This post was written 5/17/2016 & updated 3/12/2020
Touristy Things in San Francisco
If you're just passing through San Francisco, you can easily hit touristy attractions in a short time. While I love delving into the less known and more local side of a destination, I still like to hit the major attractions. Obviously, it's easier to be submersed in local life when you are somewhere for a longer period of time than a day or so.
Drive Down Lombard Street - The Most Crooked Street in San Francisco
Always Turn Around!
Don't forget to turn around! You might be missing a great view if you always plug on straight ahead.
The Cable Cars in San Francisco are so cute!!! I love watching them. Unfortunately, we didn't get to ride them this time or get a classic photo hanging off the back of one, but I definitely intend to next time I'm in San Fran! ;-)
There are so many places to get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Some beaches and areas that offer great views for free also get very crowded. So consider what time of day and what day of the week you are visiting. We spent a lot of time driving into packed full parking lots and not even getting to park and enjoy the scene after all. Still, there are endless opportunities to see the Golden Gate Bridge and also the Bay Bridge from many wonderful angles. More on that in the future too ;).
Golden Gate Bridge
Leaving The City By The Bay
I found San Francisco easy to navigate and drive in. Still, being a city with lots of residents/workers/tourists, there will be traffic. If you are heading out of the city and want to miss a lot of traffic, try to get about 30 minutes out of the city by 3pm. You'll thank me later. And if you are heading to the coast, it works out great as you will arrive before it's too late in the evening.
Where I Stayed On The Pacific Coast
This post was written 5/17/2016 & updated 3/5/2020
So you want a convertible, eh?
DERRRRR! Who doesn't!? Before traveling, I read that the best way to road trip California was via a convertible. I have to whole heartedly agree now that I have done it. California is so scenic and between mountains, valleys, farmland, vineyards, and the Pacific Coast, there is so much to see. Being in a convertible allows you to be more immersed in that adventure and in all of the scenes that surround you. I loved it!
I never thought I could afford to rent a convertible
You probably didn't either, if you're reading this. I always usepriceline for renting cars. I have always gotten a discount on car rentals by either doing the "Name Your Own Price" or choosing an "Express Deal". I always looked for the cheapest price for a car and usually ended with an economy, compact, or maybe a midsized. Wasn't exactly thrilling, but got you from point A to B. Once I read how awesome a California road trip in a convertible is, I was determined! I started early and started with ridiculously low bids, as usual.
To take the offer or not to take the offer
After some of my offers were rejected, I started to get offers. 'We can't accept your bid of $xx, but Great News! We can offer you $xx' or something to that effect. Sometimes these are great deals, but before I accepted it, I wanted to see what was available under the Express Deals. I looked at a page like this:
... and I was sure to keep clicking "More Cars" on the right side, until I got to the end.
At the time when I was booking, a week in a convertible was going for over $1,000!!!! But somehow, there was one, ON AIRPORT, convertible option from Budget for $289.06 + tax (=$401.20). How could I pass it up? The smaller cars I would normally get were around $350 after tax anyways. How could I not justify getting the convertible? haha! And best of all, there was free cancellation on the reservation if something came up. That just adds peace of mind. I booked with myChase Sapphire card anyway, so I knew any issues would not be an issue with that protection, but still, it was an extra pillow to lay my head on. :o)
In the weeks after my reservation, I kept checking Priceline and never saw a deal even close to that again. Sometimes it's just about being persistent and catching the deal at just the right moment. I am so excited I did! Give it a try for your next trip!
Picked up the 'stang, and rolled into San Francisco in style, top down!!
Don't forget to check back and see where the horsies took us. ;-)
What's the best deal you ever got on Priceline, for a car, airfare, hotel - anything! Do you like using Priceline, or not so much?
This post was written 5/17/2016 & updated 2/26/2020
This flight was booked with free airline miles obtained via Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!
Recommended card for accruing miles/points: Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited
Recommended card for redeeming miles/points & for use while traveling: Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve
Flight 606 runs from PIT to SFO, leaving Pittsburgh at 7:05am and arriving about 5 hours and 40 minutes later at 9:45 am.
