Top 10 Favorite Spots in San Francisco

 GG Bridge
 

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company – San Francisco

56 Ross Alley
San Francisco, CA 94108
Chinatown
415-781-3956
 
***********Video of one of the factory workers.  ***********
 
Hours:
Daily 9:00am – 6:00pm
 
The “tour” is free but make sure you have $1 handy if you plan of taking any photos.
 
The “factory” is small but we were told that the two ladies at this location produce about 10,000 cookies per day.
 
Be careful which bag you choose to purchase.  A father at our school purchased the XXX rated version for the school’s Chinese New Year parade….ooops!
 
While you are in Chinatown, check out
Great Eastern Restaurant for Dim Sum
649 Jackson Street for dinner.  415-986-2500
Chinatown Kite Shop and grab a kite to fly on Marina Green with the locals.
717 Grant Street for the perfect kite. 415-989-5182
 

TCHO – Chocolate Factory Tour

Update!-Tcho Factory Tour

Tcho is moving their factory from Pier 17 in San Francisco to Berkeley to a larger building to facilitate their growth.  Unfortunately, that means the Tcho Factory tour will no longer be in San Francisco and is currently on hold.  However, given the quality that Tcho demonstrates in all that they do, I am sure the new facility will be amazing and the new factory tour, once it is up and running, will be even better than the original.  Click this link to go to Tcho’s Factory Tour page of their website for the latest update and subscribe to CEOoftheHouse.com updates here to receive the new Tcho Factory Tour review as soon as it is published.  Below is the original Tour Review of the Pier 17 Tcho Factory Tour.

Knowing how few true “Food Factory” Tours are left in the world, I am giving TCHO six stars!  If you read other reviews online about the age requirements by TCHO, it is clear they are discouraging children from going on the tour.  When I first walked in with my four children I certainly felt like a fish out of water.  Every tour participant was hipper than the next, and at least twenty years older than my crew.  However, in the end, it was worth the awkward silence from the other tour participants because:

1.) We all learned a lot about the process of chocolate making. (like different flavors of chocolate can happen simply due to the source country of the cacao beans used!)

2.) We gave our taste buds a work out. (plenty of samples of Tcho’s award winning chocolates!)

If you have children over the age of eight, don’t hesitate to bring them here.   I do believe eight is the correct age due to the length of the video portion of the tour and the richness in flavors of the chocolates.

If you are looking for a fun, unique place to take a date, put TCHO on the top of your list.

Bonus: 10% Discount at the store when the tour is over.

Warning: They require you to take all your jewelry off and leave your purse behind when go into the factory.

 

Cable Car Museum

1201 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
415-474-1887

Admission is Free 

Hours: April 1 thru September 30:   10:00am-6:00pm

October 1 thru March 31:  10:00am – 5:00pm 

This museum is a must see. 

 

California Carnivores

California Carnivores

 
2833 Old Gravenstein Highway South
Sebastopol, California 95472
707-824-0433
Open: Thursday-Monday 10am-4pm
 

Looking for a unique outing for your family?  This is it! 

 

California Carnivores is the largest carnivorous plant nursery in the United States.  It is operated by author Peter D’Amato who started his passion for these meat eating plants as a child.  His love of these fascinating plants is obvious as you walk around the nursery, view the wonders of these plants through the on hand magnifying glasses and read the uniqueness and history of each plant.

The nursery is also the home to many Pacific Chorus Frogs.  The kids had a great time searching in and around the plants trying to locate their hiding places.

The starting plants are very reasonable and if you think you have no use for a meat eating plant in your home go check out your fruit bowl. 

 

 

Gabriel Farms

3175 Sullivan Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
707-829-0617
 

Gabriel Farms is our families’ favorite U-Pick Apple Farm.  This is a farm that understands families and has a true desire to educate and feed the next generation.  I am pleased to hear that they have put some restrictions on the u-pick it part of their farm, because the changes they have made will help sustain their farm.  Click here to see the changes.  

When entering the farm you will be assigned a tour guide that will walk you through the farm and show you the different varieties of apple and pears.  Once you are done with your tour, you are free to roam the farm, picnic with your family and pick the best tasting fruit you have ever had.

 

 

Alcatraz

– SF Bay Alcatraz  aka “The Rock”
Cruises leave from Pier 33, SFSite for Cruise information is here.

Map of the island is here. 

The Rock operated as a prison from 1934-1963.  A trip to the island will fill your head with the history it holds and leave fabulous images of the SF skyline and the beauty of the islands rare wild flowers and wildlife.  There is something for visitors of all ages.   

