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California - A Great Place to Visit

Updated on July 28, 2013

California Dreamin

The Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool - yes, swimming pool.  This picture doesn't begin to do it justice.
Swimming Pool - yes, swimming pool. This picture doesn't begin to do it justice. | Source

A Trip to California

I love to travel but having four kids always put a crimp in our budget and limited our travel. When I got the invitation to our good friend's daughter's wedding I was thrilled. A chance to go to California and now our kids were grown! A real trip to visit California? We weren't out of the woods financially but the bride and groom graciously offered us their house while they were on their honeymoon. We didn't want to take advantage so we planned a four day stay. If you're careful and get tickets ahead of time you can sometimes find cheap airline tickets to San Francisco.

I was so excited. I was finally going to get to go to California. Specifically to San Francisco! Do you have any idea of the San Francisco attractions? We had no real travel plans but again our friends stepped in and helped guide us to some great spots. The night before the wedding was spent with the bride and groom's family at the groom's sister's lovely home. I was especially taken with their swimming pool as I'd never seen anything like it back East.

This was just the beginning! The wedding was held at a lovely little church. After that we drove up a mountain to attend the reception at a really beautiful mountain-top lodge!

Wedding Related Photos

Church parking lot.
Church parking lot. | Source
Mountain-top lodge.
Mountain-top lodge. | Source

Cable Car Photo

My daughter and husband on a cable car.
My daughter and husband on a cable car. | Source

San Francisco - Our Visit

The day after the wedding our California/San Francisco treat began. No trip to San Francisco is complete without a a ride on a cable car, so naturally we waited for one to come along for our first ride. Cable cars are also known as the San Francisco trolley. The cable cars have three routes in operation and you can buy a one day pass, three day pass or seven day pass. Cable car prices were $13.00 for the one day pass, $20.00 for the two day pass and $26.00 for the seven day pass. You can get on and off anywhere and as many times as you would like during your paid time period.

I was amazed at how hilly the streets really are. You see it movies and TV but until you've been there you really can't believe it. Of course the ride was lots of fun.

Our destination was Chinatown. What a mix of sights, sounds and smells. I would bet that California's Chinatown is a tad more authentic than New York's but don't tell that to the residents of either one! Naturally we had to eat there. Our friend's son recommended a truly authentic restaurant and of course we were game. We got to the restaurant and realized as we were standing on the street we were looking into the kitchen. Yup! We had to walk through the kitchen and up a flight of stairs to get to the dining room. I use that term lightly. When we got upstairs the ceiling was very low and the 'table and chairs' was actually a picnic table style table with benches. Nothing fancy at all, but I do have to say the food was excellent!

Chinatown Photos

Mural that met us as we entered Chinatown
Mural that met us as we entered Chinatown | Source
Our first view of Chinatown
Our first view of Chinatown | Source
The restaurant kitchen we walked through
The restaurant kitchen we walked through | Source

Coit Tower

We had so much more to see. Next we went to Coit Tower. Coit Tower is in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood. It was paid for with money left by Lillian Coit, a wealthy socialite. It's really an interesting structure. The view from Coit tower's perch is amazing.

This 210 foot tower was built using money left to the city by Lillian Coit in 1933. The tower is built of concrete and took five years to construct.

Coit Tower Photos

Coit Tower
Coit Tower | Source
View from Coit Tower
View from Coit Tower | Source

Alcatraz Photo

View of Alcatraz from Fisherman's Wharf
View of Alcatraz from Fisherman's Wharf | Source

Fisherman's Wharf Wildlife

Seagull resting at Fisherman's Wharf
Seagull resting at Fisherman's Wharf | Source
Sea Lions resting at Fisherman's Wharf
Sea Lions resting at Fisherman's Wharf | Source

Fisherman's Wharf

No trip to the San Francisco area would be complete without a trip to Fisherman's Wharf, the waterfront community. In addition to the boats and restaurants there are sea lions basking in the sun! It is the northern waterfront area of San Francisco, from Ghirardelli Square east to Pier 35. It's still the home base of San Francisco's fishing fleet and where the crabs come in!

Fisherman's Wharf offers a host of things to see and do. There are retail stores and shopping centers. Between Jefferson and Jones Street you'll find Anchorage Square filled with shops and entertainment. You can even stay at the Courtyard Marriott right in Anchorage Square.

