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one day, two friends - san francisco area - what to do?

one day, two friends - san francisco area - what to do?

Old May 12th, 2016, 08:20 AM
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one day, two friends - san francisco area - what to do?

hi fodorites,

i'm heading to san fran for a conference in june. my BFF from university lives near pleasanton. we only get to see each other once every few years ... we've both got young families (all boys - between the ages of 18 months and 7 years). i'm flying in a day earlier so we can spend some time together.

on day 1 (monday), my flight arrives at SFO at 1030 am. BFF has insisted on picking me up. her almost 5 year old will be in tow. we were thinking of going to muir woods/point reyes afterwards (interesting for both adults and the 5 year old). we need to be back in pleasanton to pick up BFF's 7 year old after school so we won't have a ton of time.

on day 2 (tuesday), after dropping off both kids at school around 830 am, we'll have the day to ourselves. BFF's hubby is going to pick up the kids and we'll have a bit more time. BFF will drop me off at the marriott marquis for my conference that evening. i'm sure i'll still be on toronto (ET) time so 7 pm will feel like bedtime to me!

can you suggest any ideas of what we could do on day 2? i've been to SF twice (and did a lot of the main attractions) and i'm sure i'll be back with my own kids when they're older. i'm not really looking to do any of the 'touristy' things in SF. BFF has suggested napa ... to be honest, i'm not a wine drinker so i'm not sure if the experience might be wasted on me! plus, i feel like we might be in the car for a very long time on that day if we go to napa. (please correct me if i'm under the wrong impression here).

we just want to do something fun/interesting and something that we don't normally do with kids. we both love food - i, in particular, love cooking/baking. we're both active people with hectic lives ... and essentially have one day to spend together (sans kids ... which feels like a luxury).

thanks very much for your advice.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 09:42 AM
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I don't think your friend's suggestion for Day has a chance of working.

W/ a 10:30 ETA there is no way you could get to Muir Woods and Point Reyes and be back in Pleasanton before early evening.

Pt Reyes to Pleasanton is nearly a 2 hour drive w/ no traffic and you will be traveling it in the afternoon rush hour. And Muir Woods to Pleasanton (skipping Pt Reyes) is at least a 90 minute drive.

In the middle of the day SFO to Muir Woods will take about an hour. By the time you get your Luggage you'll be lucky to be on the road before 11AM -- And my guess is the 7yo get out of school around 2:30 or 3PM. So I really don't think any of that is doable.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 10:47 AM
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Like janis, I think your plan for Day 1 is unworkable. I'd just head into the city and spend a few hours at Pier 39.

On Day 2, if Napa doesn't interest you (it is physically lovely, and has a few nice small towns (St. Helena, Calistoga), I'd stay in the city --- if the weather is good, I'd probably have breakfast, spend some time at the Ferry Building, walk up to Coit Tower and down to Chinatown/North Beach, have lunch, and walk along the Embarcadero.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 11:11 AM
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Third vote for "day 1 won't work". Traffic back to Pleasenton will be horrible - regardless of which bridge you take.

Do what sf7307 suggests for Day 2 - perhaps add in Union St (not Square). I like to have lunch at Rose's Cafe - corner Union & Steiner.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 12th, 2016, 11:48 AM
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Day 1
Stay south & west of SFO. Perhaps drive to Half Moon Bay & poke around there (turn left off Hwy 92 onto Main St at the first stop light). Visit the village. Then drive down the coast & back a bit. While you are either coming or going on Hwy 92 between Hwy 280 & Half Moon Bay - head south about 5-7 miles on Hwy 35 and get your "redwood tree fix". This entire route is a beautiful drive once you leave the SFO area. Getting back to Pleasanton on Hwy 92/San Mateo Bridge will be a lot easier & less time consuming than either the City & certainly from Muir Woods/Pt Reyes.

If you choose to do this, upon leaving SFO, head north on Hwy 101 for a very short distance, then west on Hwy 380 to Hwy 280, & south on 280 (it starts getting scenic now). Head west when you see the off-ramp to Half Moon Bay. You will shortly join Hwy 92 (turn right) to Half Moon Bay .

