Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page > 4 nights in San Francisco-- Qs: 1) driving vs. public transportation., 2) Things to do for kids

4 nights in San Francisco-- Qs: 1) driving vs. public transportation., 2) Things to do for kids

Reply

Feb 7th, 2008, 10:30 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 154
4 nights in San Francisco-- Qs: 1) driving vs. public transportation., 2) Things to do for kids

We will be in SF next weeks for 3 1/2 days. Will stay in SFO airport area. Had been in SF before; used to stay in Union Square, Embarcadero, the Land's Ends , drove most of the time to get around SF or took bus some times. This time, we travel in group of 6 w/ 2 munchkins <4 yrs old & 2 seniors who still can walk gt;) We will have to haul the kids in 2 single light weight strollers (well, not quite light-- Mclaren Quest -12lbs, P3-17 lbs).

We plan to spend:
1 day in Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate bridge, Presidio Heights scenic drive.

1 day @ Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard, Place of Fine Art, shopping.

1 day Union Square, China town.

Need recommendation on:

1. Transportation: Should we just rent the car for 2-3 days to get around Richmond area (Golden Gate Park, eating meals on Geary, Clements ( sp?), or dimsum/dinner in Mibrae)?
Parking places around those places? I remember it is hard to find parking on Clement, Fisherman's Wharf-- near the seal watching area.

How easy/convenient to take BART & Muni for our case, especially to Union Square/China Town? I looked at BART station, reconized only a few familiar street names. From Holiday Inn Hotel by SFO airport? Weather forecast: in the 50Fs, 10%-20% chance of rain next Wed-Sat.

What are the rush hours on 101, 280, and 380?

2. Activities for a 4 yrs old & 17 mo old?

TIA.
kayla is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 7th, 2008, 10:49 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,572
For maximum flexibility, I would rent a car. Parking in GG park on any day except Sunday is no problem. Clement/Geary is difficult, but doable - you may have to park 6 blocks away from your restaurant. Parking in Presidio Heights is no problem - neither is Pacific Heights.

I always park at the Union Sq garage, which will cost you a tad, but it's easy to get in & out.

Parking on Union St isn't bad if you park at the west end & south (uphill). There is a parking garage there, which is where we usually park on Sat night when parking is more difficult in that area.

Don't dine in Millbrae. If you have a car and need to dine near your hotel, head for Burlingame Ave in Burlingame - lots of restaurants of all type there. Copenhagen has hamburgers for the munchkins.

Taking BART into the city will cost your group $48 per day. Muni will be extra.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 7th, 2008, 11:43 AM
  #3
dmlove
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Copenhagen has hamburgers for the munchkins.

Ha! Copenhagen has hamburgers for ME -- I love their hamburgers.

Back to the real questions - I agree with Stu - driving in San Francisco is not all that hard and parking can be found. There are parking garages/lot near/in Chinatown, Union Square, Pier 39, etc. I just think you have too many people to cart around by public transportation, plus there are places you want to go that aren't near BART. If you need to, drop the rest of them off and one person can go find a parking spot.
 
Reply With Quote
Feb 7th, 2008, 01:24 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,572
>>I love their hamburgers.<<

Actually, I love them also - and their fries are great also.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 7th, 2008, 04:18 PM
  #5
SAB
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,607
I've posted this before, but it bears repeating. Parking in SF is not difficult IF you are willing to pay for it. Finding free or inexpensive parking is usually what's difficult, especially in popular areas such as Chinatown, North Beach, the Wharf. So if you are willing to park in a garage and pay for it, there are very few places you won't be able to find parking.
SAB is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 7th, 2008, 05:03 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Do you know how to use Priceline?

I'd suggest getting a hotel on Priceline. Fisherman's Wharf 3* or Union Square 4* can be gotten for about $75 a night per room. If you include the tax and fees, that comes to less than $100 per room per night.

Even if your parking fee at the hotel comes to $30 or $40, this should still be affordable for you.

As for free parking, there's one area near Fisherman's Wharf that had 4 hours of free parking. It is at the "bottom", i.e., the north end of Van Ness Street. You can't miss Van Ness, it's one of the major north-south streets in San Francisco.