 
 
 

Angel Island- State Park San Francisco Bay

Click Here to see the multiple transportation options.

Click Here for printable maps of the island.

January 21st is National Angel Island Day

There are several fun ways to enjoy the island.  You can enjoy lunch at the Cove Cafe, Rent Bikes, Rent a Segway, or take a Tram Tour.  Check site for availability and seasonal schedules.

Stop by the US Immigration Station that resides on the island to learn about the history of those wishing to gain access to the United States.  For a small cost you can take a docent led tour.  Self-guided tours are free.  The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

 

Old Faithful Geyser of California

1299 Tubbs Lane

Calistoga, CA 94515

707-942-6463

 

 

 The Marine Mammal Center

Sweet Baby

 

I don’t know of a better family outing in the Bay Area.  Check out their website to view a list of their current patients.

  • Admission is free to this fabulous Marine Mammal Hospital.
  • Hours Daily 10am-5pm except Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Location: 1065 Fort Cronkhite Sausalito, Ca 94965
  • Phone:(415) 289.SEAL 7325

Academy of Science – San Francisco

There is so much to do in the San Francisco Bay Area, and, once you visit the California Academy of Sciences, you will see why we rank it so highly on our Bay Area Family Fun List.

San Francisco Academy of Science

55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118
415-379-8000
 
Monday – Saturday.
9:30am – 5:00pm.
Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm.
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
 
Quarterly Free Sundays 2014 sponsored by Chase Bank.
Sunday September 14, 2014

There are additional free days for San Francisco residents in the fall, sponsored by Target, that vary based on zip code of residence.  Check website for a list of current dates.    The following post is by my mother Terry Hennessy.  To read more from Terry, head over to Granny Speaks. The San Francisco Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park offers a variety of adventures for every age group of children….and adults.    As a member, I have early access on Sunday mornings when doors open at 10 a.m., an hour earlier than general admission.   Before heading out, familiarize yourself with the museum’s floor-plan. When visiting the museum with my grandchildren, we go directly to the Planetarium.  We immediately pick up passes for the Planetarium Show (ages 6 and older).  While waiting for the 10:30 a.m. show, walk over to see Claude the “albino alligator”. Claude shares his habitat with many turtles.  Back at the Planetarium show, you will recline in comfortable seats and enjoy an educational journey through the universe.  Exiting on the upper level, you can take the stairs up to the Living Roof and a enjoy a great view of San Francisco.  Our next stop is to get in line for the Rain Forest.  Here you get cocooned inside waiting chambers so no butterflies can escape traveling on your clothing.  A gentle ramp brings you up two levels, as you admire flora and fauna and read about different rainforest creatures.  You might be lucky enough to have a butterfly land on your head as I did one time. When you reach the top, you must exit via the elevator which takes you down to the Aquarium where you walk amongst the sea creatures via a magic tunnel.  There are over 38,000 fish and sea creatures spread throughout several rooms of fish and aquatic exhibits including a touching Tide Pool.  Just sit and watch these amazing colorful fish swimming in their schools, coexisting with different species. In addition to these standard features, the San Francisco Academy of Science hosts special exhibits, such as the recent Earthquake Exhibit.  This exhibit demonstrated how an earthquake feels, showed storyboards of how to keep your family safe, and listed emergency supplies every family should have.  An Ostrich Exhibit showed live little chicks and how quickly they grow.  Currently there is a video show about dinosaurs.  There are scientists and lab workers, an African Room, a Penguin Exhibit, a video about the Galapagos Islands, and much more. Of course, the kids love the two gift shops with unusual educational games and souvenirs.  Always check the website before heading to the museum to see what new exhibits they will be offering. I suggest you get the San Francisco Academy of Science Family Membership and limit your visit to no more than three hours.  Come often and concentrate on two or three areas so the children have an opportunity to study and learn without being overwhelmed with too much new information.  When you visit the Gift Shop, my favorite purchase is “astronaut ice-cream”.  It’s inexpensive and delicious, as well as a special treat. San Francisco Academy of Science Fun Facts: There are 20 African Penquins and the oldest penguin, Pierre, was born in 1983. The are approximately 1.7 million native Californian plants living on the Living Roof. There are over 2,000 tropical fish calling the Philippine Coral Reef tank their home. The Pendulum knocks down a peg every 39 minutes. Let us know what fun facts you discover and comment below.  Happy touring!

