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San Francisco area - what would you do?

Old Mar 8th, 2013, 07:00 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
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Stu, if you happen to be in the area for breakfast, we recently found a great spot - the Hollywood Cafe.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 10:33 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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I have friends who did a segway tour in SFO - they said it was a lot of fun

My daughter and I walked across the Golden Gate bridge one day- fun.

Also love the Buena Vista-
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 11:23 AM
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If you happen to be in Union Square have lunch at Mocca, on Maiden Lane. Great little hidden gem.

For dinner Belden Place (an "alley" of restaurants in the Financial District is a favorite.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 12:35 PM
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I love these suggestions! Thank you all so much! I'm hoping to get things somewhat settled with my friend this weekend. She's a hospital clinician so doesn't have nearly as much time at her computer as I do during the week. Definitely taking note of all of these!
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 12:48 PM
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Do you Yelp? Great place to get good local feedback on restaurants and activities.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 02:14 PM
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You'll definitely need 3-4 days in SF alone. Plenty to do there, and lots of great restaurants and nightlife to keep you busy in the evenings. I'd probably stay in Union Square, Embarcadero, or maybe Fisherman's Wharf areas. The wharf area is a very touristy, and not well located for public transit to anywhere except downtown, so Union Sq would be my first choice.

In SF, you'll probably want to hit downtown/Union Sq area, Chinatown, North Beach, Fishermans Wharf, the Presidio, Golden Gate bridge, and a bunch of the museums. Do the Alcatraz trip. If you can get out to a neighborhood like Chestnut St in the Marina or Union St in Cow Hollow, they're very nice, with great restaurants and shopping. I like to just wander around Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights; it's just a beautiful area, with great views of the bay. The Mission is also a great neighborhood to wander around in (Valencia St), but it's definitely different.

For the remainder of the trip, I'd recommend skipping Napa and Sonoma since wine doesn't appear that important to you. While Napa and Sonoma are very pretty even if you're not into wine-tasting, I don't think the scenery is as good as the coast. So I'd suggest either of two alternatives (but not both). Both involve renting a car (you don't need one in SF).

Option 1, if you're feeling more aggressive: drive down Hwy 1 to Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur: First day, stop at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach. Check out Half Moon Bay. Have lunch at Duarte's in Pescadero. Drop by Ano Nuevo State Park. Hang out in Santa Cruz, get some burritos, and then go to the Boardwalk in the evening and ride the old wooden coaster. Spend the night in Santa Cruz. Second day, drive to Monterey, do the historical stuff and the aquarium, spend the night (in Monterey or Carmel). Third day, drive to Point Lobos State Park, do some walks, then drive down through Big Sur to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, come back up and spend the night in Carmel. (There are decent wineries in the Carmel valley if you want to slip one or two in.) Fourth day, take the inland route (routes 156 & 101, about 2hrs w/o traffic) back to SF. If you have time, stop in San Juan Bautista and check out the old mission and state historical park (maybe a two hour sidetrip). You could do this in three days instead of three and a half if you wanted, by spending the second night in Carmel, and driving back to SF late on the third day. The Moss Beach/HMB/Ano Nuevo/Santa Cruz stuff is probably the stuff to drop if you want to save more time; a two day trip to Big Sur and Monterey is feasible from SF, but it would be hurried.

Option 2: the less aggressive alternative, is to drive across the Golden Gate to the Marin Headlands, do some quick walks to take in the views, and then up to Mill Valley, over to Muir Beach, Muir Woods, and maybe up to Stinson Beach or Mt Tamalpais if you have time, and then back to the city. Or as an overnight trip, spend the night in Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Pt Reyes Station, or Inverness, and do Point Reyes on the second day.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 05:04 PM
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Grassshopper, I do Yelp! I love that app. It has found me several delicious meals.

kbob, thanks so much for those itineraries! That's really helpful. Scenery is definitely more important than wineries, so I think that's the right track.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 06:01 PM
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Kbob88 has given you excellent advice!
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 01:59 PM
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I would base in San Francisco and, if you get tired of it, rent a car downtown (it's cheaper than at the airport) and head out to Carmel/Monterey or Pt. Reyes/north coast or Sonoma/Napa for a couple of days. You might not get the most prized (and expensive) accommodations in those areas if you wait til the last minute, but you'll find somewhere you can stay the night while you explore the area.

