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Old 01-28-2013, 05:30 PM   #1
ms.yt
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San Francisco

`I'm going to be coming to San Francisco in April for a convention. I'll have three high school students with me, and we're planning on doing a bit of sightseeing while we're there. We know for sure we want to visit Alcatraz, the Golden Gate bridge and Chinatown. I have a few questions that I thought you might be able to help with.
1. Is it worth it to do the night tour of Alcatraz? I saw online that it's the preferred tour, but I thought it might be really hard to get good pictures at night.

2. How is the walking tour of the Golden Gate bridge? Part of me wants to do it, but part of me is really scared of the idea.

3. Would you recommend visiting Chinatown with a tour group or just wandering around on our own?

4. I've never had dim sum, and I'd love to try it while we're in Chinatown. What are some good places?
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:12 PM   #2
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We did the night tour of Alcatraz on our family vacation in October, and we enjoyed it. It was spookier, said my 11 yr old son. It's really twilight as you approach the island by boat, so I got some good pics of the outside. While on the island, I got some really amazing pictures of San Francisco at night. They also have some extra demonstrations and talks at night that you don't get during the day. However, you can't explore the rest of the island when you go at night. So, it's a trade off.

Can't comment about the Golden Gate Bridge tour or wandering through Chinatown. We did a wonderful 1/2 day tour with Dylan's Tours that took us through all of the neighborhoods, across the bridge, and to Muir Woods redwood forest. It was wonderful! I highly recommend it if you have time.
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:19 PM   #3
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The night tour of Alcatraz is worth the extra money. They do extra little educational talks and stuff- my DH and I thought it was great!

We didn't do a walking tour of the Golden Gate, but when I was there before with my dad for a family reunion, we did a "cable car" tour that took us all over the place, and stopped a few times so we could get out. One of the places it stopped was the Golden Gate, so we were able to get off the trolley and walk around, under the bridge, and then across it- but not all the way. We didn't have time for that. But it was still good- good enough for us!

I have never been to Chinatown, so I can't comment on that.

I guess since you are with high school students, a wine tour is out. That was one of my favorite things when my DH and I went- a tour of Muir Woods and Sonoma. LOVED LOVED LOVED it!! It is BEAUTIFUL there!!!
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:25 PM   #4
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We wander around Chinatown ourselves, even though we are close enough to just "drop in" it isn't something we regularly do, but when we do we just walk around Chinatown by ourselves. To be honest I haven't found a restaurant for Dim Sum that I would recommend, we are still trying to find that perfect place to go. We usually just see one that looks good and walk in, we've had some hits and some misses but nothing so horrible that we feel the need to remember where it was so we never go back. lol

We've walked across the bridge, it is scary for me if I look over the edge but just walking on the path isn't scary, we just park and self walk it.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:04 PM   #5
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DD moved to SF in Nov...she hits Chinatown after work some times. She has not had Dim Sum tho, sorry, no help there! She is a fan of exploring on your own vs tour group, however....safety first. She sticks mainly to Jackson (her studio is on that street) and Hyde street is sort of a boundary for her, she stays east of it for the most part if on her own. She said co-workers say night tour for Alcatraz, walking tour of GG Bridge-take it or leave it. She suggest the Walt Disney museum, and you are right near GG park there. Also Lucas Films, take a tour!
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:09 PM   #6
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Muir Woods is a must-see!!
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:13 PM   #7
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We did the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in one day. We rented bicycles at the pier/Fisherman's Wharf. We rode along the bay and stopped at the Walt Disney Family Museum. After that we continued on to the Golden Gate Bridge and rode over it. The bridge has a separate bike/pedestrian lane. We stopped for lunch in Sausalito(the city on the other side of the bridge). We then took our bicycles on the ferry, and it went across the bay and back to the pier where we originally rented the bicycles. We dropped the bikes off, and walked to the dock for the Alcatraz night tour(it's actually still light out when the tour begins).

Another area you might like is the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. There's some interesting landmarks/shopping/dining in that area.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:13 PM   #8
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If you're going to San Franscisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

sorry, I couldn't resist.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:23 PM   #9
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philagoofy View Post
If you're going to San Franscisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

sorry, I couldn't resist.
He most definitely wrote a song that gets stuck in one's head. RIP Scott McKinzie
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:28 PM   #11
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Make sure to get your Alcatraz tix well ahead of time. I had read you could get them a week out, but they were totally sold out for the entire week we were there, three weeks out.

Muir Woods is a must do. We just drove over the Golden Gate Bridge a couple of times. We did ride the cable car and rode the ferry from Sausalito and back. We also visited Fort Mason (not much to see, but a good vantage point for the America's Cup Races) and Point Bonita Lighthouse. If you have time, I'd make the time to visit Sonoma and one of the wineries or, if you are like DH and I, a brewery.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:29 PM   #12
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Wok Wiz tours of Chinatown. The longest one ends in a good dimsum restaurant.
www.wokwiz.com

Yes, the night tour of Alcatraz is really cool but so many great things at night in SFO. Have never walked the bridge. Sounds fun/edgy.

Coit Tower at sunset is fun!
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Muir Woods is a must-see!!
Hmm, I've been there and while it was enjoyable, I'd rather spend quality time IN San Francisco than taking that amt of time to get up to Muir. What about it puts Muir on your 'must see'?
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:26 AM   #14
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They have the hop on/off buses. They will take you to the bridge, Haight Ashbury, the Painted Ladies.
I would definitely want to ride a cable car. Ghirridelli is up that way by the cable car stop. Boudin sour dough bread is a must.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:28 AM   #15
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Muir Woods is a must see....unless you've seen the giant redwoods before. Most people have never seen trees like you see in Muir Woods, and if you are one of those people, they are spectacular. If you don't like the out of doors, and are an urban only person, by all means, skip Muir Woods and let those of us who enjoy it have more space. (It's always pretty busy!).

I wouldn't eat Dim Sum anywhere on Grant Street. Those places are for tourists. Look for the places that are on the side streets off Grant, and preferably one that has a large number of Chinese people in it. Best yet....the menu is only in Chinese.

I'd never pay for a walking tour of the GGB. Park on one end or the other, and take a walk. It's very accessible. And, not scary. Really. Except for the traffic involved in getting there.

You might take a look at some of the museums in Golden Gate Park. I love the natural history museum and the De Young Museum. They are both excellent, and not terribly expensive.

Also, I always tell people to completely skip Fisherman's Wharf. What a tourist trap. People who ignore my advice generally come back and say "you were right!" It is no longer an operating wharf, and is just a collection of ticky tacky tourist shops. You can do better!
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