Information / Sources, San Francisco
U2 Beauty Health Center specializes in reflexology and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves to take care of their feet (of course I do!!) or who have tired and overworked feet (our 10 mile hike definitely falls under this catergory).
Reflexology is an excellent way to spend 50 minutes getting all those "kinks" out as well as relieving all the stress your poor feet endure day in and day out. But beware, it's a bit painful for those with low tolerance for pain as they really get in there and push those pressure points but you're feet will definitely be happy for it.
I think I paid about $33 plus $5 tip...cheap in my book for much needed pampering!
Fondest memory: 3940 Geary Boulevard
Hours - Open 7 days a week 10:00 am - 10:00 pm.
I normally would not include a tip like this on my pages (unless it is a must in the location, like in Thailand), but there are times when I travel and appreciate a recommendation of a place to get a pedicure, so have included it here.
77 Maiden Lane definitely did exactly that. During one of my trips to San Francisco I wanted to do more of the pampering than I usually do when I visit this city and finding an excellent place to spend an hour having a pedicure surely did that.
My pedicurist was very attentive, careful to my needs and very friendly. She didn't chat me up too much, just enough to make me feel comfortable and relaxed.
The salon is a full service beauty center and an appointment is crucial.
Fondest memory: After some shopping, a pedicure was in order and I totally enjoyed my one hour of pampering.
Mind you, it isn't cheap, I paid $60 taxes included for my pedicure!!
The salon is located at 77 Maiden Lane.
Coming in from Oakland you might want to rent a car at the airport the first day and then drive over to the hotel. You could then do your ride down the coast line the next day and then drop off the car at one of the rental facilities in downtown San Francisco when you are finished with it. On our last trip we did the wine country, Yosemite and then San Francisco. We picked up an Avis rental at SFO and then returned it to an Avis facility near our hotel with no extra charges. You could choose one of the major car rental companies for that option. Having a car I would suggest going out to Golden Gate Park, the Presido and take in the Cliff House above the Pacific Ocean. You could have a nice dinner or lunch out there. You will need a car to get to Muir Woods and as long as you are on that side of the bay check out the town of Sausalito also.
We did the night Alcatraz tour on our last trip which we really enjoyed. Get tickets far in advance as they will sell out. Before you board the boat you will go through a line where they will want to take your picture in front of a fake backdrop and then if you want 2 5 by 7 pictures will charge you $22. Skip the picture (you don't have to have it taken) and have someone take you and your husbands picture with the real Alcatraz in the background.
Another thing we really enjoyed last time was an architectural tour of the financial district. Rick Evans is the tour guide and was very interesting. The tour was about 2 hours long and was $20 cash. You can check out my tips with pictures it you click on my VT name and go to my San Francisco travel page.
I would skip the Yosemite trip even with the tour bus. That's a whole day affair and you really won't get the true flavor of Yosemite packed on a bus with other people and only making timed stops. Save that for another trip. If you are like me you will fall in love with SF and want to go back many times.
That being said some people don't like San Francisco because of the homeless and people on the street. There are a number of these people around town, but they will not bother you if you keep on walking by.
well, the hipsters are in the mission and the bohemians are in the upper haight
near ashbury and golden gate park. they do drum circles in the park so that may
be fun to watch and listen.
the cat club is fun if you want more of a gothy vibe. even though most of the
bars in the castro are gay bars, they're straight friendly :) the cafe is one
of my favorite dance clubs (on church street in the castro). burritos in the mission are a must. single slices of pizza can be sold all over the mission and upper haight.
pizza orgasmica for awesome pizza (north beach pizza is really good and has a
few locations as well) but more expensive
esperanza for spanish tapas
citizen cake for desserts
woodhouse fish company on upper market for oysters (they have a "happy hour" for oysters on tuesdays
swan oyster depot downtown for the best crab salad ever
blue bottle coffee for the best coffee in california
dosa for indian (although naan n curry is cheaper and still as good imo)
more local dive bars---
the 500 club
elixor (build your own bloody mary sundays)
the elbo room always has good latin and reggae live music, cheap cover
underground sf in the lower haight has great beats (it's kind of a small bar
with a dance floor, cheap cover)
upper playground is a good place to shop for illustrated t-shirts
if you want used clothing, wasteland is good, also buffalo exchange is good.
they have a few locations.
for books, dog eared is good
for more coffee, muddy waters
for belly dancers and hookas, kan zaman on upper haight
for good sangria and a juke box, hobson's on upper haight
karaoke-- the mint on market street
for good sandwiches, ike's
super local bar, the noc noc on lower haight (looks like a garage with mosaic
art inside, small but cool)
that was a lot. i have an arsenal, so let me know if you want more. a lot of
bohemian people love cafe gratitude, with their organic everything, but i think
it's really pretentious.
great breakfast is at both cafe flore and morning dew.
home is a good homestyle cookin' restaurant on church and market
chow is my all time favorite restaurant in the city because they have a great
atmosphere, nice quick staff, outdoor seating, a huge menu and good food and a
great location also on church and market
for fresh produce, golden grocer is my favorite (church and market)
i think i've overwhelmed you. i'll stop now :)
There is so much to see in San Francisco and, for obvious reasons, walking around isn't the easiest thing to do. The cable cars are handy for certain areas, but they don't go everywhere. At some point, you're really going to need a car (or spend a lot of time waiting around at bus stops). So, here are some tips.
