the private walk-through of the zoo. Did I mention we felt like we had VIP treatment? Oh yeah, it was like that.
We took about three hours to wander through the SF Zoo and visit all the animals. The hippo even came out of the water for us! He started by playing with a giant ball. Then, he splashed and swam around. After he was done swimming, he climbed out of the pool and ate some grass. It was amazing! I have been visiting the San Francisco Zoo since I was a small child, and this was the first time I saw the hippo so active. I guess he was happy to see guests returning to the Zoo to visit him!
Then we saw this guy taking a morning nap on an old keg. I guess he partied a little too hard the night before. LOL
I dressed comfortably for the occasion; knowing I would be doing a lot of walking. I cannot even tell you how amazing it felt to put on an outfit and go somewhere. Let alone wear jeans! Who knew jeans could feel so good?
The zebra and I had the same color palette in mind that day.
It was a really fun day at the zoo! If you are local, and are looking for something safe to do, this is your activity! Visit SFZoo.org and book your reservations! If you aren’t local, be sure to visit our zoo when you visit us. It’s a relaxing day outside, and the animals will be excited to have visitors again!
Have you ever been to Drawbridge, California? I had no idea it existed until my husband suggested we take the kids there, and explore the area. Apparently his Mom took him there when we was a child!
Drawbridge is a ghost town. The only abandoned town within the boundaries of the San Francisco Bay Area. It was originally a little vacation spot where people enjoyed duck hunting. It also had a train station, which made it fairly easy to get to in the late 1800’s through the late 1970’s. As the salt industry changed the landscape of the Bay, the landscape of the town began to erode, causing the town to begin sinking into the Bay. This was the main reason the town was abandoned.
Drawbridge sits at the bottom of the Bay, adjacent to Milpitas, San Jose, and Fremont. It’s slightly hidden from view, until you hop on an Amtrak train which speeds by the town. Although there used to be tours of the town, which is how my husband visited it several decades ago, it is now fenced off; with plenty of “no trespassing” signs around the area.
We parked at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in San Jose. This area offered a flat hiking trail filled with wildlife, which has returned to the area after massive restoration efforts over the past few years to bring the Bay back to life when many of the salt flats were removed. It’s incredible to be able to see so many different types of birds, and plants, in the area; which used to be desolate when I was a child. It makes the long hike into Drawbridge both pretty and educational.
Initially I was excited about this hike. Since it was flat, I assumed it would be fairly relaxing and easy. Apparently I was wrong! While wearing a mask helps cut down on the bottom-of-the-bay smell, it did nothing to shorten the length of the hike. The trail looks easy, but the surface is hard, and it’s roughly an hour and a half down the trail to get to Drawbridge.
Our kids were fine for the first two hours of the hike, the last hour was a little tough on them, and on me. Keep in mind, if it’s ninety minutes to get from the parking lot to Drawbridge, it’s ninety minutes to get back. The three hour, round trip trek was tough on a hot summer day. Thankfully I packed snacks and water, so we were at least fueled and hydrated-just really tired!
I don’t recommend bringing small children on this hike. My kids are teenagers, so they could handle it with a little grumbling. I did see people biking, and one person on a scooter. Those are great alternatives to navigating the trail and making it easier. I highly recommend being prepared, and going out to see Drawbridge at least once in your lifetime if you live here in the Bay Area. If you don’t live around here, and you love ghost towns, check it out!
Drawbridge can be viewed from a lookout which has a bench and signs detailing the ghost town’s history. It’s a fun little part of our local history, and it’s interesting to see a ghost town!
Have you visited Drawbridge before? What did you think? Do you enjoy visiting ghost towns?
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 Panama-Pacific Exposition. 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!