Posts Tagged ‘California’

postheadericon Six Great Places You Can See Marine Life in the Wild


Monk Seals Hawaii

It’s an amazing feeling to see animals in the wild, in their natural environments.  There is something refreshing and peaceful knowing they’re doing exactly what they’re meant to do….what the choose to do.


Six Great Places You Can See Marine Life in the Wild

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postheadericon San Francisco with Kids: Visiting Alcatraz and 5 Tips to Make the Most of Your Day


Alcatraz is not only one of San Francisco’s most well-known and prominent landmarks, but it’s also America’s most famous maximum-security prison!  If you’re taking a family vacation to the Bay Area, a visit here is probably on your list of things to do.  Interestingly, Alcatraz was the site of the first lighthouse in the Western United States, but in 1934 it became a federal penetentary and the home of some pretty well known convicts such as Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.  It also played a key role in the American Indian rights movement, but now it’s part of the Bay Area’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Alcatraz is full of history and the audio tour “Doing Time: The Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour” features actual correctional officers and prisoners who lived and worked on the Island.  It was our favorite attraction while visiting San Francisco with Kids and I highly recommend you include it in your vacation the next time you visit!


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postheadericon San Francisco with Kids: Visiting the opening scene location of ‘Full House’

One of San Francisco’s Top Icons:  Alamo Square Park and the Painted Ladies

If you’re visiting San Francisco with Kids you must stop at Alamo Square Park to see the famous “postcard row” aka the Painted Ladies.  My girls are obsessed really love watching  the hit TV show Full House and for them this was something they really wanted to see on our trip.  Most of the show was filmed in a studio, however, the opening scene of them playing in the grass with the beautiful Victorian houses in the background is really what you think of when you think of the show!


The park is a bit away from most of the stuff you’ll be doing in the city and it’s in a residential area, but the row of beautiful Victorian houses will take you right down memory lane.

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postheadericon San Francisco’s Chinatown


One of the things we really enjoyed about San Francisco was taking the cable cars to all of the different neighborhoods in the city and visiting Chinatown was one of the highlights of our stops!

There are actually two different Chinatowns, one for the locals and one for the tourists.  With no itinerary or previous knowledge of what to expect, we walked up and down the streets of both sections, weaving around the locals, and wandering into the unique shops!  The streets are filled with colorful restaurants, shops, and markets and it’s an awesome experience for kids and adults alike to experience the different cultures in the area!

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postheadericon {Half Moon Bay State Beach} California

{Wordless Wednesday}
Half Moon Bay State Beach
Half Moon Bay, California

NOTICE REGARDING CAMPING RESERVATION CLOSURE:  To facilitate an improvement project within the campground at Half
Moon Bay State Beach (Francis Beach), reservations WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE
October 2013 THROUGH EARLY 2014.  When project dates are finalized,
unaffected dates will be opened for reservations.  The campground will
now be open and available for reservations Winter, Spring, and Summer

postheadericon Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco


Aquarium of the Bay
San Francisco, California

Who: My husband, 2 girls, and myself got to visit the aquarium while in San Francisco last month!

What and Where: Conveniently located at Pier 39, this small aquarium offers tanks with all sorts of marine life, a couple of walk through tunnels, a touch tank, and a new otter exhibit!




The High Points:

This is a great place to visit for small children!  You can get up close and personal with up to 20,000 sea creatures and it’s in the heart of Pier 39!  The touch tank, which includes a shark, sting ray, star fish, urchin, and a few other creatures was a big hit with my girls.  One of the walk through tunnels had the most star fish we’ve ever seen together.  They were stuck to the glass so you could see the underside…it was a neat sight!




The Low Points:

The aquarium is small and you can probably finish the whole thing in less than an hour.  The price tag for such a short visit is a little steep, in my opinion, and the way it’s set up I can see how you might feel cramped on a busy day!




The Bottom Line and the Kids Take:

The Aquarium of the Bay’s mission is to protect, restore and inspire the conservation of San Francisco Bay and it’s watershed, from the Sierra to the sea.  We’ve visited many aquariums and, although this one has been the smallest, the kids enjoyed the short visit!

Prices and Hours:

At $21.95 for adults, $12.95 for kids, or $64 for a family of 4.

Summer Hours – Open every day 9am-8pm.

General Hours of Operation — Fall/Spring

September 4 – October 31; March 1-May 28
Monday – Thursday: 10am to 7pm
Friday – Sunday: 10am – 8pm

General Hours of Operation — Winter

Beginning November 1
Monday – Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Friday – Sunday: 10am – 7pm


How to Make the Most of Your Visit

  • Take advantage of the Interpretive Naturalists!  They are happy to educate you on the diverse animals and habitats that live in and near the San Francisco Bay!
  • The aquarium has more than 20,000 animals!  Play a game with your child to make spotting the animals fun!  Can you find the octopus?  How about the flounder?
  • Try and go first thing in the morning or late in the evening when it’s less crowded.  There is not much room and if there are a lot of people you might feel like you have to keep moving forward.
  • The aquarium is small so you will probably finish in less than an hour.  It might be a good place to go right before or after another planned activity!
  • Make sure to walk around Pier 39 and see the sea lions!

postheadericon Sea Lions @ Pier 39 on the San Francisco Bay





Sea Lions at Pier 39 Read the rest of this entry »

postheadericon Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront


Hilton San Francisco

During our recent trip to San Francisco – one of the greatest cities in the USA – we stayed at the Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront.


