March 31, 2010

San Francisco - Gardens and Playgrounds

The thoughts of spring and cherry blossoms are perhaps not the first things that come to mind when describing San Francisco, but as the snows recede in the mountains, spring is taking hold down in the valleys and along the California coast. Golden Gate Park, with it's colorful gardens and playgrounds beckoned for a visit.  How though, to see the city with two small children?

San Francisco, like all large major cities, needs to be consumed in small doses or it quickly becomes overwhelming for two patient little boys. So with an unambitious itinerary we set out to enjoy the signs of spring in the city.

The Ferry Building along the waterfront houses a number of enticing shops with a focus on good food, and a few days a week the, farmers from the region bring their fresh fruits and vegetables to the ever popular farmers market. This was an obvious first stop after a long winter in the mountains. A pleasant stroll down the waterfront, left us enjoying newly picked strawberries bursting with flavor, as we meandered through the stalls of farm fresh delicacies.

As one little boy slept , the other took the historic streetcar along the waterfront past Fisherman's Wharf to Ghiradelli Square for ice cream.

The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying the view from the Norwegian Seaman's Church just below the crooked Lombard Street. And after an eventful day, it was great for the whole family to find a hotel room and call it an early night.

Near the center of Golden Gate Park lies the immaculate Japanese Tea Garden, an inspiring place to experience the blooming of cherry trees in a setting of Japanese architecture and bonsai trees. With it's immense size (five kilometers long and nearly one kilometer wide) it's unfair to try and squeeze to much into a single day, so we settled for lunch at the Children's Playground a pleasant drive through the park, and then just enough time to leisurely stroll through the Japanese Tea Garden before heading north back across the Golden Gate bridge and a night in the Marin Headlands.