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Mitty April 16 2013 11:05 AM

Visiting San Francisco
 
So next week I'm visiting San Francisco for a week from sunny Oz :). My other half has a work thing but I'm free to do as much sightseeing and hopefully shopping as I can :) We are staying in Berkeley.

I have been before in 1996, so imagine some stuff has changed quite a bit. We're not doing Alcatraz... I did it in 96. I am toying with a bay Cruise of some sort but my main priority is to walk across the bridge as I didn't do that last time round.

Also (nerd alert... but hey, I'm on TrekBBS!) I'm planning on Catching the Caltrain to Sunnyvale and the 55 Bus to 1 Infinite Loop so I can get a Selfie in front of Apple Headquarters (and also pickup some souvenirs at the Company Store, which is a bit different to the other stores). I might stop along the way at some shopping centres/malls.

I know it sounds lame but I'd like to go to Walmart cause we don't have it here :) Trying to work out which one is easiest to get to.

Any advice/ideas for stuff to do/places to eat? Other half is a vegetarian. I'm guessing in SF we will have zero problems finding good vegetarian food.

I'd prefer off the beaten track stuff to do... yeah sure I'll see the major sights but I figure that won't take that long. A few "local only" things to see and do would be great :)

And of course I'll visit the Castro to check out the local Talent :D

With the sad news in Boston this morning I was concerned for a while but after thinking for a while I don't think anyone should stop what they are doing because of events like that. I reckon the best way to support the US after something like that is to visit and spend money and that's what I'm going to do! :D

1001001 April 16 2013 03:41 PM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
If you're staying in Berkeley, you gotta try Blondie's Pizza on Telegraph Ave. Best pizza by the slice on Earth.

In SF, check out Johnny Foley's Irish House on O'Farrell. Great drinks and atmosphere. They have a vegetarian Irish Stew which is really good, and if you like lamb, the braised lamb shanks are incredible.

If you like seafood, my favorite spot is Alioto's, on Fisherman's Wharf. They have good pasta there too. I'm sure your SO can find something to enjoy there.

Oh, and...skip Walmart...try Rasputin's Records on Haight for a touch of "local color". It's close to Golden Gate Park.

Speaking of Golden Gate Park, I've always enjoyed the California Academy of Sciences. It's got all kind of great stuff. Very cool.

http://www.calacademy.org/

Enjoy your trip!

Gaith April 16 2013 06:33 PM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
Golden Gate Park can easily fill a few days on its own. The Botanical Garden is one of my favorite places on Earth. The Conservatory of Flowers is wonderful. Stow Lake, with its rental boats, is spectacular. The AIDS Memorial Grove is first-rate. The Beach Chalet offers wonderful sea-sunset views. The buffalo paddock is fascinating. And there's so much more... If you're around on the 28th, be sure to check out the Park Band's season-opening (free) concert.

I love taking CalTrain. The walk from the Palo Alto station to the Stanford campus is majestic, and the free art/antiquities museum there (not open every day) is awesome.

Angel Island is fantastic - much bigger and warmer than Alcatraz, great hiking and biking with amazing views. Ditto for Mt. Tamalpais.

There's a life-size Yoda statue by the LucasArts complex in the Presidio... who knows how much longer it'll last.

Dolores Park is terrific, as is the Mission Dolores, the city's oldest building, and its adjoining mini-museum. The whole Mission District is great, especially on weekend evenings.

Buena Vista Park is the bee's knees. Nearby Corona Heights Park, with its Martian-like soil and amazing views, is the cat's pajamas.

Noc Noc in the Lower Haight is an absolutely unique bar straight out of Gaudi's drunken dreams, and definitely worth a gander and a pint. Delerium is the ultimate dive bar in the heart of the unmissable Mission District. Zeitgeist isn't too shabby either. The Top of the Mark at the (top of the) Mark Hopkins hotel is perhaps the city's classiest.

I don't know where the closest Wal-Mart is to SF, but don't see why you'd want to look for one - it probably wouldn't be as legendarily depressing as you might be hoping. There's a Target in South San Francisco, easily accessible by car, but that's hardly a destination, either. The Westfield Centre mall in the heart of SF's Market Street is far more interesting, with an excellent food court and all kinds of clothing stores inside and directly nearby.

