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How can you see San Francisco in just 1 full day?

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How can you see San Francisco in just 1 full day?

Old Jul 4th, 2011, 10:20 AM
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How can you see San Francisco in just 1 full day?

Hello! My family is taking a trip to the Monterey area this September. I was able to talk my family into seeing a little of SF before we depart for the coastal drive. We will be able to fly into SF and spend 1 night. Our flight arrives before 10 am. We have a 16 month old toddler with us!! Help!!

1. What are the most important things to see in such a short amount of time?
2. What part of SF should we stay in that gives us access to most of the attractions?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 10:53 AM
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I would make a list of what you want to see.

A couple of weeks ago I took my daughter and 4 1/2 yeaold granddaughter to Yosemite.

On the way back we arrived in San Francisco about 5:30 PM.

I decided we had enough time to see a few things before heading to the airport for an overnight flight.

We went to the top of Lombard Street and found a parking space. We spent about an hour walking down the crooked part and one additional hilly block and then back up. My granddaughter had a ball walking down the curves.

From there we could see Coit Tower as well as Alcatraz and a cable car coming up the hill.

Then we drove over to Fisherman's Wharf and walked around there for a few hours. Stopped in and had a sourdough bowl of soup.

I think we saw enough in a couple of hours.
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 11:34 AM
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I suggest you stay in the Union Square area (for big city ambience), take a cable car to Fisherman's Wharf and there take a sightseeing cruise of San Francisco Bay (for an up-close look at the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz).

The Alcatraz tour is a big attraction, but it probably won't interest your 16-month-old.

After your bay tour, visit North Beach (for a meal) and Chinatown (for the scene).

HTTY
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Old Jul 5th, 2011, 03:17 PM
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Hello,

I agree with Myer about making a list of what you would like to see, especially by regions within the city. For instance Union Square activities could be paired with Chinatown since they are so close, etc.

Also if you venture out to Golden Gate park, there is so much to see just in that zone alone. With a toddler, I would consider the park as there is a lot to do there, and also have open space so you wouldn't feel as confined to just museums or what not. In Golden Gate park, the activities that I like for a family are:

- de Young Museum: my favorite thing is to go to the very top of the tower, to get 360 degree views of the entire city, just amazing. Right now there is the Picasso exhibit, and I highly recommend the audio tour, so worth it. The cafeteria restaurant has a nice atmosphere and good food.

- Japanese Tea Garden: beautiful scenery, picture perfect scenery really. Tea there is really inexpensive and they serve small snacks as well.

- California Academy of Sciences: very cool for a nature lover and also good for spotting albino alligators (ok, there is only one, but still cute).

- Dutch windmill at the western edge, where it's just a hop, skip, and jump away from:

- Ocean Beach: western edge of the park, on the other side of the road.

- Conservatory of Flowers: great selection of flowers and plants from around the world.

- At the eastern gate of the park is Haight Ashbury. Personally I prefer to dine and shop along Lincoln, which is the southeastern edge of the park.

Other ideas for neighborhoods are:

- Mission for food, and also artsy home and personal wear (art, decor, clothing/jewelry).

- Union St/Marina for shopping.

- North Beach for food

- Yerba Buena Gardens (SFMoMa museum, and also the kids play area at Yerba Buena Gardens, complete with carousel)
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 06:09 AM
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Thank you Mademoiselle!! We have a list going.. but the more I research the more I want to see. And unfortunately that is not going to happen on this short 1 day trip. Is it possible do all of the things you have suggested in one afternoon and then the following morning? If you had to pick just a handful of things to do.. what would you pick?

Also, does anybody have any suggestions for reasonably priced hotel rooms in SF? I was shocked at how much the rooms were going for! They are as expensive as most European cities I have visited!
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 06:21 AM
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If you had to pick just a handful of things to do.. what would you pick?

I picked them for you in my post: Union Square, cable car ride, Fisherman's Wharf, harbor cruise, North Beach, and Chinatown.

