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San Francisco

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Chat' started by Junkyard Hog, Oct 30, 2014.

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  1. Junkyard Hog

    Junkyard Hog Low-Roller

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    Headed to San Francisco/Napa Valley next March for the first time. Planning on spending two days in each. What are the must do's?
     
  2. ken2v

    ken2v This Space For Rent

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    Find Tony's Pizza Napoletana. Nob Hill/Russian Hill: a few notable or fun eats are Leopold's, Okoze Sushi, Seven Hills, Olea.

    I often get shouted down, but you don't need G Square (unless staying at Fairmont Residences!), Fisherman's Wharf and most notably not Pier 39. You will want to walk along the Embarcadero, however, ride cable cars and if you're into it, SF is chock-a-block with fun adult stores. If you REALLY like to walk, start at G Square/the wharf and walk through Ft. Mason, the Marina District, Chrissy Field and to Ft. Point, then walk up and over the bridge at least half way. Come back via the Presidio and the Palace of Fine Arts. That's a long stroll but damn worth it. I also think Alcatraz warrants a visit. Legion of Honor/de Young Museum and CA Academy of Sciences if you are into that kind of stuff. Drive over the bridge and hike/walk the Marin Headlands. Play golf at Presidio.

    Napa. Eat at Bouchon in Yountville. Visit Schramsberg. Find your way over to Sonoma and cruise around the plaza and downtown. Book your stay at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and ask the concierge to set you up with some private/small visits to out-of-the-way wineries and make sure you hit the spa at the hotel. If you are really in to wine, hire a driver. Play golf at Sonoma Golf Club and revamped Silverado North.
     
  3. wigwam_salesman

    wigwam_salesman VIP Whale

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    Hi Ken, I'm going SF for the first time around Christmas. My missus is taking me (really looking forward to an 11 hour flight to Vegas from the UK then heading to SF the next day lol). She says good things about Pier 39...purely for debate, what are your reasons for disliking it?

    We are going to go to Alcatraz (if it is open in December?). She's been quite a lot as her ex lived there but would love to hear some tips from a pro travel writer.
     
  4. ken2v

    ken2v This Space For Rent

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    Because it's full of touristy crap you can get anywhere in America. You're not flying all the way across the pond and the continent for Bubba Gump or Hard Rock Cafe and trinket sellers, I'd guess. You'll go by it if you walk the length of the Embarcadero, Fisherman's Wharf, too, which in the grand scheme of things is at least historically kitschy so I'll amend and say acceptable. It would be like going to NYC and eating at Outback or Olive Garden, or going to Hawaii and hitting the ABC Store.

    You probably wanna check in with Kellee on this. Though not a local I think she spends more time in the City than we do and we're only 4 hours away. I'm no SF pro. Other places, yes, not SF.

    You are gonna have a blast. Make sure you don't short yourself in the consumption of California wine, either!!

    P.S. A missus? You get hitched or have I just been asleep at the switch?
     
  5. wigwam_salesman

    wigwam_salesman VIP Whale

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    You know what Ken, it dawns on me it is Fisherman's wharf she has been talking about. Not pier 39. Does that make me a bad person? I accept that if so.

    As for the missus - met her through friends over a year or so ago in Vegas. It's why my trips have ramped up. She's a hotel manager at Caesars. Let me know if you're staying there in the future.

    EDIT: Oh. I get you. In England your GF is also referred to as "the missus".
     
  6. ken2v

    ken2v This Space For Rent

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    Ooh, consorting with the Evil Empire!! I'm actually going to be in town soon, looking like 11/18-11/23. Looking to split between RRR and an MGM prop. You there then?

    To the OP:

    Do you like baseball? It certainly won't be remotely the same, but if you are a fan a tour of AT&T Park might be cool. It's an awesome stadium. Or it is when the house is full and rocking.

    Not really sure what to say about some of the City's great quirky, historic districts, since so many have been changing and gentrifying with the economy just rocking. Hopefully a local can chime in on this.
     
  7. bubbakitty

    bubbakitty native Texan; born and bred.

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    Get a map of the buses (electric type that look dated) as you can ride them for 3 day passes and get almost anywhere and quite easily. Take a walk through movie history by visiting some of the sites from the Maltese Falcon / Sam Spade.....Read as much as you can prior to going so to know basics and where you are / want to go.
     

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  8. FXT

    FXT VIP Whale

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    You'll need to book it ahead of time. I'm honestly not sure if they do Decemeber tours but even in the middle of July, that island gets windy to the point where it feels like 50 degrees. I can only imagine how chilly it would be in December.
     
