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San Francisco area - what would you do?

Old Mar 13th, 2013, 06:53 PM
  #41  
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One more question: How late would our flight need to leave in order for us to stay in Big Sur/Carmel/somewhere in that area the night before we head home - or should we even consider that? Google Maps says about 2.5 hours from Big Sur to SFO, but I have a feeling it would take longer with commuter traffic. I'm trying to decide whether to head straight to the coast when we get there and put our SF days at the end, or split up SF days, or give up a night to stay near the airport before getting an early flight back.
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Old Mar 13th, 2013, 10:24 PM
  #42  
 
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If you can fly out of San Jose, that will cut 30 minutes off your time back to the airport. Probably even a bit more, since it's quicker to return a car at San Jose.

But anyway, you can definitely drive up to SFO from Big Sur / Carmel the morning of your flight. It should take about 2 hours from Monterey / Carmel to SFO; 2.5 from Big Sur sounds about right; 1 hr gets you to the south edge of San Jose. (That's the non-coastal route; up 156 to 101) You'll encounter traffic around San Jose during rush hour (7:30am to 10am). If you're hitting SJ at that time, you'll probably want to take 85 to 280 to 380 to the airport (which is really no longer than 101 all the way through). I can't speak to the rush hour traffic through Monterey.

So your options are probably 1) leave Carmel after 9am, which gets you to SFO fairly close to 11am, as you'll miss San Jose traffic, or 2) leave Carmel before 6:30am, which gets you to SFO around 8:45 probably, as you hit San Jose before most of the rush, or 3) leave between 6:30 and 9, in which case you'll probably hit Monterey and/or San Jose traffic, but you should still be able to get to the airport in 3 hours or less, especially if you take 85 to 280. In any case, make sure you have 30 minutes of cushion in case disaster strikes.

You could also drive up to Santa Cruz and take 17 over the mountains to 85 to 280 to 380. But 17 is a risky road -- too much chance of some jerk having an accident on the pass and causing a huge jam. I wouldn't chance it if you're going to the airport.

Perhaps someone who lives down in Monterey / Carmel / Pacific Grove can chime in with some real world getting to the airport experiences.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 05:13 AM
  #43  
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kbob, that's really helpful - thank you so much. Since we're flying so far east, our flight options are pretty limited if we don't do a redeye (our total travel time for most flights is between 7-8 hours, plus we "lose" two hours!). So we'd need to be at the airport fairly early - for most flights, 9/9:30 or earlier. If we'd need to leave the coast that early anyway, it might be worth just driving to an airport hotel late that night and not stressing out.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 05:47 AM
  #44  
 
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Where are you flying TO??? Nashville? A lot depends on the final destination and whether or not you can get N/S service.

You can easily check timings using kayak.com and then make your decision. Personally, if I had a very e arly departure from SFO such as 6-7 AM I would come back the night before rather than the morning of but that's personal.

As to the weather concerns I can tell you from experience I have been to SFO in late June when the weather was absolutely spectacular IN the city and I mean on the "downtown" side of Twin Peaks...no rain, no clouds, no humidity...but as others have said there is a lot of variation depending on just where you are in the Bay area so pack accordingly.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 06:23 AM
  #45  
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I'm flying to Nashville; my friend lives in Memphis so she may fly from/to there instead. Either way, east! I've been using Kayak to look for flights but haven't found any nonstop. Our choices seem to be basically leave really early (7am or earlier) and get back at a reasonable time, leave at a reasonable time (~11am) but get home close to 11 or midnight, or take a redeye.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 06:59 AM
  #46  
 
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One of the most memorable thing we did in our overall memorable trip to San Francisco was renting bikes at Fisherman Wharf and riding across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, lunch there, and takinge the ferry back.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 02:04 PM
  #47  
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Thanks, Olga. The bikes have been recommended to us by several - I hope we can fit it in!

