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San Francisco

    We have officially made it to day 11 of the 107 day road trip. It feels like it has flown by and yet we have so many more adventures ahead of us.

    Our latest stop was to San Francisco, California.


    Both Ryan and I have visited San Francisco a few times, but this was a first for all four kids. With just under two days to spend exploring, we filled our itinerary with some of the most touristy things to do. At times, we felt a little silly for being so touristy; and then we got over ourselves and just played the part (minus the black socks and sandals).

    We left the trailer behind in Petaluma at a campsite and drove in to San Francisco to stay overnight in a hotel. We’ll be staying in hotels every once in a while to give us a chance to spread out a bit, shower in a big shower (although, the airstream shower is pretty great!) and to be close to whatever city/town we’re in.

    While in San Francisco, we stayed at The Argonaut Hotel down near Fisherman’s Wharf.


    It’s an old 1907 warehouse-turned boutique hotel. With a big family, it’s hard to find a hotel room that will fit us all, but the suite we found here was perfect. Plenty of room to spread out and it was such a well-decorated space.


    The day of our arrival, the weather was rather Seattle-like with drizzly rain and chilly temperatures. We didn’t let it stop us and stuck with our plan to see as much of the city as we could.

    Our first stop: Lombard Street, also known as the crookedest street in the world (here’s a bit of history and a few photos of the street). lombard Next up: a walk down to Fisherman’s Wharf for a must-have lunch of clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.


    At the end of Pier 39, there is the most gorgeous view of the bay, Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge beyond.

    Pier 39 is also the home of the noisiest/most entertaining creatures of all: sea lions. sealionsWe watched the massive animals bark and wrestle and dive in and out of the water for quite a while. They are just so entertaining. 

    Because we were playing the tourist game, we hopped on a cable car and rode through town. cable-carLater that night we found our way to Northbeach and Little Italy where we ate at a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant much later than our normal dinner time.


    Across from the restaurant was this pretty city park and big catholic church. churchWe were told that Runaway Bride was filmed here (remember that movie?! I loved that one!) along with a handful of other films. I always like learning those random facts about places.

    On Sunday (Mother’s Day), we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a darling french bakery around the corner from our hotel.
    bakerymorningpastriesThen off we went to hop on a boat over to Alcatraz. alcatrazConfession: before this tour, I knew very little about Alcatraz. I knew it was a prison for notorious criminals (like mobster Al Capone). I didn’t know it was originally a Civil War fort which later turned into a prison until it was closed in the 60’s. Later, a group of Native American protestors took over the deserted island as a political statement which proved to be successful in helping them get back land. So much history for one little island!wardenshouseThe tour, while super touristy, was actually very entertaining for all of us. You walk through the cellhouse and listen to an audio tour about what life was like as an inmate, details about a few of the escape attempts and lots of little facts about the people who worked and families who lived on Alcatraz. 

    The gardens are quite beautiful, as is the view of the city.
    viewfromalcatrazgarden succulentsAfter a long day of walking, we hopped back in the car and drove through wine country (Sonoma – so pretty!) for dinner. We’re adding Sonoma/Petaluma to our ‘must return’ list, which will surely become very long after we are done with this trip.
    inthecarWe arrived in Yosemite last night for a few days of hiking, picture taking and enjoying breath-taking views.

    As always, you can follow along on our journey over on instagram @jonesdesigncompany

    Coming up this week (if all goes as planned):

    • Roadtrip Realities: thoughts on laundry, cooking on the road and other ponderings
    • An audio Coffee Chat with Ryan. We’ll answer a few questions about the trip, blogging and marriage.
    • Don’t forget that registration closes for Simplified Penmanship on Monday May 16th! SIGN UP NOW


    35 thoughts on “San Francisco”

    1. Our family made a 9,000 mile road trip when our children were 9, 7 & 5 yrs old (2 boys and a little sister!) and even now in their 30’s, it is a trip well remembered and talked about. Wish they’d been a bit older but still wouldn’t trade those memories for anything! Left WA and went thru the northern part of the US and then back down to FL and across to the southwest. Stayed with friends in Malibu the night before we were to go to Disneyland and this mama got food poisoning at a snazzy restarant (in Malibu!) and we had to delay that trip by a day. I was sure I was going to die (ha!) and that 24 hours was the only blight of the trip. Safe travels and prayers for your family from this mama in Camano Island! (Wondering the size of your Airstream? Did I miss pics of it?)

