Mike and I both grew up in suburbs of two great cities – Mike in San Francisco, and me in Los Angeles. We’ve been talking about our childhoods, and we realized that we really took for granted the amazing opportunities that were in our own backyards.
This last weekend we were at Mike’s childhood home, and we found ourselves with a day spread before us. We decided to take the opportunity to go into San Francisco with Annabel and explore – tourists in a hometown.
The first thing we did was head to Crissy Field where we had a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Annie squealed with delight at Crissy Field. There were so many people and things to look at, and she loved the breeze on her face.
We needed to warm up after that, so we headed to Ghirardelli Square for some hot chocolate. And some regular chocolate, since I knew that they hand out samples to everyone that enters the stores. We scored several delicious caramel chocolate squares, my favorite! And now Annie’s favorite:
After Mike and I each ordered salted caramel hot chocolate, we grabbed a warm brownie. People, that warm brownie was made with chocolate and pure flecks of heaven. OHMIGAH. SO. DELICIOUS. Of course, Mike had to let Annie taste it.
this is the best thing I’ve ever tasted!
I gotta snag another piece when no one is looking.
Once we finished up there, we drove a few miles and met up with Jackie!!! Jackie! and Annie are totally best buds. Annie even styles her hair just like Jackie!
We went to a Chinese restaurant and had yummy Dim Sum. Annie had some of that too. Clearly, as you all can tell, Annie is not a picky eater.
All the people at the restaurant kept remarking what a big girl Annie was. I was like, “HELL YEAH! You said GIRL!” while Mike and Jackie! would point out that she was quite in proportion.
After we said our goodbyes to Jackie! (with extra hugs ’cause she’s so damn huggable), Mike and I talked the whole drive back to his parents’ house about what a fun, cheap day we’d had. We decided that we’re going to make a habit of exploring what our city has to offer. There are so many amazing things (free things! cheap things!) in Los Angeles that we never take advantage of, and we really need to remedy that.
Does anyone else take their surroundings for granted? We are making 2011 the year of the at-home tourist!
Kate @ UpsideBackwards says:
Those photos are STUNNING! I love the ones of Annie with the brownie… you’ll have to keep an eye on her! (Of course, you know that already).
Mmmm Ghirardelli… my favourite is their raspberry creme. I’ve never been to Ghirardelli Square, but my husband has and he knew better than to come home empty-handed
I have great plans to explore our home area with my 8-year-old this summer while her siblings are at daycare and her Dad is at work. It’s Big Girl time and we’re going OUT.
YAHOO!!! I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO EXPLORE LA!!! I have ALWAYS wanted to go but as of yet, I couldn’t afford to go. I can’t wait for your post. THANKS!!!
I recently moved to Topeka (unofficial town motto: NOTHING TO DO HERE EVER) and realized that even though I now live an hour and a half from Kansas City and have relatives in Kansas City, I have never been to Kansas City. I am going to try to change this over my spring break and go see the city, even if all I do is drive around and explore some shops and things. I don’t get out enough (see: town motto) but I’m 90 minutes away from a major metropolitan area, so why not?
I live in Switzerland, and totally take it for granted. Four hundred year-old cobblestone streets, a view of the Eiger, one hour drive to famous mountain ski towns like Grindelwald and Gstaadt – I often forget how unbelievably cool this all is.
We live all the way across the US in a little coastal town just outside of Charleston, SC. We have found that by becoming members of some of the area attractions…plantations, aquariums, museums and such~after two visits, the membership pays for themselves. Our four year old loves these adventures and they always remind us of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.
It’s a wonderful way to build lasting family memories.
Expat Mom says:
I have to admit, I do take my surroundings for granted. I live in Guatemala and I’ve never even been to Tikal!
I love that you let Annie try all these foods. That’s going to help her be less picky when she’s older! And that shot of you guys at Crissy Field? Priceless, especially with the little Annie belly peeking out.
I’m near Salt Lake City, Utah – and I am guilty of not enjoying what is around. This past fall we took our girls up the canyon for a picnic and some exploring. I hadn’t done that in years. All it cost us was a stop for sandwiches at Subway! I need to do a better job at finding and doing things to do nearby.
I have to say, you are lucky to live in a place where people pay good money to vacation. Beaches, shopping, sightseeing, oh my goodness. I am so envious.
I love Annie’s pics at Ghiradelli – love that place! I haven’t been to San Francisco in about 6 years. I think it’s time to go back!
Love it. Your Annie is just so darn cute! You can almost see the sugar kicking in in that brownie pic.
I’ve spent the past 3 years working on being a stay-at-home tourist, I mean I live in the capital of my country and there are gabillions of tourists who come here every year, there must be a reason right?
