A Mom in San Francisco Part 1: I came to exercise

Hello! I’m currently writing from San Francisco!

My husband came out here on business and the Little Guy and I tagged along, since the company is paying for food and lodging. I’m on my second trip out here (pun intended) and I’m enjoying the time to relax and take in the city.

I grew up in the Sacramento area, so I’m not really a stranger to San Francisco, but I’ve never been able to experience the city so intimately as I am now. The client is in the heart of the financial district, so the hotels we’ve tried have been pretty spectacular and within walking distance for him.

Mark Hopkins San Francisco
Mark Hopkins San Francisco

I’m a total newbie to the city, but I’ve had fun getting to know things better and learning a few things about it. This is a TOTAL surprise to me, because I have always hated the thought of staying IN San Fran. I hate driving in cities and I couldn’t imagine having to deal with it all the time. Most of my previous experience with San Fran was with Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf and the section of the city where the hippie movement started: Haight and Ashbury (from one trip with my Brother, who’s a big fan of historical sites. . . and hippies). My impression of San Fran was: parking is expensive, the whole place is super crowded, clam chowder in a bread bowl is delicious (and expensive), seals are fun to watch (but only for so long), homeless people can be scary, and there are people on every corner dressing up funny to get some change from you. Well, all of those things are really true, like that everything (including parking) is expensive, but I learned one very important thing: it’s not that bad (especially when someone else is paying for most of it) and there’s so much more to do!

I came to Exercise

Up until I left on vacation (which seems like ages ago now) I was keeping up with a regular workout routine at my gym. Monday R.I.P.P.E.D, Tuesday yoga, Wednesday kickboxing, Thursday bike ride, Friday Tabata and then I would take the weekend off or go out and do something active on Saturday with hubby. Well, all of that went out the window during vacation, and I haven’t been home long enough to reestablish that yet. So here I am in San Francisco with a baby and no one to watch him while I exercise. I do have a little umbrella stroller though! So I decided to make it work.

The view from our hotel room

Hotel rooms are pretty small, so on the very first morning, even though I was still scared of the big city, I said to myself, “I’m not going to sit in here and just wait for hubby to get off work, I’ve got to get out and experience this city, or I know I’ll regret wasting my time watching TV here.” And so I did. I looked on my phone and found a park nearby to check out and headed out with my baby, bag, and a jacket (because even in June you still need a jacket here). I never made it to the park. I found something even better! Chinatown. I was so excited when I turned a corner and found Chinese lanterns draped across the street and little shops all over the place. I spent the morning looking in the shops and just walking. I had so much fun! Little Guy enjoyed it too.We met up with Hubby for lunch and then it was back to the hotel for a nap.


We stayed at the Mark Hopkins hotel in San Fran, which has spectacular views, kind staff, and a large junior suite (though not big enough to stay sane with an almost 2 year old). The only downside about the hotel is that it’s probably on the highest point on the entire peninsula. So walking home was no small task, especially pushing a stroller with a 15 lb diaper bag and 28 lb toddler in it. No, he didn’t help at all. When I got back to the hotel after lunch on the first day, I knew that I had exercise down for the week. All I had to do for a great workout was walk to our hotel. From anywhere. My favorite was Mason street, which, though it’s no Lombard street, is incredibly steep. The sidewalk actually has a rougher texture so that it’s easier to keep your footing while walking up it, and I RAN up it. Twice. Ha! Take that, Mason st. Well, I never made it to the top running; my legs gave out about two thirds of the way up, but who’s keeping score?

Union Square
Union Square where we danced to some great jazz
Cathedral on Nob Hill

And that’s what I did for the rest of the week. On the first evening, I planned to pick hubby up, but after sitting in traffic for an hour, only making it 4 blocks, and finally telling him to walk home, the car stayed in the garage the rest of the week. I walked everywhere. We went to the financial district several times, the great big mall that’s a maze and does not (to my knowledge) have a real play structure for children in it, Chinatown, and little Italy. All of this was accompanied by, honestly, mediocre food, so I think the thing I’ve liked most about the city is walking around it.

Also, Little Guy is a real novelty in these parts, so I really enjoy seeing the reactions from people on the street when they see him in his stroller or squealing at the birds, dogs, and planes. Just another bonus of being a mom!

So, if you’re a mom and you’re a bit nervous about a trip to the city, I have a few tips for you from this trip:

  1. Bring a stroller (this may be hard if you have more than 2 kids, but that’s why I’m doing this while I can.With only one).
  2. Don’t let the sketchy characters stop you. I’ve seen them, but mostly you can ignore them and they’re pretty harmless. I’ve really tried to only go out during daylight hours too; the normal people outnumber the scary ones during that time.
  3. Take a chance. I have a tendency to be too scared to do certain things, and exploring a completely new place practically alone is one of those things, but I’m so glad that I’ve gotten out there. I’m so much more comfortable with it now. I’m so adventurous!
  4. Be flexible, but also stick to some semblance of your normal schedule (the little guy was much happier on days when he got his normal nap).

There have been lots of things that have made this trip easy and hard, but your family is going to be completely different from mine. Until next time, that’s the city, glad I don’t live here, but happy I can come for a while.

That’s all on San Fran for now. Do you have any experiences exercising on vacation? With a baby? Or in San Francisco?

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