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sunny16 Jan 3rd, 2013 09:41 PM

San Francisco in December: A Not-So-Business-y Trip Report
Hi everyone! I had a business trip to San Francisco in mid-December 2012 and I wanted to write up a little trip report in case it helps anyone out. I was last out there four years ago, and I wrote up a report for that trip as well:

About me: I’m a woman in my early 40s from NYC who loves to squeeze the most fun possible out of any trip. Fun for me usually consists of wandering around, eating great food, and spending time with friends, and I got to do all of that on this trip.

My photos from this trip are here:

Lodging: I stayed at the Parc 55 Wyndham. It’s right off Market Street near Union Square. I had read on Tripadvisor that the hotel had thin walls, small bathrooms, that there was street noise, etc., but I didn’t find any of that to be the case. I had a comfortable, quiet room on the 17th floor with a decent-sized bathroom. The bed was a little hard, but I was able to sleep on it. The view out my window wasn’t wonderful, but I could see the water and the sunrise. I do wish there had been a mini fridge in the room, but I guess you can’t have everything. :)

Also, I didn’t get to actually use it, but the gym was enormous for a hotel gym, with lots of machines, and it’s open 24/7.

Since it was December, I was hoping to see some holiday sights. I found a great thread here on Fodor’s that helped me out:

I had some time to explore the day I arrived, so I went to see the gingerbread house in the lobby of the Westin St. Francis, and the sugar village and beautiful display at the Fairmont in Nob Hill. I was walking through Union Square just as they were lighting the giant menorah, so I stuck around for that. It was a very moving service. Of course I saw the tree in Union Square.

After the Fairmont, I wandered over to Grace Cathedral to see if they had a nice display inside (they didn’t), and it turned out they were just about to start an Advent service. I don’t really go to church anymore, but I took advantage of the chance to walk through the cathedral singing a hymn, and I sat through a good chunk of the service. However, the service was way longer than I thought it would be, so when everyone got up to take communion I ducked out to get dinner. :)

I got out of work early one day to get over to the Presidio to see the sun set by the bridge. I was really thankful that I was able to get down to the water. One of my favorite things about San Francisco is that it’s so easy to get close to nature. It was a cloudy day, but there were some gorgeous pink skies and I got to see the Golden Gate at night. I got down to Crissy Field at about 4:30, and I’d heard that sunset was at 4:55, so I kept jogging for short hops, stopping a lot to take pictures. I loved the fact that I was the only tourist in a sea of runners and dog walkers. I think I got about ¼ mile from the bridge before the sun really started going down. I ended up climbing a short steep trail near the Warming Hut to an overlook before turning back.

Walking back to the parking lot in the dark was surreal. The path was only lit by runners and dog walkers with flashlights and headlamps. Being from NYC, I found the lack of street lights slightly worrisome, but I seemed to be completely safe.

Here are the best of the restaurants I went to:

Cafe Divine in North Beach: After my hike at the Presidio, I took a cab to North Beach. I had a lovely dinner of spinach manicotti, a nice glass of malbec, and a slice of gingerbread cake with hot chocolate. There was a 3-piece band playing Christmas music. It was a perfect moment.

Blush Wine Bar in the Castro: A college friend took me here. We had a few small plates and, of course, some great wine.

Tropisueno taqueria in Downtown: This is a regular spot for my colleagues in SF. I really liked the Super Tacos and the margaritas. :)

Catch Isle at the food court in the Westfield mall Downtown: I can’t believe I’m saying this about a food court, but I had decent fish & chips here.

Sanraku at Metreon: I know this is a sushi joint, but I had a yummy chicken teriyaki here. There were actually grill marks on the chicken, and it tasted nice and smoky.

Straits Restaurant in Burlingame: I took the train to have dinner here with my cousin and her husband. It’s family-style Asian Fusion, and everything I tried was fantastic.

The last night I was in town, I saw “The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes,” a drag reenactment of two Golden Girls episodes. It was a lot of fun and a very SF way to end the trip!

Flights: I am a travel control freak, so I was not happy about having to choose my flights by what was least expensive rather than by which airline I prefer. :) I took United out of Newark and Delta home to JFK. I hadn’t flown either of those airlines in many years. I prefered Delta. I think the plane was bigger, and I definitely had more room in my seat.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable trip!

Suzie Jan 4th, 2013 12:19 AM

Great report. Thanks for writing. I dropped my sister at SFO after dark the Sat before Christmas. As we drove toward departures the whole place was lit with lights and trees & a replica bridge. I completely did not expect it to be so festive and beautiful. I didn't get into the city though so thanks for "taking" us with you

DebitNM Jan 4th, 2013 05:08 AM

Sounds wonderful. Glad you were able to make use of the info on my thread. Our trip was canceled as we decided to go to France later this month ( a pretty good reason to cancel ) but we will head back to SF soon.

sunny16 Jan 4th, 2013 08:10 AM

Glad you guys liked it! France for SF is a great tradeoff, DebitNM!

sunny16 Jan 4th, 2013 08:11 AM

Suzie, that sounds beautiful! I never got to see SFO at night.

DebitNM Jan 4th, 2013 08:13 AM

That is for sure, sunny!

sf7307 Jan 4th, 2013 08:49 AM

<<<As we drove toward departures the whole place was lit with lights and trees & a replica bridge.>>>

Those are the "regular" Xmas decorations, since they built the "new" international terminal. I also think they're beautiful.

Sounds like a great trip. I haven't eaten at a single one of the restaurants you mentioned, and I live here! (and yes, the food court at San Francisco Centre is unusual in that there's some very decent food there)

easytraveler Jan 4th, 2013 02:10 PM

That's a great trail from the Warming Hut! You are quite the explorer!

Thanks for sharing!

sunny16 Jan 7th, 2013 11:09 AM

Yeah, I don't really like to sit still when I'm traveling. :)

I'm really hoping to explore the batteries on the Pacific side of the Presidio next time I'm out there.

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