help us plan a Saturday in SF

Old Apr 17th, 2009, 07:01 AM
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help us plan a Saturday in SF

We definitely want to do an Alcatraz tour on our June Saturday. We a family of 5 (youngest is 10) with a rental car. We are open to the time of day since we are from the East Coast and expect we'll be up quite early, California time. What else might we pack into our sight-seeing day? We are doing a city tour the day before, so we thought Saturday might be good for the edges like Muir Woods or some other beautiful place like Point Reyes? We're looking for a view and some walking. (But, walking not hiking.) Is the city area of Land's End worth visiting? How close can you drive and then park? Alcatraz is our top priority for Saturday, so that needs to work into the plan.

Should we try to visit the famous Farmer's market?

If you can help us put this all in order, that would be great! We know to consider likely morning fog. We have the whole day and evening as we spent the night in SF before heading out Sunday morning for a family picnic in the valley. Thanks.
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Old Apr 17th, 2009, 07:06 AM
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Apsolutely start the day at the farmers market! We're east coasters, too, and this was a highlight of our trip!

~Liz
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Old Apr 17th, 2009, 08:19 AM
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I would start the day at Farmers market. Then drive to Crissy field, park the car in one of the lots, then walk west along the pedestrian trail, past many nice beaches, and on to Ft Point. Plan to spend about 3/4 to 1 hr at Ft Point. It's a military fort (Civil War era), with cannon firing demonstrations (your kids will be pursuaded to participate), lots of hidden passages to follow that were formerly gunpowder storage rooms, dining rooms, sleeping rooms, and on the very tip-top - the ramparts with georgeous views of the mouth of the Golden Gate, and the bay. You will be directly under the Golden Gate Bridge. Don't miss.

Then drive west on Lincoln Ave/El Camino Del Mar (great views), past Robin Williams' house at Sea Cliff, to the start of the Golf Course. This is also the start of the beautiful Land's End walk. Park the car & head west. MAKE SURE you walk down to 1 mile beach (or something like that), to see the WWII gun turrets, and also a stone labyrinth - which I think the kids will love. You'll get more fantastic views of the bay. Take a picnic lunch with you while you explore this region thoroughly.

Then walk on to the Cliff House area - where you'll need to take a Bus or taxi back to pick up your car. The 18 or 38 bus will get you close to your car.

Then head out over the Golden Gate Bridge to the GGNRA. These are the best views in the Bay Area, IMO. As soon as you cross the bridge, take the Alexander Ave exit. At the stop sign, turn left like you are heading back to SF & go under the highway. Then keep going like you are getting on the bridge, but take the exit up to the GGNRA. It is market Cozelman Ave on your AAA map (which you should have). Keep going up & up. Stop at Battery Spencer to get the fabulous views, and let the Kids explore more WWII gun turrets, housing, passsageways, etc. Then keep going up & up. Stop at the top, get out, and go up to the huge gun turret that you'll see on a peak above the parking lots on the right side of the road. Explore that area on foot. Then back in the car, and continue down a one-way road. You'll enter an area that is very beautiful - and you'll be amazed that it is undeveloped, but so close to San Francisco. Try to ge a AAA map of Sausalito. Continue driving in this region & explore more batterys and find the beautifl beach there next to the Mammal Reserve. Then head to Sausalito and explore this village. If you have time, continue on to Muir Woods - but everyone else may be there on a Saturday in Summer.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 17th, 2009, 08:42 AM
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If the surf is "up" at Ft Point, you'll see lots of surfboarders there.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 17th, 2009, 08:55 AM
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Stu:
What time of day should we squeeze in our Alcatraz tour?

My boys would like to see surfers. We'll look up that location.

If we were to leave our car at our hotel, is all this stuff still do-able by muni? We'll be at Comfort Inn by the Bay.
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Old Apr 17th, 2009, 10:41 AM
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The Alcatraz/Farmers Market part is easily doable by public transportation. The rest, not really.
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Old Apr 17th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Wondering if we should do Farmer's Market after Alcatraz (early lunch?) and then go back to the hotel for our car to do the other suggested tours from Stu? Or, maybe Farmer's Market opens early and would be good for breakfast?
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Old Apr 17th, 2009, 12:46 PM
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Many people really prefer Alcatraz in the evening. That's when I would schedule it.

