SAN FRANCISCO First Time Trip

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by Muddy Rivers, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. Muddy Rivers

    Muddy Rivers Mouseketeer

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    I would love to get suggestions for our first time trip to SF. A family of 4, DH, DS (19), DS (16) for a June trip (10 days). Would like to see Yosemite also. We did southern Calif & Disneyland 2 years ago, so we won't be heading south this time.

    Would love suggestions for dining (especially brew pubs for DH as well).

    What are your best experiences with:

    Rental cars
    Restaurants
    Hotels
    Disney Museum
    All other "tourist" attractions worth seeing

    Not sure how much we can fit in 8 days (2 days I put aside for flying in/home).
     
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  3. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    8 days doesn't sound bad. SF can be well covered in 3 very well. I'd suggest getting the car and going to Yosmite first, and getting rid of the car back in SF.

    For the top tourist attraction look at the citypass, consider the alcatraz option. With this you get the muni pass, that is good for the busses trolleys and cable cars.

    I'd consider staying on the cable car line to keep transit easy.
     
  4. usnuzuloose

    usnuzuloose DIS Veteran

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    If you dont have a car you can take the bus or trolley all the way down to the other end of the piers going toward the baseball stadium and go through the san fransico air market, they have stores and resturants and all kinds of food tasting. You can buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Nuts and candies and flowers. Great view of the golden gate bridge. You can walk across the bridge or take a bike ride. Alcatraz is a great site to walk through. Make sure you take your cameraa. There are many great resturants on the peir. Heading the other way you can go to the big boudins bakery and watch them make breads and buy them. Make sure to get pics. They shape the loafs into all sorts of things like crabs, turtles, lobsters etc.. You can down to ghiredelli square and get ice cream. Downtown they have all the upscale store to shop at. I love looking through them as well. Hope this helps you a little.
     
  5. Muddy Rivers

    Muddy Rivers Mouseketeer

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    Thanks so much. Yes, we will have a car with us, so that makes it easier.

    Since we can't get reservations at Ahwahnee in Yosemite, I guess we will have to stay somewhere outside of the park. Any suggestions?

    The Ahwahnee looks magnificent. We would like to eat either at its dining room or the dining room at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Has anyone eaten there? Is it worth it?

    Any suggestions in tackling the park, what to see, when, etc would be great. We don't do alot of hiking. Wondering if the bus tour vs the car works better?
     
  6. usnuzuloose

    usnuzuloose DIS Veteran

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    You know i cant help there I have lived here for so many yrs and never went there.
     
  7. mamacatnv

    mamacatnv That be a Mum Y'all - a Texas Mum

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    I can help with the city but not Yosemite. I've lived in or around California my whole life and have never been.

    As for San Francisco, we just got back from our 4th trip this year. We LOVE the city and go often for the museums, the food, the culture and an occassional sporting event.

    I would arrive, rent a car, go to Yosemite, return to the city, perhaps drive over the Golden Gate Bridge up to the redwoods and then I would return the rental car and use feet, trolley, Cable Car, Muni, BART and Taxi's to navigate the city. Parking in the city can be difficult to find and exhorbitant when you do find it.

    I would purchase CityPasses - they offer tons of attractions and are especially nice in that they include unlimited Muni, Trolley and Cable Car rides. Cable Cars are $5 each way per person, a transit pass will save you tons!

    What type of accomodations and price range are you seeking for the SFO leg of your trip?

    What type of things do you like to do? Is this a shopping trip? Sightseeing? Cultural (Museums etc)? Do you like history, are walking tours of interest etc?
     
  8. GrandBob

    GrandBob Grand events should not go unnoticed

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    There are a couple of areas to consider - primarily either west or south.

    The town of El Portal is west of the park, right outside the route 140 entrance. It's the closest you can get to Yosemite Valley without staying in the park. Probably 15-20 minutes to the valley. It's a very small town, with just a couple of motels. And they are motels, not hotels. But we've stayed at Yosemite View Lodge, and it was nice. Not an outstanding resort or anything, but a nicely kept, modern motel that's convenient to the park and situated on the Merced River

    Or you can go south. The lodging south of the park varies from motels to nicer resorts. So you can get nicer, but also keep in mind that it's further from Yosemite Valley - probably close to an hour to get to the valley. It is convenient to the Sequoia groves at the south entrance, though. A couple of choices come to mind.

    In the park itself is the Wawona Lodge. Older and rustic, but fairly fancy. Kind of like a less tony Awahnee.

    South of there, in Fish Camp, is Tenaya Lodge. Have stayed here too, and it's a very nice resort. Much more resort hotel feel than anything in El Portal. Both this and Wawona can be pricey.

    In any case, don't stay any farther away than El Portal to the west, or Oakhurst to the south. I've seen lots of ads for "Yosemite lodging" from places as far as Mariposa. Let me tell you, if you stay in Mariposa, be prepared for an hour drive each way, through a very twisty, nerve-wracking canyon. As noted, the drive from the south can also be 45 minutes to an hour, but it's a much more pleasant drive.

