Gluten-free in California - a trip through the USA with children / Part 1 *

* This contribution is a purely personal experience report. The complete trip was paid for by ourselves and we have not received any advertising orders from accommodations, restaurants or other mentioned institutions. But since I link them, I have to declare them legally as "unpaid advertising" at this point. So, now it can start!

A gluten-free road trip through California with children - here finally is our travelogue. Wonderful nature, crystal clear lakes, fantastic gorges, fascinating cities and really delicious gluten-free food! Whether Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego - we found gluten-free alternatives everywhere! In addition, there are many tips that made the trip with children absolutely stress-free! For example, it's great to know that you can pre-order a gluten-free (or even vegetarian) board menu from many airlines. However, you have to indicate this when booking. With a flight of more than 10 hours this is a huge relief, especially with children! We flew with Lufthansa, and here this is no problem. 

Gluten-free flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco

California with children - gluten-free flight Frankfurt - San Francisco
California with children - gluten-free flight Frankfurt - San Francisco

One night before the flight we already stayed in an airport hotel near the airport. A great tip with which one makes the first day of the trip twice as uncomplicated. Many of the airport hotels offer the "Park, Sleep & Fly" service. The day before your flight, you can drive to Frankfurt by car, park your car in the hotel's parking garage (and leave it there for the duration of your trip), spend the night there in a relaxed manner and be taken from the hotel to the airport by shuttle bus in the morning. And all this with a good price-performance ratio! It would be good to book a room there early, because then the prices are even cheaper. We spent our night in the NH Hotel Niederrad. There we had baked up super tasty gluten-free rolls for breakfast. (It's best to make a note at the reception the night before.) I had ordered a few more, so we could take them with us on the plane as extra provisions. By the way, right beside the hotel there is a Rewe, in which one can buy some forgotten things and further provisions.

The next morning we took the hotel shuttle to Frankfurt airport (about 15 minutes drive). I'd like to say a few words about the trip to San Francisco: Be sure to bring long pants, sweaters and a thin windbreaker jacket! In the bay of San Francisco it is sometimes a bit cooler.

Gluten Free in San Francisco

California with kids - Gluten free travel - Union Square

In San Francisco we had dinner at the "Café de la Presse". Here we had for example "gluten-free burgers" (without bread, but salad leaves but not less delicious!!), fries or salads with chicken strips. The waiters reacted very friendly to all extra orders. Breakfast was served at "Scala's Bistro" (the cafe downstairs at the "Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel".) Here we had omelettes, yoghurt with granola and fruits (or fruits only) and delicious gluten-free muffins. (The muffins were only available at the espresso counter) The "Café de la Presse" as well as "Scala's Bistro" are both located in the immediate vicinity of Union Square. If one gets a hotel in this proximity it is ideal, because from here one can start wonderfully in all directions.

California with children - Gluten-free travel - Golden Gate Bridge
California with children - Gluten-free travel - Cafe de la presse
California with children - Gluten-free travel - Cafe de la presse


Links: https://www.sirfrancisdrake.com/union-square-restaurants/ - https://cafedelapresse.com

After breakfast we got "Hop-on-Hop-of" bus tickets. The buses are 2-storey and "open top". Of course it is a little bit "tourie", but it's really a great idea to get a panoramic view (especially with children). Since you can see basically every corner of the city on this tour, you can make plans about what you want to see. The bus ticket is always valid for one day. So you can also get off the bus in between, have a look at something, and continue with the next "Hop-on-Hop-off-Bus". What we didn't do, but should be great for kids is the "California Academy of Sciences" in Golden Gate Park. There are a lot of vivid things for children and teenagers, keyword aquarium, planetarium, earthquake, nature. Should you have sunshine and see the Golden Gate Bridge without clouds, enjoy it and take some nice pictures right away! Very often it lies in the fog.

California with kids - Gluten free travel - Hop on Hop off Bus
California with kids - Gluten free travel - San Francisco - Hop on Hop off Bus
China Town San Francisco - Traveling with children
California with children - Gluten-free travel - Golden Gate Bridge
California with children - Golden Gate Bridge

The next day we took the legendary Cable Car to Fisherman's Wharf (to the harbour). Of course, the kids loved it very much, because if you are fast (these places are very popular) you can get a standing place at the open outer edge of the track. You hold on to a pole and "hang" yourself on the side of the track. For smaller children this is nothing yet, but of course there are seats!