There's an aquarium at Fisherman's Wharf, National Liberty Ship Memorial (SS. Jeremiah O'Brien) located at Pier 45, oh, did I mention Pier 39? a two story marketplace with one hundred and ten shops! Now we're talking shopping. You can catch the cruise ship to Alcatraz at Pier 39 as well as 2-hour California Sunset Cruise. There's so much more to see there isn't room here to write about it.

What about Alcatraz? Alcatraz Island is now a National Park but think of what it was. Referred to as "The Rock", Alcatraz was originally used to protect the Bay Area from invaders. Due to its isolation it was used to house Civil War prisoners in 1866. It became a Federal Prison in 1934. I'm sure most of you have heard of "the Birdman of Alcatraz" (Robert Franklin Stroud) but Alcatraz was home to a variety of criminals including Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, and more. It also provided housing for the Bureau of Prison employees and their families.

Because the prison cost more to operate than any other prison it was closed in March of 1963. In 1969 it was occupied by Native Americans protesting Federal policies relating to American Indians. The protest/occupation stayed on Alcatraz for nineteen months. In 2011 a multimedia exhibition was opened which remains as a cultural center for the Native American occupiers (

You can tour Alcatraz but you need to buy Alcatraz tickets in advance, actually a minimum of 14 days in advance is suggested. We couldn't get tickets because we didn't know that. There are a variety of tour packages available so check them out before you even go to San Francisco.

The Golden Gate Bridge


The Presidium

Former military base built in 1776.
Former military base built in 1776. | Source

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge. Need I say more? Actually, yes. The Golden Gate Straight is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay, hence the name Gold Gate Bridge. I was stunned to see that big red bridge! It took just over four years to build and opened in 1937. It had the longest span of any bridge until New York built the Verrazano Bridge in 1964.

Muir Woods Photos

Even I look small at Muir Woods
Even I look small at Muir Woods | Source
The majesty of nature
The majesty of nature | Source

Muir Woods

What do you think of when someone says "redwood"? California of course. We headed to Muir Woods to encounter our first redwood. I have to tell you just the drive there was incredible. We passed a eucalyptus grove and the smell was out of this world.

I've seen redwoods in magazines and in movies and on TV but nothing prepares you for the sheer majesty of these trees. It is understandable why they are considered a National Monument. Located in the midst of a metropolitan area, just eight miles out of San Francisco. That in itself is amazing. Thank goodness President Roosevelt had the foresight to mark this our tenth National Monument. I can just imagine some clutz clearing it out to build a new Mac Donald's. Seriously, it is just unbelievable.

Its proximity to the coast keeps a fog over the forest and promotes growth because of the wet environment. Moisture from the fog is especially beneficial during dry summers. Daytime temperatures range between 40 and 70 degrees. There are over 50 species of birds and a variety of mammals living in Muir Woods. (Wikipedia)

Location of Muir Woods
Location of Muir Woods | Source

Hard Rock Cafe San Francisco Photo

Hard Rock Cafe, San Francisco
Hard Rock Cafe, San Francisco | Source

San Francisco's Hard Rock Cafe

We weren't finished with our tour yet. We visited our first Hard Rock Cafe at the entrance of Pier 39. You can take a cable car to the Wharf and/or to the Hard Rock. Did you know there are 150 Hard Rock Cafes in 50 countries and that the Seminole Tribe now owns all Hard Rocks except for the one in Vegas? I didn't but found it out on Wikipedia.

This particular Hard Rock houses the most extensive collection of memorabilia of its type in the world. Supposedly it all started with an Eric Clapton guitar.

Along the Pacific Coast Highway


Photos Along Highway 1

The ocean was breathtaking
The ocean was breathtaking | Source
Walking in the Pacific Ocean!
Walking in the Pacific Ocean! | Source

The Pacific Coast Highway

State Route 1, Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway is probably one of the most famous highways in the world. It runs along the California Coast from top to bottom and is a beautifully scenic highway. Since we didn't have a lot of time we thought the best way to see the California Coast would be to take a ride along Highway 1, the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. So off we went. We only went as far as Santa Cruz but it was incredible. You have to realize, I'm an ocean person, so I was totally in my glory.

I had never been this far west and though I've been in the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of times I'd never been in the Pacific. I told my husband I had to go in the water. Though my picture shows me smiling you need to know the water was freezing and I kept telling him to hurry up and take the picture before I lost all feeling in my feet. However, now I can say I've bee in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!