Too too true. I write for a living about all our region has to offer, yet I’ve been guilty of under-utilizing it. Great reminder, if only we had a place to get salted hot chocolate which sounds divine!
We live in the suburbs of DC and I drive past several memorials and museums on a daily basis. I’ve been here for almost 11 years and shamefully have not set foot in one museum. There’s just so much traffic and tourists. I hate crowds.
Loved these pics!
We, too, live in a DC suburb. Although we have ventured into museums, there is lots more that we don’t do. Typically I find we mostly head out only when we have people visiting. We did get annual passes to Mt. Vernon (George Washington’s home, for those who don’t know) and love going there.
I live in the St. Louis area. If you want free/ cheap tourism, come on over! Excluding parking and special exhibits, our zoo, science center, art museum, history museum, and Forest Park are free. If you become a “supporting member” then 2 visits is generally enough to recoup your money on parking and special events. And yet, I know people in this area with the means to do so who have never been to the Arch, a National Park. They are missing out on all of the benefits of living near a large, metropolitan area.
Good for you! Enjoy your stay-cations!
We do a staycation in addition to our vacation every year, and plan things to do around our city, or within driving distance to home. We have seen some pretty amazing places just paying for a tank of gas. It is crazy the things that you can overlook in your own backyard.
I think exploring where you live is a great idea. When we lived in Chicagoland we totally took all of the options and things to do for granted.
Re: The Size of Annie. She looks big in pictures. But when you post her stats she doesn’t seem that big?
I live in Kansas City, but haven’t seen most of what the city has to offer. Last year, my husband and I said we would start taking advantage of what our city had to offer. We loved it and haven’t even put a dent into what we could see and do. Have fun!
You know, I really do. I live in a town that I have always hated because it’s not my home town. But everyday, someone else points out something remarkable, fun, artistic and unique about living here. I just don’t take advantage of it all. I spend too much time caught up in the day to day grind.
I must take my kid and explore my city more!
We found out last week that hubs has some vacation time coming to him, a week off at the end of the month. We live in New England, and I googled hotel prices on the Cape. So very affordable! But then I had a vision of the 2 of us lugging around 3 kids, one of which is only 10 months old. The packing, the over packing, the driving there, the sleeping arrangements, the having to eat out with THREE KIDS. Screw it.
Instead, we are planning a fun, kid orientated, day trip in our own area, for each day he has off, and just staying home.
Yes!! I live in the suburbs of DC and one of my best friends lives in the city, but I hardly ever go there, and if I do, it’s mostly to hang out with my friend in her neighborhood. I NEED to go exploring and see all the free things DC has to offer!
That was our resolution last year. To really explore and enjoy our city. It worked. We did a ton last year just hanging out within a few miles of our house and we’ve come to love our city even more.
Have fun exploring your own backyard. Can’t wait to read the stories and see the pictures of your adventures.
Heather, I am so inspired by you. Even more so than usual.
It is funny, because when Michael and I travel, I have a couple of rules that involve things like “no chain restaurants” and “hidden gems” to visit. but we never do that when we are home! Why the heck not?
On a side note, my favorite Ghiardeli treat is the warm toffee cookie. OMG. NUUUUUUUUM!
We are going to be at home tourists this year, too. I can’t wait to get started.
PS. That Annie is something else! And ALL girl.
HER EYES!!!! love the color (chameleon!!) that they have settled into. very cool!
so, we live just south of denver. gorgeous part of the country….right next to the foothills of the rocky mountains. tons and tons to do! we are always looking for fun, cheap (!) things to do. it pretty easy to find….denver has great eateries, which “I” am very tempted by….so the cheap isn’t so easy all the time ;). but we do have lots of festivals during the warmer months that offer tastings, so there is that opportunity. of course, the hiking is free!! and the view, LOL!
we have family in san fran and the chocolate pics are making me want to pay a visit sooooon!! omg!!! i think you’re going to have a little chocoholic on your hands. not that there’s anything wrong with that. (my name is susan. and i am a chocoholic…..)
Living in NYC (Brooklyn to be exact), with two children and two full time jobs is both expensive and difficult. But we love our city and figure, as much as we have to sacrifice, we’ll make the best of it by constantly doing fun things in the city. Chinatown and the village are regular visits as are the museums. And yeah chocolate! Jacques Torres, please.
PS Annie is perfect!
Looks like you guys had a blast. I am so guilty of living in a big city (NYC) and not really ever exploring all of it. I’ve been to the statue of liberty, seen Ellis Island, seen 42nd St., I’ve even been to plays but I know there’s so much more and I just don’t have any desire to do it lol.