    2. This is so fun! I loved revisiting all the places in SFO that I’ve seen in the past. Your kids are adorable. Also, please keep including pictures of the restaurants – eating always seem to be one of the highlights of our family trips.

    3. Yay! You found Boudin’s clam chowder and the sea lions! And yay, you rode the cable cars! Would have loved to run into you in Petaluma! I’m in Santa Rosa (20 min. north of Petaluma), but I’m in Petaluma often!

      Can’t wait to see where your travels take you next!!

    4. You all are in my neck of the woods! I live in Wawona/Yosemite with my husband and two kiddos! Hope you guys are having a fun time here! If you need a place to do laundry….let me know. My washer/dryer is open to you all!! ?
      Side note: Hope you’re leaving Yosemite thru Mariposa (140)! My folks own a gift store there called Chocolate Soup! It’s been voted best gift store in town for years in a row now. If you do stop by, tell Robbie (my mom) who you are! I’m gushing about your blog and paperworks to her all the time!
      Safe and happy travels!! God’s blessing on you and your family!!

    5. Emily, What a fantastic trip to do with your family!! Way to go! You probably already know this but just in case, have you heard about the National Park Initiative Obama instituted this school year? The government is offering FREE entrance into ALL National Parks for every 4th grader and their family. Go here to down load a free ticket if you have a fourth grader.
      I believe it is to commemorate the National Park’s 100th Birthday. Since my daughter is in the 4th grade my family of 6 took a small southwest road trip this past fall and hit up 5 National Parks including Zion, Grand Canyon, Bryce and Arches. Hope you can use this. Blessings!

    6. Welcome to California! I love San Francisco. It’s such a lovely city with so much history and charm. When do you arrive in Southern California? Is it odd that as an avid reader, I want to meet you and ask you to sign my iPad? Ha-ha. Have a safe and fun rest of the journey, Joneses… xo

      1. Ha! Sign your ipad :)

        We head to San Luis Obispo to visit friends, then to Malibu for a quick tour of L.A. That’s it for southern california! Both Ryan and I went to college outside of Pasadena and my cousin (practically my brother) lives in San Diego. We’re sad to have to skip through so many amazing stops, but we figured we can make it down the west coast any time. We’re moving quickly over on this side so we can explore more of the country that we haven’t seen.

    7. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Northern CA. Sonoma was our first stop. It was by far my favorite place to hang out and wander in all the little shops. We had a carry out lunch from the deli on the square in the park. Fantastic would be an understatement. We also went to SF and loved that. We did all the same things you did. If you ever have a chance go to Mendocino. It’s a very quiet, artsy town about three hours north of SF. It’s a great couples get away!

    8. Oh… KOA Petaluma??!! If I had known you were that close I would have brought brownies! LOL! Love following your trip, brings back childhood memories of a rode trip to Kansas from California, Mom, Dad and 6 kids in the station wagon! Great memories! Enjoy Yosemite, one of my favorite places on earth. Safe travels!!!

    9. Love reading about your journey! Thanks so much for taking the time to share and let us all follow along! Enjoy!!

      1. We unenrolled the kids and their last day of official school was April 29th. We are considered independent homeschoolers and have no requirements at this time. We’ll put them back in public school in September, so this is really just a very long summer break!

    10. When will you offer the next class? You know, I signed up and paid for the graphic design class and haven’t even had time to open it. Not even sure how to open. Family probs keep me from getting started.

    11. Aah! Petaluma is my FAV!! I’d pick Sonoma over Napa any day! So fun to see you in SF!! Sorry it rained but you might be more used to that, being from WA!

    12. My gosh you are such a photogenic family!! You should sign up to do travel catalogs, posters, and such along the way for various cities or places and you could earn money for your trip! The last photo could be used for an RV commercial and the cable car one would be great on the San Francisco website. lol but I’m not kidding!
      Have a wonderful time and I hope the weather cooperates in Yosemite. It is truly magnificent.