I would have suggested Filoli - but they are closed on Mondays
http://www.filoli.org/

Stu Dudley
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Old May 12th, 2016, 12:37 PM
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>>Stay south & west of SFO.VERY surprised someone living in Pleasanton would come up w/ that Day 1 plan. Perhaps she hasn't lived in the Bay area very long or hasn't had occasion to travel over some of those roads on a weekday.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 05:15 PM
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hi all,

thanks very much for the advice.

my BFF moved to pleasanton last year from LA. she works 20 mins from home so likely doesn't travel over those roads on a weekday.

would muir woods and point reyes be too much to do on day 2?
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Old May 12th, 2016, 05:50 PM
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If the day starts in Pleasanton, a visit to Pt Reyes & Muir woods, a drop off at your hotel in The City, then a return to Pleasanton for your friend - that's waaaay too much. The drive to Pt Reyes could take you 3 hours in the morning, and 4-4 1/2 hrs back for your friend if she drops you off in SF. You would be driving on some of the most congested freeways in the Bay Area during commute time.

Pt Reyes is huge and deserves the better part of a day.

If this was my trip, I would take BART into SF & spend a nice leisurely day in the City.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 12th, 2016, 05:57 PM
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Also, for a good portion of your time exploring Pt Reyes - you'll be in the car. So that's about 9 hrs in the car on Day 2.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 12th, 2016, 07:11 PM
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>>would muir woods and point reyes be too much to do on day 2?
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Old May 12th, 2016, 08:14 PM
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I too would spend a pleasant day in SF with your friend before she takes the BART home. So much to see and do from the Ferry Building to Golden Gate Park and many places in between. No point in sitting in traffic getting in and out of the city on either day.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 09:44 PM
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Has the museum re-opened in case the weather does not cooperate which is also a thing in SF. going hiking is great or Half Moon but overcast, chilly? I love the idea of walking the city, eating a great meal, maybe you two would like to take a cooking/baking class together somewhere? a bit of shopping is a luxury and walking through golden gate park would give a nice outdoor feeling
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Old May 12th, 2016, 09:57 PM
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>>Has the museum re-opened which museum?
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Old May 13th, 2016, 07:37 AM
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holy moly ... thanks for all the details re: rush hour traffic etc.

i think we'll re-think this.

my BFF said getting into SF should only take 45 mins ... but i'm wondering if she's only done that drive on weekends.
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Old May 13th, 2016, 08:03 AM
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>>my BFF said getting into SF should only take 45 mins .
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Old May 13th, 2016, 08:44 AM
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If you want to try some wine tasting, the Livermore Valley has a nice wine growing area. One of the larger places to visit is Concannon.
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Old May 13th, 2016, 08:59 AM
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okay - new (possible) plan for day 2:

since filoli is not open on monday, i'm thinking of doing stu's suggestion on the tuesday instead ... so drop off the kids, hit the road around 9 am and then do filoli (opens @ 10)/redwoods/half moon bay. i think that would be a pretty full day.

could we drive up hwy 1 into san fran? would that be a nice drive?

early dinner in san fran (somewhere near the hotel) and off to bed for me and drive back to pleasanton for BFF.

now ... that leaves day 1 open ... stop somewhere for lunch after the airport, do something quick (keep in mind we will have an almost 5 year old with us) and then head back to pick up @ school.

thoughts?

thanks!
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Old May 13th, 2016, 10:04 AM
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Your day 2 would work - but it seems that you are trying to avoid exploring San Francisco? Your friend will have difficulty getting back to Pleasanton from SF anytime between 4:30 & about 7:00 because of traffic.

The drive on Hwy 1 north of Half Moon Bay is not as scenic as the drive south. But it is OK. You could spend some time in Golden Gate Park. Stop at the Cliff House & visit it and Sutro Baths below.

Then head east on Geary Blvd. Turn left on 34th St. and enter Lincoln Park. Continue on to the Palace of the Legion of Honor. This is one of our major art exhibition places (along with some other uses). It was built by Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, who married into the Spreckels fortune (sugar), built the museum, and donated it to The City. A few years ago it displayed the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit, last year the Degas exhibit, and also has the largest collection of Rodin statues outside of Paris.