I was just thinking about this yesterday and decided to take a walk around Independence Mall and the Liberty Bell during lunch. I live in the birthplace of our country and I seldom take advantage of the great historical sites. I do take advantage of Rittenhouse Square, though, when it’s warm. It’s the perfect place to hang out and read a book.
I love that you are exploring your hometowns … we live in Santa Cruz, and are always finding new and amazing places to see and things to do. What a gift for one’s children, too!
Hell yes! We live in Northern VA, and just a few miles from DC, to which we rarely visit. We’re literally 8 miles from the 14th street bridge – and live 5 miles from George Washington’s home on the Potomac. We need to explore lots more!
Michelle S says:
We live in Calgary, Alberta and there are thousands of people that come through this city on their way to Banff and Lake Louise every year. We love it here and I’m pretty sure we have only really seen a fraction of what it has to offer.
San Francisco is on our “to visit” list. My hubby and I were actually thinking of a trip their for our anniversary this year. I’m glad you had a wonderful day !!
Shannon Leon Etnyre says:
I just want to pinch Annie’s cheeks! She’s so crazy adorable! Um, so yeah. I’ve definitely bit a little lazy with the whole “Knowing what you’re town is all about”. I’ve been here 5 years & I can just say I love it, but I don’t really know why.
Boise is a lot like N.P. in the suburbs, but with a little planning & fore thought you can have a really nice time. Although it would take a little longer to get to the beach from here. I’ll def put this on my to-do list for 2011. Thanks Heather!
The pictures of Annie are stunning. What a sweet and beautiful little GIRL. We live in Northern California and really need to start taking advantage of it. I think a trip to Ghirardelli Square is in order.
i don’t even remember when i went to ghiradelli square last was. definitely add me to the group that does not take advantage of her surroundings. i seriously need to start doing that.
looks like you had a fun trip, and.. as always annie is so darn cute!
YES! Totally. I love this post. I live (and grew up in) in Atlanta, and I haven’t seen half of the things that most people come to my city to see. I’m not working this week, so I said I was going to be a tourist in my own town…your post is perfectly timed!
Annie, of course, is beautiful! I love how wavy/curly her hair is getting!!!
XOXO from GA,
I adore the photo of her after trying the brownie. Like hi, where have you been hiding these my entire life.
Um where did you get the owl sweater? I love it.
I live in the St. Louis area and I constantly have to remind myself to take advantage of everything that the city has to offer. We have great FREE museums, a world class zoo (also free), parks, and so much more. I just admitted to my husband that I have only been up in the Arch once, and I was 11 when I did it. Now he is on a mission to take me up there again. Being a tourist in your own city is amazing. I definitely recommend checking out the visitors bureau pages for any city…you can get some great ideas of places to visit, and often you can get coupons and great deals for the not free stuff!
Pinkie Bling says:
I live in Salt Lake City, and there are lots of years that I don’t make it up to the ski resorts once, or see a single Sundance film. Some summers I never make it hiking, or camping, or climbing, or…
I’m down with the at-home tourism thing, too!
Marnie * says:
Yes, I have taken where I live for granted. I have lived in So. Calif. my whole life, and have been to the L.A. area very few times. I have said for years that I want to do all the tourist things. I’m going to have to start.
I live in the Central Valley in CA and well I have never been Yosemite National Park! Eeek! I get admonished for this all the time. I mean people come from all over the world to see half dome. This is a great idea. There is so much to do around here and I need to get out more and see it. It is nice that we are right in the middle of SF and LA as well. At least I can say I have been to both several times although I haven’t explored all that much. On my next LA list is to go to the Reagan library. My Mom said there is a plane in it so the Husband has been all for that one. Being in SF is fun but I am so scared of the Bay Bridge! However a ghiradelli brownie might get this preggo across it.
jennifer pletcher says:
I LOVE Ghirardelli Square! We used to live in San Diego and went to San Fran. Best trip ever!
Love the pictures. I love love to be a tourist in my own city. I was born and raised in NY and when I go back I’m still the tourist in NY. There’s always so much to see and do.
Family time like that are the best time. Fun times had and inexpensive. To die for! Keep exploring Heather and Mike & Annie too
I live literally down the street from Southfork (in a Dallas suburb), and I’ve never visited it. Apalling, I know! And I drive by it every two weeks or so. I grew up (in Kansas) watching Dallas with my parents! I need to go!