    13. We took our 4 boys to San Francisco last August. It was the best trip. We then drove down the coast to Los Angeles. If you get the chance, stay at the Kimpton Hotel in Santa Barbara, they have an airstream on site in front of the hotel, it is so cool! They have bikes on site that you use at your leisure.
      We loved Alcatraz, one of the highlights of our trip. The other highlight was renting bikes and biking from San Francisco to Tiburon and taking the ferry back to San Fran.

    14. I thank my parents all the time for the road trips they took us on across the country. Subsequently, my sister and I were great at geography because we had been to those places.

      We knew all the state capitals from playing Atlas road games. Name the capital and kids name the state or vice versa. Or name large cities and guess the state. Following the atlas on our travels also made me into a great map reader/navigator – no GPS to rely on!

      Love the flowered shoes in the “Jones” photo. Brand? Style?

    15. I know this may be a bit random, but how are you able to travel with the kids. Does the school system in Washington have an extended summer break? Just wondering…I want to do something like this with my kids, 17 and 9, before the older one goes off to college, but probably on a smaller scale.

    16. Ahhh! SF is my favorite! Have fun in Yosemite! We are heading up there on Friday (this is my neck of the woods!). . . the falls are amazing right now, so you’re in for a treat! Have fun!

    17. Fun fact: The church you took a picture of is also the church where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe posed for their pictures after they were married at City Hall in 1954!

    18. We would periodically stay in a hotel when using our RV also. It’s just a nice change of pace and helps the kids to appreciate the entire time together, no matter where you are laying your head.

    19. Oh yay!! I’m a native Petaluman and adore our little town ~ so great that you’ve stopped in here and will be coming back. We have so much to offer! Love your blog and am looking forward to tripping along with you…..we have a bucket list of trips and it looks like you’re hitting most of our stops in the US. Safe travels

    20. I am loving following along on this! Yosemite is one of our favorite places. It’s where my husband and I spent out honeymoon and first anniversary :) I’m jealous you’re there! Enjoy it — and scan the wall for rock climbers! A lot of professional climbers are there this week :)

    21. Yosemite is my favorite place ever. Excited for the updates! My little one is only 15 months but I’ve already planned at least five different road trips for my one-day big family to take :D

    22. If you’re coming down into the valley, visit Visalia/Tulare area. We have great restaurants! Such as Café 225, Fugazzi’s, Bravo Farms. You can go miniature golfing or practice your baseball swings at Adventure Park. Enjoy the geese and peacocks at Mooney’s Grove. Lots to do in our small town! Or come to our house and enjoy table games like Mad Dash, or Monopoly! Enjoy your trip!

    23. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. It’s inspiring me to add more adventures in our lives. We have a 17-year old, a 5-year old and a 3-year old – so there is precious little time left that we’ll all be living together under one roof. Aroad-trip may be in order!

      Side note: We live in San Luis Obispo, CA – only a few hours south of Yosemite! Be sure to wave as you drive through. ;)

    24. Hi! So our family of 6 is currently road tripping too! We are a military family moving from CA to GA. We left on the 29th of April and we pull into our new town tomorrow. We used to live in between Sacramento and San Fran and we stopped many of the places you are headed to. We stopped at the crater in AZ, it was expensive! I would say not worth it, but we then stopped at the corner of Winslow, AZ :) and that was one of my favorite stops, a little soda shop there that was yummo! And of course cute pics! Stopped at Magnolia…loved it! We are now at the beach near Destin and we rented a huge house which is so dreamy after being all cramped up in hotel suites. We also needed a laundry stop! Love following along and seeing the memories y’all are making. Our kids have really loved it…

    25. Ale,,

      Loving this segment of your trip! We will be going to San Francisco, then camping in Yosemite and Big Sur in less than 3 weeks. What was your kids’ favorite part of SF?

    26. We went to Alcatraz a couple years ago. It saddened me to see the size of the cells. I can’t imagine having to live years and years in one. Fascinating tho. Keep up the posts. This is such a wonderful thing you are doing – memories that will last forever – and I am loving being a part of it vicariously. Can’t wait for the next post. SF is really cold, though, isn’t it? We went in August and needed down jackets by the water.

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