Back to the city I love the most, the city I crave, the city that makes me feel chic and fabulous – San Francisco. This time rather than adorning shopping bags and lattes I was sporting a diaper bag and a toddler with the wife by my side. The family trip did not make my experience any less pleasant than the last; in fact we had a blast. We arrived atop Nob Hill at The Huntington Hotel after having been delayed for 3 hours in Los Angeles.
Grumpy and hungry I checked in while my wife chased Sophia around the lobby. The woman at the front desk handed me a tray with warm towels for the three of us and we were baptized; it was just what we needed to press reset on our weekend getaway to my all-time favorite city.
If you are a travel enthusiast, trips with a toddler require special planning and most importantly a little help from the babysitter.
We used the hotel-recommended service for both nights of our stay. I highly advise this; it allowed us to go the amazing Nob Hill Spa just off the lobby. The menu of services are vast and incredible, you can’t go wrong. We basked in the hot tub together and read by the fire.
Once dressed, we walked to the other end of the lobby and up the stairs to Big 4 Restaurant. We sat fireside once again, listening to live piano music and eating delicious food prepared by previously awarded “Chef of the Year” Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls.
What better recipe for romance than being softly serenaded in a dimly lit room with a cocktail in hand?
Waking up bright and early is not usually on my agenda for a vacation, but I have yet to convey this to my daughter. So the family arose for a 7AM breakfast in bed accompanied by none other than Dora on the flat screen TV. By 8:30 we were out the door and hiking the San Francisco hills in search of a quaint coffee shop for a pick-me-up. Beverages in hand, we were off to the California Academy of Sciences. This museum includes an aquarium, a natural history museum, a planetarium, and even a 4-story rainforest environment; it is truly a treat and must not be missed. If I have learned anything about traveling with my daughter it’s that she’s on vacation too and including entertainment for her is sure to make one big happy family.
We topped the afternoon with a cable car ride up and down the hills of San Fran and a late afternoon snack at Yank Sing, notably the best Dim Sum in town. The three of us will vouch for that; we couldn’t resist as the servers rolled past with their bamboo dishes of delectable rolls.
Hands on our bellies, we stumbled out of the Chinese eatery to roam the streets once more.
After walking off our delicious meal, we hailed a cab to Union Square for a little shopping. Zipping around in the taxi may have been my daughter’s favorite part of the trip. I don’t know if it was the walkie-talkie, or that she was huddled tightly between her two moms pointing at the scenery out the window, but she talked about it for hours.
Once the evening came upon us, our daughter was exhausted and we were ready for another night out on the town. Our agenda was simple: drinks at Farina and dinner at Delfina in the Mission District. This is my new favorite part of San Francisco. Bustling with lively locals, this hip neighborhood has a New York style flair that is irresistible. We sipped fresh original cocktails at the Farina bar on our spin top stools and drooled over the menu, hoping we made reservations at the right place. I spun around to eye the patrons and felt as if I were in Soho. The re-purposed hand-hewn Genoese marble sinks along the bar topped off the simple yet edgy design. We could barely tear ourselves away when the clock chimed ten and we were due for our date with the well-known Delfina.
Our hesitations were quelled immediately when we read that Chef and co-owner Craig Stoll won the James Beard Award. We peeked around and the packed restaurant maintained a cozy atmosphere that begged for a bottle of wine accompanied by rousing conversation taking us well past our mommy-prescribed bedtime. The scrumptious meal spoiled us much beyond our expectations. Dungeness crab salad with ruby grapefruit, linguine with reduced sea urchin that melted in my mouth like butter and a parsnip carrot ginger soup that paired perfectly with our wine. It was a delicious evening and a well-needed getaway to my very favorite city –San Francisco!
– Hire a babysitter and get out and enjoy your part of the vacation.
– If you have a little one, put the crib in the bathroom so that you have your time and the baby has a dark bedroom of their own to sleep peacefully.
– Use your concierge; they will introduce you to the neighborhood favorites that are more intimate and less touristy.
Huntington Hotel: $385 and up
Delfina- $25 and up
Farina – $25 and up
Yank Sing- $15 and up
Academy of Sciences- Adults $24.95/Children (12-17)- $19.95
Golden Gate Park- Free
[San Francisco photo- flickr member: Alan Picard]