This will be my first time in San Francisco. We're very excited. We're starting in Palo Alto and will spend a couple of nights at The Stanford Court Renaissance San Francisco Hotel. China Town, Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf are all on the list.
How about a few suggestions from the MI community?
Don't forget to walk across the street and have a refreshment at The Top of The Mark. A historic place that is just as beautiful and with a scenic view.
Also, a nice ice cream cone from Ghiradelli Chocolate is a must.
Get your Alcatraz tickets early or on line if possible! Likewise, be patient for the lines on the cable cars. If you like Irish Coffee, try the Beauna Vista, in Fisherman's Wharf and the Marriott FW.
Have a great time, and I expect Pluto to have some very good ideas as I think she is there now.
You are in for a "San Francisco Treat" and it's not Rice a Roni, (Nothing wrong with Rice a Roni!).
The pier area will be especially nice, and there is a nice place to dine their called Scoma's. Not expensive, but pretty popular, you will enjoy the festiveness of SF.
I hope you get a lot of other suggestions for your trip.
I am not in SF this weekend (was headed there last weekend and plans changed). I only get to the City about once every 10 years, truth be told, so I'm no expert. Obligations have me spending most of my CA travel time in So. CA or when I just have to "get out of Dodge," Monterey Peninsula or the Central Coast. PP has been given some lovely ideas here. The only thing I would add is that today is the America's Cup final in SF! It would be SO AWESOME to see that 'up close and personal.' A genuinely rare treat.
Additionally, If you can swing it, a day in Napa/Sonoma Wine Country would be time well spent. We know you'll have a terrific time whatever you do, PP, and we look forward to hearing about it when all is said and done.
Happy travels. (Ding, ding!)
Hello all. First post here, kind of new to MI, but I wanted to respond to the question since we were just there in May of this year.
We enjoyed Scoma's as well. Ghiradelli's was good for a really good ice cream sundae.
We did a brunch cruise through Hornblower. They do the brunch cruises on Saturday and Sunday. The food was especially good with all you can drink mimosas (or just champagne). You leave near the Embarcadero. San Francisco Brunch Cruise | San Francisco Dinner and Brunch Cruises | Hornblower. While you are down near the Embarcadero definitely walk through it, great coffee shop, little eateries, fresh produce, and the only ScharffenBerger chocolate retail store remaining open in San Fran.
We were given a great recommendation ourselves to a really great California French Bistro, named Isa's. They have a 3 course pre fix menu for $29.95 at dinner. Isa Restaurant Prix Fix. Right around the corner from Isa's is a really great wine bar that I can not recall the name of.
The easiest way to see the city without the need of a taxi or car is to get a couple day pass on a double decker on/off tour bus.
If you do have a car, go across the Golden Gate and check out Sausalito and some of the overlooks/parks looking back towards San Francisco.
If you have any other questions, just ask.
You are in for a great time, there are plenty of things to see and do in the area.
China town & Alcatraz as you have mentioned are very good.
For Alcatraz I bought tickets in advance on line. It is a very popular tour and this will save you time if you know the day that you would like to visit.
Fishermans wharf area is worth visiting, we enjoyed clam cowder here: Boudin at the Wharf
Go to Golden Gate park and visit: San Francisco Aquarium, Planetarium and Natural History Museum | California Academy of Sciences and http://deyoung.famsf.org/ they are both excellent. Also close by is the: Japanese Tea Garden this is a delightul little oasis. Another attraction in the area is Welcome | Conservatory of Flowers
If you only have time for one of Japanese tea garden or conservatory of flowers then the tea garden is superior.
You can then visit http://legionofhonor.famsf.org/ which has a good collection of European paintings & Rodin sculptures, after this head to Golden Gate bridge which is close by. We parked up and then took a walk over the bridge.
Visit Lombard Street http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lombard_Street_(San_Francisco) join the other tourists taking photos of the cars as they come down the zig zag street.
An interesting museum was the San Francisco Cable Car Museum good information on the history & operation of the cable car.
Another enjoyable interactive experience was our visit to the: Exploratorium: the museum of science, art and human perception right beside this is the Welcome some beautiful photo opportunities here. As it says this is the only buiding left after 1915 exposition.
There are some other sights that we didn't have time to see like Coit Tower as unfortunately the weather wasn't ideal on the ocassions that we have been in the city.
I will have no problem justifying another trip to the city!
We also went on a day trip to the Napa Valley to visit some wineries, this was excellent I would highly recommend.
Another reason why we have enjoyed our visits to San Francisco is the food.
I love Boulevard, go at lunch for good value. The food is excellent I was really looking forward to our return visit and was not disappointed: Boulevard - mobile version it is located close to Ferry Buiding Marketplace, therefore easy to combine the two.
If you don't mind having a splurge then: MICHAEL MINA, San Francisco is the place to visit. We had an excellent dinner there. Lucky for us our young daughter slept and allowed us to really enjoy this experience.
kokkari : Welcome some very good Greek food here. It is a busy place make sure to make reservations in advance.
