Thanks for all the input received on this forum, it really made our weekend go very smoothly!
My husband and I took a direct flight from PHL to SFO - just under 6 hours. Landed on time at local time, 9:30 am, got a cab to our hotel, the Fairmont. Only took about 20 minutes to get to the hotel and the cost of cab was $37. Arrived at the hotel just shy of 11 am, able to secure an early check-in to our room. Wrote a review of the Fairmont seperately if anyone's interested. Hotel is gorgeous and overall we liked the hotel quite a bit and enjoyed being on top of Nob Hill. Walked down the hill to Union Square and we were so hungry, we grabbed a quick panini at a cafe called the Emporio Rulli. The paninis were tasty. We then headed to Fisherman's Wharf to see if we could hop on a tour bus to get a better overall feel of the city. We went with Grey Line tours - they look like trolley cars ($19/pp) and I wish I had listened to the person who gave insight about Mr Toad's Tours. Grey Line was disappointing - very little commentary and in the hour we rode, we really didn't see all that much that I couldn't have found on my own. Live and learn. Ended back up at Fisherman's Wharf and walked around there for awhile and then took a break and had some oysters and some drinks at a place right on Pier 39 called the Eagle Cafe. Oysters were good and fresh, the Anchor Steam was cold - couldn't ask for much more, although I am sure this place is a tourist trap given its location! Walked down past Pier 43 to all the seafood stands and kept going towards Ghardhelli Square - visted that for a little bit but the place seemed really crowded so we didn't get sundaes or anything there. We then stopped and had an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe. Best of my life, but pricey at $7.25 each and small. We were lucky enough to secure a cab back to the hotel and changed and went to the Tonga Room at the Fairmont for happy hour. Another disappointment. All the tour books lauded this place as the best happy hour in San Fran and it really, really was not good. Buffet is $9.95/pp, which is cheap, but the food is inedible. Nasty egg rolls that tasted like they came out of a frozen food box, overfried chicken wontons and some really salty Asian noodles. Drinks were fine, but no real discount there. We had one drink and left for the Top of the Mark across the street at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins. What a GREAT place that was! We had a window seat and it wasn't too foggy, so we had an amazing view of the city - sipped on champagne and noshed on some real appetizers - really nice. By this point we were exhausted, so we opted to turn in early and go to sleep.
Saturday: Woke up fairly early, asked the hotel to make a recommendation for a local breakfast place and they said Roxanne Cafe, so off we went down Powell Street. Liked this cute place a lot. Great filling breakfast - I had an awesome California omelet that set me up for the better part of the day. Walked through Chinatown (but nothing was open yet) and then through North Beach until we hit Pier 33 for our Alcatraz tour. We booked through Alcatraz Cruises, price was $24.50 each and they were VERY well organized. However, we got there a little early for our tour (like 2 hours too early) so once we picked up our tixs we opted to walk up to the Coit Tower. My husband climbed it, I did not. I don't like heights, so I was afraid I'd get up there and freak. Walked back down for our Alcatraz tour. Ferry only takes about 10 minutes to get to the island. This tour was definitely a highlight, very interesting and informative. We spent about 2 1/2 hours on the island. Got back to the Wharf and went to Alito's. Had a bowl of chowder in a bread bowl and some oysters - it was pretty good. Started walking, thinking we would take the cable car back to our hotel and oh my - the lines were ridiculous!!! Started to walk and got thirsty, so we stopped at this crazy place that was like an Irish Pub and an Indian restaurant all in one - it was called Kennedy's. Crazy place that smelled like curry, but they had an amazing assortment of beers on tap. Had a drink, then started to walk up the hill and lucked out that an empty cab came our way and whisked us back to the Fairmont. Showered, relaxed with a few beverages we had picked up in this wine store at Pier 39 and then went to dinner in North Beach at the Ristorante Mona Lisa. Nice place. We weren't too hungry so we just ordered entrees and wine. I had gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce - it was pretty good - and my husband had Chicken Mona Lisa, which was with proscuitto in a marsala sauce. Very good. Took another cab (they were starting to add up at this point, but who cares, it's vacation!) back to the Fairmont and slept soundly in their very comfortable beds.
Sunday: Woke up early, had coffees to power us up for the day at Cafe Centro right in the Fairmont and then walked down to Market to the Powell Hyde line for a ride on those famed cable cars! Got there about 8:30 am - no wait - hopped right on and it was a fantastic ride. Husband hung off the side, I sat on the exterior part of the car. Could see everything. Dropped us at the end of the line and we walked back to Chinatown for some dim sum at Gold Mountain. It was great, full of locals. The Phoenix shrimp were not to be believed - huge and delicious. We were kind of seated towards the back near were the carts came out and they came at you fast and furious. Lots of fun. Decor is minimal (kind of looks like a cafeteria) but the food more than made up for it. We had a bunch of different dishes and our bill came to $21 and we were stuffed. Spent some time looking at the vendors in Chinatown - kind of fun, but once you've seen what one offers, you've seen what the majority of them offer. Walked back down to the Wharf to purchase tixs for the Blue and Gold Ferry and head over to Sausalito. Got on the 12:50 ferry. Great ride (about 30 minutes) and we loved Sausalito. FYI, it was siginificantly hotter (temperature) there than in San Fran. Did a couple of local wine tastings along the main street, walked around the shops, bought some things - great jewelry store called Something/Anything where I got a gorgeous silver necklace from Italy - really great unique stuff. Went to some crazy local bar right on the main street called No Name Bar that had some local jazz playing in the front and we sat in the back on the garden patio and watched some locals play chess - they were funny and the Anchor Steam was extra cold, so it made for a great afternoon. Took the bus back across the Golden Gate bridge to Union Square and had dinner at Cafe Claude. Cute location down a side street. We had a nice bottle of wine. I had great escargot and one of the specials of pan-seared cod, which was excellent. Husband had some tasty french onion soup, but his lamb entree came out stone cold and he sent it back and it came back overcooked. Too full for dessert. Caught a cab back to the hotel, packed up for our early flight back to Philly and went to sleep in those awesome Fairmont beds.
Took a cab from the hotel (this time $45) and left on the 9 am direct flight back to Philly - must say that SFO, while being a very crowded airport, is VERY organized - much better than Philly!
Had a great time and can't wait to come back. Never got to the Haight or the Mission - would love to do that as well as wine country!
Thanks again for all the great insight on your forum and let me know if anyone ever comes to Philly, more than happy to help out!