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Old 04-25-2010, 07:41 PM   #16
ehsmum
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My problem is that my son is diabetic and has to eat on a schedule. They say no food allowed on Alcatraz at all. I emailed them and explained that we need food for medical reasons and they still said no.

I'll feed him before we get on the ferry at 10am, but he'll need to eat again at 12.30pm so if need be, we'll cut the tour short. They said the ferries leave every 30 mins so my plan is to go over on the 10am and back on the 12pm.
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Old 04-25-2010, 07:48 PM   #17
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My problem is that my son is diabetic and has to eat on a schedule. They say no food allowed on Alcatraz at all. I emailed them and explained that we need food for medical reasons and they still said no.

I'll feed him before we get on the ferry at 10am, but he'll need to eat again at 12.30pm so if need be, we'll cut the tour short. They said the ferries leave every 30 mins so my plan is to go over on the 10am and back on the 12pm.
Bummer about no food. I thought they allowed you to eat in the ferry docking area....just not in prison grounds itself. Might be worth taking a snack with you and leaving it in your bag just in case.

When you get off the ferry, they do a talk/video presention. You might want to talk to the Park Ranger and work out whether you sit down and watch this or head up to the prison. Might save you some time doing it this way. The audio headsets are triggered when you walk into the area with the apppropriate recording. So, if you walk fast to the next area, you can speed up this way as well. And if you don't like the commentary for a particular area, just keep going. Audio will turn off when you get out of range.
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Old 04-25-2010, 10:54 PM   #18
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Sausalito and North of the Bridge

Sausalito is a village that has the benefit of having views across the bay back to the Downtown area. To get here, you catch a ferry from Pier 41 and the trip takes about 50 minutes.

It sells itself as an artsy community. In my opinion, the shops are not much better than what you find at Fisherman's Wharf and are completely catering for tourists. If you are really dying for that Sausalito fridge magnet or souvenier cup, then it is worth shopping along Bridgeway. The Bridgeway shops will sell prints and artwork of the SF skyline, if you are wishing to purchase artwork.

But it still is a good outing for half a day or so - just purely for the views and the photo opportunity.

If it is an original artwork that you're looking for, then I would suggest that you head towards the 2 or 3 galleries that can be found on Princess Street. When you get off the ferry, head for Bridgeway Street. Take a left and walk past all the shops on Bridgeport. There will be a set of pedestrian lights near a T intersection, past the icecream shops. The street coming down into Bridgeway is Princess. Walk halfway up the hill. I personally like Tapia Gallery. It is run and owned by a husband and wife; both of which are artists. I have bought an original watercolour painting from her; and he does oil paintings. I thought their prices were reasonable as well.

Aside from the Bridgeway shops, I like heading towards the marina to look at the floating homes. When you get off the ferry and get to Bridgeway Street, take a left and keep walking. Past the parking space and the patch of green. You'll eventually hit a wooden walkway along the waterfront. Keep on walking; you can follow the wooden walkway...from memory, this takes about 20 minutes to walk. You'll eventually hit Richardson Bay Marina. In my opinion, the floating homes are amazing and make sure you check out the barnacles attached to the homes. There is a home there right at the end of one of the marinas that is a miniature replica of the Taj Mahal.


My favourite place to eat at Sausalito is the Cat N Fiddle. When you head towards or back from the Marina, it's about half way back to the Ferry dock. You should come across Johnson Street. The Cat N Fiddle is in a building on that corner that houses about 5 other businesses. Head towards the waterfront side of this building and it will be upstairs. It can be a bit tricky to find but the views from this place are good. The food can be anywhere from mediocre to fantastic. Service can be anywhere from rude to great!

Muir Woods is located in the Marin County side of the Bay. If you have time, it is one of those places that is worth a visit providing you like trees and the outdoors.

I've tried to visit Muir Woods 3 times. We've only made it down to see the trees once. We've always tried to visit at the weekend; and unless you go early, parking is an issue. So, we've always just gone for a drive down to the Woods, looked for parking and then just kept going on the drive. If you're taking a tour from Downtown, this may be easier...but we like hiking. So, we keep trying to visit and going for a 4 or 5 hour hike in the outdoors. At the weekend, there are a serious number of people that come for the day. Another thing about the drive is that the roads are steep and windy. So, if you are prone to being car sick, make sure you dose up before you come or bring a bag.

