What to See in San Francisco (near great playgrounds)

One of the greatest things about San Francisco is that there is as much to ‘see’ as there is to ‘do.’

By this I mean…you can just sit back and see things…just look at them.

This is nice when you are feeling particularly taciturn…or have a sleeping toddler…or a toddler who is awake for that matter…or no toddler at all.

In New York City I guess you can sit and stare at things too, but there is so much hustle and bustle you really start to feel like you need to get off your lazy tuckus to go do something.  Maybe Paris is the only city I can think of that is comparable to San Francisco in that it has that, let’s hang around and ponder while we look at something beautiful in the background, feel to it.

In fact…let’s start with my favorite thing to look at in San Francisco…City Hall.  This beautiful building is just plopped right down in the middle of California, but is very reminiscent of Invalides in Paris.  I spent a lot of time looking at it while G was at one of the two (!) playgrounds in front of it.  And while Invalides has no playground I can recall, it is topped with gold, so…

City Hall-San Francisco

photo by Olivier BACQUET-fotopedia.com

Les Invalides-Paris

photo by Hervé Boulben-fotopedia.com

After playing in the fantastic Marina Playground in the Marina district of San Francisco, G and I walked over to Crissy Fields to sit on the beach and look at the bay (item one) with the Golden Gate Bridge (item two) hovering in the distance.  Then we strolled over to the Fine Arts Building (item three) where I sat in the cool breeze, surrounded by lovely homes while G napped.  It was a sightseeing trifecta.  I never really got to the bottom of what the Fine Arts Building is about.  I do know The Exploratorium is under there (for now-it will move near Pier 39 in 2013) and it looks like a lovely place for a wedding, but its quiet pond filled with swans was perfect.

Crissy Fields-Item 1-The Bay

photo by Jean-Bernard Reynier-fotopedia.com

The Golden Gate Bridge-Item 2

photo by Christian Mehlführer-fotopedia.com

The Fine Arts Building-Item 3

photo by haglundc on Flickr

Another fun and creepy view that always seems to just lurk in the distance is Alcatraz, the notorious prison surrounded by shark infested waters that was the previous home to some of the most villainous criminals in history.  We did not take the ferry over to tour the now defunct jailhouse, but believe me, you never forget it’s there as it can bee seen from quite a few vantage points around town.

photo by Karsten Schwarzkopf-fotopedia.com

The Golden Gate Park is so ridiculously BIG, I didn’t have time to explore nearly as much of it as I wanted to.  We went to the big playground housed in the park that has its own carousel, but that was not the highlight.  The highlight were these big, long cement slides that kids careen down over and over again sitting on pieces of cardboard boxes they brought from home.  G indicated he wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  So I borrowed a kid’s piece of cardboard, set G on my lap and we howled all the way to the bottom.  The slide is so stinking fast it catapulted us right off at the bottom and plunked us onto the ground.  G squealed, ‘Again?  again?’  We must have gone down 15 more times until one time the cardboard shot out from underneath me and my bottom was utilized as our brake pad.  Mommy was done after that.  So we wandered over to the Botanic Gardens, also housed in the park, just as it was closing.  But it didn’t even matter that we missed going inside.  We just sat in the grass and had a snack while we stared at this view below…

photo by Ron Tyrrell-fotopedia.com

And here it is…the iconic San Francisco shot of the Painted Ladies.  I took this one all by myself thank you very much.  Painted Ladies is a colloquial term for these Victorian houses painted in four or more colors.  There are several examples of them in different cities across the US, but these are the most iconic.  They’ve been used in films and advertisements for years.  Even Michael said, ‘Oh yeah…the houses from that cel phone commercial?’

These little beauties are nestled across the street from a lovely grassy field called Alamo Square that is filled with people taking photos.  And while many come away with the exact shot you see here…

…we all know the real money shot is of little G enjoying the lovely day (and the iPad-how else was I supposed to keep him still?) in the shadow of the Ladies.

The view from the adorable playground next to the grassy knoll of Alamo Square looks like this…

Not a bad view while your little tyke is burning off steam on the playground equipment that looks like this…

which of course looks like this…

Lastly, in the Mission there is a terrific playground called Delores Park.  When you climb all the way up to the top of the slide, you get a view of the entire city below.

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