Cable Car San Francisco with children
Cable Car San Francisco with children
California with kids - Gluten free travel - Cable Car
California with kids - Cable Car

From the terminus of the cable car at the harbour we walked along the "Fisherman's Wharf" towards "Pier 39". From here you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance and the prison island Alcatraz in good weather. If you want to see the island from close by, you should book tickets for a boat tour online 6 months in advance. There is also a boat tour that can be booked including a tour of the island.
Another highlight for the children was the "Pier 39". A wild sea lion colony settled here in 1990 and has been at home there ever since. It is too much fun to watch them defending their sunny spots on the floating wooden pallets.

California with kids - Gluten free travel - Fishermans wharf
California with kids - Fishermans wharf

As a reward for the long journey, we now have something delicious from the gluten-free bakery "Mariposa Baking Co." in the Ferry Building, Suite 32. It was incredibly easy for the children to go to a bakery and find everything gluten-free. Whether croissants, muffins, cakes, bagels, breads - everything was gluten-free and very tasty! In the large hall, cafés, food stands and restaurants are lined up next to each other. A super atmosphere! A few shops further on you will find for example "Urban Remedy". Here you can get some snacks very well. Smoothies, gluten-free bars etc
. https://www.mariposabaking.com

Gluten Free Bakery San Francisco - California - Maripose Bakery
Gluten Free Bakery San Francisco - California - Maripose Bakery
Gluten Free Bakery San Francisco - California - Maripose Bakery
Gluten Free Bakery San Francisco - California - Mariposa Bakery

The Ferry Building with its white tower has another special feature. Located close to the Oakland Bridge, a wonderful organic food market is held here on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00-14:00 and Saturdays (main day) from 8:00 to 14:00! All the stalls, the hustle and bustle, lots of gluten-free products, fresh organic fruit and vegetables... I was hard to get away from there! 😉 The Farmers Market at Ferry Plaza is one of the most famous and popular markets in California. And rightly so!
https://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/merchants/mariposa-baking-company/

Gluten-free and healthy in San Francisco - Market at the Ferry Building
Gluten-free and healthy in San Francisco - Market at the Ferry Building
Oakland Bridge San Francisco - Market at the Ferry Building
Gluten-free and healthy in San Francisco - Market at the Ferry Building
Gluten-free and healthy in San Francisco - Market at the Ferry Building
Gluten-free and healthy in San Francisco - Market at the Ferry Building
Gluten-free and healthy in San Francisco - Market at the Ferry Building
San Francisco - Market at the Ferry Building

The next day we walked from Union Square through Chinatown and Little Italy back down to Fishermans Wharf. Alternatively you can take the cable car train, the bus or rented bikes. At Fishermans Wharf we walked towards the Golden Gate Bridge. This takes quite long (about 2-3 hours), but it was really beautiful. A great panoramic trail leads along the coast, through the park, to the beach, white sand, seeing the city from a distance - it was really wonderful.

Golden Gate Bridge - Beach - San Francisco Bay
California with children - Gluten-free travel - Skyline
California with children - Gluten-free travel - Golden Gate Bridge
Walk along the San Francisco Bay - Golden Gate Bridge

At the end of the path you will find the "Warming hut park store & cafe". Here you can find some San Francisco accessories, but also some nice books and souvenirs. You can also get some drinks and maybe a soup of the day or a salad. The cafe is open every day from 9:00-17:00.
A good tip, of course for California in general, but especially for this family that lives far from the city: Uber.com . Here you can order a car and driver online to take you to your desired destination. The fixed price for this trip is determined when you book online and is charged to your credit card. During the trip you will be informed if you want to tip the driver. This will then be debited online on request. It works really easy and is totally practical! 

San Francisco Premium Outlets

We have just picked up our rental car for the start of our California tour. So we saved the 3 days in San Francisco the rental car fees and especially the high parking costs.
A good shopping tip: The Premium Outlet San Francisco. This is a huge mall full of outlet stores. You can find them in many cities in California. The one in San Francisco was very convenient for us and so we made a stopover there. The "healthy & gluten free" food is rather limited there. There is a big "food-court", that means a big hall with different food-shops. Besides fries and co. we found an Italian salad counter where you could have a salad made, a smoothie counter and fresh fruit pieces. In any case, the food was rather practical. On some days you have to make
compromises. https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/san-francisco

Gluten-free in Monterey

Our first stop was in Moneterey. Here we had breakfast in the morning in the gluten-free bakery "The Morning Dove Gluten Free". Sandwiches, omelets, wrap's or toast. All gluten free! The opening hours when we were there: 8:00-16:00 There is also the Saffron Café in town. We didn't eat here, but I discovered it while walking by and here we had a gluten-free lunch
. http://www.themorningdoveglutenfree.com/home.html