On one of your sunny days in San Francisco, join the rest of youthful San Francisco for an afternoon in Dolores Park, at 18th St and Dolores, for gorgeous views of the city from the top of the park and a great, laid back, happy people scene. When you're tired of that, head into the Mission for good food and fun shopping.

On another day, take the bus up to Twin Peaks and be awed by the view; you can walk down to Market and Castro from there (about 30 minutes, operative word is "down"), and hop the F train to the Embarcadero.

These are just two ideas for spending your week in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Mar 12th, 2013, 06:59 AM
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Y'all are fabulous - thank you! We're now thinking about June 5-11 (airfare is cheaper midweek). Is there anything we should know about those dates - festivals or special California holidays or anything?
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Old Mar 12th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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Northern CA is one of our favorite escapes from the Dallas heat, and San Francisco is one of the really unique US cities. The drive from SA to San Luis is the most scenic in the entire country and includes Carmel, Big Sur, etc. Take a sweater cuz it's always chilly near the water or walking Fisherman's Wharf. One suggestion I make to folks going to SA for the first time is to get up early one morning and cross the Golden Gate Bridge and go to Muir's Woods to see the redwoods. It's a short trip and as spectacular a stand of redwoods as you'll see anywhere. Parking is a real problem, so get up early and you can have the trees to yourself with no walking.
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 09:18 AM
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I am not recalling any special events June 5-11. The Giants will be playing at home, if you're interested in baseball. The city probably won't be too foggy yet. On the 8th or 9th you could go to the Mountain Play on Mt Tam above Mill Valley; this year it's the Sound of Music ( It's a lot of fun; we go every year. If you go, you should hike down to Mill Valley afterwards. You could combine that with a few day trip to Mill Valley, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Pt Reyes, etc.
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 10:41 AM
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"The city probably won't be too foggy yet"

Don't count on that. I've spent many a June day pining for a glimpse of the sun. Although worse at the coast, they don't call it "June Gloom" for nothing.
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 10:48 AM
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June gloom is one concern I had, though I'd heard of it mostly in conjunction with San Diego. Would it be likely to be bad enough to postpone a trip to Big Sur, etc? Sorry, I'm new at California climate!

Thanks for the play suggestion, kbob! I'll check it out.
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 12:14 PM
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>> Would it be likely to be bad enough to postpone a trip to Big Sur
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 12:35 PM
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June gloom is southern California term, we don't refer to the summer fog as June gloom as it happens all summer here on parts of the Northern California coast--as well as other times like this morning!! Stu has given you a very good example of how unpredictable fog on the coast can be. I was in Carmel every weekend in February and there was no fog--even though there was some in the City. Sometimes you just have to take your chances, unfortunately when you only have a few days that does not always appeal. Typically the fog burns off by the afternoon, if that is any consolation.
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 12:48 PM
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Thanks, y'all - that helps a lot. I know there's plenty to do in San Francisco itself even if it's foggy - I just don't want to go to Big Sur or Carmel and not be able to see the coastline! But I think we'd be okay even if we just had afternoons, and it sounds like even if one spot is foggy we could drive a bit and have a better view.

Due to my friend's work schedule and some things I have going on in the fall, June is the best time for us to go logistically, so unless it's usually pretty bad I have a feeling we'll take the chance.
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 01:01 PM
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July and August are the foggiest months. June, and especially early June is usually not too bad, although September is better. As SAB says, it usually burns off by the early afternoon. Just keep yourself a bit flexible, and you'll be fine. In SF, you'll probably only encounter fog out by the ocean and the GG Bridge (and Alcatraz too), if at all. Downtown shouldn't be too foggy in early June. BTW, often Santa Cruz is clear when Half Moon Bay and Monterey are foggy.
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 01:07 PM
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Word of advice~don't plan on bringing just shorts and tank tops! Layering is the key to enduring the fickle weather in SF. You'll most likely need a jacket if you go over the Golden Gate Bridge. I've never been on it when it hasn't been windy!
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 01:18 PM
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Thanks so much, kbob! That's reassuring. tenthumbs, thanks for the reminder. I learned that lesson in San Diego last August. We drove out to Joshua Tree for the day, so I was in a tank top and shorts with a thin little sweater, but when we got back to town we ate dinner outside and I was freezing!
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