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..."
Thanks for the info everyone, I'll be printing this thread out
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.
Originally Posted by Aggie
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.
Originally Posted by Craig
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
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.
Last edited by TheFlyingCamera; 04-16-2006 at 10:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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Originally Posted by Sean
As an alternate thought. You could rent a car at the San Francisco airport, and drive down the coast to Monterey.
Originally Posted by Sean
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.
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.
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.
2013 Workshop Schedule Online
Hi, there is a Edward Weston exhibit at the Oakland Museum, which I believe is near a BART train station: http://www.museumca.org/exhibit/exhi_weston.html