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Monday, October 30, 2023

Visiting Napa, California With A Day Trip To San Francisco

Did you know that you can easily make a day trip to San Francisco when you are visiting Napa, California?

Before you head out, check out our State By State Guide To State And National Park Campgrounds if you are traveling here in your RV.

2022 Cross Country Road Trip Stop 14

Sometimes, on our road trips, we find things to see on our way from one destination to the next. This was one of those times. We were excited to find out that we could take a slight detour off US-101, on our way from our stop near Redwoods National Park to Napa, and take a more scenic route down the 31 mile Avenue of the Giants (Redwoods) instead. The road conveniently intersects and parallels Hwy 101. There were many points of interest, restaurants and gift shops along the route to veer off to but we had loads of laundry to do once we got to Napa so we didn't make any stops. Hopefully we will have another chance in the future to enjoy this road at a more leisurely pace.

GOOD TO KNOW: Be sure to get the map for the Avenue of the Giants that highlights all the fun stops you can make along the way.

After we settled into Skyline Wilderness Park, me and Sandie drove 5 minutes down the road to the laundromat. We were very happy when we found out that the laundromat was so close to the campground and very happy that we had leftover Costco chicken and could just throw together a quick dinner with. Not having to make a complicated dinner, gave us time to relax after this hectic first day in Napa.

We had two stops we wanted to make on Day 2 of our four day stay here. The first was Sonoma Botanical Garden.

This garden was a small, natural garden surrounding a big pond. It wasn't as manicured as some other gardens are but it was quiet and relaxing and there were nice paths to stroll along. 

We took one walk that led you up a hill and ended with a nice view at the top.

We had a picnic lunch under this Japanese-style gazebo before we left for our next stop.

GOOD TO KNOW: If you enjoy visiting gardens like we do, look into getting an annual pass from your local garden. You will want the pass that entitles you to the benefits of reciprocal program. It gives you free access to many gardens nationwide.

The next stop on our "Things To Do" list was Sonoma Plaza to do some shopping. There were also some beautiful old buildings to see as we walked around the few blocks that make us this plaza.

We stopped in a few of the stores. 

One of our favorites was this chocolate shop. The chocolate was delicious!

After awhile the husbands got tired of shopping and were ready to get by back to the campground to relax with a beer and everyone was hungry for the Japanese stew that was cooking in the crockpot. Before long it was time to turn in to get some sleep. We had a busy day starting early the next morning. Everyone was excited about the day trip we were taking to San Francisco on our third day in this area. It was only an hour from Napa but it took a little longer than that because of traffic. 

Soko and JT were excited about visiting for the first time and me and Sandie were excited about showing them around the hometown of our parent's friends. We have been to San Francisco a few times to visit Kay and Dick and have really happy memories of spending time at Fisherman's Wharf so that's where we headed first. We were able to walk there from the Chinatown parking lot where we left the car for the day.

One favorite memory of mine and Sandie's was of the arcade. We were so excited to see that it was still here. 

Musee Mecanique contains loads of 20th century arcade games that still work and some newer games. Sandie and JT tested their romantic level with the Love Tester Machine.

The thing that was missing, and what we remember most about the game room, was the Human Roulette Wheel. We wondered if this was even where it used to be and then we found this article hanging in the room. This thing was crazy and I would have been shocked if it was still here and still operating. It literally rotated, slowly at first, then faster and faster sending kids flying off it until there was only one kid left on it. The feeling of being the last one standing was amazing, flying off felt the opposite and sometimes it even hurt...a lot!

We strolled along the boardwalk, bought souvenirs and sourdough bread then it was time to hop on the famous San Francisco cable cars to get to our next destination. When we visited as kids, we remember taking rides on the cable cars for the sake of taking the ride. At that time, the cable cars didn't stop to let you on. You had to run along side them then jump on at the right moment. 

We got off the cable car when we arrived at Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world. 

After climbing down and then up the crookedest, and steepest (just my opinion!) street in the world...

we jumped on the cable car again and took it to Chinatown.

Sandie and JT treated us to a delicious lunch.

From Chinatown we took a bus to Japan Town. 

We shopped in our favorite store, Daiso, the Japanese version of Dollar Tree. Then in Mijiya to buy some sushi and snacks to take back to the campground.

We passed by Soko's store but we didn't need any hardware so we didn't buy anything.

We took a bus back to our car and drove on the Golden Gate Bridge back to the campground. It was so foggy that we couldn't really see the bridge, but we were happy just to know we were on it.

We spent our last day in Napa at Black Stallion Estate Winery to do some wine tasting.

Before the tasting, we had time to peruse the informational plaques in their educational vineyard. You were able to taste the grapes as you learned about them.

This was the first wine tasting for any of us.  Our server was very attentive and took her time explaining the differences in the wines we were going to try and was able to answer any questions we had. Although me and Soko aren't wine drinkers and know very little about wine, we had so much fun drinking the wine, learning about the wine and eating the cheese, nuts and crackers.

Stop 14 was another fantastic stop but it was time to move on to Stop 15!

Read about our first stop in California.

This post was featured:

Have you been to Napa or San Francisco? We would love to hear all about your trip!


  1. I have never even been to California but it sounds like you had a wonderful trip! That human roulette wheel sounds unbelievable.

    1. It was so fun as a kid and we also didn't have to wear seatbelts in the car either. I don't know how we survived childhood!

  2. I have been to San Francisco several times and really enjoy it (had no idea about the human roulette wheel!), but I have never been to Napa. I'm not a wine drinker, so maybe that's why, but I loved seeing your pictures--it looks delightful. What a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing this post at the Will Blog for Comments #13 linkup. Hope to see you next week, too!

    1. San Francisco is a very nice and unique city. You are lucky to be able to visit from time to time. Thank you for hosting your nice party and for inviting us back!

  3. My cousin lives in that part of the world and I've loved visiting. Thanks for linking with #pocolo

    1. You are so lucky to have relatives living in such a nice area! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hi, I've read your blog from time to time. Currently living aboard a boat, but RVing is next!
    Wow, you did a lot in one day! Last time we visited Napa from SF, we were stuck in traffic for hours! We love shopping in Daiso; they're all over from CA to Vancouver, but none on the east coast.

    1. What an amazing life to live on a boat! What an adventure. I am so glad you came by so that I could visit your blog. And yes! I heard, and we noticed, that there is a lot of traffic everywhere in California! Isn't Daiso the best!! There is one that I know of on the east coast in Edgewater, NJ. I have been there once and live in the south now so its not somewhere I can get to easily but it is closer than California!

  5. Very nice. I teach in SF. Glad nothing happened to your RV.

  6. It looks like an incredible visit. I always hear such terrible things about California that I fear going there, but when other people go there, I don't see or hear about the bad stuff which makes me wonder what is really going on.

  7. Such a great place to visit. Lots to see and do. Thanks for sharing at Love Your Creativity.

    1. Thank you for hosting your nice party and for stopping by to visit!