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LOTRHP Dec 2nd, 2007 06:02 AM

2 Days in San Francisco--Best stuff to cram in? To do, see, eat, shop, walk?
Hi All,
Hmm, I really need your advice on this.

Now for some of this trip I'm going to be off on my own.

I have two (measly) days to explore San Francisco, first time, I've never been there (very excited).

Really would love your opinion on where to go, what to see, places to walk around in, and yummy food places (be it gourmet shops, or eateries).

I must confess, (don't get upset), but I don't want to see Alcatraz.

I really enjoy interesting walks around a fun city, so would love your feedback on where's best to walk and fun shopping (***) to do. I especially enjoy looking at historical buildings.

I also heard San Fran has some fab chocolate gourmet shops and other yummy things. Where do you prefer?
I'm not sure how much 'fine dining' I will do. I'll be on my own, so I might feel funny eating at some fancy place. However, if there's a must do place, I'm all ears (or eyes :) )

I am hoping to do a quick sightseeing trip to Muir woods as well for a few hours by one of those mini buses.

So I have some ideas on stuff I'd like to do, But I do feel that I must turn to you, the Travel Experts for your great advice on my 2 day San Francisco, California excursion.

Greatly Appreciate your insight on this. Thank you.

tchoiniere Dec 2nd, 2007 06:24 AM

Would definitely go to the Union Station area and make sure to go to the Ferry Building. If you are only going to be there for 2 days, I'm not sure if it is worth the time to go out to Muir Woods, but it is definitely a good site if you decide to go.

jtrandolph Dec 2nd, 2007 06:45 AM

First of all, get yourself on a tour of San Francisco...a two or three hour one.

Then you will have a sense of the city s a whole and know where you want to walk and explore, etc.

Otherwise, in two days, you are going to just be meandering.

dmlove Dec 2nd, 2007 10:26 AM

Agree that with 2 days, it would probably take too much of your time to go to Muir Woods on this trip.

Since you mentioned "yummy food places", head on over to the Ferry Building -- all gourmet shops and some good restaurants and if you're lucky enough to be there on a Saturday, a fantastic farmers' market (also on Tuesday, but not as big as the Saturday market). There's a very popular local chocolate shop in the market - Scharfenberger (sp?).

Walk around Union Square (upscale shopping and hotel area).

Search for posts by StuDudley. He has posted some great San Francisco "tours" in the past.

pollyvw Dec 2nd, 2007 10:31 AM

I agree that a tour when you arrive is a good introduction to the city. And if your tour does not include Coit Tower, put it on your adjenda. We enjoyed out drive out to the Cliff House (west coastline in SF) to see the sunset; drive down Lombard St (a must for tourists). Also, check out the many places that make fortune cookies.

Here is one that allows tours:

Omitting some things so as not to steal thunder from people who know more than I do. :-)

dmlove Dec 2nd, 2007 10:35 AM

I'm also a fan of a quick overview tour in a new city when you have little time. We haven't done one in SF (we live here), but we've done them in London and Barcelona and after a couple of hours you'll at least feel like you have the lay of the land.

Where are you staying?

suze Dec 2nd, 2007 12:24 PM

Don't miss taking a cable car ride! I know it sounds corny but it is really great. I like the area of Union Square, over to Embarcadero, and on down to Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf for shopping, walking, and hanging around.

A quick formal city tour is an excellent idea imo.

StuDudley Dec 2nd, 2007 12:51 PM

If you like historic buildings & architecture, take one of the 30 different free San Francisco City Guides tours.

Building/architecture tours include:
Palace Hotel
Victorian Fan Francisco
Landmark Victorians of Alamo Square
Cityscapes & Public Places
Ferry Building
Coit Tower Murals
Downtown Decco
Art Decco Marina
God Rush City
Haight Ashbury
Historic Market Street
Nob Hill
Pacific Heights Mansions

In the United States forum, do a search on "Stu Dudley" and you will find lots of other ideas for things to do in the City.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Dec 2nd, 2007 02:29 PM

>>Downtown Decco
Art Decco Marina
God Rush City
Haight Ashbury<<

That's Gold - not God.

Stu Dudley

Wherenow Dec 2nd, 2007 08:25 PM

Don't be worried about eating alone in SF at some of the better places. Most welcome singles at their bars, such as Boulevard, which is expensive, but worth it. Delfino for Italian...Zuni Cafe...

Walk the Golden Gate Bridge...on a clear day for amazing views...

Shopping at Union Square isn't unlike shopping in New York City - everything can be found within a few blocks walk.

Walk Chinatown...

Go to the Top of the Mark on a clear night to experience the San Francisco from the past...

Do jump a cable car, preferably at least once at night, without the crowds and chat with the you hang from the side (careful)...

Get out of downtown and explore some of the neighborhoods, Noe Valley (Encanto for amazing food - the chef was on the Iron Chef last season).

You can do much in two days... I'm in SF on business every few weeks and always set aside a few hours to explore something new. And, there's always something new in SF that helps make this city simply magic.


dmlove Dec 5th, 2007 02:32 PM

Santa Cruz might be very nice, but with only 2 days, going down there would be ridiculous. Stay in San Francisco -- there's plenty to occupy your time, even if you do skip Alcatraz - LOL!

