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San Francisco: Where To Stay & What To Do?  
User currently offlineIFEMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3445 times:

I have a friend from England coming to visit in a few weeks, and we're going to head up to San Francisco for a few days. We're going by train to enjoy the scenery. Anyway, neither of us have been to San Francisco before, so...

Does anyone have any recommendations on where we should stay? Think safe area for the budget-minded traveller (but not youth hostels).

Also, any particular recommendations on stuff to see and do while we're there?

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3447 times:

I stay at the Clarion Bedford Hotel at 761 Post St. Good location for the price. It'll probably fall down during the next big earthquake, but what the hell.

Edit: I guess it's called the the Hotel Cosmo now.

Mark

[Edited 2006-10-26 17:56:11]

User currently offlineAC773 From Canada, joined Nov 2005, 1730 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3436 times:

Quoting IFEMaster (Thread starter):
Also, any particular recommendations on stuff to see and do while we're there?

If you're into technology, I think the headquarters for CNET is located on 2nd St. Additionally, Chinatown in SF is among the best.



Better to be nouveau than never to have been riche at all.
User currently offlineBongo From Colombia, joined Oct 2003, 1863 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3430 times:

If you have time go to Napa Valley, beautiful.


MDE: First airport in the Americas visited by the A380!
User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 3415 times:

San Francisco is by far my favorite US city.

Parking is very expensive and can be hard to find at times, so I rarely rent a car. San Francisco has an outstanding public transit system. I always buy a one-week Muni pass for $15. It's valid on all buses, electric trolleys, and streetcars within this area. It's also valid for use on cable cars, but there's a $1 surcharge per ride. Without a pass, cable cars are $5 per ride. I always carry a few $1 coins every day for cable car surcharges. It's much easier to handle than paper notes when you're hanging off the side.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a cheap $5.15 ride from SFO to downtown San Francisco. It's also a convenient $2.75 ride from San Francisco to Oakland. Here's their route map.

Caltrain provides railway services between San Francisco and Gilroy. Day pass prices range from $4.50 to $9.50.

The nearest Amtrak California station is in Oakland's Jack London Square. The trains run down the middle of the street ! Their routes can take you as far north as Vancouver, BC and as far south as San Diego. A round-trip ticket from Oakland to the Napa Wine Train Station is $30. It's a beautiful trip!

Once in Napa, I strongly recommend a scenic tour and gourmet dinner on the Napa Valley Railroad Wine Train. Spend a few minutes exploring their extensive website. To save some time, here's the price list. Their Vista Dome 3-Course Luncheon upgrade is well worth the money. You eat your meal and ride in the upper level of a Sceneramic car; it's the third car behind the locomotives in this picture. (Don't worry about all the smoke. The classic Alco locomotives only smoke like that for a few seconds when they start rolling.) I also recommend you upgrade to include one of the private winery tours.

Here's my list of must-see places in San Francisco. There are hundreds of other places to visit and things to do, but these are my favorites:

Ghirardelli Square is at 900 North Point St. Along with some nice shops, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is there and has an outstanding dessert caffe! Part of the factory is in the dining room, so you can watch them make chocolate goodies by hand while eating your luxurious treats. Make sure you buy loads of treats in the gift shop on the way out.

The Exploratorium at 3601 Lyon St. isn't your ordinary science museum. It's totally interactive and adults seem to have more fun than the kids. Last time I was there, the planned two-hour visit ended up being an all-day event.

Take a walk. The two-mile walk from the Exploritorium to Golden Gate Park is a great challenge. My route usually takes me through the east end of the Presidio, the University of San Francisco campus, and the Panhandle. Take a lunch break at a cafe in the Haight & Ashbury area.

Pier 39 is the nicest tourist trap I've ever been to. It's a great place to spend an afternoon watching people and critters. Bring a brimmed hat and waterproof jacket and bring a packet of wet-wipes. The seagulls are expert marksmen.

