Reminiscing about my weeklong road trip in California with the 8-Year-Old brings nothing but a smile to my face. Actually, there is a song that will forever bring me straight back to our CA road trip. It was not only the first song we heard in our rented Mustang convertible but the radio seemed to have it on repeat all week.
The 8-Year-Old and I now can’t hear that song without looking at each other with a big toothy grin, and that is why this yearly trip tradition will be a priority for me for the rest of my life.
Looking back at our whole trip, one stop in particular really stood out for me as a pleasant surprise.
When I was initially planning, I knew I wanted to at least see the Golden Gate Bridge. Not being a native West Coaster, it’s one of those things I’m really familiar with from movies and media but needed to see for myself. I’m sure it’s a similar feeling for those not from New York to see the Verrazano or George Washington Bridge. Then again I may just be a geek in this department so feel free to ignore my crazy bridge compulsion.
Anyway, I was nervous about it. I had no idea what traffic would be like around the bridge, if there would be a place to park or even if I could (or wanted to) travel across it and back since we weren’t heading north.
In hindsight I could have looked all this information up on its website but honestly, I was already saturated with California tidbits. So I decided to wing the bridge and figured at best we would just drive by and maybe pull to the side of the road for a picture or two.
To my surprise we were able to do much more!
Driving toward the bridge I saw an exit for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area View Area. There there was a small parking lot, visitor center and view station. If I remember correctly it was $2 to park for 2 hours.
Now I’m sure being there after hours greatly benefited us. We arrived around 6:30 p.m. and were extremely lucky as someone was just leaving, freeing a spot for us. I can see visiting the center during daytime hours being quite hectic.
Anyway, we paid for our parking and walked over to a observation point. It was breathtaking!
He may not look it, but he was impressed. Especially when he could climb on the sample cable.
I was fascinated at how much of a presence Alcatraz had from everywhere in the city.
We started to wander around. I knew there was a way to walk across the bridge. I just had to find it.
Of course we had to stop for a photo here and there.
The kid has almost no ability to take a photo without making a face. It’s maddening!
Anyway, we came across a map.
Now I felt more comfortable exploring the area.
I stopped to read a little history.
When I turned around I found this.
Yeah, he was having fun.
Still strolling toward the bridge we came across another educational area with a hands-on demonstration on why the bridge was constructed the way it was.
Great for kids!
We stayed and read for a minute and then continued toward the bridge.
I would have LOVED to walk across but it was late and I was with a child who may have (crap, HAS) inherited Dad’s slight fear of heights and bridges. So we compromised and decided to walk to the first beam just to take a few pictures.
I was in heaven. There’s nothing I enjoy much more than a great view.
One the walk back we spied another educational spot with a different hands-on station. This one explained how the bridge was designed with sections.
Overall we spent just over an hour at the Golden Gate Bridge and it was the perfect way to end our first night in California.
If you are planning a trip to the area, I’d definitely put this amazing landmark on your list. Just wear good shoes and be sure to visit with someone willing to walk across.
Went I go back that’s what I’m be doing for sure!