We have never had a bad dining experience in San Francisco, other enjoyable places have been: Range Restaurant - San Francisco , Home Page A nice little local place close to Golden Gate Park. aziza | san francisco : index interesting modern moroccan food. I'd happily revisit all of these places.
I'm sure others will be able to give you guidance in this area also.
You will probably wish you were staying 10 days instead of 5! I usually buy (or check out from the library) the Fodor's Guidebook when we visit a new city. The San Francisco edition provides a wonderfully thorough view of S. F. as well as surrounding areas. Other Insiders have given you lots of wonderful ideas. One thing we did at the very beginning of our trip was take a tour bus trip that lasted about 4-5 hours. I think it was Grayline. I remember catching it at Fisherman's Wharf. We had a BOGO for the tour; however, I don't remember how we got it. It gave us a wonderful introduction to the city. We also loved the Boudin Bakery at F. W. We found the food to be good. My husband insists that they pipe the smell of the sourdough bread baking into the area. This is the flagship store, but there are other locations. I know you'll love the Stanford Court Hotel. We enjoyed a trip to Sausalito, Muir Woods, and Napa Valey. I'll be anxious to read your trip report.
My wrist is healing faster than my heart. Thanks for asking. Actually, the Dr. took the cast off and I have to wear a brace/sling for at least 3 more weeks...won't be able to ride my bike for a while; although, I am riding my trainer (in the house). My typing has improved and is speedier because I can use the index fnger on my right hand now.
A great way to "see" a new town is on a Segway tour. My wife and I discovered this several years ago and found that most large cities have a Segway tour company. You can find them by searching on "Segway tours + city". The Segway tour we took in SF was Electric Tour Company and is located down at Fisherman's Wharf. We have done Segway tours in: San Francisco, Phoenix, Tempe, San Antonio, Long Beach, San Diego and Orlando.
We also took a tour of the city hall which was good: http://sfgsa.org/index.aspx?page=1172
Monday - Friday 10:00 am, 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm.
All tours run 45 minutes to an hour.
Here is a virtual tour from their website: http://sfgsa.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=266
I remember the guide telling us the dome is the tallest in USA.
This was another place which I looked into but unfortunately didn't make it there: http://www.cliffhouse.com/information/index.html
The setting is beautiful, not sure about the food quality though.
Would be interesting to hear if anyone has visited.
Lazy fella that I am, I waited for the others to do the heavy lifting, and sg (with his avatar, what else could we expect), Richard and others nailed it.
Because I live to eat while in a different city, I also try to work in some sort of movement activity. If you have any interest, here are a few activity thoughts;
San Francisco bike rentals and tours We had a great time renting bikes down in Fisherman's Wharf and taking the tour that crossed the Golden Gate into Sausalito and the redwoods of Muir Woods that razor mentioned, then ferrying back to the Embarcadero. Probably any bike rental with the proper due diligence could work - check for bogos with groupon, living social (where we got one) etc.
We also had a great time parking the car at the base and walking the downtown mountain park - Twin Peaks to the top - great views (free).
Also we went to Lands End (I believe somewhere in the bowels of this forum, there is a concierge write up) in Lincoln Park, terrific (wear your sneakers or trainers as sg might say) hikes and views of the bridge and bay - very contemplative (also due to wind, ten degrees colder than elsewhere).
As those who helped me with my London planning know, I love high places with great views and Jerry is dead on with Top of the Mark, another spot
is good for nursing a beverage and taking in some peaceful views.
And lastly, I chickened out on the risk of paying thru the nose for eating in the dark, but.....opaque - dining in the dark if you're bolder than me, give it a try and tell us all about it.
Have a great time (of course, I wouldn't have written anything if your Phils had swept the Nats and broken my heart )
Coit Tower has some really beautiful mural work that shows the history of San Francisco and a great view from the top. I was there 2 years ago and took the Fire Engine Tour. Unusual way to see the city from the back of a converted fire engine. We went across the Golden Gate - open air. It was great! Very breezy, a little campy and not your typical tour bus. It was only a couple of hours so left a lot of time to do other things on the list. We also took a whale watching cruise and were surrounded by them. The most I'd ever seen on a watch cruise.
You will already have a busy 5 days, there is so much to see and do and half the fun is walking around areas like China town.
Yerba Buena Gardens was nice.
Plenty of shopping around Union Square. http://www.unionsquareshop.com/
Take a good pair of walking shoes as there are plenty of hills!
One more restaurant that we visited: One Market. http://www.onemarket.com/ food was good, service was a bit slow going though.
If you plan to do many of the things covered by the city pass it can be a good deal. I went for 7 nts on pts and the transportation as well as the other options were enjoyable.
The cable cars are a must. The Alcatraz Island Tour is interesting. Just walking around the wharf area is enjoyable.