Day Trips, San Francisco
I highly recommend you to do the following before you head to San Francisco:
1. You have to buy the online ticket for the Alcatraz tour because these are always fully booked and you don't have to wait in line. If you failed to book online, you might not able to get into the tour! (This is after you have already bought the tour package of the Golden Gate, Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, etc.)
2. Book your hotel in advance and rent a car in San Francisco.
3. The hotels in Sausalito's are cheaper but you can also choose to stay in San Francisco if you wanted to stay there for another day- you can explore the city more - the Fisherman's Museum (free), the zigzag road (Lombard Street-free), The Believe it Or Not Museum (my family enjoyed this).
4. After your tour here (Alcatraz, Fisherman's Museum, Believe it or not Museum and take your car to Lombard Street, prepare to visit Monterey.
5. In Monterey, visit the Aquarium since it is one of the biggest Aquarium in the Umited States! Then visit the Ansel Adam's and just hang around the area and enjoy the local artists' works, arts and crafts.
6. From Monterey (one night stay), head to Napa Valley and book a hotel there for the night.
7. In Napa Valley, visit the Ludson Mansion and have wine tasting, stroll around the town and visit little unique stores.
8. I will recommend to do your shopping last so you will not end up carrying extra luggage touring around!
I hope this helps. I will post my latest trip tips/pictures in San Francisco in a couple of days.
Super Sightseeing Tours has many tours available for whatever it is you fancy. Tours of San Fran, the wine country, Sausolito, Muir Woods and many more. The bus drivers are very informative and you'll be told facts and stories about where you'll be visiting as well as places and sites that are on the way to your destination.
I booked a combination of Muir Woods, Sausolito and a bay cruise with them through Viator for 67.00USD per person. The tour lasts about 6 hours and I thought it was reasonably priced. They'll also pick you up at your hotel and drop you off too.
Super Sightseeing Tours offices are located at the Corner of Taylor St. and North Point St., one block down from the Powell-Hyde cable car turntable and one block north of Ghirardelli Square.
You can also visit their site at www.supersightseeing.com or visit www.viator.com for tours and prices.
I don't think you need to go as far north as Menedocino.
I recommend going up along the coast as far as Jenner and head back in land to the town of Guerneville in Sonoma which is one of the major wine regions in California.
You could go across the Golden Gate Bridge, and head to the Marin Headlands (beautiful views back across to SF) but you'll have to keep a good eye out for the turnoff right after you clear the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Lots of places to visit such as the Lighthouse or the beach or the Mammal Rescue Center.
Then you could visit the touristy town of Sausalito or as above, Tiburon where you can also catch a ferry across to Angel Island.
Or after Sausalito, follow the scenic Highway 1 to Muir Woods for a hike among the redwoods before continuing on coastal route Highway 1 to Tomales Bay, Bodega Bay, and then Jenner where the Russian River Valley enters the Pacific Ocean. There are quite a number of wineries in Sonoma to visit and you could probably spend a night here. HOwever, this would be more than 3 hours of driving per day but would make for a highly scenic 2 day trip.
Favorite thing: Outdoor Activities:San Francisco has plenty to offer the outdoor sports enthusiasts. For instance, those who love backpacking and hiking can hike in Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, Angel Island, Barbary Coast Trail, and Crystal Spring Trail. The Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve is a 5,000-acre park, which is open all year round. This forest is overgrown with 1,000-year-old redwood trees. Small creeks weave through the woods. On the sides of these creeks, at some places, are placed picnic tables where the visitors can grab a quick bite. Children can play in the small, shallow creeks safely, while parents watch indulgently from the adjacent tables. The redwood trees keep the woods cool during the summer months and offer some protection during the winters.
Take a ride from Santa Cruz north on Hwy 1 north to San Francisco. Pull over and take as many photo's as you can. It's all breathtaking, and every turn has different visuals.. Fog, Pine trees, golden hills, dark oak trees, dark blue sky's, yellow green pastures in Salinas Valley.
The neighborhoods of San Francisco, make you feel like you're in a small little town in a very large metropolis. The city embraces you. The people are friendly, caring, won't let you get on the wrong bus. The weather is perfect for a long sleeve cotton t shirt, most of the day. At night, a good windbreaker is all you need. Carry your camera everywhere you go. Check out the neighborhoods. The public library has all kinds of little explorations for free in all the different neighborhoods. I did the walking tour of the Castro. there was a historic mansion tour in Pacifica, walking tours of Upper Haight and Lower Haight.
Fondest memory: Walking along the streets at night, and feeling absolutely safe. Sitting at a bus stop, talking to all the different people waiting for the bus. Meeting people on the buses that were willing to walk you in the direction of where you are going. And most of all... there's a Trader Joe's conveniently located in town for all of your needs! God bless you Trader Joe's!!
