3 Things to Do in San Francisco on an Afternoon Excursion

Iconic San Francisco streets and architecture are two things I love the most!

San Francisco is what I describe as a little, big city.  While somewhat ironic, it's true.  San Francisco is well laid out and easy to navigate.  However, there is a laundry list of tourist traps that could derail your trip and be a huge time suck.  If you are looking for a simple and uncomplicated afternoon adventure, here are my top three recommendations if you are short on time and pack a big punch!

Golden Gate Park

I believe that everyone should visit Golden Gate Park.  Period.  It is where I went on my first visit to San Francisco.  It is still my favorite place in the city hands down.  It is a huge park with so many things to explore.  There is not a wrong option within the park.

Koret Children's Quarter is a fun way to enjoy Golden Gate Park

We selected Koret Children's Quarter for our quick trip to the city.  The large play area and concrete slides offer plenty of play space.  If you plan to play on the concrete slides, bring along some cardboard to sit on as a makeshift "sled" of sorts.  There were lots of kids doing this!

Koret Children's Quarter is also near the Japanese Tea Garden.  This is a beautiful backdrop for photographs, enjoying a Zen snack or just taking a break. 

You can park under the Academy of Sciences Museum.  However, that option is pricey.  There was an event on the day we visited the park and much of the street parking was blocked or taken.  So, we had to park in the garage.  Try to park on the street if you can to avoid such high garage prices.


While at the park, ride the historic carousel.  Children under 5 ride for free.  Adults ride for $2.  Tickets for the carousel are sold at the concession at the carousel.  Even on a busy Sunday, the wait was short. 

It is worth the money.  The carousel was built in 1914 and is in pristine condition.  After a mechanical failure in 1977, the carousel reopened in 1984 following a major restoration.  Riding the carousel is like taking a step back in time and recapturing happy childhood memories that both children and the child at heart can enjoy!

The historic carousel is delightful.


Grabbing a quick meal on the edge of the park is an easy feat.  We opted for Nopalito.  The restaurant offers a hipster vibe with plenty of yummy options.  If you have a child with you, ask what options are available for them.  Off the menu, they offer a cheese or a cheese and chicken quesadilla.  The quesadillas are served on homemade tortillas that are large and much more delicious than what you find at most Mexican restaurants.

Nopalito has an open kitchen concept and has a small, but a well-crafted menu.

We started our meal with an appetizer of Totopos Con Chile.  These crispy homemade chips are mixed into a flavorful Salsa de Arbol.  The chips remain crisp and are finished with cotija cheese and crema.  Don't miss this dish!  Even our five year old loved this.  Not to spicy and just enough kick to tickle your taste buds.

The Enchiladas de Mole con Pollo may have been the best mole that I have ever had.  Also, try one of the Agua Frescas or the sangria.  This was an excellent meal to finish up our afternoon in the city.

Chicken mole enchiladas are amazing!

No matter the time of the year, pack a sweater or jacket.  San Francisco can be cool even in July.  We were greeted with temperatures in the low 60's on a mid-July day.  Wear your walking shoes and get your San Fran on!  It is a great city!  Even if you are short on time, you can enjoy this city by the Bay.  And, don't get caught in the tourist trap of traditional options.  Once you get off the beaten path you will find the real San Franciso that the locals enjoy, and you will fall in love too!

While waiting on our table for lunch we picked up a dog toy for our fur baby at a local pet store.

California was a great getaway for us this summer.  If the west coast is on your radar, check out my reviews of Inn Town Camp Ground in Nevada City for other exciting ways to enjoy your adventures.  Until next time, even if you are in the city, make a little time for the great outdoors and

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