Planning to Visit San Francisco and Napa Valley, for the first tine, sometime in Sept or Oct. 2013 for one week. Does anyone have suggestions as to which courtyard to stay in, should I rent car, should I stay in San Francisco and do trips to Napa or should I stay in Napa Valley for a few days. What is the best week to go to Napa Wine Country? What are the must see sites while I am there?
It's been too long since I've been to the wine country, so I'll defer to others on that, but I was just out in San Francisco recently.
The Renaissance in Sonoma is really nice. You can reach Napa from there in about 10 minutes. I stayed here in July and it was very nice.
You won't need (or want) a car in S.F. Consider getting one only for the portion of the trip in Napa. You'll save the hassle and fees of having to drive and park in the city. Public transit is excellent both in S.F and for much of the East Bay area. Depending on your activities, stay either in the city or across the bay and commute in by BART. There a good options either place.
Ride a cable car and stop at the cable car museum (consider the California St. line as it is less crowded and it goes right past Chinatown). Lunch or dinner in Chinatown is always fun. Walk from Pier 39 past Fisherman's Wharf to Ghirardelli Square (you can hop a street car on Market St to Pier 39). Stop at the soda fountain at Ghirardelli Square. Nearby is an excellent Maritime Museum. Take a bus or walk up to Coit Tower (awesome view). This barely scratches the surface.
As far as Napa goes, think about a scenic drive across the Golden Gate Bridge with a stop at Muir Woods to see the redwoods (not the most direct route, but worth the extra time). There is also a scale model of the entire S.F. Bay area near Sausalito if you go this way (run by the Corps of Engineers if you find that sort of thing interesting - http://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/BayModelVisitorCenter.aspx). Not for everyone, but entry is free. I enjoyed my visit there a few years back.
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is always awe inspiring and heading north, there is no toll.
I'm not as well-versed on Napa, so I'll leave that to others, but you may want a night or two there to really experience it. No matter what you choose to do or where to stay, you'll have a great time.
I have only stayed at Courtyards outside of SF and I like the Courtyard in Cupertino, but you will have to drive (most of the Courtyards south of SF are fine, but you will need a car...maybe the BART is an alternative). The Santa Clara Marriott is reasonably priced, but you will have to drive. The Marriott Union Square is new and nice.
--The Ferry Building
--The Golden Gate Bridge
--Bi-Rite Creamery (for ice cream)
--Tartine (for baked goods)
--Fine dining...many great ones including Saison, Atelier Crenn, Quince, Aziza, Sons & Daughters, Keiko a Nob Hill, and Benu
For Napa Valley, the SpringHill Suites is a good option, but it is typically expensive (usually $269/night). Courtyard Sonoma Novato is nice and cheaper, but it is a 30-min drive to Napa. It is a good spot if you are splitting time between Sonoma and Napa.
Napa Valley must-visits:
--Oxbow Public Market
--Hopper Creek Kitchen (for breakfast)
--Fine dining...Terra, The French Laundry, The Restaurant at Meadowood, and (if you don't mind driving) Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.
Here is a recent thread on San Francisco in addition to all the other excellent information already provided.
Alcatraz is a great tour as well and should be booked well in advance as they fill up quick.
The Sonoma County Harvest Fair is great fun and is the first week of October, you can even get in the grape stomping contest if you dare!
Excellent dining all over the city so have a great time.
I don't know your overall priorities and preferences, but one of my favorite hotels in the area is the Renaissance Club Sport in Walnut Creek, across the street from the Pleasant Hill BART station. Depending on whether you are paying or using points, it is a much better value than Courtards in San Francisco. (I am currently boycotting Courtyards due to Bistro and no complimentary coffee). This Renaissance is a 35 minute ($10 roundtrip per person) BART ride to Powell St. station, where you can take Muni or Cable cars to almost anywhere in the city. It is also only about 30 minute drive to Napa and Sonoma. There is a good Mediterranean and Chinese restaurant within easy walking distance. All guests have complimentary access to one of the nicest health clubs I have ever used, which is attached to the hotel. Althought there is no CL, platinum members received daily complimentary breakfast in the restaurant, where service was outstanding. I was upgraded to a great suite, but I think all rooms are suites.
Although there is a charge for valet parking, you really don't need a car for the days you spend in SF, since you can take BART. Parking in the city is likely more expense than your BART and MUNI fees combined and you won't have to fight traffic and find parking. We only rented a car for a few days, and the hotel provided complimentary shuttle to the local Hertz office. The young staff at the hotel were among the most helpful and pleasant that I have recent had the pleasure to interact with. We definitely plan to stay here again on our next trip to the area.