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Muir Woods Day Trip from San Francisco and Stairway Walks

Muir Woods Day Trip from San Francisco and Stairway Walks

Feb 22nd, 2008, 12:16 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Muir Woods Day Trip from San Francisco and Stairway Walks

We're planning a short trip to San Francisco. We've visited there quite a few times, so we don't have many "must-sees" on our list; just a lot of "wanna-sees." DH will be in meetings most days, so it will be just me and our 9yo daughter.

The last time we visited the redwoods (Big Basin), DD was young enough to not remember much now. She's an outdoorsy kid, so I'm considering whether we should devote a 1/2 day or so to visiting Muir Woods.

We aren't planning to have a car in S.F., though I could rent one for the day if that made the most sense. All the tours I've found (and I'm generally NOT a tour person) last 1/2 day at least, but include Sausalito and not much time actually walking around Muir Woods. And they're more expensive than renting a car.

If I rented a car, how easy would it be for me, somewhat directionally-challenged (but we just bought a TomTom, so I could use that), to get out of the Union Square area and out to Muir Woods? Any other suggestions for getting there and back?

And, based on suggestions here, I now have Stairway Walks in San Franciso, and StuDudley's list of his favorites. We've taken a Telegraph Hill walk before, down the Filbert Stairs (I think that's the one with the parrots), but DD wasn't with that time. So I think she'll like that. Are there other of the stairway walks that you think an outdoors / animal-loving kid would particularly like?
Lexma90 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
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If I remember correctly, it was quite easy to get to Muir Woods. You have to go over the Golden Gate Bridge. After you get over the bridge, there are signs.

I would suggest getting there as soon as it opens- it is so peaceful!
Kerry392 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 12:33 PM
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It's actually pretty easy to get from Union Square to the Golden Gate Bridge, depending on which street the car rental is on, you either go out and circle the block if you exit heading east (or not, if that street goes west), go up to Van Ness Avenue, turn right, turn left on Lombard and go to the end and follow the signs.
Feb 22nd, 2008, 12:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Having a car will certainly give you more time in Muir Woods than a tour, plus you can take the time if you want to visit Stinson Beach or the Marin Headlands as well. I think the only issue for a directionally challenged person would be getting to the GG Bridge from downtown and that's not too difficult. Basicially just need to get from downtown to Van Ness Ave (rental car co should point you right direction, probably on Geary), Van Ness to Lombard St and follow it to the Bridge, once over the Bridge there is signage for Muir Woods. Pretty simple.

SAB is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 01:02 PM
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Worth renting the car to maximize your time at Muir. Very pleasant. As Kerry mentions, once you are across the bridge it is take the exit, two turns following signs and you are there. Signs from the city to the bridge are reasonable as well.

Run mapquest. Consider getting GPS on your rental car for additional confidence.

Wish I were going along.
stumpworks73 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 01:09 PM
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Thank you all, you're very reassuring.

Yes, I can check the route on mapquest, but probably not so good to be reading it while I'm driving (and my usual navigator will be in meetings)! A TomTom is a GPS system, so I will have that with me.
Lexma90 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 01:13 PM
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I always take Franklin instead of Van Ness. The lights are timed on Franklin, its one-way, and a tad more scenic. For an even more scenic drive, take it to Union St, turn left on Union, turn right on Fillmore, then left on Lombard.

It's not a stairway walk, but if your DD loves dogs - take a walk from the Marina Yacht harbor to Ft Point along Crissy fields - lots of dogs along the way. If you go on a week-day, you'll probably see dog-sitters with their "charge" of 10 or so dogs out for their daily stretch. Nice sandy beach area with fantastic views, and where dogs are allowed off-leash. Very outdoorsy area. The DD may love climbing through Ft Point also (late 1800s military fort). They have cannon loading exercises various times of the day, which kids participate in.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 01:29 PM
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Are you doing the Filbert Stairs in order to see the parrots?

I've been up and down both pairs of stairs several times and have never seen the parrots, but you may be luckier.

There is also another place where I HAVE seen the parrots. It's out by Steven Spielberg's art complex in the Presidio, the old Letterman Hospital site. The closest gate is the Lombard Gate. There's a semi-circular driveway at the entrance to the art complex, you can't park there, but if you look across at the huge trees across the street, you might be able to spot the parrots. The guards will prevent you from parking, but they will also tell you where to park. It's not much further down the road. That whole complex is worth a visit.

At Muir Woods, there are several hiking trails besides the Main Trail:


You can select one that is suitable for your daughter's skills. Ask the ranger for the hiking map. Muir Woods is one of my favorite hiking parks in the SF Bay Area. It's beautiful there!

Another side trip for which you will not need a car is Angel Island. Take the ferry there, then hike to the top of Mount Livermore which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire Bay Area.

Watch out for the poison oak and ivy! Bring some water, maybe a hat (depending on what time of day you will be hiking). Please don't hike in flip-flops or high heels (LOL!).

Have a great trip and welcome to the Bay Area!
easytraveler is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 01:40 PM
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Lexma, when are you coming? If in the summer, there is a shuttle to Muir Woods. First, you take a Golden Gate transit bus #70 or #80 from SF to Marin City, then switch to the shuttle #66.


The shuttle ran on weekends and holidays only last summer, I believe Memorial day through Labor day


FainaAgain is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 02:07 PM
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Wow - thanks for all of the additional responses. I was hoping more of you locals (whom I've seen so much of on the Europe board) would respond.

Watching the dogs on Crissy Field would be fun. We'll be there in May, so the shuttle is not going to be an option.

And I think it was the Filbert stairs with the parrots, and maybe I only heard them, but didn't see them. What I remember the most was the huge bushes of wild fennel.

Angel Island is another possiblity. DD is interested in riding a boat/ferry, though not necessarily in visiting Alcatraz (she does remember that from our last trip). So that would work with Angel Island. As usual, we'll have more that we want to do than we'll have time for.

(FYI, on the "must-do" list is Chinatown, which I LOVE, dim sum, the sea lions and the cable cars. I'm hoping to avoid Pier 39. Possibly Golden Gate Park and the tea house. DD is not so into the Exploratorium, but we all loved it last visit, so who knows. I'll have to narrow down the restaurant list, too. AND I'm planning to run Bay to Breakers. Woo hoo!)
Lexma90 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 02:16 PM
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Lexma, the best place to see the sea lions IS Pier 39 (sorry!)
Feb 22nd, 2008, 06:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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The current best place to see the parrots is Ferry Park, the green space across from the Ferry Building and behind the Embarcadero Center. There are several large trees there that the birds go to every day right at dusk. There are hundreds of birds if you are there at the right time -- you can't miss them because they are so loud!
laurelt is offline  

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