Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sister Trip to San Francisco

Last week my sister and I packed up and headed to San Francisco for our second sister trip. About a year and a half ago, we went to Washington D.C. together and explored the city and visited with our cousin. We had such a great time together that we vowed to go on sister trips as often as we could. Dani has always wanted to visit Alcatraz, so we decided San Francisco was the perfect destination for us to continue the tradition. We were only there for a few days, but we sure made the most of our time!

Since Dani and I live two hours a part, my Dad brought her to meet up with me a couple hours before our flight. We were ahead of schedule and decided to pop into the local Mexican restaurant for a margarita before going to the airport. Why not start your vacation off with margaritas at 11 a.m?!

Our flight was a little delayed but we finally got settled into our hotel around five o'clock that evening. We stayed at Hotel Zephyr which was a really fun, upbeat place. We had a magnetic dart board and some other games in our room, and there was an outdoor patio area with a food truck, lots of games, and fire pits. I wish we would have had just a little bit more time to enjoy the setup at the hotel, but we were on a mission to make the most of our couple days in San Francisco, so we didn't spend much time there.

Since our hotel was located right at Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, we decided to go check out the area and find somewhere to grab dinner and a beer. We ended up at Wipeout Bar & Grill which was fantastic. After dinner we did a little more exploring and souvenir shopping before heading back to the hotel to rest up for our adventures on Friday.

Hellooo vacation!

The courtyard at our Hotel.

Alcatraz off in the distance.

We woke up bright and early and grabbed some breakfast before walking to the bus stop for our Hop On/Hop Off tour of the city. If you ever want to do one of these tours, I recommend checking out Groupon for discounted rates! I'm so glad that we decided to take this route to tour the city. The tour guides were very entertaining and full of information about the city's past.

We hopped on at Fisherman's Wharf (near our hotel) and made our first stop of the day to see the Mrs. Doubtfire house. The guide said it was just a couple blocks from where he dropped us off, but he failed to mention that it was actually several blocks completely uphill. I didn't realize San Francisco was so hilly, but I learned quickly that walking around the city was quite the workout!

Our second stop was to see the Golden Gate Bridge. I was a little worried it would be really crowded and we wouldn't get any good pictures, but that really wasn't the case at all! The bridge was amazing and the views were absolutely gorgeous. We spent quite a while admiring our surroundings before grabbing the next bus. We rode through the next few stops and just enjoyed listening to the history of all of the places we were passing. Dani really wanted to stop at Chinatown, so that was our next stop. We grabbed a beer and lunch at J&M A-1 Cafe which was decent (I don't love Chinese food so I'm not a fair judge) and then hopped back on the bus to continue our tour.

Our last stop before heading back to the hotel was to see the Painted Ladies. We were actually looking for the Full House house, but it turns out that it was several miles away from where the bus dropped us and we didn't have the time or energy to make that walk.

Friday night we had tickets to the Alcatraz Night Tour, and it was so neat! I definitely recommend going on this tour if you ever get the chance to. We boarded our boat around 6:00 p.m. and circled the island of Alcatraz before docking and starting our tour of the island. We walked around a bit and then went to the main prison building for a narrated tour. I found it cool that the narrators on the recording were actual prison guards and prisoners from Alcatraz. We walked the rows of prison cells, heard about escape attempts, and how the prisoners spent their time on the island.

One fact I thought was interest that the prison guard's families actually lived on the island with them. This blew my mind! No way would I want my family living on an island with some of the most notorious criminals in history. It even said that they didn't feel the need to lock their doors at night. Crazy!

Mrs. Doubtfire house!

The Painted Ladies.

One of the prison cells.

View of San Francisco from Alcatraz Island

To make the most of our last day in San Francisco, we booked Muir Woods and Wine Country tour. The shuttle picked us up at our hotel and we were off to see the redwood forest! The park was so beautiful! We walked around for about an hour and then we were off to wine country!

We stopped at three wineries, all of which we got to do a little wine tasting and enjoy the scenic views and beautiful weather. Our first stop was Cline Cellars in Sonoma. We tasted seven of their wines, one of which was their dessert wine. It was good, but the salted chocolate they served with it was even better! We were sure to buy some to take home with us.

Next, it was time for lunch. We stopped at Sonoma Plaza which was such a cute little area. It was full of adorable little shops, wineries, and a park. We did a little cheese sampling at The Cheese Factory and actually grabbed lunch there as well. Our tour guide recommended stopping in at Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery for a little bonus wine tasting so we were sure to do that as well. On our way back to the shuttle we popped into Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream for a little treat and then we were off to the next winery!

Homewoods Winery was our next stop. It's a small winery that's mission is to remain small enough to maintain the hand-crafted approach to wine making. We sampled six of their wines and mingled a bit with the other tour members before leaving to go to our last winery of the day, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.  This winery is actually owned by the same people who patented the Jacuzzi hot tub. It was probably my favorite winery, solely because the views were amazing. There was a tower you could climb to the top of and overlook their vineyards. It was a perfect end to our wine tour.

On the way back to our hotel, the tour guide took us to a more secluded spot to view the Golden Gate Bridge. It was neat to see it from the opposite side of what we saw the day before. After arriving back at our hotel, we decided to go back to Pier 39 for a couple beers and appetizers. We stopped at Beer 39, which I thought was a clever name for a bar in Pier 39. :) It was a perfect way to end our last night in San Francisco.


Chocolate wine shots!

Last night!
We woke up bright and early to catch our flight home on Sunday. It was a long day of traveling. Once we landed in St. Louis, we drove back to my hometown. I stayed the night at my Mom and Dad's so that I could go to VIP day with my nephew the following Monday. Dad made us dinner and we binge watched some Netflix and called it an early night.

My nephew asked me to come to VIP day with him at his school and of course I could not say no to that! We had breakfast together, played at recess, enjoyed circle time reviewing the days of the month, ABC's, counting, etc. and built a couple "choo choos" out of blocks. It was so fun to spend the morning with him and watch him interact with all the other kids in his class. He is only three and the rest of the kids are preparing to start kindergarten next year, so there is a bit of an age gap. I was so impressed with how well he kept up with everything. He loved having me there and held my hand everywhere we went. He completely melted my heart and I'm so glad that I got to be a part of his day.

After VIP day, I packed up one last time and finally headed home. I got home, unpacked, and hit the couch. Pretty sure the only reason I left the couch that day was to grab some food. It was a lazy end to a perfect trip.


Emily Ann

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