I'll be in San Francisco 14-17 May!

Discussion in 'California' started by Sean, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Since they have direct flights from San Fran to NZ we decided to spend some time in San Fran on the way home from the conference & seeing family on the east coast. I promised Lisa San Fran would be a mini family vacation but I'm sure I can slip away for a get together one afternoon? Would anyone be up for it? We are also trying to find some reasonable accomodation in the fisherman's wharf area (well, we've never been to San Fran and this is where we were told to look). Would really love to meet some of you and see some galleries too. Maybe a lunch + gallery crawl? I'm open to anything contained within a half day.

    Thanks!,
    Sean
     
  2. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Hope you have a great time there Sean. It is a beautiful area, with a lot of things to do. Unfortunately, I haven't been there in many years, so I can't offer any advice, except enjoy yourself.
     
  3. DeanC

    DeanC Member

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    Hell yeah, I'm game. Depending on what work is like I might only be able to make the lunch half the feed and crawl but count me in!
     
  4. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    There is no other place on the planet like San Francisco. Have fun.
     
  5. pelerin

    pelerin Member

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    Hi,
    I would certainly be pleased to join in the fun. I can also think of several places I would rather stay than adjacent to one of the most tourist impacted spots on earth. What sort of range would you define as reasonable, is it just the two of you, and do you have any other activities in mind?
    Celac.
     
  6. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I'll be with my Wife and our 3 1/2yr old Daughter. It seems like everything near fisherman's wharf is 200 a night so I guess maybe 125-175 a night would be a bit easier to stomach. It gets frustrating searching on the web, we keep finding places that say they are 130-150 a night but after plugging in the numbers it jumps 30%. We're not going to be doing anything like this again for a while so we want the place to be decent. We also will need to be able to walk most places or take bus/tram since the cabs will not have car seats. Activities are up in the air and we're still looking into it. Thanks
     
  7. Markus Albertz

    Markus Albertz Member

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    Hi Sean,

    You might want to try the Gates Hotel. It is located downtown and about as cheap as you can go. You can get a room for less than $US 100.00. Not particularly luxurious though. Be sure to have a drink in the view lounge on top of the Mariott - fantastic views over SF at night. If you like Sicilian seafood and pasta, go to the Cafe Sport; it is a small family restaurant on 574 (?) Green Street. I seem to remember this is northeast of Chinatown. Try the museum of modern art (http://www.sfmoma.org/ ). You might find something of interest there. SF is a great place. Enjoy it to the fullest. Best, Markus
     
  8. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Sean contact Livemoa and find out what hotel it was that his friend stayed at. It is two blocks off Union square and ultra reasonable. You will be able to hit all easily used public transportation from there. It is also about 5 blocks from the start of China town and Grant Street. North beach is the area for Italian food and also good seafood. The locals swear by Scomas as the best seafood resturant, but I have my favorite that over looks the bay and Alcatraz as well. If you want to do the tourist thing and go out to Alcatraz make reservations 6 weeks in advance to make sure you can go the day and time you want. The DeYoung museum just reopened in Golden Gate park. Which to me is a great place to go. The Palace of Fine arts is another great museum, but I don't know how to get there via pulbic transportation. There are maps sold near Union square that will show you all the public transportation routes and stations. for less than $5 you will be able to find where to go and how with which line to get there. If someone has the time, Napa valley is great, and would also be fun for your daughter. The Mum Winery has a large Ansel Adams gallery along with exhibitions of current photographers. It is a must if you can get there. Mateo land is not far south at Monterey/Carmel That area I'm sure your wife and daughter would love. Fort Mason just a few blocks from Fishermans wharf usually has great art shows going on. Most the photo galleries are near Union square. To bad I'm not still living there, I could really get you and your family around. Just be careful if you venture south of Market street. The area they call the tenderloin is not exactly a place you would want to go, and especially with your family. Get hold of Geary gaylons and I'm sure he will put together a party for you. BradS knows him and probably has his phone number still. Bjorke has been there as well. With this much notice who knows who might show up, minus me.
     
  9. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    Sean,

    It seems like there are really only two options in SF: Very expensive or very cheap. For cheap, I'd stay at the hostel on Fishermans Wharf. You can get a private room for about $80 and its easy to get around as it's on the end of the cable car line. http://sfhostels.com/locations/fishermans_wharf.php

    For the very expensive, but still a deal, you want to stay at the Fairmont, which is a SF landmark, and a beautiful hotel. Go to www.fairmont.com, and join their Presidents Club. It's free, but once you log in the "members only" website, you can get some great deals. As an example I stayed at Jasper a few weeks ago, and I looked at expedia, travelocity and the hotels site itsself and all had the same rate. I then checked the members site to see if there were any deals, and the room was half the price, and it included the breakfast buffet, which was $30 by itself!

