Japanese Tea Garden
We started our second day in San Fransisco at The Japanese Tea Garden. This five-acre garden is a spot to spend just an hour or an entire day, as our tour guide, Jocko, often does to write and reflect. From the Japanese Garden we stopped at the Music Concourse and the Shakespeare Garden while en route to the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
With more time in the city we would have opted to visit the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences, both located in Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco Botanical Garden
I was surprised at how lush the gardens are in San Francisco in December. The Succulent Garden was filled with hummingbirds attracted to the bright flowers. The Redwood Grove immersed us in a native Californian forest landscape without having to even leave the city. The Ancient Forest boardwalk was so lush I felt like a dinosaur vs. Dennis Nedry scene was playing out behind each giant fern.
I was especially impressed by the Australian plants collection, and was thrilled to see a Banksia tree in bloom (as I’ve used the cone as a prop at work many times without ever having seen the flower that produced it IRL).
Walt Disney Family Museum
The Walt Disney Family Museum isn’t a theme park; it combines science, history and art under the umbrella of the story of Walt Disney, his family, and his work. Very young children may run out of steam quickly, but for older children and adults there’s a ton to absorb. Interactive exhibits take visitors into the creation of early animation, sound in film, how paint colors are created, and how animatronic characters are controlled in the Disney Theme Parks. At my favorite kiosk I matched animated characters to their symphonic theme music (think the crocodile from Peter Pan vs. Thumper from Bambi)
An added bonus to the Walt Disney World Museum is the location in the historic Presidio section of San Francisco, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
North Beach & Russian Hill
Our last evening in San Francisco was spent in the North Beach area, where we dined at the famed Tony’s Pizza. The wait was over an hour when we arrived, and we noted that there were at least five other Italian restaurants nearby with no line out the door. But we were in full-on tourist mode, and followed the crowds.
To prepare for San Francisco I had read/watched Tales of a City, so my last stop was the stairway to the fictional Barbary Lane in Russian Hill neighborhood.