Home » 2015 Seattle, San Francisco, and Sierra

San Francisco and Flight Home, CA

Monday, June 8, 2015 - 10:45am by Lolo
0 miles and 0 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


San Francisco Botanical GardensSan Francisco Botanical GardensSince we were booked on a red-eye flight that night, Herb and I had an entire day to spend in San Francisco before we had to get to the airport.

Since I had become quite familiar with the city – at least the part around Golden Gate Park – when I spent 3 days here at the beginning of this trip while Herb was motorcycling across the country, I took charge of the day and pretty much took Herb on a repeat tour of how I had spent my first day. It’s funny how much more fun things are when doing them with someone you love and seeing it through their eyes.

The following is a very brief summary of our day:

We started at the Cinderella Bakery, a block from Andrew’s apartment, where we both ordered coffee and spinach croissants and sat at an outdoor table watching people go by.

Then we continued on to Golden Gate Park, stopping first in the courtyard between the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences to watch all the people doing their morning Tai Chi.

Lolo Ascending Arched Drum BridgeLolo Ascending Arched Drum BridgeFrom there we went to the Japanese Tea Garden, where there was no one collecting money at the gate. Apparently, it is free every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before 10 am. As we wandered along its lovely stone paths, I excitedly showed him my favorite spots – the tall red pagoda, the peaceful zen rock garden, my koi friends, and the arched drum bridge, which this time I had the courage to walk over.

The next stop was the Botanical Gardens, which I had gotten in free last time because it was a Tuesday, but was $7 today because it wasn’t. Herb is much more skillful than I am with a map, so this time I really did get to see each of the gardens of the many world ecosystems that they are able to recreate so beautifully.

I probably should have been a little more original in my tour, but I admit to wanting to show off my new-found knowledge of this wonderful city, even if in reality I only knew a little piece of it.

Red-Eye Flight HomeRed-Eye Flight HomeSo, I marched Herb east through the park, passing through the National Aid Memorial Grove, out onto the panhandle, up the crazily steep Masonic Avenue, up to the top of Corona Heights where I allowed Herb a brief photo break, back down and up to the top of Buena Vista Park and another photo stop, then through the Haight and back to the park.

By this time, Herb was starving and begging for mercy, so we stopped at Velo Rouge Café for sandwiches and beer. Then I gave Herb free time on the lawn by the Conservatory of Flowers, where he immediately passed out under a tree. Okay, maybe my itinerary was a bit aggressive.

After lounging and reading our Kindles for a while, we walked back to Andrew’s apartment, showered, packed up, and called an Uber car to take us to the airport for our red-eye home.

I thought that if I made the day exhausting enough, we would sleep on the plane, but that never seems to happen for either of us on a red-eye. Exhausted but happy we were back home by 6:00 the next morning.


Tai Chi in Golden Gate ParkTai Chi in Golden Gate ParkThe following is in no way meant to be a comprehensive guide to San Francisco, as there are entire guide books devoted to just that. However, the following is a brief description of some of the sights in and nearby the city that Herb and I enjoyed during the last day of our vacation.

Golden Gate Park is to San Franciscans what Central Park is to New Yorkers. Its 1,017 acres make it 20% larger than Central Park. It is over three miles long (from east to west) and half a mile wide (north to south). The park design was the result of an 1870 competition, won by 24-year-old William Hammond Hall. Park highlights that I visited include:

  • The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States. Originally created as a one-acre Japanese Village for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the property was eventually left to the care of Makoto Hagiwara, a renowned Japanese landscape architect, who expanded the garden to its current size of 5 acres. For decades, Mr. Hagiwara poured his wealth, passion, and creative talents into creating the garden until he and his family, along with approximately 120,000 other Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps. He was never allowed to return. Today, the garden is one of San Francisco’s most popular attractions, featuring pagodas, an authentic teahouse, an arched drum bridge, stepping stone paths, plants from China and Japan, and a serene koi pond and zen garden. Admission is $8 for non-residents and $6 for residents. On Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays it if free if entered by 10:00 am.
  • The San Francisco Botanical Gardens has 55 acres of both landscaped gardens and open spaces, showcasing over 8,000 different kinds of plants from around the world. The Bay Area's mild temperatures, wet winters and dry summers, coupled with that famous coastal fog, provide a range of climatic conditions that exist in few other botanical gardens in the world. As a result, the Botanical Gardens are able to recreate climatic conditions from round the world, such as those found in an Andean Cloud Forest, a Chilean Garden, Mesoamerica, Southeast Asia, etc.
  • The National AIDS Memorial Grove, located in the eastern end of Park, is a 10-acre living memorial honoring all who have confronted this tragic pandemic can gather to heal, hope, and remember.

Corona Heights is a hill in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco with one of the best views of San Francisco. Its prominent red outcrop is visible from many parts of the city. In the late 1800s, Corona Heights was quarried for brickmaking materials by the infamous Gray brothers who had a brick kiln on States Street. The steep, exposed rock faces and the “crown” we see today at Corona Heights are the result of this quarrying.

Buena Vista Park, in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, is the oldest park in the city, established in 1867 as Hill Park. Its name was later changed to reflect the spectacular views from its 575-foot summit. The park features secluded winding trails and one of the city’s few remaining coast live oak groves.

San Francisco and Flight Home location map in "high definition"

Javascript is required to view this map.