Monterey Photo

Monterey | Source


Monterey is a waterfront community with wonderfully moderate temperature -- I'm told it's like that all year long. This is a place I could live. We didn't get to tour the city as we were limited on time but we stopped and had lunch in a beautiful little waterfront restaurant. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Cannery Row Photo

Cannery Row
Cannery Row | Source

Santa Cruz Amusement Park Photo

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Amusement Park
Santa Cruz Boardwalk Amusement Park | Source

Cannery Row

Did I tell you we got to go to Cannery Row? Not a long visit of course, on our whirlwind tour. Made famous by John Steinbeck, it's become a popular destination on California's Central Coast. Hotels, restaurants, shopping, you name it, it's on Cannery Row. Cannery Row is in Monterey. Another great tourist attraction but also very popular among sport fishermen.

Santa Cruz

Our stop at Santa Cruz was short and sweet. We got out of the car to walk along the Wharf and watch the fishermen for a while. Another town with moderate climate all year. Can we do some kind of climate exchange with New York? Really lovely.

From all our years of going to amusements parks with our kids, we still can't resist a good one! Santa Cruz's beachfront amusement park was a delight.

My very first organ grinder!
My very first organ grinder! | Source

San Francisco Fog Photo

Fog rolling in
Fog rolling in | Source

All good things must come to end and so did our four days in California. The night before we left for the airport we saw the fog rolling in over the mountains. A perfect end to our perfect trip in California.

The photos I've shared are a portion of what I took. These were taken fourteen years ago and were on film. They had to be scanned in so a bit of quality was lost but I think you'll be able to enjoy in spite of it.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

Lombard Street

Lombard Street, the street with eight hairpin turns...and I do mean hairpin!
Lombard Street, the street with eight hairpin turns...and I do mean hairpin! | Source
Riding down Lombard Street in the car.
Riding down Lombard Street in the car. | Source

How would you rate a California Vacation?

4.5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of California


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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Sheila, I hope you get to visit real soon. The redwoods are amazing and I have to say I loved the smell of the eucalyptus as we drove by them.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I have been to California twice, but never San Francisco and this is one place I would really love to visit! I have wanted to see the giant redwoods since I was a child. You hub is awesome and I loved your pictures! I am pinning this for future reference, "near" future, I hope!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Michael, it was a wonderful visit and yes, the redwoods are amazing, you can't believe it unless you see it. You might be more used to the fog rolling in than we are ;) Thanks for stopping by.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Looks like you had a great trip to California. The photos are lovely and those giant redwoods are truly amazing. I have been to LA but never got to SF. Maybe next time I get over there, I'll give it a spin.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Glad you enjoyed Mary. I bought a heavy sweatshirt while I was there. Guess we weren't expecting it to be so cool! Thanks for the votes and shares, they are appreciated.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      Oh, this brought back wonderful memories of the trip one of my daughters and I took to California about 10 years ago. We saw most of the places in your photo. I bought a great warm jacket in one of the shops on the Wharf (it was cold when we were there). I still have that jacket and wear it on our rare cool days.

      Great photos! Voted this up, etc. and shared. Will Pin to my travel board.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Thank you Deergha. I wish I had more time as we certainly packed a lot in the short time we had. I love sharing here and am glad you enjoyed.

      Paul you have seen so much more than I. I found California beautiful and loved the warm weather. Thanks so much for the votes and shares!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Mary, this is a very useful and interesting account of your Northern California vacation which certainly brings back a lot of memories. From September of 1967 until July of 1968, I was fortunate to be stationed at Monterey while in the Navy. I made many weekend trips to San Francisco and really had a lot of fun riding the cable cars, going to Fisherman's wharf and enjoying the entertainment area on Columbus. I also visited Golden Gate Bridge with a friend and had a great time in a rowboat on Strawberry Lake. Voted up and sharing with Facebook and HP followers.

    • dghbrh profile image

      deergha 2 years ago from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!!

      Thank you dear friend Mary,

      for taking us along in such a wonderful trip to California. Its amazing to know many details that you have so nicely described. It was short trip for four day, never the less you have made it a very memorable trip it seems. I wish you may go again so that we can get to read again, dear friend.