Otherwise, there's a huge parking structure across from Pier 39 and a lot of visitors park there as it's easy access to Fisherman's Wharf as well as Pier 39.

In Chinatown, the Portsmouth Square parking is relatively inexpensive. Access is from Kearny Street.

As with the others, with the little ones and the not so little ones, I'd suggest using a car around San Francisco. You'll probably need a van - LOL! I do!
easytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 7th, 2008, 06:46 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 154
Thank you for the local expertise tips!


Yes, we prefer to get reasonable parking instead of spending $30-$50/day in Union Square, Fisherman Wharf's areas.

We got the Holiday Inn fr. Priceline, bid for a 2 1/2 * w/ the intent to get Staybridge at SFO to have amenities that we need for the kids instead of a nice bed w/ little possibility to have a fridge/microwave fr. a 4* hotel in Union Square or Fisherman's Wharf. But got an unwanted upgrade to the much-rant-about 3 * Holiday Inn in SFO airport area. lt;( Most of the 4* in Union Square area those dates were ~$90 winning bid + $40-$50 parking or park nearby for $25-$35.
Thank you so much for sharing the parking info at FW; we'll look for that free 4 hrs-parking if we cannot find a street parking. Yes, I remember the expensive parking across fr. Pier 39-- tourist parking. Is Portsmouth parking underground, right across fr. Hilton at Kearny & have the park on top that many elder Chinese men sit around or playing chess?

We don't mind driving; the time to get to the areas we want to go to is about the same as if we stay at Union Square. The best location for us would be Presidio Height or the Land's End neighborhood but we chose to take the risk to get the suites down in SFO.

Thank you others for the parking & dining tips down south.

Stu, I printed out your extensive list of things to do in SF fr. another post; maybe able to sneak in some to our itinerary. gt;)

Yes, Union Square is our fav parking when we stayed at the Westin in our BC (Before Children) days; it is so convenient.

Also, thanks for the tip to drop-off & park. My husband quite often refused to drop us off due to busy traffic. I have to reinforce this strategy to make it easier for all of us. gt;)

kayla is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 7th, 2008, 10:05 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Hi, kayla!

so sorry about that Holiday Inn win, but them be the chances on Priceline.

You mentioned wanting to dine along Geary/Clement. These are two very long streets. Did you have any particular restaurant(s) in mind? The parking along those streets gets easier the closer you go towards the ocean. All free street parking. I usually drop my group off at the restaurant and then drive around by myself looking for parking.

There's also plenty of free parking in all the public parks, like Golden Gate or the Presidio or at Chrissy Field or...

It's only in the downtown and more popular areas that parking gets to be a hassle during the daytime. In those areas, there's metered parking if you can find it, so carry lots of quarters with you. After 6pm, the meters are free.

You mentioned dim sum. Were you planning on having dim sum in Chinatown? Recommend you try New Asia or Miriwa on Pacific (1/2 block up the hill from Grant). Have you had dim sum before? I've posted a few times on how to do the dim sum thing, be glad to repost if you want the info.

Have a great trip!
easytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 7th, 2008, 11:49 PM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 154
Thank you again for all the extra details re. dining.

I love to eat in SF! There are so many choices. My husband & I used to fly up there few times each year some time just to hang out, shopping & eat! Those BC (Before Children) days. Husband'schedule is tight up until May & he wants to go for a short trip. So here we are bundling up in SF in Feb. Crossing my fingers that it won't be rainy. It's no fun to push the 2 strollers in the rain.

We are planning to eat in Richmond area on the days we hang out at the Golden Gate Park & Fine Place Art. I was planning to revisit Ton Kiang on Geary for dim sum (weekday), Chiangmai for lunch & Corya (sp) Hotpot (on Clement) & La Vie ( on Geary) for dinner. Parking nearby Corya may be tough. We also expect to smell like BBQ after dining there. gt;) I'd like to check out Schubert's bakery on Clement as well. We plan to dine early 5ish to avoid the crowd.

Thanks for the dimsum suggestion. I've heard about New Asia on some rec list; how is it compared w/ others dimsum in town in term of selection, quality, service & the wait? We may try another disum @ Hong Kong Flower in Milbrae since we'll be staying down there. Thanks for the offer of how to have dimsum; I just point to the food when the cart lady speaks Chinese to me. Sign language works most of the time.