    HTH,
    Bob
     
  9. GrandBob

    GrandBob Grand events should not go unnoticed

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    BTW, you said you couldn't get into the Awahnee, but have you checked other in-park lodging options? Yosemite Logde? Curry Village?

    Yosemite Lodge, while somewhat rustic, would be *much* more convenient than anything outside the park.

    -Bob
     
  10. Muddy Rivers

    Muddy Rivers Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for all of the advice. As far as the type of trip, it is the "typical 1st time tourist, see alittle bit of everything trip". We are up for all we have time for.

    Thanks for the Yosemite advice. I have some research now ahead of me but at least you pointed me in the right direction.
     
  11. mamacatnv

    mamacatnv That be a Mum Y'all - a Texas Mum

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    There are several SFO threads here in the California & the west section, I would take a look at them too.

    CityPass - I highly recommend
    http://www.citypass.com/san-francisco?mv_source=partnerfusion&cmpid=google_CityPass%20-%20san%20francisco&gclid=CNespem***YCFQkSbAodekZRHg

    City Guides - Free walking tours of just about every attraction you can think of. We have done the ChinaTown and the Golden Gate Bridge tour - really enjoyed them both.
    http://www.sfcityguides.org/

    My favorite Museums:
    California Academy of Sciences
    http://www.calacademy.org/
    The Exploratorium - totally hands on - fun for all ages - a visit to the tactile dome is worth the extra $5 - make ressies ahead of time
    http://www.exploratorium.edu/
    The Deyoung
    http://deyoung.famsf.org/
    The Disney Family Museum - allow 3-4 hours at least, there is tons of reading involved.
    http://disney.go.com/disneyatoz/familymuseum/
    For fun:
    http://www.boudinbakery.com/at-the-wharf
    Fortune Cookie Factory:
    http://www.sanfranciscochinatown.com/attractions/ggfortunecookie.html


    On our wish list or waiting for DD to be old enough list:
    GoCars
    http://www.sanfranciscotours.us/?event=offer.type&productType=CAR&mpt=1570&name=Fun%20Car%20Rentals%20in%20San%20Francisco
    Segways
    http://www.electrictourcompany.com/?gclid=COKfo8OiuKYCFQcKbAodkk3MIA
    Bike
    http://www.blazingsaddles.com/
    http://www.bicyclerental.com/

    My favorite lodging - its cheap, clean and in a great neighborhood
    Travelodge Golden Gate at 2230 Lombard St. corner of Steiner/Lombard in Cow Hollow oh and free parking!

    My favorite attractions:
    ChinaTown - we love it, take a walk along Stockton St. and wander into the markets. Get a "bubble tea" we like TenRen on Grant Street.
    Walk from ChinaTown to the Wharf via Columbus.
    Lombard from Cow Hollow to Columbus - warning very very steep! We walked up from Cow Hollow and then down the crooked part.
    Take a cable car ride, there are several lines, we like the California/Van Ness because it is a bit less touristy.
    Walk the span of the Golden Gate Bridge - the views and the "feel" are amazing.
    Tour Alcatraz - night or day, both tours offer something different, go with what fits your schedule best but make ressies in advance it sells out quickly, especially in the summer.
    Walk up to Coit Tower and view the murals

    Take layers, the city can be cold and foggy
     
  12. weHEARTmickey

    weHEARTmickey Dreamin' of Disney.......

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    Oh, this brings back so many wonderful, yet difficult memories! I took my sweet Mom to Monterey Bay & San Francisco last July for her "bucket list trip" the week before she died. :sad1: I cannot wait to take my family there to show them the things that Mimi loved :cloud9: If you get a chance, maybe you could drive to Monterey & go whale watching in the am, & rush through the Aquarium in the afternoon? (Of course, you could spend 3 days at the Aquarium, but I figured you'd only want to spend 1 day here.)

    One of my favorite things was Alcatraz. Just MAKE SURE you bundle up on this day! We were there mid July & nearly froze. :rotfl: You'll want to take tons of pictures outside & it's just so cold. We also enjoyed seeing "Wicked" at the Orpheum, although your crew may not enjoy that! (Don't even know if it's still in SF?) And I'll end my post with the obvious...GHIRADELLI! :banana: :lovestruc
     
  13. Muddy Rivers

    Muddy Rivers Mouseketeer

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    Wow! Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I'm getting excited already.

    Besides Ghiardelli's, In n Out Burger and Fisherman's Wharf restaurants, are there any other not to be missed dining treats in the San Francisco area?

    We are experts when it comes to planning WDW vacations but this is a whole new area to us.

    I know the WDW forums have a "What is Your Favorite Snack" thread. Does anyone have a favorite fast food/restaurant/brew pub or snack that we should definitely try?

    :)
     
  14. medicjch

    medicjch Mouseketeer

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    Lots of good info here on this thread so far and I am enjoying the tips. The wife and I are planning an Anniversary Trip to SF this spring, so I am looking for all the tips I can find. We are still undecided as to what exactly we want to do.....Alcatraz is a must. I'm sure the wife wants to do some shopping, and I know we want to drive down to Monterey.
     
