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  • August 23, 2017, 03:13:28 PM

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Author Topic: San Francisco in August  (Read 1694 times)

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gollymolly2

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2017, 10:41:04 AM »
Just FYI, airbnb is legal in San Francisco, but there are regulations (you have to register your place with the city, you can only rent your place out so many nights a year, etc). So the city is cracking down to some degree on the people violating those regulations. But it's certainly legal here.

If you're booking a hotel, keep an eye out for ones that say they're in the "union square" neighborhood. Union Square is a shopping area downtown and it's perfectly fine to stay there. But it is directly next to the Tenderloin, arguably the worst neighborhood in SF. And there are quite a few hotels in the Tenderloin that claim to be in Union Square. So look places up on a map before you book.

o_gal

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2017, 06:18:14 AM »
A full service hotel is going to charge you an arm & a leg for parking. Last time I was there I paid something like $40 per night.

My usual suggestion is the Cow Hollow Motor Inn or on of its sister properties. They are in the Marina, on Lombard (not the famous twisty part). The Cow Hollow is the best, I think. Parking is free. There are a number of restaurants, coffee places, and watering holes within walking distance, and easy access to buses. Also easy to get taxis, Uber, or Lyft.

We're going to be at The Lombard Inn, one of the sister properties. When I tried to book Cow Hollow, they only had rooms with 1 King or 2 double beds. My DH is 6'8" and DS is rapidly approaching that, so doubles aren't ideal. But some of the sister properties were fully booked, and the Lombard had rooms with 2 doubles for a bit less than the Cow Hollow. Reviews on TripAdvisor were pretty good, so I booked it. Free parking too! Now just have to get a rental car and we're set. I told DH that after I paid for airfare, hotel in Louisville, hotel in SF, and rental, that he's in charge of food and various miscellaneous expenses.   :D

nutraxfornerves

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2017, 08:42:01 AM »
When you start looking for a rental car, check the difference between picking up at the airport and picking it up in the city. Assorted airport taxes and fees can make a big difference--I once priced cars for someone and found it $400 cheaper away from the airport. Many companies will deliver a car to your hotel.

On the travel board where I hang out, many people have written positively about using http://www.rentalcars.com/en/magazine/news/car-hire-3000/ to find rentals. I have no personal experience with them.

It is easy to get to your hotel from the airport by shuttle services like Supershuttle, Uber, Lyft, or taxi. Or even transit, although it would involve hauling baggage and changing buses.


Nutrax
The plural of anecdote is not data

siamesecat2965

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2017, 01:11:53 PM »
When you start looking for a rental car, check the difference between picking up at the airport and picking it up in the city. Assorted airport taxes and fees can make a big difference--I once priced cars for someone and found it $400 cheaper away from the airport. Many companies will deliver a car to your hotel.

On the travel board where I hang out, many people have written positively about using http://www.rentalcars.com/en/magazine/news/car-hire-3000/ to find rentals. I have no personal experience with them.

It is easy to get to your hotel from the airport by shuttle services like Supershuttle, Uber, Lyft, or taxi. Or even transit, although it would involve hauling baggage and changing buses.

I've also used HOtwire a couple of times. They were way less than booking directly through the company, even with airport pickup. you do need to know your exact p/u and d/o times, but you can save quite a bit.

AvidReader

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #34 on: June 20, 2017, 07:18:13 AM »

We're going to be at The Lombard Inn, one of the sister properties. When I tried to book Cow Hollow, they only had rooms with 1 King or 2 double beds. My DH is 6'8" and DS is rapidly approaching that, so doubles aren't ideal. But some of the sister properties were fully booked, and the Lombard had rooms with 2 doubles for a bit less than the Cow Hollow. Reviews on TripAdvisor were pretty good, so I booked it. Free parking too! Now just have to get a rental car and we're set. I told DH that after I paid for airfare, hotel in Louisville, hotel in SF, and rental, that he's in charge of food and various miscellaneous expenses.   :D


Just two weeks ago we stayed at the Cow Hollow Inn on Lombard St.  Not to worry, there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance in that area and nothing beats free hotel parking in SF.  I will caution however, that if your room overlooks Lombard Street, the street is a major thoroughfare with three lanes in each direction 24/7.  If at check-in you can request a room not on the Lombard Street side, take it. We had to sleep with ear plugs (we always travel with them). 

