Day Trip to San Francisco

Old May 23rd, 2010, 02:01 PM
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Day Trip to San Francisco

By way of background, we live in the SF Bay Area, but rarely go up to the City except on business. My DH, who grew up here in Saratoga, has avoided it for years for a variety of reasons. He used to spend time in SF when he was young, but apparently burned out on it long before I married him. Plus, the last time we went up to see a play, we had to step over bums in the street on the way, so that didn't do much to improve his opinion about the place. Although he drives up to the financial district several times a month for meetings, we haven't been anywhere else in SF for pleasure more than a handful of times in the last 10 years. Our vacations are always either up to the wine country, up or down the Pacific Coast (Pajaro, Carmel, etc.), or to Hawaii & Europe.

Looking toward this summer, however, I've been thinking about focusing on a variety of day and weekend trips along the coast now that we're down to the last of our kids, who is 12. We're saving up for a trip to France next year and thus want to keep costs down until then and stay local. Among other things, I'm realizing how little our youngest guy has ever seen of the City itself (other than visits to the Exploratorium, or the usual class field trips).

To finally get to the point, I've printed out Stu Dudley's wonderful SF area notes and have been using that to generate ideas. This is one of the following plans I'm toying with, but I need advice from the City experts (like Stu) as to how to make the timing and route work in a logical, linear progression and especially need help with parking and transportation suggestions, which is one of the biggest things DH hates about SF.

This particular day plan would likely be on a Saturday early to mid-July, but I'm very flexible as I live only an hour away and can play tourist in easy installments.

1) Morning Farmer's Market at Ferry Building (been there once & loved it, but recall that parking was a nightmare). Once we secure parking, should we keep the car there the rest of the day and use the F-Line and other transport?

2) Walk #1 in Stairways Walk book by Bakalinsky (Yerba Buena, Telegraph Hill, Coit)

3) Cable Cars and Museum (DS is the only one of our kids who has never been on the cable cars and I've never been to the museum, either. It sounds kind of interesting and heck, it's free.)

4) Alcatraz Night Tour. (This is the one thing that DH is really interested in and willing to go up the CIty to see as he hasn't been there in many years and DS and I have never been there at all. I can't believe I've lived here over 20 yrs and have never seen it. I need to plan the rest of the day so that we can end up at the Alcatraz ferry for either the 6:10 or 6:45 tour.)

Thanks in advance for details and offerings as to the smoothest way to pull this off and keep DH from cussing at the parking and traffic, etc. BTW: He loves to photograph, so anything worthy along those lines that fits with this plan would be a bonus.

(Sigh.) Stu's notes make San Francisco sound so much better. If I can't get DH to like it again, I'm just going to have to make trips up there by myself.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 02:30 PM
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Dang! I just noticed that the Alcatraz night tours are only Thurs through Mon, so I either need to combine the above plan with a day tour; or split it into different days.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 02:34 PM
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Um-m-m. What an idiot. Disregard that last moronic post. (Isn't there a way to delete these things to save face?) Thurs through Mon does of course include Saturday. The caffeine just is not kicking in today.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 04:07 PM
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Our favorite thing to do is to walk up Fillmore Street to Pacific Heights (great views) and then down through Cow Hollow to Fort Mason Park and then through the Maritime Park to Fisherman's Wharf. From Fisherman's Wharf we head over to North Beach and then through Chinatown and the business district to the Ferry Building. By this time, we're a little pooped so we hop on a street car and head for Powell Street, Union Square, etc.

This is a tiring walk of which we never tire.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 05:22 PM
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Thank you, happytrails. I will look again into the areas you mention in that walk. We have been to all of them in the past, but it has been quite awhile and our youngest hasn't seen those sites yet. I do know that my DH will avoid Fiserhman's Wharf like the plague, but we might be able to incorporate some of the rest of those sites into our little daytrip.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 05:29 PM
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>>

If you're willing to pay for parking (and all parking costs money near the Ferry Building, including the new computerized street meters), it's actually very easy to park. Just park in Embarcadero Four, across the street from the Ferry Building. The most it ever costs is $32.50, but I'm sure you can buy something and get some of it cheaper (validated). So yes, I would park the car once and rely on public transportation and your feet.

The parking lot at Embarcadero Four is .9 miles from the Alcatraz ferry terminal (we did this walk just yesterday). If you don't want to walk back after Alcatraz, you can take a taxi, the streetcar, or even a pedicab.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 10:07 PM
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Yes You are right but http://www.airportvanrental.com/ is giving 12 and 15 passenger van rental in los angeles and san francisco they are giving best service for van.