Wait. That's not adding up right, is it? Don't forget there is a 3 hour time difference from the east coast to the west coast here in USA. ;-)
TSA at PIT
We arrived about 2 hours early and the TSA line at Pittsburgh International was fabulously efficient and friendly. We had no issues (nor did we expect to) and sailed on through. Great start!
Got to the gate with plenty of time to munch on the snacks we brought from home. You know those tortilla chips were going to go stale in the cupboard, so.... ;-) .... and who would pass on a slice of chocolate rum cake at 6 am?! (I didn't)
Arriving at SFO was great. It was awesome to arrive in the morning and have a full day in California and a non-stop flight was a dream! Our flight was early and we had no trouble navigating the airport. We had already reserved a rental car in advance and guess what?! IT WAS A CONVERTIBLE!!! My next post will be about how we got a cheap convertible in San Francisco, so be sure to stop back for that ;-)
About Busch Gardens Williamsburg:
Any traveler would love Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It's a European-themed park, allowing you to travel through several European countries in just one day! ;-) You won't even need your passport this time!
There are over 50 rides/attractions, awesome coasters, beautiful landscaping, live stage shows, a kids area with Sesame Street theme, and food from around the world!
Tickets & Entry:
There are a number of options forentry into Busch Gardens Williamsburg. 2 in our party were guests of Busch Gardens (thanks so much guys!!) The rest of our party had caught a great promo on Groupon for 7 day tickets with unlimited entry to Busch Gardens Williamsburg as well as Water Country USA.
You can also purchase tickets online or at the gate.
Here are the official 2017 rates at the park:
Adult (10 and up) $90
Children (3 - 9) $80
Children (2 and under) FREE
1 Park, One Year Pass: enjoy 12 months of unlimited fun, parking and discounts for $12 per month on EZpay or a one-time $144 payment.
2 Park, One Year Pass: enjoy 12 months of unlimited fun at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, parking and discounts for $16 per month on EZpay or a one-time $192 payment.
Platinum One Year Pass: enjoy 12 months of unlimited fun at 11 amazing parks, parking and discounts for $19 per month on EZpay or a one-time $228 payment.
Free 2-Park Preschool Pass: children ages 3-5 can enjoy unlimited admission to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA all summer for free through Sept. 10. This offer must be redeemed in-park by May 31.
Busch Gardens Fun Card: pay for a day and visit as much as you want through Sept. 4 for the price of a single-day ticket.
Busch Gardens and Water Country USA 2-Park Fun Card: for only $25 more than a Busch Gardens Fun Card, add unlimited visits to Water Country USA all summer.
Busch Gardens has a lot of great rides for the whole family. We're really into the coasters and there are some great ones! I don't think I rode any coaster that I thought "I would never ride that again!" That happened to me at Cedar Point. Some rides jolt you around so much you end up with a bad neck ache or even smash your head on the "protective" parts of the ride and kind of ruin the mood. Anyway, I didn't experience that at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Here are some great action shots from some of the coasters (and at the classic swings *wink*)
If you want an official list of rides and attractions in each area of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, scroll to the bottom and click "read more" under the heading "Ride List"
Der Wirbelwind offers a sky-high view of Busch Gardens®. Enjoy thrilling roller coasters and rides, animal encounters and great dining amidst a backdrop of charming European villages at Busch Gardens, the world’s most beautiful theme park. ©2016 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Griffon®, the world's tallest, floorless dive coaster carries riders 205 feet up, then hurtles them 90 degrees straight down at more than 75 mph before passing through a water brake finale, making the dive coaster fun for onlookers as well as riders. ©2016 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The legendary Loch Ness Monster®, a double-looping serpentine roller coaster, looms over Busch Gardens® Williamsburg. Reaching 13 stories in height, this creature offers a spine-tingling ride at speeds approaching 60 mph. Loch Ness Monster® celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2008. ©2016 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Guests daring enough to take on Tempesto™ will race into unbelievably tight turns at 63 miles per hour and defy gravity as they roll through a complete inversion 154 feet in the air. This Busch Gardens® thrill coaster features three launch experiences and Tempesto’s signature loop-the-loop. ©2016 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Verbolten®, Busch Gardens’ thrilling multi-launch roller coaster, features a daring “wrong-way bridge” that leads riders to an 88-foot drop toward the Rhine River. Verbolten’s passengers experience a multi-sensory dash through the Black Forest with multiple launches, environmental-theme elements, sound and light effects and high-speed turns that must be experienced to believe. ©2016 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Entertainment varies annually and throughout the season.