On parking in general.  We were very pleased that there is plenty of parking in the touristy places.  It was easy to find parking at the Embarcadero and on the edge of Chinatown.  On an earlier suggestion on this thread, I booked tickets for the Alcatraz Island tour.  Totally worth it!  Book online three or four weeks in advance.   It is the only tour that goes to the island and you get an included audio guide tour to the cell block. 

If you will be taking in Chinatown, don't miss the fortune cookie factory on Ross Alley.  It's a hoot!   My challenge was that I bought two bags of cookies and got them through the airport, flight, and home without breakage that same day. 

If your rental car is airport pickup/drop off from SFO, fill up the return in San Bruno.  It is a right turn off the freeway ramp when the rental car return is the left turn off the same ramp.  There are no gas stations on the freeway between downtown and the airport.  They are however, on the surface streets.

ETA:  Our trip included a week along the coast and wine country north of SF.  We headed out of town over the Golden Gate Bridge. (Don't miss Muir Woods...redwoods...less than an hour from SF.)  There is no bridge toll to head out of town.  There is however, a toll when you head back in to town on the GG.  The toll is collected electronically on PlatePass.  We did NOT take PlatePass with our rental car.  If you pay the toll online within 48 hours of crossing the bridge back into town, you pay the going rate.  Which I did.  I am keeping the receipt in the event of a snafu down the road with the rental car company.  It was a bit frustrating to pay online because of the license plate.  Our plate was "xxx xxx."  I tried that, then I tried it as "xxx-xxx."  And only got it to work with "xxxxxx."   
« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 07:38:52 AM by AvidReader »

jayhawk

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2017, 04:34:57 PM »
My daughter and I just got back from our trip to the Bay Area. My cousin and his wife drove us to Pacifica one evening where we ate at a nice restaurant called Moonraker. It's in a small boutique hotel.  We had a wonderful seafood meal (our hosts said it was the best clam chowder they've ever had). The highlight, however, was that our semi-circle booth faced the ocean - the wall was basically just windows - and we enjoyed our meal watching the surf. bonus - we got to see several whales! We were a bit underdressed for the restaurant  (tourist clothes), but the staff was very gracious to us. One of the best meals I've had and Whales!!

Another vote for Alcatraz if you can get tickets. The self-guided tour is outstanding.

We rode the cable cars, which was fine -we can say we did it. However, I didn't expect having to wait in line for over an hour at each end.

o_gal

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2017, 12:46:49 PM »
On an earlier suggestion on this thread, I booked tickets for the Alcatraz Island tour.  Totally worth it!  Book online three or four weeks in advance.

My new advice would be to change "weeks" to "months" (at least during the summer.) I tried for tickets in late June and everything was gone for early to mid-August.

We might try for a boat tour of the bay instead, but I can't book those until early August because of a possible meet-up with a friend, and she won't know her schedule until then. They were getting scarce already a couple of weeks ago so I'm hoping something will still be available.

nutraxfornerves

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #37 on: July 21, 2017, 02:01:38 PM »
Quote
We might try for a boat tour of the bay instead, but I can't book those until early August because of a possible meet-up with a friend, and she won't know her schedule until then. They were getting scarce already a couple of weeks ago so I'm hoping something will still be available.

Unless you want a narrated tour or a dinner cruise or something, there is an easy way to get a relatively cheap Bay tour. Take the ferry to Sausalito.  It's about 30 minutes each way. You can spend a couple of hours pottering around Sausalito, have lunch or early dinner, and take the ferry back. A very popular thing to do is to rent bikes, bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, and take the ferry back. (You want to do it in that order, to avoid a steep uphill climb.) Just be aware that in summer & on weekends, the last ferries are often crowded with bicyclists & you need to get to the pier early.

There are also ferries to Angel Island, the East Bay and Vallejo.

Nutrax
The plural of anecdote is not data

o_gal

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #38 on: July 27, 2017, 02:32:37 PM »
Quote
We might try for a boat tour of the bay instead, but I can't book those until early August because of a possible meet-up with a friend, and she won't know her schedule until then. They were getting scarce already a couple of weeks ago so I'm hoping something will still be available.

Unless you want a narrated tour or a dinner cruise or something, there is an easy way to get a relatively cheap Bay tour. Take the ferry to Sausalito.  It's about 30 minutes each way. You can spend a couple of hours pottering around Sausalito, have lunch or early dinner, and take the ferry back. A very popular thing to do is to rent bikes, bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, and take the ferry back. (You want to do it in that order, to avoid a steep uphill climb.) Just be aware that in summer & on weekends, the last ferries are often crowded with bicyclists & you need to get to the pier early.