    I just checked, and you can get a room for $203, which is an excellent price for that hotel. Another option is the Palomar, right on Market street. It's a nice hotel, but costs more than the deal at the Fairmont. When you're in Toronto, have a look at the Royal York, it's also a Fairmont.
     
  10. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    DO NOT DEPEND ON CABLE CARS TO GET AROUND, the tourist use them to the piont that it could take you over an hour standing in line if the cable cars are turning around fast. Muni, the bus lines, and Bart are the best transportation lines. The hotel at fishermans warf is next to the low income housing projects and has a problem with security. If your really want venerable old SF hotel you go to the Sir Francis Drake just a half block north on Powell street from the Fairmont. The fairmont 's claim to fame was it was the site of an old televesion program called Hotel. Both of those hotels are about 2 blocks from the one livemoa's friend stayed at at it was only $70 a night. It was in a quiet clean area, and was ideal. Post street is the north side of Union Square. It is a more expensive shopping street than Hollywoods Rodeo Dr. Fun to look at. On the south side of Union square is the big Macy's department store. They have a very reasonably priced upscale gourmet food court in it. one of the best is the wolfgang Puck cafe. Boudins are everywhere. Best sourdough bread. They also have clam chowder they serve in a bread bowl. Ghiradelli square at fishermans warf is fun for your daughter. The old maritime museum is also on the west end of fishermans warf, you will like it and so will your family. They often have people doing demo's on how to hand build the old fashioned way a boat. Suttro gardens overlooking the pacific is another under photographed place. It is usually shrouded in mists. There is a bus line that will take you right out within a few blocks off where the worlds fair back the turn of the century last century was held. It is one of those famous landmarks. There is a great carosel for kids just one block west of SFMOMA. SFMOMA is about 300 w. and 200 south just south of mission. Easy walk from Union Square area. The main bus stop is at 300 w. and about 50 N.
     
  11. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    My biggest fans are just underneath the pier in San Fran - the California Sea Lions! Clap you hands together really fast while saying: " Art, Art, Art, Art..."

    Regards, Art.
     
  12. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Thanks for the info everyone, I'll be printing this thread out :smile:
     
  13. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    I must have gotten lucky, the few times I've been to SF in May I've never waited more than 10 min anywhere I wanted to catch a cable car.

     
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  15. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    having just moved away from there after living there for 8 years, I saw the over crowded cable cars when we first moved there, become more overcrowded with time. The lines can wrap around blocks with tourists determined they will make it. The only place to reliably get them is at the terminuses of each end. The stops in between are rarely utlitized since the cable cars are so crowded people are hanging off the sides. Its fun, and everyone should do it once. The bus system goes more places, and is cheaper. It makes more stops and other than rush hour(s) time, it is not too crowded. If your brave, you can drive in the city, but there is a lack of parking. You have to know where the municiple parking garages are for the best values.
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    As another ex-san franciscan (and would be returner if the housing weren't so darned expensive), there are some really wonderful things about the city. I'll second the notion of looking for a hotel around Union Square - there are quite a few that will fit the bill in the under $200 a night range.

    Another great photo location if you have the time is to go out to the very end of Geary Boulevard. Just before it bears to the left and goes downhill past Cliff House, you'll see a parking lot on your right. Pull in there and park. If they've finished restoring the stairs, you can walk down the hill there to the remains of the old Sutro Baths, where there are some really great photos, including Seal Rock, which is about 30 yards out in the surf (DON'T go in! that area is prone to some very nasty violent undertows that will suck you right out into the Pacific). Come back up the hill and walk out the path that exits from the opposite end of the parking lot where you entered. Follow that path along the clifftops - you'll get some wonderful views of the Golden Gate, and when you get farther along, the Golden Gate Bridge. About 2/3 of a mile or so along, there is a nicely rebuilt staircase that will take you down to the beach at the bottom of the cliffs there. You can get some wonderful shots of the bridge from the beach. The stairs are steep, and not for the faint of heart or the out-of-shape. If you go early in the morning, mostl likely it will be cool and foggy and misty. If you hang around 'til midday, the fog will burn off and you'll have bright blue sunny skies. If you get a rental car, you can drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and take the first exit. Follow the signs for the Marin Headlands. The road (Conzelman Road) winds along the clifftops on the Marin side of the Golden Gate. You can get some spectacular views back over the city from there. There are a number of World War II batteries built into the tops of the cliffs that you can get out and explore, including tunnels through the clifftop. I don't think she's around anymore, but when I lived there there was this woman who would go up there on weekends and do this aboriginal throat-singing in the tunnels, to the accompaniment of a guy playing a digeridoo. The main tunnel there had a nine-second reverb, so you'd get these amazing echo effects. Google "The Tunnel Singer" and see if she still performs there.

