Originally Posted by Sean
Congratulations on the fortitude to travel around the world with your daughter. My wife and I have ventured only as far as Boston with our (25 mos old) daughter and I will definitely look forward to your recounting what succeeded and what did not. Reading the advice proffered so far in the thread, the one thing I wholeheartedly agree with is that staying at the wharf with a 3.5 year old would probably not be a stellar plan. Where one visits and what one sees is obviously a matter of personal preference. This is especially true when you factor in the the likes, dislikes and attention span of the little girl. All sightseeing advice is simply a distillation of personal bias. I find the wharf to be crowded and boring and have since I was a child. On the other hand, I never tire of visting the Maritime Museum. Cable cars are another odd thing. Riding a cable car is obviously an incredibly "touristy" thing to do, and there will probably be long line... but who cares. However, maybe the joy I get out of it derives from the rosy glow that childhood memories add to any activity and the knowledge that my grandfather worked on the cable cars. If I were patient enough to ride a bus all the way out Geary I'd say the place to go is Lincoln Park. Not only do you have spectacular views but also the Legion of Honor, however a museum might seem pretty dull to a 3.5 y/o. As I said, all a matter of personal bias.
I would certainly advise that you avoid lugging all the bags, wife, and progeny from SFO - downtown on BART or Caltrain. If you plan on sticking to public transport you might consider staying outside the city. If you stay on the peninsula in lodgings close to Caltrain or BART you will most likely find better rates and easier access to the airport. The El Rancho, while a far cry from the Fairmont, would probably serve the purpose. They provide a free shuttle to and from the airport and are very close to the Millbrae's Caltrain/BART intermodal station. If reaching the Millbrae station is inconvenient you could always take the shuttle to the airport and pick up BART there. Don't believe for a moment the sunny photos on the website, Millbrae usually only features the color gray. Folks often take advantage of the free park and shuttle deal which makes early am flights less painful. Best Western's online booking site shows a rate of 108.00/night US for two adults / one child on your dates. YMMV,
Two no obligation offers if you are interested: I have a spare child seat you can borrow if you wish, and we would be happy to arrange a "play date" so mom and dad can see some of one of the world's most romantic cites more, uh, romantically.