There are also ferries to Angel Island, the East Bay and Vallejo.

Thanks for the info, we might try for that instead. It will depend on the weather, too.

I will not tell my DH the reason we are riding there and taking the ferry back. If it's a steep uphill climb, that's for him. He puts on a bike race every year (day after US Thanksgiving) that is the 13 steepest hills in our local river valley. He lives for hills  ;D

o_gal

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #39 on: Yesterday at 08:58:29 AM »
OK, so we're back (as of 10pm last night after the Great American Eclipse Traffic Jam of 2017).

Things we did (in sort-of order):

- Got delayed in Las Vegas for 2 hours, so we ended up landing at SFO at 11:00pm, which our bodies thought was 2:00am. Then we drove through the Tenderloin at that time of night because DH thought it would be quicker to get to our hotel than using the hotel directions. But according to the guides on the hop-on, hop-off bus, the Tenderloin is just an area with working class people that attracts workers from all countries and walks of life  ;)

- We found a great little independent coffee shop, First Cup Café, at Van Ness and Chestnut. They made their own pastries and we had breakfast there every day.

- Walked down to the area around the Maritime Museum and Ghirardelli Square, with it being only a short walk from our hotel. We ended up in that area every night on the way back to the hotel. The first morning, we walked out onto the pier with the historic boats, but couldn't find the time later to come back and take the tour.

- We decided to do a hop-on, hop-off tour (Grayline) for 2 days, and it worked out fairly well for us. They are not all canned spiels - we had a great, very enthusiastic, guide on day 1. Everything was "world famous!" And sitting up on the roof deck was fantastically fun when we were really moving on the road out to the bridge, and over the bridge, and back down the hill from the north side. We were in the back seat coming back and we held up our arms like we were riding a roller coaster  :)

- One of our hop-offs was the overlook area at the south end of the Golden Gate. We liked it, but we got stuck there for a hour waiting for the bus company's shuttle to go across the bridge and through Sausalito. The guide had said that the shuttles ran every half hour but there was only one shuttle that day and she was running about every 45 minutes. Then when we were in Sausalito, she parked because she said that she was running every half hour. Some people left because they thought she'd be there until 1:30 - and after a few people got back on and we were full, she took off - at 1:20.  That's the only problem we had with Grayline - the timing was just a little bit off from what was published and what was said by the guides. We also got sunburned because the driver stopped for whatever reason, for 15 minutes, outside the Asian Art Museum. We didn't realize until we got to the hotel had badly we got burned.

- We ended up not having the time to do anything in Golden Gate Park, so we were glad that we got to be taken through a relatively good chunk of it on the bus.

- We ditched the bus for lunch the first day and then walked to where we could catch a cable car, then rode those up almost to the Cable Car Museum. While we were waiting to transfer to another car, we were waiting in front of the cutest gift shop (at Powell and Washington?) Tons of manga, anime, Godzilla, etc. I bought a tote bag with Totoro and his friends on it, and DS got a bobblehead from one of his anime shows. DH made us walk from there up to the museum (only a couple of blocks further on up) just to get us away from there  ;D

- We then rode cable cars back down until the top of Lombard, where we got off and watched the cars going down, then walked down the 3 blocks back to the hotel. The next day as we were heading out, we drove up there and went down - it was just us by ourselves that morning at 9am, and not that many tourists.

- We toured the USS Hornet, out in Alameda (insert joke about seeking the nuclear wessels.) It served during WWII, and then was retrofitted during the 50's. It was DS's choice of what he really, really wanted to do in the SF area. He plays World of Warships, and it's pretty prominent in the game. I highly recommend the tour, if you can swing about 3+ hours to drive out there and do the tour. The guides are all Navy retired guys, some of whom had actually served on it.

- Went up Coit Tower - the views were great, although we knew there were better views. We just wanted to do the tower.

- Walked down to Pier 39, looked in to the crowd, and all the chain restaurants, and didn't go any further. No, the sea lions were not worth fighting the crowd.

- Kept walking out to Fisherman's Wharf. We ate at The Franciscan as our highlight dinner, and it was awesome and really, really expensive. But worth it, since that was the only time we really decided to dine like that. We had a great view of the bay, just before sunset.