Now, we need lunch & breakfast recommendation in FW/Union Square area as well as neighborhood of Holiday Inn in SFO aiprort area ( breakfast). No more Chinese, please (2 dimsum & 1 dinner in 4 days would be enough of Chinese tastegt;).

How about Tajme (sp?) Morrocan, Mama (North Beach), cafe Maritime ( Lombard st.)? Ah, any favorite of bagel, deli places?

Now, I need to add quarter coins to my packing list. Thanks!
kayla is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 8th, 2008, 01:15 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Wow! Sounds like you are a real gourmand!

On the Chinese restaurants, here's a personal take - everyone has different opinions on food!

Ton Kiang serves dim sum all day long - they are smallish in size, so there's not a huge number of dim sum dishes offered. IMHO, it's not the best representative of dim sum dining - but it's very popular with "round eyes".

For more authentic dim sum, there's Mayflower, which is also on Geary, but further out towards the ocean (around 24th or 25th, just opposite the Russian church). Mayflower is a bit bigger than Ton Kiang, but they also "tray" their dim sum instead of bringing around the carts.

New Asia and the nearby Miriwa (both in Chinatown) are those huge dining rooms where cart ladies wheel the dim sum around. New Asia is very popular with local Chinatown people.

Both Mayflower and New Asia's prices are inexpensive to moderate.

On the Peninsula, Hong Kong Flower Lounge is towards the expensive end. I haven't been in years, but found the quality was up and down - not justifying the high prices. However, since it is (was?) opened by a popular HK movie star, the restaurant rides a lot on her glitzy reputation than on the quality of its food.

Also on the Peninsula is what our family considers as the best Cantonese restaurant in the entire Bay Area. Koi Palace also has dim sum, but on a weekend if you arrive at 9am, there's an hour wait! It's extremely popular and its food makes it justifiably so. Koi Palace sits just OFF Gellert Blvd, Daly City, right next door to the Outback Steak House. For dinner, they have a set price dinner that is very affordable. With as many members in your family, you may want to order a couple of more dishes to supplement the set price dinner.

Along the coast of San Francisco, there's the Cliff House. Try lunch there - on the bistro side, not the more expensive dining room side. Great views with good weather. Or, if you are into funky diners, there's Louie's just above the Cliff House. Great all-American diner sort of place.

In Little Italy or North Beach there are a number of wonderful, non-touristy Italian restaurants. Ask here and I'm certain other Fodorites will come up with dozens of inexpensive Italian restaurants with great food.

Mama's was OK the last time I went, but wasn't impressed.

Can't remember the name of the Moroccan restaurant we went to - arghhh!

Anyway, happy dining!
easytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 8th, 2008, 09:26 AM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 154
Yes, I'm a chow hound. gt; Many thanks for sharing your dining experience!

Hm.... Now your opinion may change my dining plan for dimsum. We then perhaps try New Asia for the new taste. I heard that Hong Kong Flower is owned by May Flower. I remember seeing May Flower (on Geary) nearby Ton Kiang but never tried it before.

Koi Palace was on my list, too. Do they have good lobster since it is in the season? Any dish they are @ best? Yum... I'm hungry.

May try Louie's; already had Sunday brunch at the Cliffhouse; it was nice.

Still need a good breakfast place to start the morning.

We may skip North Beach this time; parking there is really challenging around dinner time. The second time eating there, we took a taxi fr. the Embarcadero. The food was great.

It may rain next Fri; we may have to alter our plan for indoor activities. Any museum& shopping recommendation, SF fodorites? Otherwise, we plan to visit De Young & the Conservatory Of Flowers on the rainy day.

Thanks!

kayla is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 8th, 2008, 09:59 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 2,370
We love Koi Palace, too, but seriously it is as large as Costco and a real zoo! We have parked at the parking lot next door and they have threatened to ticket us, but since they were almost empty we didn't feel badly leaving our car there.

