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MLTJ Destination: San Francisco and Honolulu

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With crutches stowed away in our trunk, my mom and I hopped in the car and raced from our West Chester home to catch a flight to San Francisco, Calif. before the blizzard of 2016 was predicted to hit the Philadelphia region. It was mere hours before the fourth largest snowstorm in Philadelphia history would dump more than 20 inches of fresh powder. Our flight had been canceled due to the impending storm, but we were determined to get out. Hobbling on my torn meniscus, broken left ankle and sprained right ankle, we were afforded some much-need sympathy, and not even an hour before the first snowflake fell, we were on our way to our three-day stint in San Francisco before a three-day birthday in Hawaii.

About her trip: Around Thanksgiving, my mom and I decided we needed a vacation, and my January birthday was the perfect excuse for a warm retreat, though it had been unseasonably warm. Little did we know that five days before Christmas, I would slip and fall while walking my dog, sentencing me to seven weeks of crutches and a temporary boot. Nor did we realize that Mother Nature had scheduled a disastrous rendezvous with the Philadelphia area the same day we were trying to escape. But nothing would stand between me and the beautiful wine country of Sausalito, a stone’s throw away from San Francisco. Nor would it get in my way of seeing surfers in Honolulu and angelfish and sea turtles swimming around me in the Pacific. San Francisco and Hawaii couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate my birthday (and my escape from Snowmageddon).

Kelly Lyons

Lyons’ mother enjoys the Palu Lookout on Honolulu.

Her recommendations

From Left: A look at the hills of Sausalito; Napa Valley Burger’s hard lemonade.

Restaurants: In San Francisco, you’ll want to hop on the ferry and head to Sausalito to try out their decadent, bayside restaurants. Napa Valley Burger Company had one of the best and most creative burgers I have ever had. Wash it down with some locally-produced sangria or hard lemonade. Top it off with a sundae from the Ghiradelli Factory back on Fisherman’s Wharf—the homemade fudge is a must. Mexican-food junkies should check out Cholo’s Homestyle Mexican Restaurant on Oahu’s North Shore, where you can watch surfers take on the 50-foot waves.

Clockwise from top: Lyons (center) enjoys Cholo’s Homestyle Mexican Restaurant with her mother (left) and their Hawaii-based friend Ingrid Lynch; the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort welcomes customers witha  waterfall; the view of Honolulu from Lyons’ hotel room.

Accommodations: We stayed at the Holiday Inn in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf area. It was only a few blocks from the Cannery and the Ghiradelli Factory—not far from tour buses and bike shares either—making it the ideal location to get around the seven by seven-mile city. On Oahu, we stayed in the more touristy Waikiki. Our hotel, the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, was oceanfront. It also had a refreshing salt-water pool next to the outdoor bar.

From Left: Tourists await their tour outside of the Alcatrez prison; Lyons and her mother pose for a picture before their trip; a look at the jail cells of Alcatrez.

Experience: While Alcatrez Island might be a better experience for those who have full use of their legs, the National Park was not to be missed. A look into the cells where infamous criminals like Al Capone and Whitey Bulger were held is fascinating, especially while learning about the life of the wardens and their families.

Oahu’s North Beach

Something you won’t find in guidebooks: Jack’s Cannery Bar is the perfect place to meet local San Francisco residents while sipping a beer. Chickens are all over the island of Oahu, akin to pigeons in New York City or seagulls at the Jersey Shore. They have an affinity for shiny objects—including crutches.

Lyons and her mother.

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