My husband and I have been doing this with our kids for the past couple of years during the rough ecomomy. We’ve found that you can get all sorts of free tickets (chidren’s museum, zoo, etc.) through our local library. They only give out a few a week so we always ask when we are there. We have found all sorts of discounts and free stuff through our health insurance and by using the kids student IDs… you just have to hunt for it but it feels great and can be lots of fun to work on a small budget!!!
I’m kinda tired of being an at-home tourist. We do the same handful of things every other year. One year, while my husband is on vacation, we will go to touristy places (in our own back yard) A, B, and C………and the next year, we will do the rest X, Y, and Z. Not to mention the things we do throughout the year that are local. I’ve not been out of the metro area of my own state since 2004.
I love Annie’s owl sweater! Where did you get it from? A friend of mine loooooves owls; I would totally score some extra “awesome friend” points if I bought it for her baby!
Well, it was from Santa Claus, but I do believe Santa shopped at http://www.pumpkinpatchusa.com!
This is so true — I’m another one who lives mere minutes from DC, which is absolutely teeming with (FREE!) monuments, museums, and history, yet I only ever think about taking advantage of it when we have company in town. Such a good New Year’s resolution for us!
And forget the brownie — that baby is delicious!!
I live in London, and we always try to do something in the City when we have time off.
We’ve visited pretty much ALL of the free museums, and most of the paid ones too.
In fact a lot of places do a 2for1 offer when you travel on the National Rail Network, and as you have to pay for your rail fare into the city anyway it’s very cheap to visit places on a 2for1 offer.
Also a lot of places aren’t very far away from London by train.
My husband and I went to Warwick which is only 2 hours away, Oxford, which is 2 hours away, Edinburgh which is 4 hours by train and also up to Loch Lomond which we took an overnight sleeper train, which was something of an experience!!!
In April, we’re going to Bath, to visit the Roman Baths, the Thermae Spa (where you can swim in the thermal pool on the roof overlooking the city!) and also to the Jane Austen Museum and all the cosy tearooms we can cram in to our visit.
and the best part of these trips is that if you get on a few of the chain hotel mailing lists, you find out when they have their room sales. Like Travelodge just put out a sale for rooms from £9 per night! bargain.
also I’m lucky enough that a friend of mine works in the Animal Hospital at London Zoo, so when we want to visit there, she gives us a tour of the hospital and then lets us loose in the zoo!
I LOVE LONDON!
Rumour Miller says:
I am guilty as charged. There is so much to do in our own backyard but we always feel compelled to be tourists somewhere else.
Great idea on being a tourist in your own back yard.
Mommy Boots says:
OMG. Where did you get that hoodie? It’s adorable.
Nellie has just become a picky eater. She used to nom anything on her tray and now? She turns her head and clamps her lips up tight. Graaaaah.
Santa got it for her at http://www.pumpkinpatchusa.com!
I had two months in LA for work in 2009 (I live in NYC–and took advantage of it pretty well before I had a kid) and there are so many great things to do! I would like to go back to the Huntington Gardens in particular–they were amazing.
I would soooo love to live where you do! I’m on the east coast, it’s about 30 degrees right now. I do not take advantage of the touristy stuff, as I live in the heart of “Amish country”. Yes, I live near Blue Ball, and Intercourse, PA. But I do love living 5 minutes away where I can get delicious Wilbur Buds from the factory. If you haven’t had a wilbur bud, they are soooo much better then Hershey Kisses. If you haven’t, I should mail some to you!!!
Love it. This is a great idea. All the years going to SF and I’ve never bought food in Ghirardelli Square. Free chocolate, of course but nothing else. Going to have to do that next time.
Allison F. says:
Love reading your blog…I comment here and there but I am yet another faceless fellow blogging stranger/friend. So glad to see Annie thriving, she is gorgeous! Question – where did you get the owl hoodie, I love it and want to buy it as a gift for a friend.
Your forever fan in Chicago – Allison
It’s from http://www.pumpkinpatchusa.com, she got it from Santa!
Love your blog! Wanted to make sure you knew about this website for fun free (or cheap) things to do around LA!
We moved to the beach (Florida!) almost 3 years ago, we didn’t move here blindly, family has lived here for generations, so we’re “at home tourists”. We’ve recently decided to explore our fantastic town more, fishing, parks, little shops and restaurants we’ve passed my so many times.
Ash Leppek says:
Such a great idea! Sounds like a fun day. I love SF!
My daughter just turned 1 on Dec. 27th and was wearing that same owl sweatshirt as Annie has on in her photos! I love it! My daughter is pretty much the opposite of Annie in size. Weighing only 15lb 4oz right now. I bought that sweatshirt back in Nov. and got the 6-12mo size and today was the first day she was able to wear it without it looking huge on her! I was so excited!