Thanks
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 10:32 PM
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the alcatraz tours fill up really, really early. book it asap.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 06:30 AM
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>>Our favorite thing to do is to walk up Fillmore Street to Pacific Heights (great views) and then down through Cow Hollow
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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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Thanks, SF7307 and Stu. The tips on parking options covered one of the main things I wanted to know.

Does it make sense to do things in the order I mentioned? Will that be enough to fill up a whole day before the Alcatraz night tour? (I imagine it's best to get to the Ferry Bldg as close to 8/8:30 am as possible.)

Kahw: I do plan to book the A tour online soon for the July date I want, but fortunately I'm pretty flexible and can change it if need be.

P.S.: Stu, I'm really interested in the type of Victorian House and other architectural/historical tours that Ellen does, but I'll have to come up on my own someday to enjoy that.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:48 AM
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sap, there's no reason to get to the Ferry Bldg. that early. Just don't get there close to closing time, but 10 or 11:00 would be just fine. (If you're a coffee drinker, while you're there, treat yourself to a latte at Blue Bottle Coffee - excellent!)
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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:50 AM
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I forgot, but did you say you already have Alcatraz tickets? I believe the night tours sell out first, so you should make your reservations for that before you plan anything else.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:53 AM
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Your plan is fine - but you may have some time available before the Alcatraz tour.

Start the cable car trip from the Fisherman's Wharf turn-around - more interesting ride than from the Taylor turn-around. Sit on the east side of the car for the best views. Expect a long line to get on the car. Visiting the Museum is a bit of a problem. It is about mid way along the route, but unless you purchase some kind of "pass" - you don't have on/off privileges. Take the Cable Car as far as Union Square - don't go past Union Square to the Market St turnaround, unless you want your DH to see lots of vagrants & crummy street musicians. Go straight west from Union Sq on Post street and either take the J-Church to the Noe Valley to retrieve your car, or walk down Market St to retrieve it at the Embarcadero.

If your car is in the Noe Valley, get off the J-Church at 24th street & explore my favorite neighborhood on foot (see my long post for details). Then retrieve the car (give your feet some rest) & drive up to Twin Peaks for a great view - if it is not foggy.

After Twin Peaks or from the Embarcadero if you do not park the car in the Noe Valley, drive through Golden Gate park to Ocean Beach & take the drive (see the long post) through Lincoln Golf Course, Palace of the Legion of Honor, along the Golden Gate with fantastic views of the Bay & Bridge, through Sea Cliff (Robin Williams house), and then the Presidio. You will exit the Presidio on Lombard St. Proceed down the commercial part of Lombard, past Van Ness, then about 4 blocks to the squiggly part of Lombard St. Then head to the Wharf for the Alctraz tour. Park somewhere west of Van Ness & walk if you don't want to pay $$$ for parking. Parking still may be difficult, so if you don't find anything, just park at the Ghirardelli garage.

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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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I'm not a favorite of huge crowds - so I would get to the Ferry Building before 9. We were there earlier this year in "off season", and it was too crowded for me by 10:30. You want to have time left in the day to do the other stuff too.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 24th, 2010, 09:07 AM
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You have a nice plan but (there's always a but, isn't there?) you may want to fit in the impressionism exhibit at the deYoung, especially since you're planning on going to France next year.

http://orsay.famsf.org/
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Old May 24th, 2010, 09:08 AM
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Old May 24th, 2010, 09:12 AM
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If you are driving around and get back to the area in time for the Alcatraz night tour, Ghirardelli is too far away to park. Here's a map that shows the parking garages nearer to Pier 33:

http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/websi...az-landing.gif
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Old May 24th, 2010, 09:34 AM
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Stu and sf7307, thanks so much for the additional details. Those are the finer points I needed to fine tune the day as the parking & public transport issue is our weakness in the City and usually why we try to visit places on the periphery (besides our usual encounter w/the "vagrants & crummy street musicians" Stu mentioned).

I don't have the Alcatraz tickets, yet; but I'll buy them first and soon.

Shanti: I've had my eye on that deYoung exhibit with the d'Orsay pieces (actually two exhibits over the course of the next few months). I think I'll make that a separate day trip. DH saw that they're selling discounted tickets to it at Costco!
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Old May 24th, 2010, 09:38 AM
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sap, that's how I initially learned about the exhibit - I saw the discounted tickets at Costco. They sell just about everything at Costco, don't they.
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