Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hometown Tourist: Touring San Francisco in a Duck

Everyone can use a vacation, but not everyone has a bank of PTO or vacation. The answer? A hometown mini-staycation. Earlier this month to celebrate Opening Day, cubes and I played hometown tourist. Our destination for our adventure was AT&T Park by way of Fisherman's Wharf. Our transportation? One of Gates' favorite animals: a duck!

Hometown Tourist: Do Fisherman's Wharf in Style

It's been awhile since cubes and I took a day. The last time was in August right before Burning Man; it began with such promise, brunch at Mission Beach Cafe and ended with an ER visit. In October, we had planned two days to ourselves to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary; instead we spent our anniversary at UCSF Parnassus. So, when I was offered an afternoon on The Bay for Opening Day, I jumped.

Opening Day from McCovey Cove

Well, first I asked cubes if he'd be up for the adventure. cubes is not a sports fan (hockey excluded) and definitely not a baseball fan. Somehow, when we were first dating I had gotten the idea he was a sports fan and more specifically a baseball fan. I got my company's season tickets for a game and invited him. He said yes and we were going to go. Before the day of the game dawned, my best friend, who had known cubes for over a decade, commented that cubes must really like me. How could she tell I wondered? If he was going to spend hours at a baseball stadium with me and had no interest in baseball he must be interested in me. It was then I discovered he was only going to the game to hang out with me. He had no interest in the Giants.

cubes was game for the Hometown Tourist Adventure and got the day off from work. Our guide for the 90-minute tour was Captain Mike. Our chariot or duck was Buttercup. Our mission was simple; reconnoiter in McCovey Cove in hopes of catching a splash down (home run). (Spoiler alert: there wasn't a home run hit while we were in McCovey Cove.)

Hometown Tourist Mission: McCovey Cove during a Giants Game

Sights You'll See from The Duck

The draw of the duck tour for me initially was the Giants. What I found myself enjoying the most was the guided tour through The City. Having grown up in San Francisco, I've never taken a city-wide tour, not even when I'm hosting guests. I've also not ever gone to locations in The City where TV shows, movies, or commercials were shot.

Famous Site: Where Cable Car was Filmed for Rice-a-Roni Commercial

It was fun to watch a cable car coming up Hyde St live recreating an old Rice-a-Roni commercial. (Look carefully in the photo and you can see the top of the cable car. I was on the wrong side of the duck for capturing this view.) In case you weren't aware, Rice-a-Roni is The San Francisco Treat. You can read why on their website.

On the tour, you'll see where the Italian Fishing Fleet moors, The Golden Gate Bridge, Hyde St Pier, Lombard Street, Chinatown, North Beach, Washington Square, Union Square, the Financial District (lots of banks), AT&T Park, The Bay Bridge, The Embarcadero. You won't see Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, or The Painted Ladies, but they're in another part of The City. If you ask nicely and there's no traffic, you might convince your captain to recreate Steve McQueen's race scene from Bullitt.

View of Hyde St Pier and Alcatraz

To see more photos from our duck tour, be sure to visit my Ride the Ducks Flickr gallery. For the rest of our Hometown Tourist Adventure in Fisherman's Wharf, check back here next Thursday (there will even be a video of our duck launching into The Bay).

Maximizing Your Fun on The Duck

Because cubes and I wanted a day to ourselves, we didn't bring Gates on the adventure. But Ride the Ducks is totally family friendly. There's even a chance when you're on the water for the little ones to drive the duck. The two kids who got to drive the duck had smiles from ear to ear. One thing to keep in mind is that you're sitting for about 90 minutes, if your little one, like Gates, is unlikely to sit still for that long, wait until they're a little older and can better appreciate the experience. There's a lot going on and tons to see which makes it tempting for littles ones (adults like me as well) to want to run from one side of the duck to the other.

View of The Bay Bridge Looking Towards Yerba Buena Island

Think about what you most want a photo of. Some of the most scenic views of Alcatraz can be seen from the left side of the duck. If you're looking for views of The Bay Bridge from The Embarcadero, sit on the right side of the duck. Also, sit near the middle of duck for better compositions. The view of Alcatraz from Hyde Street (the Rice-a-Roni shot above) was taken from the middle of the duck when we slowed briefly in the intersection. You'll have a similar opportunity when you go by Lombard Street.

Riding a Duck in San Francisco

There are two duck tours available: one from Ride the Ducks that leaves from Fisherman's Wharf and one through AT&T Park. We took the 90-minute tour leaving from Fisherman's Wharf. Adults pay $35 to ride, seniors $32, and children $25. While you can get your tickets the day of your tour, there's an incentive to plan ahead and book online: savings! When you purchase tickets online for tours leaving between 10:30AM and 11:30AM you can save $4 off the adult rate and $3 off the child rate.

For baseball fans who'd like a little more baseball than the standard duck tour, you can get a walking tour of the stadium as well as a duck tour of McCovey Cove through AT&T Park. "Splash Hit, Splash Down" by The Bay tickets for adults are $45, for children 3 to 17 $30, and for children 2 and under $5.

Have you caught a baseball game from an unusual vantage point?
genuinely eden

P.S. Don't feel like commenting? Strike up a conversation with me elsewhere: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest.

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

Disclosure: I received both cubes' seat and my seat on Buttercup compliments of Ride the Ducks for Opening Day from The Bay festivities. I am not being compensated to write about our experience. All opinions presented are my own.