Use your car for everything but the Ferry market & Alcatraz. Driving from your hotel will not be difficult at all.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 17th, 2009, 01:03 PM
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The Farmer's Market CLOSES at 2 p.m. on Saturday. It's definitely a morning destination!
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Old Apr 17th, 2009, 02:59 PM
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Go to the farmers market early for breakfast. Grab some picnic stuff. Return to the car, then Crissy Field, Ft Point, Land's end, then over ther GG bridge, Marin Headlands/GGNRA, Sausalito, then home. The views of the GG Bridge & back to the City from the GGNRA at the Marin headlands (Cozelman) are best in the later afternoon - so if you get ahead of schedule, visit Sausalito first, and the views from Cozelman last.

Do Alcatraz in the evening/night to see what the City & Sausalito look like all lit up at night!!!

Perfect day !!!

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 18th, 2009, 04:47 AM
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Thanks for the tips. I'm going to get my maps and see if I can trace this with my eye. Sounds like a good plan. And, I think I can book the Alcatraz now to be sure to have it.
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Old Apr 18th, 2009, 12:06 PM
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How could we add in Coit Tower? Our tour on Friday is taking us to Crissy Field and Ft. Point so we should have time on Saturday to put in the tower, if it is something worth visiting.
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Old Apr 18th, 2009, 01:09 PM
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Coit Tower is fine - best viewed in the morning.

Do you get to go inside Ft Point, or just go up to the parking lot, turnaround, and return?? (there is a good place for a pottie stop there). I've seen lots of tour buses do the latter. You should have at least 30 mins free time to visit the interior of Ft Point. Also some time to watch the surfers if the surf is up.

Also, do you get to walk along the long stretch of beach at Crissy field, or just drive along the paved road (which does not have the fantastic views). They should let you out for at least a 30 mins walk there.

If they dump you at Ft Point for at least 1 hr to let you visit the fort, and also walk along Crissy Field, that is fine also.

I would sure prefer to walk along the edge of the Bay in a pedestrian only (with bikes) walkway & smell the salt air, take in the fantastic views of the GG Bridge, watch locals jogging & playing with their dogs - instead of a "drive-by" a 100 yards inland sitting in a bus or van. The people on the left side of the bus may not get views at all if the bus does not stop.

Crissy Field/Ft Point is sure a place I would want to get out & explore on my own - the atmosphere there is marvelous. Great scenes for picture taking.

If you have read my long post about things to do in San Francisco, I think a bike trip in this area would be a great thing to do instead of a bus tour.

Here is my prior post about SF.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...1&tid=35129049

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 18th, 2009, 02:26 PM
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Thanks, Stu, I'll check with the tour place and ask. Good points. And, we'll look at adding in the tower.
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Old Apr 18th, 2009, 03:53 PM
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Fort Point is a lot of fun to explore, especially for children. Personally, I love walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. If one parent and willing children walk across and the parent drives, then you can continue to GGNRA from there (I'm not sure how, StuDudley probably does.)
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Old Apr 18th, 2009, 04:33 PM
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>>Personally, I love walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. If one parent and willing children walk across and the parent drives, then you can continue to GGNRA from there
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 05:35 PM
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For the parking at Ft. Point - is it easy to find? Or, is there some landmark for us to watch for to know we're getting close? This would be for the general exploration of that area.

Is it worthwhile/scenic to drive along the road called "Great Highway" that looks like a route 35?

And, if the GGNRA on the SF side or the Sausalito side of the bridge?

I got the AAA map for SF, but will have to order the other one. Not much call for them in our area AAA! Maybe with both maps I'll understand better how to have part of the family walk the bridge while the other part drives over. Right now I find it confusing.
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 05:52 PM
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No trouble finding the Ft Point lot. It's at the end of the road before you run into Ft Point or the tower supporting the GG Bridge. However, it's a little tricky because the road that looks like it goes there, is a dead end short of Ft Point. As you drove west along the road next to Crissy Field (Mason St), you'll see the dead end on your AAA map. Just before this dead end, you'll see a small one-way road. Take this road and then keep bearing to your right & you'll end up on Lincoln, Long Av, then Marine Dr - see your map.

It's OK - if you have time. You can't see the ocean from the southern end because of sand dunes. The most scenic spot is at the Cliff house. The drive I described above is more scenic.

The GGNRA section I mentioned is on the north side of the bridge - on the Sausalito side. Find Battery Spencer on the southern most section of the north side. Also find Battery Rathbone McIndow on the very left edge of the map. That's the area.

All the drop-off/drive/pickup points are on the AAA map for San Francisco. Look for "vista point" on both ends of the bridge.

Stu Dudley
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