Most hotels have a little tourist map of the city. Find it and study it the night before. I like to make a route. This would include not only where certain things are but exactly which streets I need to take to get there, whether those streets are one way or not (a lot are one ways in SF), and what the street is called right BEFORE the street where I want to turn. That way, you're not going to hold people up while you search for addresses. I also like to write down the names of the streets a couple blocks BEFORE my destination. That way, if I'm coming down the street and I see a parking place, whether or not I've seen that street that's 2-3 blocks away yet or not will help me decide if I should take the parking place. If I know I'm only 2 blocks from where I want to be I'll take the parking place - this might turn out to be the closest one available and I don't end up wasting time driving around the block (not an easy thing to do in SF) looking for a place or trying to get back to that one I saw 2 blocks away.
Also - save up your quarters! If (or when:-)) you find a parking place, most likely you'll need to feed a meter. I keep my quarters in an old film canister in my purse. Just by picking it up I can tell if there's enough money in it for a 2 hour meter (usually $2-3).
Fondest memory: Another parking tip, and this applies not only to viewing Cupid's Shot but I'm just using that as an example: this is a great piece of modern art just below the Bay Bridge at the far end of the Embarcadero. If you're spending most of your time at Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf area of the city (where there is a great parking structure!) it's going to be a VERY long walk down to see Cupid's Shot. Driving there first might be easier. When I went, I saw a lot of parking places right in front of the sculpture but they were all either "no stopping" or taxi stands. If there is plenty of space (don't take some poor cabbie's last spot), and if you're willing to risk getting a ticket, whip in, put the car in park but don't turn off the engine, hop out, snap a few pictures (the view of the bridge and bay are great from here too), then hop back in the car and continue on your way down to Pier 39:-) So, for other things that you want to see but don't need to spend a lot of time hanging out around, as you drive by, see if there's somewhere to pull in for just a few seconds and use that to your advantage.
(By the way, on that drive from Cupid's Shot down to Pier 39, you'll drive right by both the TransAmerica Pyramid and Coit Tower. If you hit the red lights right, you can take pictures of both from your car while you're waiting for the light to change.)
For parking near the Golden Gate Bridge, drive like you're going to drive across the bridge but right before you get to the toll booth, there's a sign with two arrows - to the left it says Bridge and to the right it says Parking. That parking is a nice-sized lot with bathrooms, a gift shop, a cafe, and terrific access to a lookout over the bay and the bridge. You can also access the sidewalk that takes you across the bridge if you would prefer to walk it instead of drive over it.
Favorite thing: Starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, this movie does a fairly accurate and highly acclaimed portrayal of the life and death of San Francisco's first gay supervisor, Harvey Milk. Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Moscone, who was also killed by former supervisor Dan White (who later committed suicide after release from jail), Harvey Milk, and others the San Francisco gay community has become an established part of the city community. Their martyrdom also spurred the movement for gay rights in the USA and throughout the world. Go to Milk for more information on the movie, or History of Harvey Milk
there's a rink down on the embarcadero at market street.
other than that, check out this website for events.
but, i wouldn't pay to skate in circles. the embarcadero is super smooth. you can skate from south beach to fort mason practically!
If you really want to see a bit of SFO three hours will not give you much time to do anything. Contact your travel agent or you carrier and find out if you can take a later connecting flight to Japan or earlier flight to SFO. If you have 6hours on your sleeves you can do it. As mentioned above, the three hours will only be enough getting out and back into airside at SFO.
Check SFO website below. It says pax with 4hrs layover could use the BART from the airport to the Bay area. But personally I would want 5-6 hrs lay over if I ever have to get out from a busy international hub like SFO. You would not want to miss your flight.
So call your airline and ask for some advice. When you arrive in SFO go to the transfer desk and advice them of your plan. Some airports can give you a pass to go out so you do not have to go through the long queues. But again, check this with your carrier.
If you are from a visa waiver country you can go out of the airport anytime. If not just make sure you have a transit-visa or a US visa.
Fondest memory: Most charming and captivating city! I love the Victorian homes that lines her narrow streets. The tram, the crooked street, two of the most popular/beautiful bridges in the world; and yeah, I love the view from Twin Peaks!