A ferry ride from the Ferry Building to Sausalito is a cheap and excellent Bay cruise, with Sausalito's Old Town being an absurdly cute/quaint shopping destination.

And, of course, the Western Addition features perhaps the city's most important site, Gaith's birthplace. :p

Have I missed anything?

lvsxy808 April 16 2013 07:23 PM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
Make sure you ask about the nuclear wessels.

:cool:

I lived in SF for about 9 months or so, and I loved it. It's difficult to live because it's a very expensive city, but it's also a gorgeous city.

I lived in Haight-Ashbury, which is the original Summer of Love hippy zone. Basically the entire area lives in a permanent pot cloud, with charms and tie-dye as far as the eye can see. The main road through the area leads you directly to Golden Gate Park, so you could combine the two into one day. I would suggest the Pork Store Café on Haight for breakfast or lunch, except that I can't speak for any possible vegetarian options.

Great walks that I used to enjoy were up from Haight over Twin Peaks and back down Castro, or all along the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf.

If you're going drinking in the Castro, I used to like The Mix on 18th St or the Pilsner on Church.

If your shopping takes a more pervy bent, my boyfriend swears by Mr S Leather in the Mission (link NSFW).

You won't find a Target in the city, as I understand there's some kind of rule where big chain stores like that have a hell of a job getting permission to open within city limits, in an attempt to keep the shops more exclusive and individual. Of course, there's still an Apple store. And Berkeley definitely has all that stuff.

Oh, and if you know what you're looking for, you'll see a porn star on every corner too. :evil:

I'll come back if I think of anything else. Hope you have a great time!

.

Gaith April 16 2013 08:38 PM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
^ Actually, a small Target opened in the Metreon last fall.

Spot's Meow April 16 2013 09:13 PM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
A few months ago I took some family and friends on a trip to San Francisco (we live a little over an hour away) where we participated in an Amazing Race type of scavenger hunt around the city, called Urban Adventure Quest. It's mostly on foot and you can do it with any group of people, at any time, you just log on to the site and answer the questions, which lead you to lots of interesting sights and locations. I especially enjoyed going through Chinatown and to the Cable Car Museum, and of course ending at the pier at sunset. It was a really fun adventure. For anyone visiting SF for the first time, or even those who have lived nearby all their lives, I would recommend it. (By the way, we are the Scranton Stranglers on the leaderboard. We were in first place back when we completed the race!)

Of course, since it will only be you and your spouse, it won't necessarily be the same experience as having a group of people.

Avon April 16 2013 09:19 PM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
hire an old ford mustang, drive like around like crazy and blow up a gas station

Mitty April 17 2013 01:00 AM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
^Hm, not sure about that last one, but the rest of the suggestions are Fantastic! Thanks so much, keep em coming folks! Getting SO excited! :D

Mr. Laser Beam April 17 2013 01:02 AM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
I would be remiss if I didn't suggest the obvious: a game at AT&T Park. Do you have time for that, Mitty?

Jen April 17 2013 03:23 AM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
I'll tell ya what NOT to do. Don't go to the Castro with a friend who wants to hook up with a very nice young man I thought was a woman. Don't go to the bathroom and when you get back accept a drink your friend hands to you.

I would tell you other things not to do, but after that I blacked out, and ended up in the hospital. Turns out I'm allergic to whatever drug the very nice young man slipped in my drink.

But I do highly recommend Blondie's.

:D

Saito S April 17 2013 05:08 AM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
Some good suggestions so far - I second (third?) the recommendation to ride Caltrain whenever it's going near where you're going. Very pleasant way to get around. Also, the previously mentioned Academy of Sciences; the indoor rainforest alone is worth the price of admission!

Also in Golden Gate Park, the Japanese Tea Garden is very nice. Small, but beautiful.

Japantown is cool, though it's much less well-known and much more low-key than Chinatown. The main attraction there is the Japan Center Mall, which is mostly shopping... but you said you wanted to do some shopping, so hey. A lot of neat (and in many cases, unique) stores there, as well as some good restaurants. http://sfjapantown.org/

On the topic of food, if you're downtown and want traditional Italian-style pizza, Pazzia is fantastic. It's a small place, so you have to either get there right before they open up for dinner (which is 6PM Mon-Sat; they are closed on Sundays) or make a reservation; after 6, it can get packed! The prices aren't too bad as quality Italian food goes. Order the Margherita pizza, you won't be disappointed. Their pastas aren't bad, but the pizza is cheaper, better, and you get more food for your money.