You'll have a much more satisfying experience if you concentrate your efforts rather than try to see every nook and cranny of the city. As you walk through the neighborhoods I mention, you will find many opportunities for serendipity.

HTTY
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 06:25 AM
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San Francisco IS as expensive as European cities (lol) That's a fact.

I have spent just one day in SF several times. I stayed off Union Square at the Andrews Hotel. www.andrewshotel.com

From Union Square, you can walk around in the central part of the city, over to Financial district and Embarcadero, take a cable car down thru Chinatown and to Fisherman's Wharf. I think that makes a fine introduction to the city in a single day. Have a couple meals. I really like Mocca for a lunch with atsmophere http://www.unionsquareshop.com/pages/mocca.html, just the other side of Union Square from the hotel.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 07:31 AM
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If you have a car, follow the 49 Mile drive. One of my friends and I did this one day and saw things neither one of us had seen before (and he LIVES in SF). I recommend printing out the map first. Some of the signs were missing when we did it.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 07:47 AM
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Grasshopper- How long did it take you to do te 49 mile drive? We have a toddler with us who might get restless if we spend half a day stuck in traffic.

Suze- Thanks the info. The Andrews hotels looks nice and not too expensive either!

HTTY- Thank you for the advice. What exactly is there at north beach?
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 09:29 AM
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The 49 mile drive can take all day. There are lots of opportunities to get out and explore. The route makes sure you see what SF has to offer. You're not going to be sitting in the car the entire route without stop, unless you choose to.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 10:05 AM
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I think it's a really cool hotel. It's an old one and certainly not the Ritz but it's clean and well located and I think a good value for San Francisco. I've stayed there several times, and sent friends adn coworkers (everyone liked it fine).
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 10:28 AM
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Check out the Cow Hollow Motor Inn. It's gotten very good reviews from fellow Fodorites and if you have a car, there's free parking. Union Square is fun but parking can cost an arm and a leg.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 10:51 AM
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Ok good deal. How long does it take to get from the airport to union square?
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 10:52 AM
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By the way, North Beach abuts Chinatown and is the Italian community.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 10:53 AM
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>>

Are you driving? If so, about a half hour, depending on traffic.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 11:07 AM
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Good point about the car. I've never had one in SF and wasn't considering that part when I suggested the hotel.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 12:39 PM
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I would describe North Beach as a little Italy district, with mostly Italian restaurants and cute shops (also home to my favorite Hot Chocolate in all of SF, at Cafe Greko), but this has more info: http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/northbeach/

Neighborhoods where I would try to stick to if I only had 1 day:

http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/unionsquare/ can combine with http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/chinatown/ and North Beach

http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/goldengatepark/ and pair a drive to the Golden Gate bridge or http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/marina/

This feels a bit more urban, but cool and I love SFMoMa: http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/soma/ I would combine with http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/mission/ but this would be of a more food centric region.

I am not a Fisherman's Wharf kind of gal, but if you do Union Square, then you can just take a cable car up to Fisherman's Wharf instead of Chinatown then North Beach.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 01:51 PM
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Ok Mademoiselle, North Beach is now on our list!! Thanks for all of the links.

And yes Suze, we will have a rental car because most of our week long trip will be going towards the Monterey/Carmel area and then on down the coastline. I am a little nervous about traffic in SF and parking.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 02:10 PM
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Oh yeah, that's an important consideration if you'e going to have a car. Parking fees for hotels in Union Square can be upwards of $45/night, altho if you park it yourself in a garage, it'll be a bit cheaper, about $32-$38 for overnight.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 02:19 PM
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Driving in San Francisco is nothing like other big cities - it's pretty tame by comparison to Boston or LA, so not to worry. It would make sense though to stay in a motel with free parking, unless the rate you get somewhere else (e.g. Union Square) is so great that you can afford to pay $35-50 a night to park.
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