Right at the Powell Street Station, you will find the SFO visitors bureau (pic 1). Very helpful staff will help you with everything and give free maps etc They also see telephone cards.
Here you can buy the City Pass for $59. It will give you free ride for 7 consecutive days in trams, cable cars and buses all around the city. With the CityPass you will have free entrance at:Aquarium Of The Bay, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, SF Museum of Modern Art, California Academy of Science, Exploratorium, de Young and Legion of Honor Museum. Check www.sfmuni.com for information about the Muni system.
You may find useful the following buses:
Golden Gate Bridge: 28 or 29 bus
Fisherman's Wharf: 15, 30, F-line or 10 bus
Chinatown: 30, 45, 15, 1 California, 12 Pacific or Cable Cars
Union Square: 2, 3, 4, 30, 45, 38 Geary, Cable Cars, or any streetcar (F-Line)
Haight Ashbury: 6, 7, 33, 37, 43, or 71 bus
Cliff House/Seal Rocks: 18 bus or 38 Geary
Golden Gate Park: 71, or 5 Fulton, 21 Hayes, 33 Stanyan, 7 Haight, N. Judah, or 44 O' Shaughnessey
Moscone Convention Center: 15, 30, 45, 14 Mission, or 12 Folsom
We booked all our concert tickets from TicketMaster(http://www.ticketmaster.com/section/?tm_link=tm_homeA_changeloc_go)
But you also can check for upcoming concerts:
http://www.thebaybridged.com/local-concert-calendar/ (for SF and mostly independent music)
For the Alkatraz tour book in advance online otherwise you may cant get a ticket. Check here: http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/
Tipping is always confusing for me in USA, I usually give 10-15% in restaurants and $1 per order in pubs
At Pier 43 we saw the kiosk/stop(pic 2) of Motorized Cable Cars (Gray Line) that can also organize for you deluxe city tours, day trips to Sausalito or Wine Country, Yosemite Evening Tour and Bay Cruises. We didn’t use them but you can check their site: www.grayline.com/Grayline/destinations/us/sanfrancisco.go
We used Tower Tours (pic 3) because they have some nice city tours and other organised day trips like:
Grand City Tour ($47), San Francisco by night ($72), Muir Woods & Sausalito ($49), Wine Country($65), Monterey & Carmel($71), Yosemite($137) etc
We did the Winery Tour with them and we were 100% satisfied with them. They are located at 865 Beach Street at Ghirardelli Square but probably you can book through your hotel like we did and they will pick you up from your place. www.towertours.com
I always like to watch movies and read books about the location I'm visiting, I didn't find time to read any books for this trip but I did manage to sneak in a few movies, the three I watched were all filmed in San Francisco and featured parts of it prominently
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a 2005 documentary about the wild parrots who've made Telegraph Hill their home and the man who spent years tending to the flock
Bullitt a 1968 thriller starring Steve McQueen, famous for the car chase scenes through the hills of San Francisco, all the more impressive after you realize that the car chase is real and Steve McQueen did most of his own driving.
Escape from Alcatraz, a 1979 movie starring Clint Eastwood as Frank Morris, one of the three men who escaped from Alcatraz in June 1962 and was never seen again. They filmed it almost entirely at Alcatraz so you can get a good look at the prison before you visit. The escape was almost anticlimatic, but I enjoyed the look at what the prisoners faced on "The Rock".
There are lots of other books and films set in San Francisco, here's a list from Wikipedia
For a guidebook, I picked up Fodor's San Francisco and while some of the prices/times/opening hours were off, I found that it was a good comprehensive guide and appeared to have been written by a local, not someone who visited for a few days or even worse, had never been there at all
There's no law that says you have to dress a certain way in San Francisco, and people have become much more casual in their dress in recent years, just as they have elsewhere. But there still are some places where people generally dress up to go - the theater, the opera, the nicer restaurants . . .
A little aside: if you pack for San Francisco as if you were coming to "Sunny California," you will most likely be running out to buy long pants and a sweatshirt with "I left my heart in SF" on it! San Francisco can be warm (and even hot, on occasion), but it can also be foggy and cold, even (some say "especially") in the summertime. So bring some warm things along, just in case.
Fondest memory: My first trip (can't even count how many times since) to San Francisco from Sacramento with my boyfriend and his family when I was 17 - we had breakfast at the Roundhouse Restaurant at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge (now home to the Gift Center).
Although San Francisco is a compact and well developed, an assortment of wildlife roam the City. Most wild animals in the City tend to be nocturnal. Enough open space and hideaways exist for these creatures to find refuge during the day. Whether you will see any will depend where you are, when you are there, and how hard you look. For the most part, these animals are harmless if given the proper respect. If you keep your distance, they should not present a problem should you encounter any of them.
