A Week Out West

We headed out to California for Christmas break for a change of scenery this year. My other brother and his family live in Marin County (north of San Francisco) and it was the perfect choice.

What to do for Christmas week in Marin County, CA? Well most of this is what to do for any week in Marin County… but there is one very special Christmas stop we went to in San Francisco that I highly recommend!

What I love about being out West is the emphasis that is put on being outdoors. The playgrounds and hiking trails are honestly the best.

If you have elementary or younger aged kids you have to check out some of the local playgrounds, they are epic! We headed to Memorial Park in San Anselmo which was close to where we rented a house (smartest idea ever!) and my kids love, love, loved this dinosaur. Check out the top picks of playgrounds in Marin County here.

Memorial Park.jpg
Photo Credit http://www.marinmommies.com

If you have older kids, or are traveling solo… or can peel of on your own sans kids like we did, hiking is a must. The views are simply breathtaking! There was a trail, Sun Valley Trail, right behind the house we were renting, made it easy!

We also ventured out and found a favorite down in Sausalito. If you head to Rodeo Beach and then hike up to the Battery Townsley the views are incredible. Now get ready for a barrage of amazing photos from that hike. It was so incredible!

Here is a great website for the best trails in Marin County.

One morning we took the kids to the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. Perhaps a little young for my oldest, best for 6 and below,  but the views were fantastic of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I also spied a really cool looking hotel, Cavallo Point: The Lodge at The Golden Gate, that I bookmarked for a future trip!

Cavallo Point (Photo Credit: cavallopoint.com)


We headed over to The Marine Mammal Center after we hit up the Kids Discovery Museum. It is small but really great to see how the sea lions are cared for! This is also where we found our favorite hike mentioned above because they are right next to one another!

On the way out of there you should follow the tourist route and check out the views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge by going along Conzelman Road. It is a tourist mob scene but so pretty!

Then we took a few days in San Francisco proper doing all the fun touristy things. I think those were the highlights for the kids!

If you are in San Francisco you have to take a ride on a cable car! We picked it up down by Ghiradelli Square and rode up to the Cable Car Museum. It was fascinating! The fact that they still work the way they did at the origination is incredible… seeing the big cables moving (the museum is actual working hub for the system!) and how it powers the car is very cool. If you have little kids I highly recommend getting the book Maybelle The Cable Car by Virginia Lee Burton. Such a perfect story for them to learn more.


From the Cable Car Museum we walked to see a very special Christmas treat. The Fairmont Hotel has a full life size gingerbread house!

Back on the cable car we rode down to Ghiradelli where we had to stop for sundaes… their hot fudge is out of this world.

Ghirardelli Square (photo sygic.com).jpg
Ghirardelli Square (photo sygic.com)
Ghirardelli Square (photo sfweekly).jpg
Ghirardelli Square (photo sfweekly)

There are some cute shops in the Square as well; my favorite new find is elizabethW. The Tuberose scent is divine and I love the hand cream!

While you’re there don’t forget to go across the street to the See’s Candies store… their chocolate lollypops have been my favorite since I was a little girl!

See’s Candies Lollypops. (Photo Credit mercurynews.com)

We went to Alcatraz on Christmas Eve and somehow lucked out that it was the one National Park that did NOT shut down for the government shut down! It was a cold rainy day which only made the trip more perfect… it is cold out there on “The Rock”! I highly suggest following along with the audio tour, the amount of historical facts you pick up is wonderful. All of our kids found the whole experience fascinating! From the boat ride there, to seeing the paper mache masks, to being inside a solitary cell, to the cafeteria… it was awesome for them and us!


Now… a travel post wouldn’t be complete without a “What I Packed” section! I kept it simple and monochromatic with pieces that I could use to look (aka feel) put together but also to dress down and lounge around in! And #1 is HANDS DOWN the best traveling bag. I would buy this again 1,000 times over.

Please note: A Modern Housewife LLC has affiliate relationships with multiple brands. A Modern Housewife LLC will earn a small commission on any item purchased through an affiliate link. That commission keeps this site up and running and allows us to keep the content coming to you, thank you! All items linked are because  we own, love  and use them, or think they are of value to our readers (basically, we think they are pretty cool and want them ourselves!). Please let us  know  you have any questions about any products featured!

(All items I have or are similar to items I purchased in past seasons!)

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(click on corresponding # to shop item!)


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