    For great ethnic food, head out to the Mission district - up and down Dolores and Valencia between 16th and 18th, and some of the surrounding streets, have fantastic Latino cuisine. If you like Cuban, get there EARLY (5:30 or so) and go to Cha Cha Cha in the Haight - it's at 1801 Haight street, right near the beginning of the panhandle of Golden Gate Park.

    There's an animal menagerie (I hesitate to call it a full-blown zoo) in Golden Gate Park that would keep your daughter happy, and you can get some photos of American Bison while you're at it.

    For meals, there are a ton of fantastic places to eat all over the Bay area... do some quick searching once you've settled on where your hotel will be, and check out
    http://www.sfsurvey.com/rr.asp
    to find some restaurants within walking distance of your hotel.

    AVOID Fisherman's Wharf. Not only are the hotels overpriced, the traffic (on the streets AND the sidewalks) nightmarish, but most of the restaurants are total ripoffs as well.

    For a very nice Italian dinner, go to Vivande Porta Via - 2125 Fillmore. It's more quiet, out-of-the-way, and outstanding fresh food.

    If you want to do Alcatraz, go online and look up booking tours. If you book in advance, you can book a night tour (or late evening as the case may be). The great thing about the night tour is that A: you can only book it online, you can't buy it at the ticket office, so there are fewer hordes to deal with on the tour, and B: you can get in to see some areas of the prison that are normally off-limits during daytime operations. I did the night tour, and we got to see the prison Hospital, including Al Capone's sitz bath where he was treated for hemorrhoids, the operating table where "Doc" Barker died being treated for wounds sustained while attempting escape, and Robert Stroud's large suite of cells where he kept his research. The prison Pharmacy still has the old wooden cabinets typical of a 1930s drugstore, and it even still smells like a pharmacy.

    http://www.parksconservancy.org/visit/alcatraznight.php
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2006
  17. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Sean,

    As an alternate thought. You could rent a car at the San Francisco airport, and drive down the coast to Monterey.
     
  18. pelerin

    pelerin Member

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    Wow,
    Congratulations on the fortitude to travel around the world with your daughter. My wife and I have ventured only as far as Boston with our (25 mos old) daughter and I will definitely look forward to your recounting what succeeded and what did not. Reading the advice proffered so far in the thread, the one thing I wholeheartedly agree with is that staying at the wharf with a 3.5 year old would probably not be a stellar plan. Where one visits and what one sees is obviously a matter of personal preference. This is especially true when you factor in the the likes, dislikes and attention span of the little girl. All sightseeing advice is simply a distillation of personal bias. I find the wharf to be crowded and boring and have since I was a child. On the other hand, I never tire of visting the Maritime Museum. Cable cars are another odd thing. Riding a cable car is obviously an incredibly "touristy" thing to do, and there will probably be long line... but who cares. However, maybe the joy I get out of it derives from the rosy glow that childhood memories add to any activity and the knowledge that my grandfather worked on the cable cars. If I were patient enough to ride a bus all the way out Geary I'd say the place to go is Lincoln Park. Not only do you have spectacular views but also the Legion of Honor, however a museum might seem pretty dull to a 3.5 y/o. As I said, all a matter of personal bias.

    I would certainly advise that you avoid lugging all the bags, wife, and progeny from SFO - downtown on BART or Caltrain. If you plan on sticking to public transport you might consider staying outside the city. If you stay on the peninsula in lodgings close to Caltrain or BART you will most likely find better rates and easier access to the airport. The El Rancho, while a far cry from the Fairmont, would probably serve the purpose. They provide a free shuttle to and from the airport and are very close to the Millbrae's Caltrain/BART intermodal station. If reaching the Millbrae station is inconvenient you could always take the shuttle to the airport and pick up BART there. Don't believe for a moment the sunny photos on the website, Millbrae usually only features the color gray. Folks often take advantage of the free park and shuttle deal which makes early am flights less painful. Best Western's online booking site shows a rate of 108.00/night US for two adults / one child on your dates. YMMV,

    Two no obligation offers if you are interested: I have a spare child seat you can borrow if you wish, and we would be happy to arrange a "play date" so mom and dad can see some of one of the world's most romantic cites more, uh, romantically.
    Celac.
     
  19. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Sean,

    I think the 14th is Mother's day...I'll likely be down south that weekend. Would be very happy to sneek out mid week though.