Check the schedule on the map when you get to Busch Gardens for the entertainment schedule. We caught:
One of two new shows at Busch Gardens for 2017, BritmaniaTM is a musical revue featuring British hits from the 1960s to today. Music from an assortment of genres, including pop, rock-and-roll and funk, will be performed by live singers and dancers on stage. The show debuts June 30 and will be performed throughout the day in the Globe Theatre.
[I wasn't overly impressed with this one. For a family park and show, I found some of the costumes to be on the distasteful side. Still, it was a nice break for walking around and the theater is air-conditioned.]
This new show, performed in Das Festhaus® in the Oktoberfest village, features German music and dances with a modern and new approach. Guests can enjoy a German meal in the large dining hall while being entertained by cultural singers, dancers and musicians.
[We missed most of this show and I was so sad. The food line took much longer than expected. Still, the last five minutes or so that we saw I really, really loved. I would make a point on a future visit to get to this early and see the whole show!]
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is currently offering 3 options under their Dining Plans
[We went for option three for a one day visit to the park. I think this is a great option. It's a comfort to know you're not going to starve all day because you don't want to spend park prices on food. You're still paying for it, obviously, but the discount makes it much more bearable! Also, on scorching days like when we went, you will really value the unlimited refills to keep your fluids and electrolytes up! No one wants a hospital visit for dehydration to be their last stop for the day after the amusement park. No amusement there.... The entrees must be spaced 1 hour apart. So you can't get 2 entrees at the same time. No problem, you're there all day!
I did find it confusing that there is no real listing of where you can use these or what meal items are included. At Cedar Point, not every item at every restaurant was included in their meal plan, for instance.
So here's what we learned.
I loved my visit to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It's a great amusement park with a lot of variety and of course I love the design based on different countries and cultures. It has something to offer for everyone in your family in terms of rides and entertainment. And it's not too overwhelming to visit. Although it was scorching when I went, it was a perfect day because lines were short to nonexistent!!! We rode several coasters multiple times which on an average day would probably have had waits of 30 minutes or more whereas we walked right on or only had to wait 5 minutes! Total score! I can't wait to come back!!!
Below is a list of rides and attractions in each area of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and a description. The rides in Green are rides I rode and highly recommend. Yellow = it was just okay to me. Red = I don't recommend. Fortunately, I have no red ones!
Anything else I did not ride or experience first hand on this visit.
Phipps Conservatory is a great place to visit whether you're visiting Pittsburgh or live in the area. Because they have constantly changing themes, seasonal exhibits, events and activities, you can visit this place many times without feeling bored, in my opinion. Unless you flat out do not like botany.
Here's just a small sample of some of the amazingly gorgeous sites you may see at Phipps!
Vine & Olive - Truly a Destination
If you're looking for a great, but down-to-earth foodie experience and are intrigued by Mediterranean foods, you will *love* Vine & Olive!
After all of our exploration and activities on Put-in-Bay, we were quite hungry and wanted to grab a bite before turning in for the night. Casa Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant in Port Clinton was open and seemed like a good choice. We sauntered in and the place was 95% empty. Sharing an order of fajitas and getting a margarita is always a default at a mexican restaurant when I'm not in the mood for decision-making. haha!! *sad but true* But the choice was not sad, it was muy, muy feliz! I enjoyed the background noise of the employees chatting as they cleaned up for the night. I crunched down my chips and salsa and as usual, couldn't finish the fajitas anyways. Good thing the hotel had a fridge! ;)
Gracias, Casa Las Palmas: Me gustó mucho la comida!
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