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 ;-)
Did you know Put-in-Bay has a tour train? The tour train is a great way to see the island and take a rest. The tour guides are knowledgeable and you will learn some interesting history of the area as well as see some views you may not otherwise have seen. I love seeing boats afloat in the water, for example, like in the shot above.
Our Jet Express Experience
When you can't go toward the equator, but you still want to feel that island vibe, Lake Erie's Shores & Islands aren't too far away. We decided to check Put-in-Bay out for a day and since we were staying in Port Clinton we were in a prime location to catch the Jet Express ferry!
The drive from Pittsburgh to the Sandusky area of Lake Erie is around 3 hours, making it a great destination for a close-to-home weekend getaway. Traveling on I-80 is smooth and quick and once you're in Ohio you are going to have access to the awesome Service Plazas on the Ohio Turnpike. They are convenient because they are on the Turnpike, meaning you don't have to exit the Turnpike and pay a toll to use the bathroom or get a snack and then get back on. The set up saves you money and time. They also look similar. I think that's nice because you feel comfortable entering them, knowing what to expect.
A close-to-home getaway can be just what the doctor ordered whether to celebrate a special occasion or to break up the monotony of your daily routine. Here's one way to spend time around Lake Erie's Shores & Islands:
Ohio Day One:
Ohio Day Two:
Ohio Day Three:
Ohio Day Four:
Stop back for blog posts on each bullet point! :)
Need Help Planning Your Trip To Lake Erie Shores & Islands?
Visit the fabulous Shores & Islands website for tons of great info!
On the way home we opted to travel Southwest Airlines. It's literally been years that we have traveled Southwest, although for a while it was the only way we flew.. Now that we pack less... ( I mean A LOT LESS ) the 2 free checked bags per person doesn't have quite the same appeal. At any rate, it was a good option for coming home this time because it was a non-stop flight from Fort Myers Airport ( RSW Southwest Florida International ) and PIT (Pittsburgh International)
We had no trouble dropping off our rental car, so long little Miata, it was fun cruising with the top down all week and we will miss you... *sheds a solitary tear*
And navigating the airport was fine. It was all fine, good, great, wonderful until we got to the security line. We were plenty early and there weren't many people in line. Yet somehow the line was NOT MOVING! I try to be a patient person, but as time went on I was starting to feel really agitated. There was only 1 line open to go through and the line of people waiting was growing and growing. I was confused by it. It was so inefficient it was absurd. Granted, the guy who was doing the security check was actually quite nice and friendly, it's just that the airport needed at least 1 more agent available, if not 2, to expedite the line.
When it was finally time to put my things on the conveyer belt, I set my carry on up there and went to grab a little bin for my small items, but someone had already started placing stuff in both stacks of bins. *eyeroll* so I let out a little sigh of frustration, and then proceeded to lift the bin on the top of the stack with someone elses stuff in it, so I could get the bin underneath to put my stuff in. Instantly I heard a, "Heeey, that's mine!!!" from an adult girl and a quick consolation of "She's not trying to take your stuff, honey".. from father-figure. When I turned around to say I just needed a bin, I realized there was an intellectual disability situation taking place and I felt so bad. Like... all day. Like.. still I feel bad. I hope I wasn't mean, I hope no one heard me sigh, I felt like a jerk! And all I wanted was a bin. >.<
It was a good reminder to me not to lose my cool. To always be polite and courteous. To keep training myself to be patient and kind to others. The fact is, no matter who is around whether they have special needs or not, whether old or young, whether from your home country or a far away land, you should always treat others in the same, kind way. That it was someone with a disability just made it more of a humbling realization. (If you ever find this and are reading it... I'm sorry! I hope I wasn't rude when I took that bin!)
Traveling can be a little stressful, trying to get here and there and not miss any connections, but try to take a deep breath and remember that you WILL get where you need to go. Hopefully in the way you initially intended, but maybe things will need to be adjusted. Either way, you'll get there. So chill out and enjoy the journey.
</rant> </babble> </lifelesson>
Southwest is always great. The staff was friendly. The flight was smooth. The drinks and snacks were flowing. I think they are a great airline, especially if you have checked baggage.
And I just realized they are a Partner Airline for Chase Sapphire's Ultimate Rewards Program-- so you can transfer your Chase points 1:1 value to Southwest to book your next flight! :) Fun Fact!
By the way, you can get 50,000 bonus points when you sign up for Chase Sapphire.. That's good for several roundtrips in the US, and atleast one way to Europe and Asia depending on which airlines you choose to use your points at! OR cash it out with a check!
Remember when I got a cheap convertible in San Francisco Airport for a fraction of the going rate!? Well.. I decided I wanted to do that again because what could be better than one convertible? ... TWO of course!
When the Convertibles Run Out...
I was excited to find out that United Airlines offered a non-stop, overnight flight from SFO to FLL.
This was a perfect way to get from coast to coast with minimal effort and save a hotel night! The flight was scheduled as 5 hours and 46 minutes and I do believe we touched ground several minutes early.
After enjoying our last day in California with aBay Cruise and something to eat, we headed to the airport to drop off the Mustang and make our way to the gate.
Returning The Mustang Convertible Rental
It was a sad moment when we had toreturn the Mustang. Oh well.. it was fun while it lasted.
The return process was seamless and efficient. Pull up, get your stuff out, and the guys (and girls) take the car away. Granted, we also arrived in the late evening since our flight was close to 11pm, so maybe it wasn't a high-crowd time. Either way, it went smooth!!
Getting Through Security