    As a counter point, I take the whole family on BART all the time. Even to-from SFO. The BART goes all the way to the airport and is very easy and safe to use. We NEVER drive to the city. Driving in the city is a nightmare and parking is a hassle and costs a fortune. Use BART and the Muni.

    There are a million things to see and do - you really cannot go wrong. Others have already made some excellent recommendations. I would only add that you might also venture across the bay to the Oakland Museum....from their web site:
    The Art Department of the Oakland Museum of California holds the largest and most comprehensive collection of the work of Dorothea Lange, representing every facet of a long and varied career.

    I think there may also be a Diane Arbus Exhibt in town - maybe at SFMOMA ?

    The tenderloin district, also known as south of market area (SOMA)... It seems we must always caution our guests about the infamous SOMA. It is quite safe, if kinda un-nerving during the day. If you get bored with all the touristy stuff, venture a little south of market and witness the humanity.


    Oh, we are also commemorating the 100 year anniversay of "The Great Earthquake of 1906" this year. There are a whole host of activities and special displays on the topic. CharleyMeyer would be an excellent person to contact for more info on earth quakes and the like.


    While you are here, please don't hesitate to call if you need anything. I'll send you my contact info under separate cover.


    Brad.
     
  20. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Sean,

    I may be able join in on Sunday if there's a get-together. The date is a little iffy, but I'll join in if I can.
     
  21. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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  22. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Excellent! I feel a sore throat coming on...(cough, cough).

    Yes, the Oakland Museum is one block from the Lake Merritt BART station.
     
  23. bjorke

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    You will want to check out the Fraenkel Gallery, the Wirtz Gallery, the Scott Nichols Gallery, etc. All in one building & not open Sunday or Monday so that probably makes it the 16th for you. The galleries are all in the same unmarked building @ 49 Geary, around the corner from Union Square or the downtown Ghirardelli, Virgin Megastore, Apple, etc. in case the family's not too keen, & near 77 Geary (which has less photography)

    http://www.kochgallery.com/

    http://www.hainesgallery.com/

    http://www.fraenkelgallery.com/

    http://www.wirtzgallery.com/

    http://www.scottnicholsgallery.com/
     
  24. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    The most magical time in the city to me is near 5:00 am this time of year. It's just as the light is starting to infiltrate the night, and the street lights are no longer the main source of illumination. The whole city has this difused monochrome feel that is so quiet. The city has not woken up and the traffic is nonexistent. It is a stark contrast to the chaos that in just a hour or so will invade the slumbering city. Set your alarm clock early one morning and go have some quiet fun.
     
  25. Craig

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    Another thought to file in the "intersting" category is each time I've been to SF if you go down to Market Street after dark, say 9pm the musicians come out, typically between 4th and 5th streets. One time I saw an amazing drummer doing solo's, and another a guy brought a honda generator and a mixing board, turntable and speakers and was mixing dance music on the sidewalk. The restored streetcars run the F line down Market street and out to the Castro, so that adds some interesting colour.
     
  26. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Not all those interesting people are nice. Carry a sturdy tripod with you just in case. I took jewelry classes at approximately 450 Market and sometimes we were there until 10 pm. The day people that get replaced with night people can be scary and oft times threatening. Only once did I have to use one of my tools, (flat nose pliers) to defend myself. I think the word got around quickly as I was never harrassed again. But then I was carrying a case that contained silver, gold, and gem stones. A camera is just as tempting some of them. The castro area is very safe even after dark. It is one of the cleanest and nicest parts of town. You can find some of the best food in the Castro as well. If you go to the Embaracdero, which is where Market dead ends into the SF bay, you can catch the same restored street cars to take you to fishermans wharf. Pier 39 is better than the rest of the Wharf, but is still too touristy. Hit coit tower it is on the way too. There is what is called the bay model over in Sausalito. It is where they constructed a small scale (takes up 4 football fields) model of the bay. When they are filling it for reasearch, it is funn to watch what all the different formations on the bay floor do to the water. Angell Island is a fun place to catch the ferry too, and hike around. In fact the ferries are fun to go on and just turn around and come back. Cheaper than paying for the big tours boats that do almost the same thing. If Brad can get away there is also Niles canyon where they have trains. It is the place where Charlie Chaplin had his first movie studio. Hi might even take you to Ardenwood it is easy to find just off 880 and hwy 84 near Fremont and Newark. It is an old village that practices what it was like in the early bay area doing everything the old fashioned way. As an analog person you would love it. You daughter would get a big kick out of it as well. A couple hours south or less if you drive like me, is the Big Basin redwoods park. It is closer than driving to northern california.In Golden Gate Park go to the Steinhart Aquarium. I had to drag my kids there for a school outing. Your daughter will love that place. Of course you have to go see my legs at Haight and Ashbury.