Mark


User currently offlineBA757 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 2832 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 3414 times:

I have stopped in the Ramada on Market Street. Not the cheapest hotel there is, but, it is cheaper for the most part than the ones down at Fisherman's Wharf.

Nice hotel, nice restaurant, and the area seemed OK. Also it has a BART station and tram line outside the door, so very accessible.

Adam


User currently offlineRAPCON From Puerto Rico, joined Jul 2006, 671 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 3414 times:

Go to the Castro District!!!


MODS CAN'T STOP ME....THEY CAN ONLY HOPE TO CONTAIN ME!!!
User currently offlineConfuscius From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 3826 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 3400 times:

Go to the Tenderloin District. Enjoy the theater and deep-tissue massage, and then some...




Ain't I a stinker?
User currently offlineIFEMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 3364 times:

Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions. Except Confuscious  Smile

User currently offlineMirrodie From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 7438 posts, RR: 62
Reply 9, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 3357 times:
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Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 4):
Cable cars

Mark is spot on with most of what he said. My wife and I got back 2 weeks ago. We drove a rental car from Los Angeles to San Franciso over the course of 2 days. But as soon as we got to San Francisco, we drove to and over the Golden Gate Bridge, and to Muir Woods and Muir Beach. Then we got into the city of San Francisco and dropped off the car and navigated 3 days in Frisco with their excellent transportation system.

Get the Muni Pass for 3 days or a week, its well worth it. NOT worth having a car!!

Ride all the cable car lines. I loved standing up and holding on to the rails.

A must see is the Cable Car Museum where you learn how this system works. And if you are lucky, see if you can spot Cable car # 11, which is sponsored by American Airlines. It'll be somewhere on the rails.

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 4):
Ghirardelli Square is at 900 North Point St. Along with some nice shops, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is there and has an outstanding dessert caffe!

Excellent sundaes, yes. But when you get to the square, you'll see the more crowded dessert Cafe in front. SKIP this one and walk all the way to the other end of the central square, past the water fountain and info booth, where you will find the same Ghiradelli dessert cafe but much less crowded!

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 4):
Take a lunch break at a cafe in the Haight & Ashbury area.

A very cool area, reminded us of Astor Place/Greenich village in Manhattan and Camden Street in London.

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 4):
Pier 39

Very touristy but we walked on this pier in order to see the seals. Very nice to see them. Spend 20 minutes there, get your fill of seals and leave  Smile


Also, had the clam chowder in a bread bowl at Boudin in Fisherman's Wharf. I was enamored by Boudin and their bread. We stayed at the Fishermans Wharf Sheraton and used priceline to get the hotel. We personally liked this area most even though its touristy.

If you have hearty lunches in Chinatown, you'll save some $$$.

I personally think you MUST take a tour of Alcatraz. I found it very interesting and its half day affair. You can book a time online but I highly recommend a trip to see it.


Also, take a walk up Telegragh Hill, up to Coit Tower for some splendid views of the city as we ll as exercise  Smile PS you do not have to go into the tower fora great view. The view is great from the base of the hill that the tower rests on.


As Asstchief Mark also said, not sure if wines are on your agenda but I will take his advice down for next time. Wines were not an emphasis on this particular trip since wife is due in a few months and I was tasting for 3 :P.

So we only hit a few wineries in the Solvang/Lompoc area. Also, we didn't do Exploratorium since we figure we'll do it with kid(s) soon enough. But we walked around that area and the grounds and it was just gorgeous scenery.



Forum moderator 2001-2010; He's a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastard, a belligerent old fart, a worthless st
User currently offlineRpaillard From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 3345 times:

Hi,

The question should be "what to do in your time frame"! San Francisco is maybe my favorite US city, maybe because it is walkable. There is so much to do and see!

I used to stay at the Shanon Court in Geary Street (as far as I recall correctly). It is now the Adagio hotel.