Fill Your Bellies

Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop

3692- 18th Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

415-626-5600

lick@biritecreamery.com

 

***  Second location on 550 Divisadero coming soon! 

Our love of Bi-Rite began at their ice cream store.  Bi-Rite creamery opened in December of 2006 and there has been a substantial line out the door ever since.  The date nor the weather won’t dictate the popularity of what is in my opinion, “The Best Ice Cream EVER!”  All of the ice creams and baked good are made with local, organic, and sustainable ingredients whenever possible.  The salted-carmel is so ridiculously good that it is impossible for me to order anything else.  Order up a special cake or a Sundae Party Kit for a special occasion.

Umami Burger – Union Street – SF

by CEOoftheHouse · 5 Comments(Edit)

This weekend we took our good friend Shelly’s recommendation to try Umami Burger on Union Street in San Francisco.  It has only been there for about 7 weeks but so many in the bay area had already fallen in love with this fabulously unique burger bar after visiting one of their locations in Southern California.We had just finished our fourth basketball tournament game in the last three days in San Francisco and my 7th grader and his teammates had just won a nail-biter to advance to the semi-finals of the “Flame Tournament”, so it was a perfect time to celebrate and enjoy someone else’s great cooking!?First, the name, Umami Burger…seems strange, right?  Our waiter, Aaron, was quick to explain that Umami is the name for the fifth basic taste, after sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.  We weren’t quite sure what to make of that, but sure were excited to try what that translated to on the menu.  Truffle cheese fries, cheesy tater tots, burgers made from freshly ground (multiple times a day on location) custom blended beef varieties, interesting dipping sauces from garlic aioli to thousand island dressing, distinctive cheeses like beer cheddar made in the kitchen, this place really worked hard on crafting a unique “burger” spot.?So, how did it work out?  In a word…fabulous!  Truffle cheese fries did not last more than a few minutes with mom, dad, and all four kids devouring as quickly as they politely could.  Regular, skinny fries were great alone, but extra good for trying the sauces.  The burgers?  Delectable!  Dad had the “Manly”, which is their version of a bacon cheeseburger except with lardons, homemade, craftsman cheese and some crispy onion strings on top. Any sample bites for mom or others?  I think not…even the plain burger for our no cheese girl disappeared in short order.  Mom had the Ahi Burger that was on the special menu and all I can say is I didn’t share.?With such a delicious assortment of savory items in our stomachs, we were somewhat skeptical about how anything sweet might work out here. However, put a homemade “Ho-Ho” on the menu and we are going to order it!  We also ordered some sort of peanut butter marshmallow dessert and after looking each other in the eyes before our waiter left, went ahead and added a second Ho-Ho to our order just in case…..Good thing we did!  It was rich, but delicious!  The peanut butter/marshmallow was mom’s fave, but the “Ho-Ho” topped everyone else’s list.?Bottom line, we were a little nervous about taking our four kids here as it has a distinctly older, hipper vibe, but Jesse the host insisted while being gourmet, they also want to be a neighborhood restaurant.  At an early hour, it worked out fine for us.  One other challenge was the music was pretty loud and the speaker was directly over our table.  But when asked, they did turn it down, which made a big difference in the atmosphere and being able to carry on a conversation at a larger table.?So, in the final analysis, we had a delicious and somewhat unique meal with great service at a reasonable price and we will definitely be back!

 

TACKO

3115 Fillmore Street

San Francisco, CA 94123

415-796-3534

 

 

 

Have you fallen prey to buying cameras from big box retailers or online, instead of at your local camera store?  Let me a share an experience that really reinforced the value of my local camera store!  On a recent trip East, I brought two cameras and my iPhone.  I hesitated bringing my new Canon 5D Mark III because I currently only have one lens for it and my Canon 95s is so awesome.  Towards the end of our trip, we were headed to the scenic Berkshire mountains where I had attended high school just a mere 25 years ago.  When I opened the camera bag, I was horrified by the site of my lens cap smashed into the lens filter.  I held the camera upside down and removed the cap and the lens filter.  Tiny shards of glass were all over the lens of the camera and within the nooks and crannies of the lens.  I decided to tuck the camera back in the bag and wait until I got back home to my trusty, local camera store.  So glad I did!  My camera lens survived thanks to a high powered blower, a high quality lens cap, and some experienced personal attention from Seawood Photo!

So here is when I start my rant about shopping local.  Local stores need our patronage.  Imagine if the same thing happened to your camera and there was no local camera store?  You would have to ship it somewhere and lose valuable time from your camera.  Happy Clicking everyone:)

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