See the City by the Bay the Disney Way
With fabulous local guides and a raft of exclusive activities, Adventures by Disney's San Francisco Long Weekend itinerary offers families a brief escape that's packed with immersive fun and bucket-list experiences.
Follow me on Instagram for more highlights of our stay in July 2015.
Meet Karl the Fog
Luckily, we had mainly clear days in San Francisco and were treated to a drop-dead-gorgeous views from our hotel room at the Fairmont San Francisco, sweeping across the skyline to San Francisco Bay.
This shot, however, captures one of the city's most famous residents, Karl the Fog, which has an enormous Twitter following.
Palace of Fine Arts and R2-D2 Inspiration
On the first morning of our trip, our Adventures by Disney group took a fabulous eight-mile bike ride from Fisherman's Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge, on a bike path that hugged the water's edge.
Here we stopped to admire the Palace of Fine Arts, whose shape is said to have inspired George Lucas when designing R2-D2 for Star Wars.
Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field
Following a mainly flat, easy path along the bay, our bike ride took us to the Warming Hut at Crissy Field, where we had a stupendous vantage of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Close-up of the Golden Gate Bridge
A fun fact shared by, Eleni, our wonderful local Adventures by Disney guide: The Golden Gate Bridge is painted a specific shade of international orange, which is used by the aerospace and shipping industry to increase its visibility.
In this shot, you can see some fog hovering above the support of the bridge. On very foggy days, the bridge is not visible at all from the shore.
Unfortunately for us, Pier 39's famous sea lions were nowhere to be found. We learned that they had migrated south for the summer mating season and would return in August.
Barbary Coast Trail
We spotted several plaques like this one marking the Barbary Coast Trail, which links many of San Francisco's historic sites.
Dinner with a View
For dinner on our first night, we headed to a private room with a terrace at Waterbar, a stunning seafood restaurant on the waterfront of the Embarcadero, tucked just under the Bay Bridge. The food and drinks were delicious, the atmosphere convivial, the view phenomenal.
Private Tour of Silverado Vineyards
Our second day on Adventures by Disney's San Francisco Long Weekend took us to gorgeous Napa, where we had a private tour of the winery at Silverado Vineyards, co-founded in the 1970s by Diane Disney Miller, Walt Disney's daughter.
The vine-covered arched colonnade of this pretty outdoor courtyard shows off the beautiful Spanish Mission-style architecture. The fountain area was formerly used for tastings when the vineyard first began welcoming visitors.
Tour of the Barrel Room at Silverado Vineyards
In the barrel room, our private tour took us past the rows and rows of French oak barrels and learned about how Silverado Vineyards ages its wines.
Wine-Blending Workshop at Silverado Vineyards
After the tour, the adults in our group were led in a wine-blending workshop by one of Silverado Vineyards' seasoned vintners. I was delighted with my blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Making Olive Oil Body Scrub at Silverado Vineyards
While the grown-ups were learning how to blend wines, the kids in our group were having their own fun. They learned how to make a fabulous olive oil body scrub using all-natural ingredients from the vineyard.
Want to make it at home? Here's the recipe for Silverado Vineyards' all-natural body scrub.
A Sweetly Scented Souvenir
When she was finished making her body scrub, my daughter scooped it into this pretty tin and took it away as a souvenir.
Lunch at Silverado Vineyards
Our visit to this lovely vineyard was first-rate from start to finish. Next came an outstanding lunch featuring several Silverado Vineyards wines and, for dessert, luscious chocolate cupcakes.
A Walk in Muir Woods
Next, we headed to Muir Woods National Monument, an old-growth coastal redwood forest that's part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Marin County.
This was a self-guided visit, where we were free to explore the trails on our own and meet back with the group at a designated time. We really enjoyed walking along the boardwalks and spending some quiet time with Mother Nature.
This was one of several deer we spied at Muir Woods, including a doe and her two fawns.
Ferry to Angel Island
We began our third day with Adventures by Disney's San Francisco Long Weekend with a ferry ride from the lovely enclave of Tiburon to Angel Island. Our group had a guided tour of the island on an open-air tram and learned about its history as a U.S. immigration station and status as the "Ellis Island of the West." Afterward, we enjoyed a tasty picnic under some shady eucalyptus trees.
We enjoyed spectacular weather that day, as captured in this shot of a sailboat plying the waters of San Francisco Bay, snapped from the deck of the Tiburon-Angel Island Ferry.
Yoda Statue at LucasFilm
In the afternoon we headed back to San Francisco's Presidio to the Letterman Digital Arts Center, where we strolled through Lucasfilm's campus and took photos in front of the iconic Yoda Fountain. Very cool, it was.
May the Force Be With Our Fearless Disney Leaders
The LucasFilm headquarters is normally closed to the public, but our group made an exclusive visit. In the lobby, we posed with life-size replicas of Darth Vader. Here are Terry and Emily, two of our fearless Disney leaders, with the bounty hunter Boba Fett.
Afterward, we had a private screening at the Premier Theater with highlights of LucasFilm's work on many blockbuster films, along with a brief Q&A session with one of the company's creative heads.
Walt Disney's Oscars
Another highlight was our visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum, where we had a guided tour and learned about the life and work of Walt Disney.
This display case houses all of Walt's Academy Awards. Note the special one made for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
The Walt Disney Family Museum is a treasure trove of artwork and original cells from the early Disney films, and many personal photos, artifacts, and awards donated by the Disney family.
This bittersweet cartoon appeared in the Birmingham News after Walt Disney's death in 1966.
Our Farewell Dinner
For our farewell dinner, we went to San Francisco's award-winning One Market for yet another fantastic meal, capped off with a delectable peach tart for dessert.
Last, But Not Least
We couldn't possibly leave San Francisco without riding a cable car. Finally, on our last morning, we hopped on the Powell-Hyde line for a spin to Fisherman's Wharf and then back to the Fairmont San Francisco.
It was the perfect way to end our fabulous San Francisco adventure.