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Last edited by PrincessInOz; 06-17-2010 at 05:27 AM.
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Old 04-25-2010, 11:55 PM   #19
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Muir Woods is located in the Marin County side of the Bay. If you have time, it is one of those places that is worth a visit providing you like trees and the outdoors. I've tried to visit Muir Woods 3 times. We've only made it down to see the trees once. We've always tried to visit at the weekend; and unless you go early, parking is an issue. So, we've always just gone for a drive down to the Woods, looked for parking and then just kept going on the drive. If you're taking a tour from Downtown, this may be easier...but we like hiking. So, we keep trying to visit and going for a 4 or 5 hour hike in the outdoors. At the weekend, there are a serious number of people that come for the day. Another thing about the drive is that the roads are steep and windy. So, if you are prone to being car sick, make sure you dose up before you come or bring a bag.

I love Muir Woods!!!
I can't remember the days we have gone but we never had a parking issue.
It is just such a beautiful must see when we go to SanFran!
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:28 AM   #20
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Yosemite National Park

If you're not sure about visiting Yosemite, in a word....GO!

I've visited Yosemite in winter, spring and summer numerous times. Every season that I've seen it in is different and magical in it's own right.

You can take a day trip (15 hours) out of San Francisco to Yosemite. It takes roughly 3 - 3.5 hours to get to. A lot of people see Yosemite this way. For me, it is best seen halfway up the granite mountains looking down into the Valley. If you ever drive in from SF and come out of the tunnel, you'll know what I mean.

I've stayed outside the Park and I've done day trips to the Park. I've stayed in the Park at Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge and "camped" in one of the 4 bunks to a room huts/cabins. For me personally, the one I enjoyed the most was camping in the 4 bunk cabins. I don't know how you book one of these cabins - we went as part of a camping adventure group and it was part of their package. I understand that this is not for everyone....but we met a lot of people at the campsite and had a great time round the figurative camp fire. Plus I personally don't find the food options exciting at Yosemite, so the camping experience meant that we were cooking our own food.

There are quite a few easy walks along the valley and any of the floor loop walks are great; as is going to Mirror Lake and seeing the BridalVeil Falls. You'll see a lot of squirrels and in spring, there should be heaps of deers around as well. We've never been fortunate enough to see a bear at Yosemite (but we've seen them at other parks).

We were lucky enough in one of our visits to time it so that it was late spring/early summer and the waterfalls were all quite full. And one of the nights that we were there was a full moon night. Perfect conditions to catch a moonbow over the lower Yosemite Falls. With the right camera settings and exposure, the photo opportunity on a night like this is AMAZING! The other postcard spot is sunset at Sentinel Bridge. The sun hits Half Dome and it glows in reds, oranges and pinks. And it all reflects off the Merced River. I've easily spent the better part of an hour (or more) just standing around on the bridge on at least two occasions to take it all in and to try and get that perfect shot.

My favourite walk in the entire park is climbing up the sides of Vernal and Nevada Falls. It is moderately strenuous. I recommend that you do this in summer and with good walking non-slip shoes. You will get sprayed on and the rocks are slippery in parts.
I'd also recommend the Panoramic Trail. I wouldn't do either trail in winter.

And no, I've never climbed all the way up to the top of Half Dome. I've gotten to the base of Half Dome and if you want to climb it, I'd advise that you take the donkey trail up from the valley. It is longer but because it goes up at a consistent gradient, it saves your legs and your energy for the upper climb. I've also never hit the heights of El Capitan.

If you have a car, then your range is going to be much broader. We love going to the southern part of the park and going to Mariposa Grove. "There be sequoias in them there grove."

You can also drive to Glacier Point to the look out there, instead of walking it .