      Wish you are doing great, voted up and sharing.

      Many hugs your way


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I would LOVE to see southern California, especially after my visit to norther California! Thanks for the up vote alocsin and I must say I'm have much nicer climate in the winter than we do here in upstate New York :)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Welcome to California. While I agree that the Northern part of the state is beautiful, we also have lots to see and do here in Southern California. Hope you can make it here sometime. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks teaches. BTW love your new profile pic!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I have been to this California a few times and love each visit. I remember when I was at Fisherman's Wharf I saw the biggest strawberries ever. Enjoyed your tour.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      It was great Made and we fortunately had a tour guide....the bride's parents who are our dearest friends, had obviously been there before and when they couldn't 'guide' us they told the best places to go.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 5 years ago from Finland

      Beautiful pictures. You did many things in four days and it was very interesting to read about what you can see and do in California. I hope I could go there some day.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      It is a beautiful place Melovy.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Great pictures and a very interesting virtual tour. I would love to go there one day.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Rolly. I haven't traveled enough but I've enjoyed where I've been ;)

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning Mary... what an amazing journey you have shared with us here. Awesome description and photos. Thank you for takin the time to pu this together for us.

      Hugs from Canada

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Bob, it was great. What a beautiful place to live!

    • Bob Zermop profile image

      Bob Zermop 5 years ago from California, USA

      Beautiful hub, great story. As someone from the bay area, it's interesting to hear about it from a tourist's point of view. Glad you enjoyed your trip!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Vinaya, you saying my pictures are awesome is quite a compliment, you take such beautiful pictures! I have to admit CA is an interesting place to visit.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      This virtual tour was wonderful, maybe one day I could take a real tour. Pictures are awesome. This hub is informative and useful.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Donna...these are my two great loves (besides my husband and family of course), writing and photography. Some day I'll have a good camera and really get some great photos. But, I digress, glad you enjoyed this hub.

    • donnaisabella profile image

      Donaisabella 5 years ago from Fort Myers

      Your pictures and story make me feel like traveling to California as well. Such beauty you captured with your camera and describe with your words, it is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing, you are not only a good writer but a great photographer too!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Lord, glad you enjoyed my trip.

      Sky, glad I could provide you some information. Your blessings are always welcome

      Eddy, so honored to be marked for your Armchair Travels! Hope you enjoy your day as well.

      Hobbitinspiration happy I could bring you back to such a nice state.

      Bob, you really have been everywhere! Glad you enjoyed my little trip memories.

      Leahlefler, I was truly amazed at Muir Woods AND how cold the water was, I wasn't expecting that. Thanks for reading.

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      I love northern California! We used to camp in Big Sur all the time, and the ocean water is SO COLD in that area! Beautiful pictures - I love the John Muir woods photos. Those trees are so gigantic!

    • profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago

      A magic city in a spellbinding country.

      I lived in Sausalito for a year and love the Bay Area.

      You sure packed a lot into 4 days!

      I lived a few years in san Diego, too, and often drove up the Pacific Highway...well, not often, but occasionally.

      I enjoyed story and pics.


    • hobbitinspiration profile image

      hobbitinspiration 5 years ago from Monmouth, OR

      Just got back from San Francisco. It was a wonderful trip! Thanks for the pictures to bring me back there again.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      What a brilliant hub and as well as voting up I am also bookmarking into my 'Armchair Travelling 'Slot.

      Take care and enjoy your day.


    • Sky9106 profile image

      Sky9106 5 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

      Wow! Some ladies have all the fun. My mind went ahead of me and said here is a comparism to your trip to NY, "WTC". But I quickly stepped in and said let's go ahead and read first.

      No disappointing, NY is simply special.

      So I did and yes it's beautiful and just as I felt so perfectly filled in with the progress in NY. There comes another of your beautiful depiction am filled in.

      "Do you have any idea of the San Francisco attractions?"

      I didn't have the knowledge before as I do now, thanks to you tillsontitan .Great pics.

      Thanks for sharing your beautiful trip.

      Blessings and many more enjoyable ones, maybe

      "The land of my birth".

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Was in La in 1988, and that was an awesome trip. great pictures! Thanks for the trip.


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thirteen years later Deborah and I'm still impressed!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      Beautiful photos! I was just out in California, too, but in the LA area. We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway for a bit into Ventura County. It was spectacular!