And also if you're in downtown and looking for lunch, and it's before 1:30PM on a weekday, seek out Cafe Algiers for an awesome sandwich. I believe they do have some veggie options (not familiar with em because I always get either spicy turkey or BBQ chicken sandwiches!). Whatever sandwiches you get, don't be deterred if the line is out the door (that's common, but it moves decently quickly) and always go with ciabatta bread!

Lastly, it sounds like you're already planning on using public transit for at least part of the trip; unless you or anyone else with you is unable to do some walking, or you just really hate city buses, I'd say do NOT rent a car. Traffic and parking can be an absolute nightmare (and extremely costly in the case of the parking, especially downtown). The buses are a little funky, you definitely want to stay aware of what's going on around you, but I still say it's better than dealing with all the headache that comes with driving. And moving between SF and Berkeley is pretty easy thanks to BART.

Oh, and speaking of transit: there's also the cable cars. They're obviously something of an SF icon, though I personally find them a bit overrated. Yeah, they're kind of neat, but they're also slow, uncomfortable, and cost $6 per ride. I find the historic streetcars on the Market Street F-line to be much more interesting.

Have fun! :D

M'Sharak April 17 2013 05:46 AM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
Quote:

junxon wrote: (Post 7954180)
hire an old ford mustang, drive like around like crazy and blow up a gas station

Also teleport a lot.

Mitty April 18 2013 12:44 AM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
Hm I think I'm missing something. I haven't watched ST IV in a long time, all I remember is Whales, Nuclear Wessels and landing in Golden Gate Park. Unless you're referring to some other movie I haven't seen LOL

Yeah I totally only plan on using Public Transport. I'm not sure how popular it is but I was planning on getting a Clipper Card, which appears similar to our myki card over here, and possibly as popular :) Will no doubt be using the BART every day to get from Berkeley to SF etc. I do plan on doing lots of walking as long as the weather is good. I frankly can't think of anything worse than driving in a strange city and don't forget you guys drive on the other side of the road to us :)

I've read horror stories about people walking up and just taking your mobile phone out of your hand on Market Street and the usual Tourist horror stories. But then I read those kinds of things about lots of places I've been. I find that if you are alert and keep your wits about you in a strange place that I hopefully shouldn't have any problems.

The one big thing I recall from my 96 visit is the level of homelessness, and I can't imagine it's improved, though apart from asking for spare change I seem to recall they mostly left you be. But if anyone has any specific advice I'm happy to hear it.

Quote:

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: (Post 7955239)
I would be remiss if I didn't suggest the obvious: a game at AT&T Park. Do you have time for that, Mitty?

Hm probably not. And to be completely honest I'm not really that much of a sports fan. Which is why I want to visit 1 Infinite Loop even though I'll only get as far as the front door :)

M'Sharak April 18 2013 01:38 AM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
Quote:

Mitty wrote: (Post 7960990)
Hm I think I'm missing something. I haven't watched ST IV in a long time, all I remember is Whales, Nuclear Wessels and landing in Golden Gate Park. Unless you're referring to some other movie I haven't seen LOL

Yeah, the part with the Mustang is San Francisco, but isn't in Star Trek IV.

Winged Victory April 18 2013 02:30 AM

Re: Visiting San Francisco
 
Quote:

Saito S wrote: (Post 7956346)

Lastly, it sounds like you're already planning on using public transit for at least part of the trip; unless you or anyone else with you is unable to do some walking, or you just really hate city buses, I'd say do NOT rent a car. Traffic and parking can be an absolute nightmare (and extremely costly in the case of the parking, especially downtown).

I have to agree about the parking. Sticker shock to me coming from the Midwest. I was in SF a few years back, for a week long trip, and we rented a convertible the day before going home. Trekked up the Pacific Coast Highway to Leggett and drove through their Chandelier Tree. Beautiful redwood forests up there. Super touristy, but cool nonetheless! And we came back down through Napa, Sonoma, the nice winding roads of wine country. :techman:

We parked the car overnight for $30 at the hotel, and drove it to the airport before our flight home. So if you want to head out of downtown for a day or two, renting a car is a great way to have a little fun!


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