Why Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront

Like my previous trips, I did a lot of research looking for a clean, convenient, and affordable place to stay for our long weekend getaway.  What I found out was that in order to stay at a place that met all three points of my criteria- in the heart of the city- I was going to shell out a lot more that I was originally thinking.  The deeper I dove into my research I realized that staying at an airport location was not only a great way to save some cash, but it was also convenient for the amount of time we were staying and a great way to see more than just the city of San Francisco.

The Room

A cozy Double Executive Floor room with access to the private lounge overlooking the San Francisco Bay!




The Concierge Lounge –

We usually try and stay at places with a kitchen because it’s so convenient, but this hotel offered something much better!  If you book an executive floor room you have access to the concierge lounge where they not only have complimentary breakfast, but also complimentary hors d’oeuvres in the evening followed by complimentary cookies.  (The chocolate chip cookies may have been the best I’ve ever had by the way!)  This is perfect for business travelers and families.  It’s the perfect way to start the day!


The breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, bagels, muffins, and fresh fruit.  Drinks consisted of Starbucks coffee as well as a variety of teas and juices and the fridge was always stocked with bottled water and soda.  The helpful staff was attentive and friendly.

For my family this was a huge bonus.  It was great not having to worry about getting out right away to eat!  Everyone had nice full bellies which not only saved us a little money, but made the mornings more enjoyable.





Convenient Location

When we arrived in SFO it was just after midnight and there was nothing that I wanted to do more than hit the sack!  We were so happy to leave the airport and be at the hotel within minutes.  A free hotel shuttle is provided so you don’t have to worry about navigating or parking.  The location of the hotel is very convenient for a long weekend stay to explore San Francisco. The property is located on the bay just minutes from the airport so being able to look out the window and see the planes landing was an added bonus!

By staying at this location we discovered the small city of Burlingame, too.  The small downtown area is full of shopping and restaurants and was a pleasant alternative to the busy city of San Fran.



We had a fantastic stay!  The hotel was clean, comfortable, and convenient.  It suited our needs exactly and I would absolutely stay there again.

Things to Know

Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront:

  • Charges a nightly rate of $18 for parking.
  • Internet is an additional charge.
  • When booking your room strongly consider splurging on the Executive Level Rooms which include access to the Lounge.
  • Hotel is Non-Smoking
  • Pets are Allowed
  • Check-in 3:00  Check-out 12:00
  • Although the hotel is a popular place for business travelers, it is also a wonderful choice for family stays.


Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront

600 Airport Blvd.
Burlingame, CA 94010


postheadericon San Francisco, California {Photography}

Last weekend we had the opportunity to visit San Francisco, California!  It was our first time to the city and I can’t wait to share all of the amazing things we did in 4 busy days!  For now, here are some of the highlights!  Check back for details on each place 🙂

I scored a great deal on airline tickets via the Name Your Own Price option on Priceline!  We stayed at the Hilton Bayfront Airport Hotel and upon arrival we had this yummy treat waiting for us in the room!  These were them most delicious chocolate chip cookies I think we’ve ever eaten!



Here is one of the most photographed locations in San Francisco: Alamo Square’s “Painted Ladies.”

What a show these lazy sea lions put on for us at Pier 39!  Most of them were happily snoozing away on the docks, but a handful of troublemakers wanted to pick on each other for sunbathing space!
















Have a Great Weekend!!

postheadericon Beaches Worth Checking Out – Favorite Five

Five of My All Time Favorite Beaches


1.  Kaanapali Beach ~ Maui, Hawaii:  Voted my #1 because of its sugary soft sand, light waves, sandy bottom, beautiful coral, abundance of marine life, and breathtakingly beautiful backdrop.  Black Rock is known for its frequent visits by sea turtles, too!




2.  Crystal Cove State Park ~ Laguna Beach, California:  Voted my #2 because of its quaint feel, unique tidal pools, and fun character.  Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, grab a bite to eat, horseback ride, or explore, this beach has it all!




3.  Bean Point ~ Anna Maria Island, Florida:  Voted my #3 because of its private and unspoiled feel.  Just off shore is a sandbar where you can find sand dollars, conch shells, or possibly see a manatee swimming by.  Anna Maria Island has many beautiful beaches, lots of activities, and good restaurants!



4.  Black Sand Beach ~ Maui, Hawaii:  Voted #4 because there are not many black sand beaches making this a unique and beautiful spot.  Black lava rocks, black sand, and deep blue water make this beach a favorite for its picturesque quality!  It’s located off of the Road to Hana, one of the most beautiful drives in the world!




5.  Lanikai Beach ~ Oahu, Hawaii:  Voted my #5 for its relaxation and beauty.  There are no facilities and it’s located in a residential community, but it is by far one of the most serene beaches I’ve ever been to!


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