Annie looks sooooo cute in it! We love owls! We are having Roweyn’s (my daughter) 1st bday party on Sunday and owls is the theme!
Sarah M. says:
I definitely take where I live for granted! Now some people may say “But you live in Louisville. Louisville, KENTUCKY! What is there to do in KENTUCKY?” Besides marry your cousin, there’s tons of stuff! Horse racing, great college basketball tradition, home of the Louisville Slugger, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. BOURBON, people! Good stuff!! Thanks for the reminder about all the great things we all have in our very own backyards. Now where’s that bourbon…
i live near cleveland..rock’n’roll hall of fame, natural history museum, art museum, science center, nasa, playhouse square, zoo, metroparks… so much to do it is unbelievable…
LOVE the picture of the 3 of you in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. So pretty!! I must go see that bridge one day. ONE DAY!
Also, HI Jackie!!!
Amanda M. says:
Annie is indeed finally sporting some girlish hair. So cute!
I can’t believe you didn’t go to The Crown & Crumpet in Ghirardelli Square! The husband took me up there in November, and that place was my favorite part! Alcatraz was also awesome.
I love Southern California! It’s a great place to live. When was the last time you spent a day in, say, Little Tokyo in LA? That’s one of my favorite ways to spend a day. And I got a Disneyland pass in September, so I’m never bored.
You should get a pass when Annie turns two! My friend did the same for her little boy and now we go to Disneyland together all the time and it is GREAT!
It sounds like you had a truly fabulous day.
We live about an hour away from the LA Zoo and about an hour away from the San Diego Zoo — right smack in the middle of both. But yet…we have never taken the kids to either zoo. How pathetic is that? We do other things with our kids and go a lot of other places…but we somehow put off the things that are closest to us.
Except Disneyland. We are 20 minutes from Disneyland and every year we get our annual passes! We go there at least twice a month. Hey, you just gotta go to Disneyland when you live so close to it!
Purita Fisher says:
I have a friend from HS that totally inspired me to get out and explore my own backyard with her blog! She does this thing called “Matt Days.” She got the idea one day when her son was watching this viral video called “Where in the hell is Matt?” It’s a video about this guy who does this silly dance all over the world and put together a video! So what she does is every weekend (when they can) pick a place within a reasonable driving distance, and GO! When they are done they take a pic and she posts it to her blog and tells us all about it! It’s been so much fun to read about her adventures — some fail, some are great others are surprising ( she took her kids to the Florida welcome center which is also located at a large rest stop!)
Like I said I was inspired and it has been great for our family! Every weekend (when we can) we head out for an adventure and we come home with great memoirs and a family photo! I don’t think I look so great in them but my resolution last year was to have more family photos!
Have fun exploring Annie will love it!
First, I would just like to say that Annie is SO FRIGGEN ADORABLE! I even got an “awww” out of my cynical 13 year old brother when I showed him your blog.
I grew up in the suburbs of New York City. I am 19 years old now, and the summer I turned 10 was 2001. I saw the twin towers every morning on my way to school, but never once really stopped to look, because honestly, what kid does? However, I specifically recall standing on the beach on September 1st, 2001 with some friends, looking over the water, and for the first time actually understood what a beautiful city we had, and what a privledge it was to live there. We all know what happened a week and a half later, but I will never, ever forget the almost chilling sensation of standing on that beach and just appreciating what we had. I’m now a college kid, planning on starting a degree in London next September, and I plan on making it a point to appreciate what a great place it is, along with every city I visit.
You’re going to love London!!! It’s a great city!
If you need ideas then give me a call or drop me an email!!
Really love what you did with the first picture. Nice shot! I too began last year looking into what else there is to do in Southern California and to my surprise there is a lot I haven’t seen or done in the 27 years i have lived here.
My fiance and I live in Toronto and have also recently realize that we have so much to explore. We are saving for a house so have deemed 2011 the year of budget chic. So we are also planning on having some days spent wandering through the different areas and taking pictures instead of shopping.
Your day sounded both fun and delicious!
“Does anyone else take their surroundings for granted? We are making 2011 the year of the at-home tourist!”
^^I like the sound of that. There are SO many things that I’ve taken advantage of living where I do. I’m going to try to be like you, and see ALL there is to see, so I won’t feel like a tourist anymore!
Annabel is so GOSH DARN ADORABLE! I LOVE that face she has when she thinks she’s been caught! Too cute! Can I borrow her for a day? Lol! =P
I went to college at UCSB. SANTA BARBARA!! and I did not take advantage. Now my parents live there and I take advantage of all that beautiful city has to offer every time we visit.