Driving from San Francisco, took to US 101 south to Great America Parkway exit.
This is a fun day of roller coasters, wide crazy rides, great shows and favorite cartoon characters coming alive.
Admission is pricey:
Adult (ages 7 - 59) $51.99
Child / Senior (ages 3-6, 60+) $34.99
Well, when bored and nice Californian Sunday, why not.
Even though it might be considered a tad bit stuffy and uppity by some people, Hayes Valley has a cool selection of shops and restaurants in a concentrated area; and it's not far out of the downtown area. If you want to do some shopping, check it out for sure because the boutique stores are vibrant and unique.
Fondest memory: dinner at Suppenkuche was pretty damn good!
We spent and additional 3 days at Pismo Beach in Central CA. While there we toured local
wineries (this was an outing during our family reunion). Even if you don't like wine, you can still appreciate the beauty of the well manicured winery (just ask Kelly...not a wine fan). As mentioned, we also drove HWY 1, beautiful. Please note that mapquest said 1 1/2 hours, but the drive was 3 hours (due to the 2 lane narrow winding roads). We opted to take the 101 on the way back to San Fran.
If you are renting a car or have someone driving you sight seeing around San Francisco, I highly recommend you take the 49 Mile Scenic Drive. It will make navigating thru the difficult San Franciscan traffic easier and will take you to all the key spots throughout the city.
You can tell if you are on the 49 mile scenic drive by keeping a watchful eye for the blue/white/red sign such as this one located in North Beach.
Tip: If you can, considering taking this drive on Sunday mornings when the traffic is at a minimum. Avoid Saturday afternoons, night time, and weekdays (especially Fridays) after 3pm.
Weekdays from 10am-2pm are also ok. If you have a map of San Francisco, they usually have the 49 mile scenic drive.
Fondest memory: Here is the map on line:
49 Mile Scenic Drive Map
I'm generally not a fan of organized tours. But there is so much to see in San Francisco and its spread out along random streets completely lacking in any discernible form of a grid, so investing the time and money into a tour makes sense.
The city tours are brief 3 hour tours offered in the mornings and afternoons. They provide an overview of all the things you'd want to see in San Francisco if you only had the time. The tours also stop at several spots and allow you to take pictures. The tour guides also provide a lot of great information on San Francisco, including some good restaurant tips.
I'd recommend the city tour to give an overview of the city. You don't have time to see much at any location as you're constantly horded off and back on the bus so its not the way to see the attractions. But a few of San Francisco's key sights to see are places where you can see a great view of the city and perhaps take a photo of two. The tour allows you to do that.
The two main tour companies are Gray Line and Super Sightseeing Tours. I did the Super Sightseeing but heard good things about both. The tours will pick you up at your hotel and drop you back off, although this is a time consuming process in both directions. For those with a good sized group, you can arrange your own tour, get a private van or car and go see the sights you want. It gives you greater flexibility but it comes with a steeper price.
One of the most exciting and best spots in San Francisco is to visit its downtown area. The city is full of travelers and very crouded. You deffinately feel the atmosphere being fresh and friendly.
Fondest memory: When walking in San Francisco the best part is to have the most comfortable shoes. Do not make a mistake by wearing high heels and feeling uncomfortable. San Francisco is a smaller version of New York and it has an old city feeling.
Favorite thing: If you happen to have an extra day in San Francisco (and if the sun is shining)... Drive south on Rt 1 for about an hour. The road winds along the coastline and the views are fantastic. You can even stop and take a cheesey picture like I did. Hopefully the wind won't blow up your shirt and make you look like the stay-puff marshmallow man....
Favorite thing: Some very pretty areas but if your not into tasting wine or DUI then I'd skip Napa and surrounding areas as a day trip. Instead go up the coast toMuir Woods and beyond. The coastal highway has beautifull sites. Large parts of it can not be seen by the driver. No gaurd rails, rockslides and only 3 feet curbing before you do a "Thelma & Louise" Forget swimming in that water.it's to cold without a wet suit.
What a place. What trees. Entry fee was only three dollars. You could spend the whole day here. Short and long trails. One even goes to Stinson Beach 4 1/2 miles away one way.
Fondest memory: The quit in Muir woods while walking on the trails. Even with lots of tourist it's quite once you get further into the woulds. The trees are so very big, little sunlight hits the forest floor and sounds are muffled..
Favorite thing: As you trun off Interstate 280 towrds Half Moon Bay you cross the San Andreas Lakes. These lie in the valley of the San Andreas fault which because of the fault is very straight. They have now been enlarged by a dam and supply water for San Francisco. The water actually originates in the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite and is transported via tunnels and channels to here.