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A couple summers ago, we decided it would be fun to have one more quick vacation before the start of the new school year. Since we had just come back from a trip, we wanted this one to be simple yet fun and memorable. So, we planned a staycation in San Francisco.

We had been to the city numerous times, but we would go for the day, and then return home in the evening. This would be different: we would be staying overnight and doing touristy things that would be fun for the kids too. It was the perfect way to cap off summer break.


We took an Uber into the city Saturday morning, and while a bit expensive, that decision gave us peace of mind, since we wouldn’t be concerned with looking for parking everywhere we went.

First up, my husband booked us a room at a beautiful hotel, InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco . It had stunning views of the San Francisco skyline, and was the perfect place to unwind after our sightseeing in the city.

We were staying adjacent to Chinatown, so that is where we headed to first. We walked its famed steep streets up and down, while admiring storefronts with their artfully arranged Chinese goods.

The last time we came here, the girls were too young to remember anything, so they were mesmerized by everything they saw. Also, it was a nice change for us not to have to worry about pushing a stroller around this time!

We spent some more time after that, roaming the streets and taking in the natural beauty of the streets, architecture, and the bay.

After lunch, we took an Uber to The Painted Ladies, located across Alamo Square park. This row of Victorian and Edwardian-era houses is synonymous with San Francisco, right up there with The Golden Gate Bridge. And yes, it’s that famous row of houses featured in the opening credits of Full House. The girls played in the park while we took photos of the scenic landscape.


We walked over to Grace Cathedral the following morning. Located at California and Stockton streets, this Episcopal church  is the third-largest such cathedral in the United States, boasting sweeping Gothic architecture.

As it was a Sunday morning, church services were in progress, but visitors were welcome to wander around, snap photos, and just sit and take in the majestic architecture.

After spending time in Grace Cathedral, we did the most San Francisco tourist thing possible, which was to ride a cable car. Just hearing the cheerful ding of bells of the arriving cable cars was exciting! We walked a couple blocks down Taylor street to the cable car stop. There was already a group of riders gathered there waiting, so we took the opportunity to take some quick photos before the rest of the cable cars arrived.

Once we boarded, we were lucky enough to get “outside” seats. These seats are located on the outer rows, and they face outwards toward the street, so you get unobstructed views of the gorgeous cityscape. If you ever ride a cable car in San Francisco, be extremely careful to hold on tight to your phone or camera while you’re taking a photo. The cable cars go pretty fast!

Our cable car, the Hyde-Powell line, took us down Taylor Street and Columbus Avenue, with great views of the water. The ride goes up and down the city’s famed steep streets, which makes for a thrilling ride! It was the perfect way to cap off our weekend staycation in San Francisco.

Have you ever taken a staycation in your city?


  1. Being as we are relatively close to Seattle, I would love to take a weekend staycation there. However, now is not a good time, but hopefully one day!

  2. DONNA says

    My fiancé proposed to me at that same hotel. I sure have some great memories of that place.


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