Any thoughts on this place?

http://www.vrbo.com/405569

I've been looking for hotels in the Embarcadero/Financial District area, but they are quite expensive compared to the rest of the city. The only one I've found under $200 so far, even with Hotwire, is the Hilton (link: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/cal...ons/index.html). The VRBO apartment is similarly priced, but I'm not sure if it's so far up on Nob Hill that we'd be exhausted trying to walk up! Both get good reviews, though the Hilton sounds like it's a bit outdated (no big deal for us).
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 04:35 PM
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That's a pretty good location. Definitely the top of Nob Hill! How exhausted you'll be depends on how good shape you're in, and how often you do it. Unless you're really out of shape, it won't be too bad. BTW, there aren't a ton of restaurants up there, although you'll be close to plenty of eateries in Union Sq, Chinatown, and North Beach. You'll just have to walk back up the hill after dinner!
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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If the apartment if really at Taylor and Washington, that's definitely "top of the hill". Even if you don't want to walk uphill, there are both buses (the 1California goes up Sacramento and down California) and the cable car serving that area. It's generally a very upscale residential neighborhood, and that corner is about 3 blocks from the big Nob Hill hotels - the Mark Hopkins, Fairmont, Stanford Court and Huntington. It's not the kind of area where you are somewhere as soon as you walk out your door - you have to go somewhere to be somewhere, but it is a very pleasant and attractive neighborhood. We ate at a decent restaurant within a block recently - Venticello. Nothing memorable, but solid.

Just so you know, that Hilton is actually in Chinatown, not really the financial district (although they abut each other).
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 08:17 PM
  #50  
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Well, it might be worth it to walk off some of the food I'm sure we'll be eating! We're both in pretty good shape and we're good walkers, so it's not a huge concern - more an inconvenience. But very San Francisco! Thanks as always for the context, kbob. I'm hoping to get my friend on the phone this weekend and work out some of the details so we can start booking. The reviews did mention that the apartment is close to both cable car lines, so if we were in Union Square or the Embarcadero I guess that could be an option.

Unless someone corrects me, I'm leaning toward heading straight to Big Sur or somewhere on the coast when we arrive, and then saving our SF time for the end to make getting back to the airport easier. Plus if we arrive on a Wednesday, that would put us on the coast on weeknights (perhaps easier to get lodging than weekends) and back in SF on the weekend (possibly cheaper hotels).
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 08:21 PM
  #51  
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sf7307, we were posting at the same time. That's really great information - thank you! I'm struggling to find the perfect place, so I know we'll have to give up something, whether it's accessibility or money. I hate giving things up, though!

A friend of mine told me that he usually stays at the Oakland Marriott City Center when he's in town - he said it's a ten-minute BART ride to downtown San Francisco. I'm a big proponent of staying central, but he made a case for it!
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 08:27 PM
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Don't stay in Oakland.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 08:38 PM
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There is NO good reason to stay in Oakland!!
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 08:50 PM
  #54  
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Ha - definitely noted! I do like consensus. Thanks!
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 09:02 PM
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And another DON'T STAY IN OAKLAND !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Many reasons why that is a BAD idea.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 09:35 PM
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The Oakland Marriott is a couple of blocks from the train tracks. The engineers like to blast their horns even in the middle of the night. Your friend must be a sound sleeper!

If you have been on Hotwire, have you tried Priceline? you could get a hotel like the Hyatt or the Marriott at Union Square East for about $100-$125 plus taxes and fees.

I would suggest not staying up on Taylor and Washington unless it's a really fantastic apartment. It's pretty isolated and dark at night. I have sometimes walked to Nob Hill from Chinatown and to get up to the top you have to lean forward as if you were leaning into the wind in order to get uphill. Not many restaurants nor stores in the immediate neighborhood.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 09:51 PM
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I would not stay in Oakland but I did stay in SFO at the Hilton Financial District and got a good rate on Hotwire. Its at the entrance to China town- there was a great Chinese restaurant across the street and up the block a bit- close to Embarcadero - we even walked to hotel from Union Square - it was a bit of a walk but then, we are walkers so no problem.
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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 10:12 PM
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R&G Lounge? I ate there last night, and it was great!
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Old Mar 15th, 2013, 05:15 AM
  #59  
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Thanks for the votes, y'all - I think I sufficiently warned against Oakland! He might be a deep sleeper, I don't know. He and his wife live in LA and go to SF pretty regularly, so I figured he'd know, but I trust you all!

The walking isn't such a deterrent (though that hill does sound... fun), but isolated and dark is not great. I'll keep looking and keep that Hilton in mind (thanks for the review, sunbum!). I haven't tried Priceline yet but I will! I'm used to Hotwire and hotels.com, but have never actually used Priceline except for a car.
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Old Mar 15th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Check out the options on booking.com - I plugged in dates of June 8 - 11 and got several decent choices for less than $200/ night in SF.
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