  9. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    Ride the cable-car from from Union Square out to Fisherman's Wharf, check out Lombard St (crooked street) which will be along the route and maybe even take a drive through Golden Gate Park if you have a car. One reason to go to Pier 39 is to watch the seals directly behind the Pier (they're back as of August)... it's one of our family's favorite things to do... also suggest visiting Coit Tower on Russian Hill.

    I reject the notion to avoid all touristy type things... there's a reason to see them and a reason they're popular... they're cool. I'm not one of those who goes to a major city and thinks it cool to find a mom & pop shop with 2 people in it and think I've done the town "right" cause I avoided all the tourists. I'll be at Fisherman's Wharf all next week... I've been there tons of times... I still love it!!!! It's very different from where I live and I enjoy the change. Get a seat near the windows at Joe's Crab Shack (yeah I said it) across from the Bushman and watch him scare the people walking along the wharf area, it's hilarious. I would've recommended Asabella's where I took my wife on our first date at that location, but sadly it closed several years back. Have a beer at Joe's and enjoy the show... the "chain police" won't get ya, cause you're not enjoying a fine cabaret at a snooty joint. Check out North Beach... great old Italian neighborhood... and walk through Chinatown, it's a fun stroll.

    Most importantly, like Vegas, don't try to do too much... enjoy the "flavor" of the town and the beauty of the bay, the bridges and the natural settings.

    Lest my post come off as confrontational with my friend Ken, we're just not the kind of people who go on vacation to get away from people... we go to get away from work. I enjoy being around people! Went to Hawaii a few years back and stayed at Waikiki for 10 days. The wife and I had a blast! Came back and had everyone lecture us how "we did it wrong" and how they have a "little place on Kauai where you won't see 2 people all week!" Well... we wouldn't like that! We went to a bed and breakfast on the Mendocino Coast one year and tried to act like "grown-ups" and hated the quiet seclusion of it all until we found a rockin' little bar in Caspar a few miles north that had great live music! They had bands traveling between LA/SF and up to Portland and Seattle and got some really good acts. My point is... we like to get drunk and dance and don't do reading a good book with a bottle of wine well... we're also fine with a Big Mac & fries as opposed to kissin' the butt of some snooty "innkeeper" makin' small talk about their old home who isn't gonna give a rats ass about us the moment we're gone. That's how we roll... we're shallow and superficial. AND we watch friggin' REALITY SHOWS... and like 'em!!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014
  10. makikiboy

    makikiboy VIP Whale

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    I'm in agreement with Smartone. I think it all depends on what type of "tourist" you are, whether you want to see the usual tourist locales or if you want to visit the areas away from the tourist traps.

    For me, I enjoy visiting San Fran, enjoy going down to Fisherman's wharf and pier 39 (not that I buy anything - take that back, I buy chocolate!) and also Ghirardelli square. Gotta have that clam chowder in a bread bowl whenever I visit San Fran. I also like to visit Chinatown (for trinkets to buy for others) and on weekends and a certain day of the week I also visit the Ferry building. On Saturdays they have a flea market type of set up, with many vendors outside selling food stuff (fruits, veggies, dried stuff, cheeses, etc.). Ride the cable car, get off at Lombard street and walk down the crooked street, visit little Italy for their Italian food, even visiting japantown and visiting the Daiso store (lots of cheap knick knacks, women love that store).

    There are hop on hop off buses if you want to view the city. you can also take a tour of Alcatraz. I have visited many of the places that Ken mentioned, in fact my last trip in June I visited the gg bridge, crissy field, ft. point and walked down baker beach (too bad it was too cold, it is a clothing optional beach, lol). Golden Gate park is a nice place to visit if you have time, as is the palace of fine arts. There is an International Spy Museum near fisherman's wharf that has neat spy stuff (pinhole cameras, funky glasses and other spy stuff). While there isn't much to the place it is still neat to see what they have to offer.

    As for chocolate, there are a couple of stores that sell chopped up blocks of chocolate (dark, milk, mixed, some with almonds, etc.). These blocks are about 2 lbs, some people use them when they bake or cook, others like myself, I munch on them when I get the urge.

    I usually put in a lot of footwork in San Fran, as long as you know the (relatively) flat streets you can easily walk around the place. I usually walk from Fisherman's wharf all the way to union square.
     
  11. mdee

    mdee VIP Whale

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    I like doing Touristy stuff so I enjoyed going to Alcatraz, Muir Woods and taking a Bus Tour of the City. As well as the Hop on Hop off Trolleys. Oh yeah... Sourdough Bread!
     