- We drove out to Muir Woods and wow, that was a zoo! We snagged a parking spot because we passed by all the parking lots that were marked as full, then doubled back and got a space from someone who was leaving. The woods are incredible, and the area was very much like Hocking Hills here in Ohio, just with redwoods. I loved Cathedral Grove but wished that people were paying more attention to the signs and were quieter. And I could not find a banana slug plush at the gift shop - either they were out or they aren't there anymore.

- After Muir Woods, we drove up to Fairfax so DH could rent a bike and do "Repack" Rd. While DH was riding, DS and I hiked up to the top of one of the hills off of Bolinas Rd (just beyond the golf course) and got spectacular views. Next to the bike shop was the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame and Museum. The volunteer showing people around that day was none other than Joe Breeze! DH had a blast talking to him about the early days of riding. Joe was one of the originals, and developed the first bikes, which everyone called Breezers.

- After that, we just ended up walking around the Ghirardelli Square area on our last night. When you go in to their gift shop, they always give you free chocolate so we took advantage of that as much as we could  :D

We loved the trip, and everyone we ran into was just so very nice. Driving in the city was a breeze compare to other large cities - no problems switching lanes and nobody trying to cut anyone else off. The motorcycles and scooters were a little scary driving between lanes. I'm sure it's illegal but I'm also sure they count on the police not being able to get to them to cite them.

There was a lot of stuff that we wanted to do that we just didn't have time for, most notably the park. We loved the temps last week, in the 60's and lows in the 50's.

nutraxfornerves

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #40 on: Yesterday at 09:57:54 AM »
Glad you had such a good time!  Your guide gave you an, um, interesting, description of the Tenderloin. "Working class neighborhood" is about the last thing I'd call it. It started out as a Gold Rush era red light district (hence the name). Now it's a combination of theater and nightlife, some really cheap lodging, and some pretty dodgy areas. 

Quote
The motorcycles and scooters were a little scary driving between lanes. I'm sure it's illegal but I'm also sure they count on the police not being able to get to them to cite them.
This is legal n California.

Nutrax
The plural of anecdote is not data

o_gal

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #41 on: Yesterday at 11:19:43 AM »
Glad you had such a good time!  Your guide gave you an, um, interesting, description of the Tenderloin. "Working class neighborhood" is about the last thing I'd call it. It started out as a Gold Rush era red light district (hence the name). Now it's a combination of theater and nightlife, some really cheap lodging, and some pretty dodgy areas. 

Our first day guide described the name origin with a story that the brothels and bars would pay off the cops by serving them steaks. Don't know how true that one is either.

I was laughing when they told the story of working class neighborhood. I had to explain to DH afterwards. He said, but isn't this the area that we drove through last night? I said yup, didn't want to say anything at the time so you and DS wouldn't freak out.

nutraxfornerves

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #42 on: Yesterday at 01:09:07 PM »
Reminds me of a comment I got on a travel board recently when I was asking about things to do in Cambridge, England. Some one suggested taking a punt, which are poled by students "who take you down the river while making up anecdotes of student life."

The general consensus is that the SF Tenderloin was named after a neighborhood in Manhattan. One story about the Manhattan name is that it was named by a police officer who rejoiced in his transfer there because bribes were so good. "I've been having chuck steak ever since I've been on the force, and now I'm going to have a bit of tenderloin."  The SF Tenderloin was actually a "stolid middle class" district until around the 1880s. The first known sportin' house in the area was set up in 1884. The proprietress even took out a newspaper ad, saying that she invited "the patronage of her former friends" to "her newly and elegantly furnished rooms at 223 Ellis Street, near Taylor." She even turns up in the city directory as offering "furnished rooms."

Nutrax
The plural of anecdote is not data

o_gal

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Re: San Francisco in August
« Reply #43 on: Today at 06:06:00 AM »
Postscript to the trip: To carry things, I wanted a cross-body bag. Years ago, DH's brother married a woman who is from China, and for Christmas that year she gave me and the other sister-in-laws beautiful hand woven bags that are a traditional pattern from her area (Huanin.) It was the perfect size, so I transferred a few things and wore it all over SF. I thought that maybe we would go to the Chinatown area and someone would notice it, but we never actually had time to go in there (and DH and DS weren't interested) and no one commented on it in other parts of SF.

Last night I went grocery shopping and the greeter at a Meijer store in suburban Kettering, OH saw it and her face lit up! She told me all about it, what areas that pattern is used, how they make them, etc. etc.