Gluten-free in Monterey
Gluten-free in Monterey

Gluten free in Pismo Beach

The coastal road from San Francisco to Los Angeles is said to be one of the most beautiful roads. Unfortunately we had seen the beautiful beaches only in the fog. But we made a very tasty lunch stop here at the "Y'not organic". Lots of healthy rice bowls, smoothies, veggie burgers, soups, toasts and sandwiches (also gluten-free). Plus: A large parking lot in front of the door. So you have a good view of the car with the suitcases!
https://www.y-notjuice.com

vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and healthy in Pismo Beach - California
vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and healthy in Pismo Beach - California

On our way to Los Angeles we had breakfast in Santa Barbara at the "Green Table". You can also find lunch here! You can order gluten-free buns with your burgers, gluten-free pasta, bowls, salads and gluten-free desserts
. https://green-table.com

Gluten Free in Santa Barbara

On our way to Los Angeles we had breakfast in Santa Barbara at the "Green Table". You can also find lunch here! You can order gluten-free buns with your burgers, gluten-free pasta, bowls, salads and gluten-free desserts
. https://green-table.com

Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, healthy in Santa Barbara
Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, healthy in Santa Barbara
Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, healthy in Santa Barbara
Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, healthy in Santa Barbara
Gluten Free in Santa Barbara

Gluten Free in Malibu 

Malibu Beach - a dream beach with the houses of the stars. Of course they don't want to open the beach to the public. But the law provides for this, and therefore there are, relatively inconspicuous and hidden, small accesses to the beach from the streets. The "Public Beach Access Points" are small alleys that lead to the beach between the houses. This way, even the ordinary people can enjoy the beautiful Malibu Beach.

Sandra Ludes- Malibu Beach with kids - Gluten Free California Trip
Malibu Beach with kids - Gluten Free California Trip
Malibu Beach with kids - Gluten Free California Trip

After the beach came the hunger. We satisfied it in a super delicious organic restaurant. The "Ollo" in Malibu. Rice dishes, organic meat, vegetables, salads, pizza's (also gluten-free), soups, burgers... whatever your heart desires!
https://www.ollomalibu.com

Malibu Beach with kids - Gluten Free California Trip
Malibu Beach with kids - Gluten Free California Trip
Malibu Beach with kids - Gluten Free California Trip
Healthy and gluten-free at Restaurant Ollo in Malibu

Gluten-free in Los Angeles

Arriving in Los Angeles, a ride on Rodeo Drive, with all its glamorous shops, is of course a must. But for us there is a little too much bustle here.

Los Angeles - Rodeo Drive - Travel with children
Los Angeles - Rodeo Drive - Travel with children
Los Angeles - Rodeo Drive - Travel with children
Los Angeles - Rodeo Drive - Travel with children

What is probably the new, even less known shopping street of the stars is the Robertson Blvd, very close to Rodeo Drive. Expensive shops, cool restaurants and ... a café with gluten-free snacks. The "Blue Bottle Coffee" . They open early and close at 6:00.
116 N Robertson Blvd, Plaza B, Los Angeles, CA 90048
In the evening we had a wonderful "healthy dinner" at the restaurant "Running Goose", an absolute insider tip. A nice backyard in the middle of L.A. and many healthy and also gluten-free dishes
. https://runningoose.com

Blue Bottle Coffee - L.A. - California trip
Blue Bottle Coffee - L.A. - California trip
Blue Bottle Coffee - L.A. - California trip
Blue Bottle Coffee - L.A.

The Hollywood sign. There are several viewpoints from where you can see the Hollywood sign. We found the viewpoint at Griffith Observatory the best. In the navigation system enter: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Here is a big parking lot. On one side you can see the Hollywood sign, on the other side you have a great view of L.A. Unfortunately you can't get very close. It's well guarded.

Hollywood sign from the Griffith Observatory
Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory

Gluten-free at Universal Studios

What we can only recommend with mixed feelings are the Universal Studios. The tour behind the scenes and the stunt show was really great for the kids, but the roller coasters were so crowded - we even had to queue for 3 hours at one coaster. According to the staff, gluten-free fries are available e.g. at the "Cletus Checken Shack". In the "Studio Café" opposite the "Jurassic World" roller coaster they serve salads, apples, melons and other fruits. In any case, you should be there early in the morning when the park opens and take the traffic in Los Angeles into account! It is also better to choose a day during the week. If you're lucky, it's not quite so crowded in the morning.

Gluten-free at Universal Studios Los Angeles
Gluten-free at Universal Studios Los Angeles
Gluten-free at Universal Studios Los Angeles
Gluten-free at Universal Studios Los Angeles

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