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San Francisco with kids and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Last month we set off on another adventure. This time to San Francisco for Dad 2.0. Let me stop there for a second… yes I went to a dad conference. When I first thought about buying the ticket I wasn't sure if it was cool for a girl to attend. I mean guys come to girl conferences all the time… and I never look at them with the “side-eye” look or anything, but would I be welcomed by all these male bloggers or shunned?
I'm so happy to share that nobody tried to kick me out for being female, quite the opposite. I was totally welcomed and thought that Dad 2.0 was one of the best conferences I've ever attended. I'll get into that more in a second… back to our adventure.
We left San Diego after rush hour traffic was over (7:00 pm) and drove about two hours so that we were out of LA for the long drive up to San Francisco in the morning.
Los Angeles has always been the hardest part of our travels. The traffic is pretty much horrible all the time, but almost unbearable for someone like me that hates traffic so we decided to try something different this time and it worked out perfectly. We drove up to Valencia and stayed at a hotel right off the freeway and then left at 7:00 am the next morning. We hit zero traffic. It was awesome.
We drove for 4 hours and stopped for lunch. We have tried to eat at as many hole in the wall family restaurants when we do road trips (bonus points if they have homemade pies). It can be hit or miss but we still enjoy the element of surprise when we discover a great find!
We rolled into the city at 3:00 pm; got out, stretched our legs and did some sight seeing!
And then we checked into our hotel, the Park Central Hotel.
What a great place to stay. It had just enough elegance and luxury to make us feel comfortable, because you all know I'm not a “roughing it” kinda person, but still had a casual vibe that made it family friendly. The location was perfect because it was within walking distance to almost everything. The malls, Fisherman's Wharf, loads of restaurants and Trolley stops. There is a restaurant in the lobby and 5 Starbucks, Peet's and independent coffee shops to get your morning cup of joy seconds away. The rooms were clean and the beds were so comfortable plus the view of the city from the rooms on the upper floors was breathtaking! Waking up to that view is something I will remember forever. The Little One just sat and stared at the cars and people with a look of awe from the window every chance she got!
Let's talk about the food in San Francisco for a moment.
Actually we could talk about it for hours. It was all amazing. Being vegetarians (with one vegan) we love fresh veggies and donuts too. But mostly veggies. So visiting a city where they value fresh food served in creative ways was thrilling. There were so many choices and so little time that we had to really prioritize. On the first night we ate at Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya. It is all plant based and the best sushi I have ever had. Fresh, flavorful and filling. The dishes were beautifully presented and the texture was spot on. We ordered almost one of everything and I dream of that meal. We are already planning to go back up there for dinner. You know a restaurant is amazing when you are willing to drive that far for food.
I was too busy eating to take pictures but the Farmers Market Ferry Building is a must stop for foodies.
The Farmers Market Ferry Building is a farmers market, meets specialty cafe, meets shopping heaven. We bought vegan donuts, gourmet cheese, cold pressed juice, amazing coffee and had a full lunch all in one building. This isn't one of those places to add to your list of things to see. This has to be at the top of the list right next to Fisherman's Wharf. You will not be disappointed. I was told about this from a family member that loves San Francisco (like it's his second home) so I kinda knew it would be a great place but even I was surprised.
And then there was Ghirardelli's.
We've been to the one at the original building in Ghirardelli Square and the ones throughout San Francisco, Monterey and Disney's California Adventure. You can't go wrong at any of them… but there is something special about eating it on vacation in San Francisco… so totally stop for a treat when you see one!
Imagine our surprise when we realized that it was Lunar New Year and we were within walking distance of China Town.
The energy in China Town is always full of energy and history, but this day was unlike anything I've ever seen or felt before. We enjoyed the street fireworks, had lunch, and were offered tons of opportunities to buy other random things. This wasn't our first time visiting and it won't be our last. As we walk the streets I explain to the girls the history that these streets have seen. The pain and the joy. And we admire the architecture and culture.
Pete took this video of the firework:
And then it was Dad 2.0 conference time.
Pete and the girls took a boat ride and did some more sight seeing and I got ready for a great couple days of learning and networking. Going to conferences has changed for me in the past couple years. I used to go to soak up as much info as possible to better my site. I still do that, but I also go to get energized. It can be mentally draining to write like I do. Each post is me sharing a piece of myself with words and pictures that are important to me. I am putting myself out there for all to dissect. I've learned that those few days away from the office surrounded by others that “get” this crazy career of mine is just what I need to get back to creating. And being able to meet with clients that I've only ever spoken to via email really helps to build long term relationships. So those are the three reasons I go to conferences… but there were a couple more reasons why I wanted to go to Dad 2.0.
- Reputation. This conference has an amazing reputation for being enjoyable and extremely professional. The sponsors were different than the normal mom conferences and I wanted to branch out and be inspired in different ways. It didn't hurt that some of my blogging friends were there too.
- It's a Lovely Life! is growing. As we do more travel, tech and fitness here on my site Pete and the girls are taking on larger roles. I can't, and don't do this alone. I have assistants that help in many aspects so I can focus on writing and the business side of things, but Pete brings a valuable side to a lot of what we do (and write about) and he will be getting more involved. He won't be starting his own blog anytime soon as he really enjoys real estate and his clients would never let him leave (even if he wanted to), but he will have a larger presence going forward and I wanted to be able to see the climate in Dad blogging and share it with him. I left with lot's of valuable information and more inspiration as to how to work Pete into IALL on his limited free time.
The sponsors and speakers were top notch.
Gone are the days when I could actually sit in on all the sessions I wanted to. I did an awkward dance of trying to fit in as much time at the conference as I could while still running this blog on the go. It wasn't ideal, but it worked.
I left Dad 2.0 with a clear idea of the importance of dads in the conversation and in the blogging world and with inspiration for the future of It's a Lovely Life. Would this girl go back to a dad conference? Absolutely! And I hope to see more dads at the next mom ones too!