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San Francisco Advice

Minnesota
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San Francisco Advice

I am seeking advice on an itinerary for our upcoming family trip to San Francisco. We have a total of 5 people (me, hubby, and 3 teenagers). We are flying into SFO on Saturday late afternoon and

was debating on taking the Bart or the taxi to our hotel. We are staying at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. Would the Bart be okay with 5 people with 3-4 suitcases total? I assume after the hotel check-in and unpacking, would it be best to visit Fisherman's Wharf at night and have dinner there? or visit Chinatown? or ???

On Sunday, my daughter wants to visit Stanford, therefore, we'll need to rent a car for one day. While doing our trip to Stanford, are there any other stops recommended? On Monday, we are visiting Alcatraz at noon. After Alcatraz, would it be a good idea to visit Japan town? My daughter wants to drive on Lombard Street, also. What other must sees are recommended? Unfortunately, we're not into art museums. In addition, was recommened to buy the 3 day pass to use all the transportations. Do I buy those through my hotel or a specific booth? As you can tell, I'm pretty clueless. Trying to make this trip as memorable as possible. It is also my son's birthday (turning 14). Any recommendations for birthday celebrations? Sorry for so many questions. I appreciate any advice. Thanks!

San Jose, California
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1. Re: San Francisco Advice

My 2 cents, Take BART, the Embarcadero station is mere steps from your hotel lobby.

FW is usually not a good recommendation for dinner. I'd go to Northbeach instead. Chinatown is right next to it, good places to walk around after dinner.

Re: Stanford you could take Cal-train to Palo Alto Stanford station, and either walk or Taxi to the campus. It's a bit of a walk, campus is huge. With a car you could drive over the hill to Half Moon bay and/or Santa Cruz.

FYI Cal Berkeley is easily accessible via BART, and a more interesting area to explore than Stanford.

Book Alcatraz tix weeks in advance.

IMHO walkiing Lombard St is better than driving it.

Skip Japantown, nothing much to see there.

Edited: 12 August 2010, 21:45
San Francisco CA
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2. Re: San Francisco Advice

4c - BART is quite easy to take and will be no problem, the hotel is right at the station. The cost is $8.10 per person, which is about the same as a cab. I would see FW then find a Chinatown or North Beach restaurant, I like Henry's Hunan, Chef Jia's, to name a couple. Great that your daughter wants to see Stanford. It is a huge and beautifully impressive campus. You should drive down I-280 for the Bay views. If you want to stop, consider getting off on Woodside and going for lunch. You would not be far from campus, and you would get to see the redwoods. There is so much to see on campus, I don't know if the tour office at the entrance to the Quad will be open when you are there. A drive around Campus Drive will get you an idea of the place, then find a place to park and walk in. Have fun planning.

Edited: 12 August 2010, 22:13
San Francisco...
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3. Re: San Francisco Advice

>was debating on taking the Bart or the taxi to our hotel.

I'd say BART, but it's not going to save you *that* much money over a taxi - but with 5 of you, most taxis won't fit 5 so you'd be better with BART. Easy way to get into town.

Agree that Chinatown or North Beach is much better than Fisherman's Wharf for dinner.

I enjoy Japan Town but I guess it depends on what you're expecting. It's good for food and a bit of shopping and nearby Fillmore Street is a nice street to walk and window shop (heading North from Japan Town).

>It is also my son's birthday (turning 14). Any recommendations for birthday celebrations?

Hmm... guess that depends on what your son likes. Might try: http://www.gorillabbq.com/Our_Grub.html (south of San Francisco in Pacifica)

Or maybe Egyptian with belly dancing? Al Masri. http://www.almasrisfca.com/ (my apologies if you think that is totally inappropriate - It's a fun place but a bit far out to get to).

San Francisco
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4. Re: San Francisco Advice

With 5 people I would take a cab. Ask the dispatcher to fetch you a van-cab. Although your hotel is well located to take the Bart, there is still schlepping involved up and down escalators etc. For essentially the same price, take the cab and arrive fresher.