After passing the Legion, take the right (only way you can go) on to El Camino Del Mar. Get the camera ready for some fantastic views of the Golden Gate. I always take guests on this route. You will be driving along a golf course. Just before you leave the course and enter a residential area, park the car & walk to the viewing platform to your left – you’ll see it from the road. Return to the car & continue along El Camino Del Mar. You will enter the Seacliff Area which (I suspect) has the most expensive homes in the City. Robin Williams lives there – look for a dinosaur topiary peeking over a hedge on his home (it’s not on the immediate waterfront). When entering Seacliff, keep left whenever you can – especially paying attention to a “Y” onto Seacliff Ave. Just after this Y, turn left on to a dead end & perhaps have a look at China Beach & the views from there. Continue along Seacliff Rd as it snakes around and exits the Seacliff area at 25th St. Turn left (east) off 25th on to Lincoln. Proceed north on Lincoln for some more exceptional views of the Golden Gate and the Bridge.

Lincoln will eventually twist around, and go under the Golden Gate Bridge. Immediately after it goes under the bridge, look on your left for a sign to the Golden Gate Bridge. Follow this up and cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

Head north across the Golden Gate Bridge. Just past the bridge, take the Alexander Av. exit towards Sausalito. When you get to the stop at the end of the freeway off ramp, turn left & go under Hwy 101. Proceed like you are going back across the bridge to SF, but take the road to the right that goes up-hill, just before actually getting on 101. There will be a sign that says you are entering the Golden Gate National Recreational (GGNRA) area. Continue up on this road – it’s called Conzelman on the map. You will see what are (in my opinion) the best views of San Francisco – The GG Bridge in the foreground & The City behind it. This was formerly a military area that is still laced with bunkers, gun turrets, underground tunnels etc. It was opened up in the ‘70s. The views of The City, the Bridge, and the Golden Gate are breathtaking. You can see down the San Mateo Coast from up here. Go all the way to the top until you hit a much smaller one-way road. On the way up, get out & enjoy the sights. Kids will love the bunkers & gun turrets. At the top where the main road ends, there is the largest gun turret, where you can climb up to for an almost 360 degree view. This view is best in the evening when the sun is in a position to light up the bridge & highlight downtown.

Return the way you came up to this area. Check the time. If there is any time left in your schedule, take a quick pass through Sausalito – otherwise head south back to SF. If you opt for the Sausalito visit, once you get to the junction just past the tunnel under 101, head straight to Sausalito. Just follow your nose (bearing right whenever possible), until you end up on Bridgeway – the main road along the bay in Sausalito. Drive along Bridgeway, enjoying the views back to the City. Continue North on Bridgeway until it joins 101 and you can return to SF over the Golden Gate Bridge again.

Dinner. I know nothing about your "tastes" - but we dined at Volta a month ago - and it was OK - but not one of our top 20% restaurants. It's less than 1 block from your hotel
www.voltasf.com

Day 1
Perhaps consider the Burlingame Avenue shopping district between Calif St and El Camino Real. It's a nice area for a lunch, stroll, coffee, etc. If you do any shopping - it will consume about 2 hrs plus whatever time you spend for lunch and/or coffee. Close SFO and to the San Mateo Bridge for your drive back to Pleasonton. Take the Broadway Ave exit west off 101, and then turn left/south on California St just after crossing the railroad tracks, and proceed about 2 miles until you see a train depot on your left, and Burlingame Ave will be to your right. It is 4 blocks from where I live and 1 block from where sf7307 lived.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 13th, 2016, 10:20 AM
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You could spend some time in Golden Gate Park. Stop at the Cliff House & visit it and Sutro Baths below.

If you do this, you might also want to take a walk on the Land's End trail - beautiful walk and spectacular views. https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/landsend.htm
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Old May 13th, 2016, 10:20 AM
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hi stu,

thanks so much for the info and the feedback.

to be blunt, yes, i'm avoiding san fran proper ... BFF's sis lives there and she's in san fran a lot; we've also done the 'big' attractions. so i'm trying to find something a little out of the ordinary and outside of san fran. it's rare for us to have time to ourselves (even when we're not together!).

thanks again.
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