I was there in June and stayed at the Crowne Plaza Union Square. Not sure it is that cheap, but very good location, cool city/bay view from top floor room. Advance purchase could helps to catch a decent rate.

I don't know about you and your project, but I think you can walk to Pier 39, whitch is of course a must. Sure, it's fall now, so the weather will be quiet different, but you will enjoy the visit. What else? Well it depends of your interest. Alcatraz is still good, Twin Peaks, Coit Tower...

Hope this help!

Raphael


User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 16
Reply 11, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 3342 times:

Make sure you have breakfast at Mothers in Washington Square - an experience I still remember from 4 years ago.

Breakfast at Sears, just up from Union Square, was great but I have been told it closed down. is this true?



MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
User currently offlinePA110 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1988 posts, RR: 24
Reply 12, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 3335 times:
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OK, recommendations from a local... San Francisco is a city of neigborhoods, all of them unique and worth visiting. Yes, we have the standard stock tourist traps like Girardelli Square and Pier39. They are worth, at maximum, a brisk walk through and then move on to the real San Francisco.

1. Take a bus to Golden Gate park, wander the park and then walk back into the city along Haight Street.

2. Admire the city view from the top of Twin Peaks. Yes, all the tour busses stop here, but the view on a clear day beats anything you would see from Coit Tower.

3. Check out the Asian Art Museum and visit any current exhibitions at MOMA, then head over to the Metreon at Moscone Center

4. Visit the market hall at the Ferry Building and take the ferry over to Sausolito for a few hours, walk around and head back to the Ferry Building and have a meal at the Slanted Door restaurant (best Vietnamese food in the city)

5. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, and then climb down the hill to Fort Point.

6. Check out the alternative club scene along 16th Street (between Guererro and Mission).

7. Start at Union Square, walk east along Post to Grant, and then north on Grant Street through the middle of China Town. Continue all the way to Broadway, and then turn left and walk along Broadway through Northbeach, the remnants of San Francisco's Italian neighborhood.

8. Ride the F line vintage street cars from Fisherman's Wharf to the Castro district.

9. If time permits, take a trip up to Muir Woods and hike through the Redwoods.

10. Suggest using SFGATE.com for local recommendations on food and entertainment.



It's been swell, but the swelling has gone down.
User currently offlineRAPCON From Puerto Rico, joined Jul 2006, 671 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3327 times:

Quoting IFEMaster (Reply 8):
Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions. Except Confuscious

So you're going to take my suggesion and go to the Castro?  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!


This is the Castro
I
I
I
V

Big version: Width: 750 Height: 500 File size: 71kb



MODS CAN'T STOP ME....THEY CAN ONLY HOPE TO CONTAIN ME!!!
User currently offlineAeroflot777 From Russia, joined Mar 2004, 2999 posts, RR: 27
Reply 14, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3316 times:

AsstChiefMark summed this city up very well. If you have any further questions from a local (been living here for 12 years), feel free to ask or PM, whichever is easier for you!

-Aeroflot777


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 3304 times:

Quoting Mirrodie (Reply 9):
Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 4):
Pier 39

Very touristy but we walked on this pier in order to see the seals. Very nice to see them. Spend 20 minutes there, get your fill of seals and leave

There is (maybe was) a city-owned shop on Pier 39 that sells t-shirts, traffic signs, etc. Because of the way the sun shines in, the pigeons like to sun themselves and hang out IN the shop. If you find an item of clothing with bird poop on it, you can sometimes save as much as 90% by haggling with the shopkeeper. It's illegal for them to wash clothing items and put them back on the rack to sell as new. I sometimes get stuff for free. I offer to get rid of the pigeons in exchange for whatever. So far, I've gotten an SFFD paramedic t-shirt, a fancy sweatshirt, and a roll of SFPD barrier tape.