April Dec 5th, 2007 09:22 PM

Take the Hyde-Powell cablecar (incredible ride up/down the hill) to the water. You can stop at the crooked part of Lombard St. Walk over to Ghirardelli Square for chocolate and Loriís Diner - reasonably priced food, comfortable, view of bay. On our last visit we really enjoyed the view from Coit Tower and then the walk down the Filbert Steps past the art deco building that was in the Bogart/Bacall movie Dark Passage. Near the bottom we had a nice lunch at the Fog City Diner.

Last visit we also really liked walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting the Cable Car Museum (free) and the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.

MelissaHI Dec 5th, 2007 09:57 PM

The Ferry Building is definitely one of my faves. You could walk a little around Chinatown in the morning and then catch the bus to the Embarcadero and stroll to the Ferry Building for shopping and lunch. From there you can head to Union Square for MORE shopping!.

Eating solo isn't a problem in San Francisco. After Union Square shopping, depending on where you are staying, you could eat at a number of yummy places with a bar--Scala's Bistro, Plouf, etc. Or as wherenow suggested you could shop and eat in Noe Valley (another of my fave areas). OR you could shop & eat in Hayes Valley. There's much less shopping in Hayes Valley than the other areas, but it's got great eating, like Citizen Cake or Hayes St. Grill (you can eat at the bar for either place).

dmlove Dec 6th, 2007 07:13 AM

Just a quick point - you can easily WALK from Chinatown to the Ferry Building. Head "down" on any of the cross-streets in Chinatown - Washington, Clay, Sacramento, California, doesn't matter. You'll end up near the Embarcadero and the Ferry Building is ON the Embarcadero (across the street, behind the Hyatt Regency).

MelissaHI Dec 6th, 2007 11:25 AM

Oh, I hope I didn't give the impression that it was far from Chinatown. I just thought it was pretty quick to jump on the bus, since it comes every 6 minutes.

LOTRHP Dec 6th, 2007 04:08 PM

HI All,
Thanks for all the great responses.
A quick bus tour might be a good idea. I asked my hotel but they have me on some 3 hour bus tour around the city. Tooo much. There must be some that take up less time, or are 'hop on, hop off' types of tours.
Can you please recommend some?
Also, welcome any more suggestions on fave stuff you like to do in San Fran.

And, if you have any 'not to be missed' food shops, or eateries, it would be very welcome as well.


StuDudley Dec 6th, 2007 04:49 PM

If you want to see food shops, walk through the heart of the non-tourist section of Chinatown where the Chinese shop for food. Stockton St, between Sacramento & Broadway. You won't believe the sights & smells. Then head over to the Ferry Building & look at the food items there. If you take a cable car ride on the California line (Hyde/Powell line is much more scenic - sit on the east side of the car) walk one blocks from the Van Ness turn-around to Franklin & visit Whole Foods (some call it Whole Paycheck). Kiddy-corner from Whole Foods is one of the best Queen Anne Victorian houses in the City. Walk over & take a closer look. There are about 4 more lovely Victorians on the same side of Calif St to the west of the Queen Anne - a Stick Style and a hybrid Stick/Queen Anne.

Stu Dudley

elnap29 Dec 6th, 2007 06:16 PM

Definitely a walk through Chinatown is a good idea - Stockton St one direction, then maybe Grant St the other. The walk through Chinatown leads you to the North Beach area. North Beach is a vibrant place to walk also. In that same area, I'd get to Kearny and Columbus and check out Francis Ford Coppola's restaurant. I've never eaten there, but the building has been beautifully restored. Cafe Macaroni is across the street. Peek in the window at least. There are many cafes and restaurants in North Beach.

A MUST visit is City Lights Book Store. A unique place, full of history. Next door is Vesuvio's - another unique spot, a bar. Go upstairs with your drink.

Tosca's is SF society's favorite bar, and you will get one of the best drinks made in The City. The wooden bar is gorgeous. They are famous for their Cappucino - no, NOT coffee - but steamed chocolate and brandy, made in their classic steamer. Tosca's is only open in the evening.

Yes, get up to Coit Tower - you can walk from North Beach (follow the signs). Fantastic views if a clear day. Walk down the Filbert St steps, look for the wild parrots and enjoy the hillside gardens and views.

Once you are down on the Embarcadero, catch the "F" line historic trolley either direction. One way takes you to Fisherman's Wharf, the other way takes you to the Ferry Building and further on up Market St.

One of my favorite books is "Stairway Walks of San Francisco." Check it out and pick one of the listed walks. I have a few favorites - a great way to enjoy walking in SF!
Have a great time!

tchoiniere Dec 8th, 2007 06:03 PM

I did a Duck Tour while there which is a lot quicker than 3 hours and you see all the main sights.

rayannne Dec 12th, 2007 09:21 PM

Don't forget Golden Gate park! The De Young museum, Japanese tea gardens, botanical gardens, conservatory of flower, and some great walks.
Have a great time!!! I live in SF and LOVE it!!

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