  15. mamacatnv

    mamacatnv That be a Mum Y'all - a Texas Mum

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    Our Favorite eats:
    SourDough Bread bowls at Boudins on the Wharf, other than that IMO wharf food is over priced and not all that great unless you get into the really high end places such as Aliotos or Scoma.
    http://www.boudinbakery.com/
    http://www.aliotos.com/history.htm
    http://www.scomas.com/

    Washington Street Bakery - China Town - 1/2 block below Grant St.
    http://www.washingtonbakerysf.com/
    Bubble Tea in Chinatown:
    http://www.tenren.com/california.html

    Barneys Gourmet Burgers - we frequent the Cow Hollow on Steiner location
    http://www.barneyshamburgers.com/

    The Stinking Rose - On Columbus
    http://www.thestinkingrose.com/about.htm

    Now, I know that Ghirardelli is a tradition but IMO Swensons or Mitchells is much better. Ghirardelli is spendy, super crowded and average in the ice cream dept. I would hands down buy their chocolate but the ice cream we skip and go elsewhere.
    Swensons:
    http://www.swensens.com/
    Mitchells:
    http://www.mitchellsicecream.com/

    San Francisco has very stringent health codes. You can eat safely just about anywhere, remember that while wandering thru ChinaTown, try a few things, you might be surprised :goodvibes.
    Check out Yelp.com for lots of restaurant reviews or to search for a specific food type. The City is full of amazing restaurants, cafes, bars and bakeries. We never come home hungry!
     
  16. disneydenisel

    disneydenisel DIS Veteran

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    We absolutely :love: LOVED :love: the Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio. I can't say enough wonderful things about it. Well done, beautiful, sentimental. I was in tears at the end. Definitely worth the hefty price for tickets. We had two adults and two children, I think it was $60-70? We left for lunch and walked to the nearby bowling alley where there was decent food like burgers, hot dogs, fries, etc. Otherwise, I think the food options at the Museum are sandwiches, plus the line was long.

    Monterey Bay Aquarium is really nice, but if you have seen some nice aquariums, then you don't need to drive down there, though it is fun to visit that area...Cannery Row is nice to walk around.

    We also loved the Academy of Sciences, which is pricey and fairly new. Really pretty, nice to be in Golden Gate Park, too. Beware of summer crowds there.

    Sounds like a great trip!
     
  17. Muddy Rivers

    Muddy Rivers Mouseketeer

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    Thanks to everyone for your ideas. We are thinking of perhaps skipping Yosemite this time and driving down the coast to see those sights, if the car rental (picking up in SF and dropping off in LA) doesn't become cost prohibitive. Of couse we would end up in Anaheim and squeeze in a couple of days in DL. How can I resist?

    That said, has anyone gotten any good deals on rental cars for June?
     
  18. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    As far as Fast Food, a trip to California requires me to goto an In and Out. Animal style burger and Neopolitan shake. It's not on the menu :teacher:


    I would do Day 1 stopping in Monterrey you can see some redwoods on the way. Day two stop in Cambria or Morrow Bay, Hearst Castle on that segment or the next morning. Day 3 arrive in LA.

    I seem to remember some rental company signs in the Fishermans warf area. Also in a hotel near Union Square. So don't limit yourself to going to SFO to pick up a car.

    Some people like to priceline rentals.
     
  19. Muddy Rivers

    Muddy Rivers Mouseketeer

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    We learned about In N Out on our last trip and loved it. We learned how to order off the menu. We are looking forward to In N Out on this trip almost as much as Disneyland! Wish they had them on the East Coast.
     
  20. lcasa

    lcasa DIS Veteran

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    I wanted to 2nd that last comment - with the ages of your kids it will be a perfect way to really introduce them to the genius that was Walt Disney. Allow at least 4 hours I'd say - I spent 4 there once and 6 another time.

    Our favorite Chinese food - reasonably priced - is at the House of Nanking at Columbus and Kearny.

    For 4* dining we love Restaurant Gary Danko - you need reservations as soon as they become available ( either 30 or 60 days ahead - their website has the info). Pricey but fantastic California cuisine.

    There's a fun Morrocan place with belly dancing where you sit on the floor -- food is very good- El Mansour.

    Alcatraz is much more interesting than I expected it to be.
    The Exploratoreum is fun - interactive science exhibits.
    I also enjoy the SF Cartoon Art Museum - only takes an hour or so usually. It's near SF-MOMA - wild modern art

    The japanese tea garden in golden gate is lovely. So is the aboreteum there and the De Young gets great exhibits

    The Palace of the Legion of Honor has a bunch of Rodins (the Thinker for 1) as well as some great paintings.

    Muir woods is very close ( just over the bridge ) and mind-blowing -- the age and beauty and size of the redwoods is just amazing.

    SF is one of the world's great cities. Enjoy!

    As for rental cars - try priceline. You can bid on them. I've used hotwire for cars too. And COSTCO! With their discount codes I've gotten really good deals. If you're not a member I know Walmart also had some rental car discounts. Quite honestly I've never had to show my costco card and the codes are clear on the site - but it's a gamble.
     
  21. Muddy Rivers

    Muddy Rivers Mouseketeer

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    How long would you allow for Alcatraz, including the boat ride? Would a morning trip be best or is that the most crowded time?
     

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