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Berlitz Summer Camp
A helicopter tour is a great way to see the City By the Bay.
by Jim Graves
San Francisco is a great town with a great history. I took my wife, Carol, and girls Claire and Shelby, ages 5 and 6, up for four nights in August.
We stayed at the Hotel del Sol, a bright, kid-friendly motel in the neighborhood of Cow Hollow. When we arrived we found a goodie bag of kids’ toys and cotton candy in our room, which kept our kids occupied while we unpacked. They have an outdoor pool surrounded by kids’ art, and they serve fresh-baked cookies daily. The rooms are compact, but efficient. It is close to many restaurants, things to see and grocery stores. With free breakfast and parking, it’s a good value for families.
Amici’s is a family restaurant with locations all over the Bay area; we found a location two blocks from the Hotel del Sol. It offers a great balance between adult and kid food; all was excellent. Ingredients were fresh, not greasy, with good variety. We enjoyed premium wines and a delicious spinach salad in a kid-friendly environment that was open and casual. Good service, too.
There are many San Francisco tour opportunities, but few can compare with the experience offered by San Francisco Helicopters. We rode on a seven-seat helicopter over the city, across the bay and over and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Definitely do this tour. It was a fantastic experience, and San Francisco is the ideal city to see from the air. I was worried my 5-year-old would get scared, but both she and her sister were enthralled from the start. They’ll take you to and from the airport, so with driving time it makes for a great two-hour experience.
Before we left San Francisco, we had to stay one night at (arguably) the City’s finest hotel, the Fairmont on Nob Hill. This majestic structure opened just over a century ago, and has been the backdrop for movies and television shows.
The Fairmont has stunning, expansive views of the city and bay. Our room was both elegant and spacious, including a huge walk-in closet. The bed was the most comfortable I’ve ever slept on.
On the first floor there is a historic pictorial exhibit that tells you the story of this impressive hotel. They also have a beautiful rooftop garden. One of my favorite parts was the amazing breakfast at its Laurel Court Restaurant. The service was terrific, too.
The California Academy of the Sciences Museum is another attraction not to miss. Located in Golden Gate Park, it has an outstanding aquarium, natural history museum and planetarium. Notable features include a four-story rainforest complete with butterflies, a swamp exhibit with an albino alligator and a penguin exhibit. It’s an eco-friendly facility, built with recycled steel, insulated with recycled blue jeans, topped by a living roof with wildflowers and powered by solar panels. Take a stroll through the tall trees of Golden Gate Park afterward.
It was a great experience. We’ll be back again soon.
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Since my children, Claire and Shelby, are 5 and 6 now and past the baby stage, my wife and I decided to celebrate our newfound travel freedom with a family trip to Loreto, Mexico, in southern Baja California.
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