  12. aaronw915

    aaronw915 Low-Roller

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    La Taqueria in the Mission District for an amazing burrito.
    The Rebel Within from Craftsman and Wolves.
    Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge heading toward Wine Country, and park on the other side and walk at least 1/2 way across the bridge.
    If you're renting a car, drive down Lombard Street. We did it twice.
    Walk under the dragon gate and through Chinatown. Eat there as well.
    Explore the ferry building.
    Take the California St cable car to Van Ness and walk to The House of Prime Rib for a lovely dinner.
    Watch the sunset at Land's End before you leave.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2014
  13. ken2v

    ken2v This Space For Rent

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    No worries here, smartone.

    Who goes to SF to get away from people?

    Hell, we love the buzz when we choose a NY- or SF-like trip, or how we broke up our just-concluded getaway between downtown Vancouver and the mountains of the Coast Range. We're just not going to go eat something that we can on every 10th block back in the world. That's just us. It could be a saimin stand one meal, something with a spendy bottle of wine the next. It can be basic. We try to avoid factory.

    And oh do we hate the "sedentary" vacay, too!
     
  14. Junkyard Hog

    Junkyard Hog Low-Roller

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    Thanks guys. I knew I'd get plenty of great responses from this board. We plan on doing the touristy things for the most part (as time allows). We also plan to EAT great so those recommendations help as well.
     
  15. Snidely

    Snidely VIP Whale

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    Avoiding Fisherman's Wharf would be like going to NYC and avoiding Time's Square.

    When we went to SF we took the ferry boat over to Napa. It was a very nice way to travel. Like I typically do in any city, I just wander about. Our hotel was in China Town and a short taxi ride to the ferry boat piers. We did the wine train via the ferry boat and enjoyed it.
     
  16. UTE

    UTE Plastics

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    I could not agree more. SF's top tourist attractions are some of the best and most interesting in the world and need no apologies for what they are. My wife and I still see them every year and it doesn't get old.

    Bill
     
  17. ken2v

    ken2v This Space For Rent

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    Times Square is a horridly overblown waste of time and space.

    But as long as you enjoy it!!
     
  18. Snidely

    Snidely VIP Whale

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    Pshaw. Anyone going to NYC should experience it at least once. I certainly wouldn't tell anyone going to NYC on vacation to avoid it. A colleague who lives in the UK sailed the Queen Mary 2 over to NYC and the number 1 thing on his to-do list was dinner at TGIFriday's. It's the world's largest. He loved it. He couldn't stop talking about Fridays. I was happy for him. Who am I to be a wet blanket.
     
  19. ken2v

    ken2v This Space For Rent

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    I'm just back from Mexico. I forgot to try Chipotle down there. Damn. Saw an Applebee's (or was it a TGIF?). Missed that one, too.

    On the larger matter, since a good bit of what I recommended was recommended by others, perhaps we all don't share the same definition of what makes something "touristy." If Alcatraz is "touristy" because it is popular with tourists, so be it. It's an awesome thing to see and experience. Unique. Historic. Haunting. And not exactly replicated elsewhere. Go go go. Cable cars? Hugely popular. Hugely warranted. Golden Gate Bridge? Seen by how many millions over the years? Always worth experiencing.

    An agglomeration of cookie-cutter American retailtainment establishments replicated ad nauseum across the land and not at all indicative of the local environment/culture/history/uniqueness of a place, that to me is touristy. By which I mean avoidable.
     
  20. Junkyard Hog

    Junkyard Hog Low-Roller

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    Getting close to trip time!

    The plan so far is:

    Day 1
    Fly into Oakland. Head to the Golden Gate Bridge. Head to Muir Woods. Head up to wine country and tour Benziger. Check into Macarthur Place in Sonoma. Get cleaned up and maybe hit a tasting before dinner. As of now we'll probably eat at El Dorado Kitchen.

    Day 2
    Driver picks us up around 8:30 for all day wine tastings along with a tour of Schramsberg Winery. Other wineries we plan to hit this day are Costello di Amorosa, Francis Ford Coppola, Ridge Lytton Springs, Arista, Red Car, and Iron Horse. Head back for dinner at Macarthur Place

    Day 3
    Head to San Francisco. Much of the day is open. We are scheduled to do the Alcatraz night tour that evening and then dinner in San Francisico. Haven't decided where yet but hoping to get some good seafood.

    Day 4
    Pretty much open. May hit a winery or two before heading into San Fran. Fly out of Oakland that night.
     
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