San Francisco with Two in Tow

We love San Francisco, but the last time we went was before we had kids. It's a whole new experience with kids. When Nathan brought up the idea of going to San Francisco a few weeks ago, I felt a little unsure and we really considered if we could do it with two littles. After some thought, we decided to go for it. If it turned out to be a disaster, then we wouldn't do it again until the kids get older. We knew Hudson would enjoy the city because of the cable cars, trains, trolley cars, boats, and bridges, and he really did. The trip turned out to be a success!

If you're considering going to the city with young kids, here are my tips: 

1) Buy a Passport Pass: These are tickets that give you unlimited access to the local transportation which includes the cable cars, trolley cars, and city buses (it does not work for the BART or taxis). Children under 4 ride for free. Depending on how long you are there you can purchase a 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day passport. These are available for purchase at most of the the local grocery stores and pharmacies. There are worth it because a one-way ride on the cable cars is $7 alone and the 3-Day Passport Pass is $26. Don't take taxis; they are too expensive, and if you have young kids, they will love the cable cars and going up and down the hills. Heck, adult men have fun riding the cable cars. This is the best way to see the city in my opinion.


2) Bring a lightweight stroller and a baby carrier: If you have young two kids like us, I highly recommend bringing both of these. This allows you to put the younger child in the stroller while the older child walks. Then, when the older child gets tired, you can transfer the younger child to the carrier. We brought our Ergo carrier and a Maclaren single stroller. We have a double stroller but it's huge and heavy. If you plan on riding the cable cars, you are required to fold up the stroller and store in at the rear of the car, so you want something lightweight to lift on and off. If we brought our double stroller, it would have been cumbersome and a hassle to quickly load and unload from car. This is the same for the trolley cars; you'll want to fold it up on these because they get pretty crowded. Hudson was able to sit in a seat and I either held Jayde or had her in the carrier. We rode the city buses too, and for these you don't need to fold up the stroller (unless you want too), but again, you need to load and unload it from the bus, so you want something lightweight. One time, Jayde was asleep in the stroller, so we just lifted it up into the bus and allowed her to sleep longer. After the first day, Nathan and I got a routine down, and I started wearing Jayde in the Ergo more and Hudson was able to jump in and out of the stroller as he wanted.


3) Bring a backpack & layer: I love my diaper bag, but it can't fit everything we need for a day in the city. We were there one a day before I bought a backpack to carry Jayde's blanket, our jackets and Hudson's toys. You don't want to leave these things lose in the stroller basket either because you are constantly folding it up to ride the local transportation. You're probably going to want to layer. Even though we visited in the middle of July, the weather was in the 60s and there was a light drizzle most days, then at night it got colder. Oh, and if you have a baby like mine, bring a few changes of clothes. Jayde had multiple diaper blowouts.


4) Expect to take it slow: We went into our trip knowing we would need to walk slower and linger in places longer if needed. We spent time at parks where Hudson could play while I nursed Jayde. You may even find yourself back at your hotel for an afternoon nap.


5) Don't expect perfection: When you travel with just you and your spouse, the trip is going to be leisurely and romantic, and you'll probably be able to see and do everything you want. This may not be the case with kids. If it is, you need to share your tips! We made plans to go to Alamo Square, the park across the street from the Painted Ladies, and play baseball or soccer with Hudson and enjoy the view but there was absolutely no parking. There was a film crew there taking up a entire block which didn't help. Yes, we were disappointed, but we decided to go back to our hotel par the car at a BART station and go back into the city sans car. We ended up getting lunch at a great whole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant that we wouldn't have found otherwise.


6) Stay at a hotel outside the city: The first night in San Francisco, we stayed in the city, but the two following nights we stayed at an airport hotel that offered free parking. Parking is the city is ridiculously expensive, so we parked our car at a nearby BART station and took that into the city. Plus, our hotel also offered a free breakfast which was an added bonus and Hudson loved watching the planes land. We are fans of FREE :) If you stay outside the city, there are definitely pluses and minuses. One minus is the added time it takes to get back to your hotel. It took an extra 30 minutes, but after we were in the city for a little while we got used to it, and if Jayde needed to eat, I just nursed her on the BART.


7) Hand sanitizer, tissues and wet wipes are necessary: as beautiful as San Francisco is, let's be real, it is crawling with homeless people, and not only that, who knows who touched what last?? The public bathrooms offer not sanctuary either. I am not a germ freak by any means, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.


8) Last but not least, have fun: traveling with kids is a high stress situation but don't let that take over the experience. Enjoy yourself. Have an ice cream sundae (or two) at Ghirardelli Square, ride the merry-go-round at Pier 39, drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, hang onto the bars of a cable car. San Fransisco is a beautiful city so have fun!


Next up, New York City with the kiddos. Do we dare???

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