The other part of the park that we venture to with a car is over Tioga Pass to Tuolumne Meadows. If you get there in late spring/early summer, the wildflowers and wild life is unbelievable. You can head out of the park this way towards Mono Lake and all the way to Lake Tahoe. The drive is pretty spectacular.

And don't forget to check out the Ansel Adams Gallery in the Village when you get there.

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Old 04-27-2010, 06:34 AM   #21
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Sacramento - the California State Capitol

Sacramento is roughly 2 hours drive east of San Francisco.

We went there in 2007 as part of a music colloquium and stayed in one of the dorms of the California State University Sacramento, right along the river.

Prior to this stay, we had driven through on the way to Lake Tahoe.

I also saw a little bit of Sacramento, with most of my time taken up with attending the colloquium. So, keep this in mind when you read this post about things to do in Sacramento.

Sacramento city center is very easy to get around. It is all laid out in a perfect square with incremental numbered streets in one direction and increasing lettered streets in the pependicular direction. I thought it had a reasonable bus system which takes you all round the downtown area.

As the state capital, it has a rather impressive state capitol building and a historic governor's mansion. No, Arnie does not live in the governor's mansion.

Attractions that I enjoyed:
California State Railway Museum. I decided to go visit because the entry fee was reasonable and I had about an hour to kill. For the $7 or $8 entry fee, this museum just blew me away. There were so many trains and so many displays to look at and you can get really close up and personal with all the steam and diesel engines you can dream of.

There's even an old dining cart complete with the original fine china used for first class passengers!

I ended up coming back again later in the evening so that I could spend more time exploring the museum (same ticket valid all day). If you were driving past, I highly recommend that you stop by the Old Sacramento site and visit this museum.


Old Sacramento. Buildings in this area are all wooden and as near original as they could maintain. Old Sacramento is right along the riverfront and there are restaurants and souvenier shops here. It's rather "wild west/cowboy" and takes you back to what it would have been like to be in California during the Gold Rush era.

Sutter's Fort. John Sutter was about 150 years ahead of his time. This place is the equivalent of a shopping mall! When the pioneers went west, Sutter's Fort was one of those places they stopped at to rest up and get provisions.




There's the Baker's delight, the Bunnings shop, the House shop, the restaurant, the bed and breakfast, the smithy....

A little bit out of Sacramento, on the way to Lake Tahoe, you'll find a pretty little town called Placerville (the "Plac" is pronounced the same way you would pronounce it in "Placid").

This place used to be called "Hangtown". The town used to be the place where law breakers were convicted and hung. The main street of town is about 1/2 mile in length (it's a very small town) and I spent about 1 - 1.5 hours hanging out here (pun intended), including coffee time.

At the Lake Tahoe end of Placerville, I counted at least 15 law offices. I'm not sure whether this is a hangover of the olden days, but there is still a court in this little town; hence the lawyers. Down the Sacramento end of the town, there is a bar that claims to have the hanging post where the deed was done.

If you're chasing the historic California experience, then this is one town worth stopping at.

Of the restaurants I ate at in Sacramento, the one worth recommending was Tapa the World - you guessed it - Spanish food and I thought the food was pretty good here. We went as a group of about 30 people and everyone's meals looked great. I had stuffed peppers and it was delicious.

Retail Malls
There are the standard range of shops in the Downtown Plaza Shopping Mall. I also shopped at the Arden Fair Mall, which is near CSUS.

Outlet Malls
Folsom Mall - http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=27
Vacaville Premium Outlets - http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=50

Did I enjoy my time in Sacramento? Yes, I did...and a lot of it had to do with the fact that we were part of a group of about 75 people and we had a great time hanging out with them.

Would I recommend that you go to Sacramento? Well, that depends. It depends on whether it is part of an overall driving trip around NorCal and it depends on how much time you have.

The experience that I got out of Sacramento was one of historic gold rush California. If this is what you are looking for, then yes - it is worth the trip.

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Last edited by PrincessInOz; 06-17-2010 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:32 AM   #22
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Thread has been updated with some photos in the various posts...Enjoy!