Here's some information about what's at Pier 39:
http://www.pier39.com/index.htm
http://gocalifornia.about.com/cs/sanfrancisco/a/sfpier39.htm

Quoting Mirrodie (Reply 9):
As Asstchief Mark also said, not sure if wines are on your agenda but I will take his advice down for next time. Wines were not an emphasis on this particular trip since wife is due in a few months and I was tasting for 3

I can't drink alcohol. But that's never been a problem. The train and wineries have non-alcoholic Napa wine and gourmet juice substitutes.


The San Francisco Shopping Centre at Fifth and Market is really nice. It's the first time I'd ever seen curved escalators! There's an amazing movie theatre on the fifth floor. Fantasia was showing the last time I was there. Although I'd seen Fantasia many times over the years, this felt like a whole new experience. Whoa! What a sound system!  hypnotized 




I've only had ONE negative experience in SF.  indifferent  At night, the homeless like to camp out on the north side of Market Street between Van Ness and Fifth Streets. A SF resident explained that the cops and homeless have some sort of unwritten agreement. The cops won't bother them as long as they don't confront, threaten, or beg from tourists. It's a good plan until you're attacked by a delusional homeless person.  crazy 

That's what happened during a Star Trek chat group get-together in SF to celebrate New Years Eve 1999. Twenty of us came from four continents to experience Y2K in SF, the future home of Star Fleet. We figured that if we were going to die, it might as well be away from home.  confused  One evening, we decided to walk to an internet cafe called Cafe.com on Market near the SF Shopping Centre. A homeless guy suddenly jumped out of a shop doorway screaming something about "eating the sin." He threw a blindsided sucker punch at "Wagoo."  fight  After levelling my 17-stone friend from Leeds, he dashed across Market Street and got clipped by a streetcar along the way.  ouch  It all happened in less than ten seconds.

Mark


User currently offlineAeroflot777 From Russia, joined Mar 2004, 2999 posts, RR: 27
Reply 16, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 3301 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 15):
The San Francisco Shopping Centre at Fifth and Market is really nice. It's the first time I'd ever seen curved escalators! There's an amazing movie theatre on the fifth floor. Fantasia was showing the last time I was there. Although I'd seen Fantasia many times over the years, this felt like a whole new experience. Whoa! What a sound system! hypnotized

Your picture of Bloomingdales and the Century theaters illustrates the part of the mall which was opened a mere 3 weeks ago. It's an addition to the previous San Francisco Shopping Center (the one with the curves escalators). With this new addition the mall is now collectively called Westfield Shopping Center. There was never a theater there before. Perhaps you are remembering either AMC Van Ness or Metreon theaters?


User currently offlineConfuscius From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 3826 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 3296 times:

"Thanks, everyone...Except Confuscious"

Okay...okay, try Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. Here's a few pictures:

Pier 39


Fisherman's Wharf


[Edited 2006-10-28 00:21:33]


Ain't I a stinker?
User currently offlineEvan767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 2957 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 3287 times:

For outstanding views of the entire bay and San Francisco, climb up the twin peaks. You won't regret it. If it is foggy, you won't be able to see anything, but I find it a blast to get blown around by the wind up there. Do it.


The proper term is "on final" not "on finals" bud...
User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3273 times:

Quoting Aeroflot777 (Reply 16):
Perhaps you are remembering either AMC Van Ness or Metreon theaters?

I goofed, that's for sure! It was the Metreon. I knew something didn't look right.  blush  I remember taking the kids to Yerba Buena Gardens to kill some time until showtime.



Thanks for correcting me.

Mark


User currently offlineCopaair737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (7 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3258 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 15):
The San Francisco Shopping Centre at Fifth and Market is really nice. It's the first time I'd ever seen curved escalators!

That place is nuts. I always hit it up when i head into the city.
North Beach is another nice option. The "Little Italy" of The City. I recommend, it as well as Chinatown.
Western SF is a cool place as well, Golden Gate Park is great, as are the beaches over that way.

Have fun in one of my favorite places.

-Copa


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