Raccoons rule the night. I've seen them in about every neighborhood, even Fisherman's Wharf. They can get quite large, for a raccoon. These city slickers can be on the aggressive side. They will attack dogs if provoked and in certain circumstances, may even charge towards people. They can be found both alone or in small family groups. If you see any, it is best to give them a wide berth.
Skunks are another common creature of the night in the City. These also can be found throughout the City and can ruin your evening if you happen to get too close to one. Opossums are more illusive, but can occasionally be seen.
Seals have occupied the Bay long before the founding of San Francisco. Some of them decided to regain some lost turf and took over some boat slips at Pier 39. These intruders have since become a tourist attraction.
At dusk, bats can be seen and heard in some locations like Mount Davidson. These rare creatures are fairly harmless. Although some may find them a bit creepy.
Coyotes recently re-inhabited the City. Keep your distance from these guys or scare them away with a lot of noise if they approach. Under no circumstances should you attempt to feed them. They have been sited in the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks, on the bluffs above Ocean Beach, and even in the Potrero Hill district. It is unknown if they ventured up the beach and associated bluffs from San Mateo County or traversed the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin (without paying the toll). Either way they are there. They usually come out at night and are rarely seen. This illusive animal is the only critter on this list that I have not yet seen within the City. In the summer of 2007, two coyotes in Golden Gate Park became too aggressive and were destroyed by state wildlife officials.
Grey Fox are very rare. I have only seen them in the late afternoon on the bluffs above Ocean Beach near the San Francisco and Daly City boarder. They are sometimes seen in the Presidio.
Birds are abundant in San Francisco. You can see seagulls, pigeons, robins, hummingbirds, crows, parrots (yes the flock of parrots does exist), ducks, snowy plovers, heron, and occasional birds of prey like hawks. Alcatraz Island in the Bay is a major breeding ground for seagulls.
Some reptiles may crawl under a rock here. A garter snake is a rare find and is also pretty harmless. Lizards can be found in some open space areas.
In San Francisco you can find squirrels where you can find trees. Gofers burrow under manicured lawns, while field mice and other rodents scurry about. For a well developed City, quite a few wild creatures are about.
@ Powell Station, Union Sq, Downtown SF
My SF trip started here at Tourist Info Ctr. They've got lots of brochures and flyers on every aspects / activities available in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Get a map, ask for experts' advices, grab a light snack from a shop nearby. SF Muni Passport can be purchased here, as well as day trips and travel packages. It's also a good, quiet place to sit for a while and meet some fellow travelers who might share some interests.
It's usually rather quiet in SF on Christmas Day, with fewer crowds and less traffic than normal, but there will be things going on in Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf. Also, it should be easier to catch a ride on the cable cars! Personally, I'd spend some time strolling the neighborhoods (the "Hidden Cities" of San Francisco).
As for restaurants that will be open - check on OpenTable.com. You can find out what's open and also a price range.
San Francisco is my all-time favorite city! And it's even more charming during its quiet times, like Christmas Day, or early in the morning when the trucks are making their deliveries of fresh produce to the little neighborhood groceries!
San Francisco enjoys one of the purest municipal water systems in the United States. Originating as snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the precious liquid begins to flow as snowmelt and is collected in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. As a result of its pure origins, the City's water contains an extremely low amount of suspended particles.
In 2008, an executive order issued by the Mayor of San Francisco took effect that forbids City offices from purchasing bottled water. The purity of San Francisco's domestic water, combined with the various environmental considerations, especially in regard to the transportation of bottled water, was cited as his reasons for the action.
When in San Francisco, consider saving the world from manufacturing another plastic bottle and try the tap. Now if you are in a building with old lead pipes, let the water run for a few minutes or all bets are off. :)
Fondest memory: After most of the City burned following the 1906 Earthquake, San Francisco recognized the importance of securing a reliable source of water. Under the leadership of visionary City Engineer, Michael O'Shaughnessy, water rights were secured, a dam was designed, and the structure that eventually bore his name was constructed. Political opposition to the project existed, led by no other than the famed environmentalist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club. However, the City prevailed in the political and legal struggle and the dam was completed in 1923.
The O'Shaughnessy Dam blocked the Tuolumne River and flooded scenic Hetch Hetchy Valley. Hetch Hetchy valley was a beautiful valley formed by glacierial action. Now this valley lies beneath Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
The reservoir provides excellent quality water to 2.4 million Californians in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Alameda Counties, as well as some communities in the San Joaquin Valley. The dam also generates electricity for San Francisco. San Francisco benefits greatly form this source of electrical power. In addition to providing energy for many Californians, this hydroelectric source of power also propels the City's electric transit vehicles and lights the streets of the City.
However, a controversial political movement exists that desires to remove the dam and restore Hetch Hetchy Valley back to its original condition.