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Old 04-14-2013, 10:29 AM   #1
mjtm610
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San Francisco questions??

We are going to a wedding in Napa this summer. It will be our first time in that area. We thought we would make a vacation out of it and spend a few day in San Francisco too. It will just be the 2 of us! How wonderful is that?
Any suggestions would be welcome. We have checked out Trip Advisor, but without knowing anything about the area we couldn't make any decisions.
Thanks in advance for the help!
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Old 04-14-2013, 10:46 AM   #2
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Make sure to visit the Disney Family Museum.

It's a wonderful experience.
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Old 04-14-2013, 11:12 AM   #3
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We were in San Fran last October & would suggest taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour - the Big Bus Company is I believe the best.

Definitely a visit to Alcatraz should be on your 'to do' list - but do buy your tickets in advance! They often sell out. There is just one boat service over there & we bought our tickets online from their website.

We were so lucky on our trip that there was no fog - be prepared for the fog to move in at any time though & take layers.

If you have enough time, visit Sausalito - it is a waterfront town across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco - picturesque! Have a look at more info online to see if you would like to visit.
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Old 04-14-2013, 11:21 AM   #4
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Agreed - the Disney Family Museum is spectacular, we could have spent a full day there rather than the half day we allocated when we were last there two years ago.

San Francisco is a great town, the "regular" tourist stuff is fun to see.

Lombard St, cable cars, Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf/Ghiradelli Square etc.

Sausalito is also a fun town, not far away.

Muir Woods is also worth seeing if you are renting a car.

In Napa, the Napa River Inn is a great B&B.

Downtown Napa has been undergoing a resurgence lately, lots of shops, cafes and restaurants.

Cole's Chop House in Napa is a great steak house.

If you want to tour the vineyards, think about booking a limo wine tour.

Limo tours are not that expensive and the drivers really know where the best places to taste and stop for lunch are. The tasting rooms are not usually allowed to serve food due to local health codes (they need a restaurant license to serve food).

Have fun!

Last edited by skunkvette; 04-14-2013 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 04-14-2013, 12:32 PM   #5
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I agree with all the above (though I haven't done everything). What we have done (or want to do in one case).

Chinatown - there are plenty of kitschy and touristy shops but it has a certain appeal and if you get beyond the touristy, you find plain diners that serve great Chinese food for not a lot of money. Some of the tourist shops had some nice items for not a lot of money. I was fascinated just watching fortune cookies be made at a place you entered off of an alley

Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The "Batteries" north of the Golden Gate Bridge have the iconic views of San Francisco.



Bay Bridge Lights - http://thebaylights.org I'm using this as an excuse just to go to San Francisco. Depending on when you get back from Alcatraz, you could walk toward the bridge along the Embarcadero and just take in the views and shops. One of the ferries to Sausalito leaves from the ferry building and it has a market place and restaurants we have enjoyed. This isn't the typical mall experience. http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com

Of all the places we have stayed, I enjoyed staying around Union Square Park http://unionsquarepark.us. The hotel costs were not bad at all compared to the touristy hotels along Fisherman's Wharf especially if you can get a good weekend rate. It is centrally located, on or close to the trolly lines, and within walking distance to pretty much everything.

To us, more so than almost any city, San Francisco is about just walking around an experiencing it. Within a matter of a few blocks you can go from high end shopping (Union Square) to the simple shops in China Town. There is even a gorgeous hotel bar/restaurant in or near the financial district supposedly frequented by Mark Twain. I had dinner there a while back but a local will have to direct you to it as I don't recall the exact location.

Take warm clothes. Even in summer. Especially in summer. (I mean, the ushers wear parkas at Giants' night games in July, the vendors sell out of warm nuts) But if you forget, there are plenty of sweatshirts in the tourist shops along fisherman's wharf (which is entirely touristy / watch out for "plants" that attack you).
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:24 PM   #6
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Thank you so much!!!!
I forgot about the Disney Family museum......there's so much to see! Do you have any suggestions about what area to stay?
Thanks!
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Old 04-15-2013, 04:55 AM   #7
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I would also say Muir Woods is not to be missed. Will you be visiting wineries in Napa?
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:41 AM   #8
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While you are at the Disney Museum (which was my favorite thing of all in SF) take one of the free bus tours of the Presidio. The museum is on the grounds, and the tour of the grounds was fascinating. I knew nothing about the Presidio before going out there, but it is a self-funded National Park and is beautiful. I only wish we had walked over to the cemetery to walk around we saw it from the park bus. The driver/guide was a National Park ranger. Ask the people in the museum to direct you to the right place.