So happy to hear about the burgers at Copenhagen!!!!! I go there for the wonderful Danish pastries.
cabovacation is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:06 AM
  #13
dmlove
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Speaking of Cophenhagen (again), it's also very popular for breakfast and brunch. I don't personally go there for that meal, because I prefer a local dive for my eggs and toast, but there are always people at Copenhagen weekend mornings.
 
Reply With Quote
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:20 AM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 154
Thanks! Got to check out Copenhagen since so many have raved about it. We only eat breakfast or dinner in the SFO area; lunches must be up town where we visit during the day. gt;

There are so many choices, so little time!

kayla is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:46 AM
  #15
dmlove
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Got to check out Copenhagen since so many have raved about it

Copenhagen has excellent pastries (it started out as just a bakery). The restaurant is very good, but it's very good local, not very good go out of your way for.....
 
Reply With Quote
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:57 PM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 154
In that case, we'll go to Crepvines in Burlingame for breakfast on our last day there & stop by Copenhagen for some pastries to take on the flight.

Thanks!
kayla is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2008, 12:05 AM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 154
Look at this! Their breakfast menu seems to be good. The pictures makes me hungry! I'll sure to stop by for the authentic Danish, though. Oh, there are so many good eateries to try; there is so little time!

http://www.copenhagenbakery.com/bmenu.html
kayla is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2008, 10:05 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,572
>>Can't remember the name of the Moroccan restaurant we went to - arghhh!<<

Aziza????

Crepevine on Burlingame ave is one of my least favorites (visited once & that was once too often). It seems to be mainly a carbohydrate place, with huge helpings of potatoes. It's quite crowded, however, so others must like it. I much prefer Copenhagen in that price category.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2008, 01:45 PM
  #19
dmlove
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Actually, I like Crepevine. They have very good salads and omelettes. And those potatoes are delicious LOL!
 
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2008, 03:45 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Hi, kayla!

In reference to your question about lobster at Koi Palace - they cook it several ways and I've never been disappointed in either their live lobster or live crab dishes.

Koi Palace is very authentic Cantonese. It has very classic Cantonese flavors and is the equal of some of the really good restaurants in Hong Kong. (However, there are places in HK that serve truly exquisite Cantonese food and Koi Palace can't match those). Anything you order will be quite good, IMHO, we have never been disappointed in any dish there - but this is assuming that you like authentic Cantonese cooking.

It is still, by far, the best Cantonese restaurant - for us - in the Bay Area. There used to be a great Cantonese restaurant - Harbor Village in the Embarcadero, but it's closed.

Lobster and crab are priced by the pound, as you may know, so the less expensive way to get either one is to find a fixed price dinner that features one or the other. A lot of people don't like to "fight" the crab shells, but crab meat is sweeter and more delicious than lobster meat. For your family, probably lobster would work best.

Koi Palace opens at 5:30pm, if you arrive around then, you can be seated with no problem. Parking shouldn't be a problem then either.

HK flower Lounge is horribly expensive for the food that one gets. I asked a friend of mine who lives mid-Peninsula and her impressions are the same as mine. But to each his/her own. Please don't let me discourage you, if your heart is set on going to HK Flower Lounge! If it's been taken over by Mayflower, then that's an encouraging sign, because both the Mayflower in SF and the one in Milpitas feature really good food, especially at dinner.

For activities during a rainy day: try the Exploratorium for little ones. De Young could be a full day's activity - it's got plenty of exhibits and the Oceania one is especially good.

There's also the Metreon - although that may be for kids a bit older. There used to be a play area up on one of the higher floors especially for little ones but can't remember if it's still open or not. Right across the street from the Metreon is a merry-go-round.

If you do go to the Metreon, there's a great family restaurant nearby - Lulu's. Good pizza for the kids, roast chicken, and the adults can indulge in flights of wine. This is a bit of an "upscale" resutarant, so don't expect pizza joint prices!

Other family restaurants is Lori's Diner - several in town. These have 50's theme with a monster car sometimes dangling from the ceiling. Fun for the kids, inexpensive prices, and food is so-so.

There's the Rainforest Cafe at Fisherman's Wharf with roaring lions and a jungle theme.

If I can think of other restaurants the kids in our family have enjoyed in San Franicsco over the years (won't talk about the adults!) - I'll list them.

Enjoy!

easytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:20 AM.