Have you ever been a tourist in your own area? I’ve been to San Francisco a lot in the 20 plus years I’ve lived in the Bay Area (and even lived there for a while), and what I love about S.F. is that I’m always rediscovering it. So when Ride the Ducks San Francisco gave me and my family tickets to try out their tour for this review, I didn’t hesitate. A fun, educational amphibious bus tour through S.F.’s land and sea? Um … yes!
It was heavily raining the Saturday I drove to S.F. for the tour, but we managed to make it in time. The Ride the Ducks stand is super easy to find (right next to Applebee’s) in the Fisherman’s Warf area, and there are plenty of parking options nearby. I made the mistake of driving past the parking next to the stand to look for cheaper options, and ended up in a garage further away that cost the same amount. (Insider Tip: Take the tour on a weekday when you can just walk a bit further to get a 2-hour metered parking spot, or free residential. If those fail, park in the lot closest to the tour as parking is charged by every 15-20 minutes and tickets can only be validated by attractions in the same area.)
When it was time for our ride, we each had our picture taken in front of the boat before climbing on. Once on board, we were greeted by very friendly staff who asked us about our day and if we were ready for our trip. After everyone was on board, our driver, John, introduced himself, his two co-workers in training, and the crab hat that he joked passengers would have to wear if they were acting crabby. When the tour started, John turned on upbeat music and let us start making noise with our quackers (toys that look like duck bills and make ducks sounds when you blow into them — a must-buy if you ask me).
We toured the Embarcadero, China Town, the Financial District, AT&T Park, Little Italy/North Beach, and Fisherman’s Warf on land while jamming and quacking to some really fun music (themed to the area we were driving by) and hilarious duck puns and jokes from John. The upbeat personality of our driver, along with the music and jokes really made this tour unlike any other, to me. I did feel that the music was a tad bit too loud in my ears, so if you’re sensitive to sound, bring some ear protection as the Duck is loaded with an awesome speaker system. I like to think I know a lot about the city, but I actually learned a lot of historic information during the tour!
Because it was raining, the windows had a plastic covering over them most of the tour to keep everyone inside dry. I think because she needed a nap, and the coverings were down my 3-year-old started getting cranky, while my 6-year-old nephew was soaking it all in. (The tour is 90 minutes, so be sure to bring snacks and an activity along if you have kids ages 4 and under.) After the rain let up a bit, John opened the windows so we could all take in the views, and we started toward the water.
Before we went into the water, John explained that the Ducks are Coast Guard Certified, and pointed out the locations of emergency exits and life vests of all sizes. I appreciated that though the tour was a lot of fun, they also made sure it is safe for everyone on board. Our transition to the water got my daughter’s attention, and she really enjoyed the 30 minutes of water time. We passed some ships, an old ship repair station, AT&T Park, and John let passengers take turns “driving” the boat. My daughter was eager to volunteer, and that experience really made her day. She was actually a little sad when we had to say, “Goodbye water!” and go back to Fisherman’s Warf (and then she fell asleep, because she was overdue for a nap).
Since this tour was so fun, I’d love to share it with you! Now through April 12, you’ll have a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to your very own Ride the Ducks tour (to be used by December 2014)! Click here to enter the giveaway on Facebook. You must “Like” Ride the Ducks and my other site, Macaroni Kid Pleasanton-Dublin-Livermore on Facebook to enter, and be a current Macaroni Kid Pleasanton-Dublin-Livermore subscriber to win. One winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter on April 12, and be notified via email. This winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize. If winner does not claim their prize within 24 hours, a new winner will be drawn.
Good luck, everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Though I was not paid for this article and giveaway, I was given tickets to experience Ride the Ducks with my family so that I could write a review based solely on my opinion of the tour.