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Old 06-17-2010, 06:44 AM   #23
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Thankyou PrincessInOz, I've been to SFC a few times but never thought about doing a day trip to Yosemite, am now going to look in to it for next Jan. Was also planning on the State Rail Museum and seeing those couple of pics convinced me that its a great idea!
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:40 PM   #24
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Dscount clothing

We go to San Francisco every two years to visit family. If you around any of the suburban shopping centres, look for "Marshalls". This is a chain that gets all the overstocks from the big department stores. We always pick up amazing bargains - Ralph Lauren clothing for ourselves and our boys for $5 a piece, nike jumbers for the same etc. Plus, they have a lot of of season clothing which Aussies can wear as soon as they get home.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:13 AM   #25
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Just remembered this thread and came to mine it for information!!!

So I'm wondering the best cities and towns for history??
I love cities like NYC and Chicago and their skylines.
But I also ADORE the homes in sfo (painted ladies) and brownstones in Boston and those is Charleston SC.

Are there any places around that are worth visiting for their Architectural merit?
Old Sacramento might be worth a visit. We love the Jelly Belly factory and could make it part of that (oh the sacrifices) ...but would consider heading south as well?

We've been to SFO multiple times and are looking for something a bit different...or might not have heard of.....
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:01 AM   #26
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The best ghost town I've been to is Bodie; which is right on the border with Nevada. If you're chasing the Oregon Trail, then Bodie might be worth a stop. Note - I haven't been there in years!

If you want to stay in the Bay area and Silicon Valley, then around Los Gatos and (I've heard that) San Jose could be good for architecture. Los Gatos is a small town; but real pretty. I've always wanted to go to San Jose but never quite made it into the Old Town area.

There's the Winchester Mystery House...
And catching the steam or diesel train from Felton to the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Or drive to Santa Cruz.

I also like Stamford University for its architecture. And they have the Linear Accelerator there.

All of these are within 35 - 60 minutes from the Downtown area.

I also like going to Asilomar instead of Carmel/Monterey.

The other thing worth seeking out is the old Californian Missions. I went to one in Fremont (across the bay) and found it quite interesting. You could chase the Missions down south...
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:44 PM   #27
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Thanks oh Fountain of Knowledge!

I'm not really into ghost towns. The only Ghosts I visit live in my Mansions in Orlando and Anaheim. [For anyone thinking of doing the same...I'm booked into being the 1000th happy haunt]

I'll look into these places... and that is an interesting thread following missions. Might look into places with bungalows etc. Might also look up the buildings by that disaster of an architect called FLW.....

Any more ideas my eyes and ears are open!!
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:10 AM   #28
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Well, if it's Frank Lloyd Wright you are chasing....have you ever been to Sedona (stop off at Scottsdale) and then chase the Anasazi Indian trail? You'd want to check out Mesa Verda and the cave dwellings there if you have time. Or Canyon de Chelly.

I can EASILY spend 3 days in Sedona.
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:52 AM   #29
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Sedona seems a bit tooooo far to go...we have already done Death Valley, Grand Canyon etc
I could spend weeks exploring the desert areas though...
I have a whole list of places to visit in the desert still...

We did Monterey Bay Aquarium (Sea otters...what can I say) last time but didn't especially look along the way so I'll definitely look more at that Los Gatos and Santa Cruz idea

ETA...anyone going a first trip this is WHY I love Monterey



AND...of course Jelly Belly

Last edited by queenie82; 07-06-2010 at 06:19 AM. Reason: Wanted to add some photos of my favourite attractions
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Old 07-06-2010, 06:12 AM   #30
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If you're going down that side of the bay, stop at San Mateo and Palo Alto (where Stamford is based) as well. And I assume that you'll drive, take the Skyline Drive if you can. I also like visiting Half Moon Bay. It's a very, very little town and full of cheesy tourist shops; but I find the drive across the 92 really pretty.

Sedona is a little bit different to Grand Canyon and Death Valley. Think Red Center at 6000 feet, pine trees, beautiful creek and one of the UFO capitals of the world. There are quite a few psychics in Sedona as there are about 8 or 9 energy vortex' centred in Sedona. If you are thinking of Sedona, check out the town of Jerome as well. Perhaps on another trip.
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