Molly surprised me with a birthday trip to San Francisco last February 2017, a great choice of location for a number of reasons including visiting our dearest friends George & Daisy, visiting The Rock. But most importantly, the logistics of this trip, departure and flight-time aligning with Miles’ nap schedule, were all conducive for this to be Miles’ first flying adventure.
Why you need to travel
I had previously mentioned a number of reasons why you need to travel with an infant. The moment you are pregnant you will have unsolicited advice on how “your life as you know it is about to change”, in some cases people will mean you are to be home-bound for the next 18 years (it could be more than that actually, forcing your lil’ cherub to become the next Chazz Reinhold).
If by simple economics you are more likely to hear “Ma! the meat loaf, we want it now, the meatloaf!” well past your sixties, then you can at least proactively “on board” your kid to a lifestyle that includes frequent travel so it is something he / she just comes to accept as the norm.
And, let’s be honest, a pungent, blown-out diaper situation is just as messy (and stinking may I add) at home as it is on a plane, and at home you lack the potential sympathy from other passengers or the help from the flight attendants.
And even if some give you the stink eye, you are more than likely never going to see them again anyway, so you might as well.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Hotel Union Square on Powell Street, it is right in the financial district and there are a 24 hour Walgreens and a Uniqlo right across the street-you know, for when you run out of diapers or you need a new cheap t-shirt, or both.
You can select an infant crib free of charge at time of booking and the staff will already have set it up for you as you check in, bonus points.
Where to go
There are people that travel lightly, and then there’s Molly and I who pack for a four-day trip like we are actually moving in for good. Bringing our Bob jogger was a rookie mistake, but it made for a fun coordination drill, and by the end of the trip, Molly, Miles and I were able to get in and out of a Uber in under five minutes- and that includes setting up the car seat! We generally chose the Uber SUV in order to haul us and our stuff, but a family of three could get away with an XL.
For an added health benefit, make the trip to the bay and its piers on foot and take advantage of the hilly terrain- this is where leisure meets workout. Boy, Miles was glad we brought that jogger with its plushy suspension- the streets in San Fran can be uneven and bumpy!
We strongly suggest you include The Rock in your schedule- its narrated tour creates a great atmosphere that takes you right into the full experience. It can fill up very quickly, so book days in advance (I’d suggest you watch “Escape from Alcatraz”, starring Clint Eastwood, to get in the right mood).
The boat ride to and from Alcatraz is great in its own, plus you might even have time to wander around the peer and maybe even visit the Aquarium.
Those are sea lions basking in the rays, and we recommend keeping an eye on them at all times.
George and Daisy were kind enough to ferry us around for a day, and they took us to the Seafood Peddler in Sausalito for lunch. The food here is amazing, with a great selection of bubbly and oysters, as well as great gluten-free sea food pasta!
It had been 12 months in the making for Molly to try an oyster again, and it took 12 local Myagi’s to satiate the craving!
Speaking of food, TOWN in downtown San Carlos is a also a great choice, request street seating if weather permits because there is nothing as entertaining to babies as people watching- and we know you too enjoy it.
Kin Khao, in Union Square, has great gluten-free options- their caramelized pork belly and pretty hot wings were memorable. The space is tiny, so you might need to park your stroller at the entrance, so bring all your valuables with you at the table just in case.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a must-visit place with an infant, whether you like modern art or not, because the sheer amount of colors and designs offer great stimulation for your little one. And people might even give you props for starting your baby in art so early; you cannot get these ego-boosters at home!
I will finish by saying that a good way to ensure you enjoy your first trip with your offspring is to set the right expectations up front. After all, you are still probably getting used to the “rookie” and his / her needs, so it might take you longer to get ready and out the door. And, if you are like Molly and me, you might even make the mistake of turning the TV on TNT or USA and get caught up in a Law & Order Marathon!
In our case Molly and I did not make it to the Muir Woods, or managed wine tasting at Napa / Sonoma. But like my grandpa used to say, “siempre hay mas tiempo que vida” something along the lines of there will always be time for a next time.
You have to trust everything will just come together nicely for you.