Have you considered splitting up and having one parent take the daughter to see Stanford with the other parent doing something different with the other two? We found that seeing campuses with one kid and one parent worked well and having others less interested along was a distraction. HOw about a bike ride to Sausalito for the other three??

I agree that FW is not advised on Saturday since you will be near there on Monday to take your Alcatraz tour. Food not worth any kind of detour so the advice to head to Northbeach/chinatown is good advice.

For the 14 year old birthday activity, how about a Segway tour around town or an electric bike tour across the GG bridge (that is if you have not already done that on a regular bike?

Have a great time.

High Point, North...
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5. Re: San Francisco Advice

4chance--Our family of 4 (my husband, me & our two teens) are in SF right now finishing up the last leg of our weeklong vacation in CA & my son's 17th birthday happens to be today. We are hanging out in the room for a rest break before heading out later. It's amazing how tired you get walking around town seeing the sights. We seem to get along better if we come back to the room & recharge for a little while rather than pushing ourselves to see it all without a break.

We are staying in Union Sq at the Handlery Hotel & we took a taxi rather than a cab--with tip it cost us $45. Well worth the few extra dollars not to have to haul our suitcases up & down the street. We had a nice lunch at Capp's Corner in North Beach today (lasagna was the best!). Our night tour of Alcatraz is tonight & afterwards we will probably get some pizza somewhere since that is what our son wants for his birthday.

Depending on your arrival time into town on Saturday, going down for a look see around Fisherman's Wharf would probably be of interest to your kids. I brought a bunch of quarters with us & we spent about an hour at the Musee Mechanique while the kids & my kid at heart husband played several of the vintage games. We did have something to eat at FW last night because my kids wanted an In 'N Out burger since we don't have those in NC. While my husband & kids ate burgers, I walked down to the Blue Mermaid & sat at the bar & had a delicious bowl of crab & corn chowder. They caught up with me & we headed down to Ghirardelli Square for dessert.

Since you are staying on the Embarcadero, I would strongly encourage purchasing 3 day passes for your family. There should be a ticket booth at the Embarcadero. The passes are $20 each & you must pay cash. The F-line streetcar runs along Embarcadero back & forth to Fisherman's Wharf as well as to the Union Square & Chinatown areas. The passes are also good for trips on the cable cars. Be sure to catch the cable car at the stops up the street from the end of the line or you will be waiting for a long time.

We also went to Stanford on our way into the city after having visited Yosemite & the Monterey area. It is a very spread out campus but the main quad area where the Memorial Chapel is located is fairly easy to find. The Rodin Sculpture Garden & bookstore are in the same area. Palo Alto has a nice downtown area so if you have the time, I would suggest going for a visit. It only takes about 30 minutes from the airport area to get to Palo Alto but will take you longer if you get your rental car in the city. You might want to check on what it costs to rent a ZipCar--I've seen several of those lots in the city. If you do rent a car then that would give your daughter the opportunity to drive down Lombard St. We hired a private tour guide to show us around the city yesterday morning & he drove us down Lombard St & then we walked down it today. I enjoyed it more when he drove us down Filbert St--the dropoff was pretty amazing!

You might want to check out the websites for the California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium. Both receive rave reviews. We are going to the Exploratorium tomorrow & then fly home tomorrow night. One of the best things we have done to maximize our time in the city was to do an organized tour. Bernie was able to show us the Mission District, Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate Bridge & so many other areas. We had hoped to walk on the bridge yesterday but the weather was too cool & windy. Make sure you dress in layers!

I hope some of my info has helped because the advice I received from other TA posters prior to our trip has been invaluable. Have fun!!

Minnesota
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6. Re: San Francisco Advice

Wow! Thank you for all the wonderful advice. So much planning ahead, but you all have it a lot easier to decide. Again, thanks!!

Santa Cruz...
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7. Re: San Francisco Advice

Gosh, with 5 of you definitely get a van cab. You will not have to find the BART train, you will not have to schlep your luggage to BART or up from the BART station to the hotel. It will cost you about the same amount of money as paying 5 BART fares.

This is no brainer.

Just walk to the departure area and a dispatcher will find you a van cab.

Edited: 13 August 2010, 02:29
8. Re: San Francisco Advice

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