If you are able to walk, and to walk hills, I also highly recommend Alcatraz, as others have. It was much more interesting than I expected.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:56 AM   #9
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Oh yes, we also loved Muir Woods and Muir Beach. Stinson Beach is near there and was also nice.

Also there is a cable car museum that is worth seeing. Takes less than an hour to tour, but really fascinating. The cables are literally running through it on these big spool things. I had no idea how they worked. Be sure to go downstairs to see the underground cable system. There are windows you can see them through. My husband is an engineer (not of train)and loved this museum.

We stayed at the Chancellor hotel downtown. It was actually hot when we were in SF last June, and that hotel doesn't have AC. Also, we had not desire to shop, and wish we'd stayed down by the Ghiradelli place even though we didn't go eat there. The hotel I saw that I wished we had stayed in was the Argonaut. I wished we had stayed there or at the little inn out at the Presidio. I did not enjoy the downtown area.

Another place I wasn't crazy about was the natural history museum, whatever it is called. The building was the only thing that impressed me about it, but we also didn't have kids with us. However, it is at Golden Gate park, and I wish we had taken more time to just roam around that huge park. I think it's a state park, but I could be wrong. There was another museum by it (maybe a modern art one?), and we should have gone to it instead.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:00 AM   #10
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What types of things do you like to do? I grew up right near there. There are so any beautiful spots in the city and so many "must sees" that it would be hard to narrow them down to 2 days.

Yes be prepared for fog and cool weather. Especially in the morning. Sometimes it burns off in the afternoon but not always.

Some of my favorite days are spent exploring Golden Gate Park (rent a bike or just walk), enjoy the Japanese Tea Graden, walk all the way to the windmills, visit Shakespeare's Garden and bring a picnic lunch. Go to the flower conservatory. Visit The California Academy of Sciences (amazing aquarium/science/natural history museum). The zoo is fun too (but it is not as good as say the San Diego zoo).

A great day can be spent starting with breakfast at the Cliff House (good food with amazing views) and then a walk along the Pacific Coast Trail that will give you amazing views of the bridge.

The traditional touristy stuff is fun- China town (great food), Pier 39 and seeing all the seals, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz.

There is lots of amazing food in SF. Our favorite is Chow- yum! Delicious food and a little funky with a San Francisco vibe (and affordable). You'll find great food everywhere. Lots of amazing seafood by the Wharf.

Good luck deciding (and yes, the Disney museum IS great).
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:38 AM   #11
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I can't thank you all enough!!! We will be spending 3 nights in the wine country. The wedding party has planned several activities, wine tasting, tours, etc for those days.
Our thought was to extend the trip another 3-4 days and see San Francisco.
We are what my DH refers to as "wanderers" We love to walk around and poke around. We have lived all our lives in the Chicago area. We still will pick out an area we don't know and "stroll" around. We like to bike, swim, walk, eat......all those good traits we learned at WDW!
We are so looking forward to this!
Thanks for all your tips.
PS. We have friends that have been there before....and I've been surprising them with my "suggestions" that I've gleamed from all you guys!
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:40 AM   #12
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What would you think of staying in Salusilito and taking the ferry to SF?
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:02 PM   #13
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Sausalito is a very charming little city, fun to walk around. It is also a very expensive place to stay (as is SF). A friend of mine and his wife are the managers of Casa Madrona in Sausalito and it is a very nice hotel. Do you plan on having a car while you are there? Do you plan on taking the ferry over and then using taxis to get around? Keep in mind the ferries don't go all night.

I don't stay in hotels often in that area since my parents live there. But a couple of times for fun we have pricelined a hotel in the city and have gotten a good price. Keep in mind the parking fees are really high (like $40+ per night). If you go into it knowing that then consider that when looking at hotel prices and you won't be disappointed by the surprise.
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:51 PM   #14
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Hi, I live near SF so would be happy to help you out - all of the suggestions above are great. Remember near the WD Family Museum (Presidio) is one of Lucas films campuses. It's fun to visit the Yoda statue and a great place to eat by the museum is the Presidio Social Club. The Presidio is a national park so bring your "passport" to get stamped. Presidio is also near Golden Gate Park. If you can afford the Hilton or Hyatt you would get decent modern accommodations (near/at Union sq) - great shopping at Union Sq. Send me a PM if you want to talk or I can help with anything else
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Old 04-17-2013, 12:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtm610
We are what my DH refers to as "wanderers" We love to walk around and poke around. We have lived all our lives in the Chicago area. We still will pick out an area we don't know and "stroll" around. We like to bike, swim, walk, eat......all those good traits we learned at WDW!
We are so looking forward to this!
Thanks for all your tips.
One thing to remember -maps are flat, San Fran ..not so much! This from our trip a few years ago when I told my wife a place was right around the corner ...and up a HUGE hill.
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