San Francisco in October 2

(22 Posts)
Earthymama Wed 28-Aug-13 19:29:12

Hi, I have set out my sartorial concerns about what to wear in another thread so now to planning the stay in SF from 21st Oct to 6th Nov!
We have booked a CityPass which gives 7 days travel on BART and a Bay Cruise, entry to an Aquarium, Exploratorium or de Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences.

Sara Paretsky is doing a reading and signing while we are there so we will definitely be there. We are attending a big event in our Spiritual community.

We want to see the Redwoods, maybe visit Berkeley, certainly do a lot of "hippie" things grin I have noted DalekInAFestiveJumper's recommendation of the open top bus tours and we will definitely do a night tour.

So what else should be on our "cannot miss this" list? We love Farmers Markets and gardening, parks, walking, poetry, folk music, open-mic nights, good vegetarian food, real ale .

I have seen people recommending chain restaurants for breakfasts. Will that suit people who never eat fast food, except pitta, cheese and chips when drunk?

californiaburrito Wed 28-Aug-13 19:44:01

I just got back from SF yesterday and I am bitterly missing it already. I'm not sure I've got too many recommendations for you as I am much more in the travelling with small children phase of life but I can say that you should have no problem avoiding chain restaurants, even for breakfast. SF is the second city of culinary America so there will be loads of other options. Try the Ferry Building for breakfast and they have a farmers' market Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I'll see if I can find any good guides for you.

Also, I didn't see your other thread but I'm guessing that the advice was that it's colder than you think. I needed a light jacket/warm sweater in the city.

clam Wed 28-Aug-13 19:54:03

I would say warmer clothes needed than a light jacket - especially if you're close to the water, e.g. Alcatraz. It's distinctly chilly even in August when the fog rolls in, so by late October you'll definitely need to wrap up.
Sorry, wrong thread!
Cycle ride over GG Bridge, wander round Sausolito, vineyard tour? We had a great Sunday brunch in Tiburon at Sam's Anchor Café.

Earthymama Wed 28-Aug-13 20:53:11

Thank you both grin
I am so looking forward to this, it has been a dream ever since DP and I met.

I am a really fussy eater, much to my shame. Really picky about bread and real butter, how poncey is that wink I had a fit in a Premier Inn about the bread. blush

DP has just reminded me that our favourite bread book is from Tassajarra Zen Center and that we will be eating at Greens one lunch time.

I am not as high maintenance as I sound honestly.

I loved Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin and Walking to Mercury by Starhawk and hope to see some of the alternative lifestyle they portrayed though perhaps not to actually participate in the sybaritic behaviour. Though after a few cocktails who knows?

Burrito, I am of an age where things that amuse children also interest me. I am lucky that I am a very enthusiastic person so send all ideas, I can hunt out the bars and dives myself!

Clam, I will add those to my list thanks

mrswobblebottom Thu 29-Aug-13 08:14:03

On our recent chilly trip in July, we were told the nicest months for warmer non foggy weather are September to December, one tour guide said he was in a t shirt last December?! So could be better for you when you go!

Earthymama Thu 29-Aug-13 19:08:04

MrsWB, Sod's law will prove you right!!
But I won't complain; I have decided layers which I can remove as necessary is the way forward!!

Lighthousekeeping Thu 29-Aug-13 19:12:18
Bigwuss Fri 30-Aug-13 16:49:58

Mamas in Washington square is supposed to do a fab breakfast, and there are lots of lovely Italian restaurants near by which serve breakfast.

Earthymama Sun 01-Sep-13 07:49:56

Lighthk,
I could have tackled that in the dim and distant, I remember when gay bars where all hidden away in the dubious back streets, but i don't think I will be brave enough now smile
It made me smile especially as we are staying rather closer to the Tenderloin than we are first intended!

Bigw, that sounds good. I was wondering about the chains as they are so often recommended as great money savers but I am completely in the dark as to what the food would be like. As I have turned into my late mother and feel that there is 'too much food' in most meals I am served I guess the chance to stuff my face might be lost on me!!

I have signed up to emails from Farmers Market, Parks dept and some museums etc.

I need to find some clubs and bars; I don't think the ones in that article will be offering regular on-line updates somehow!

feelthis Sun 01-Sep-13 08:02:54

Will you have a car? If so a trip to Muir woods is good. Napa area is great too - a vineyard tour is good to do as is a spa in Calistoga.

RatherBeOnThePiste Sun 01-Sep-13 08:18:18

Muir Woods is just lovely, over the Golden Gate, away from San Fran, but you'll need a car.

Tis always chilly! Take layers.

I second trying Bike the Bridge, you hire bikes by the Piers, cycle along by the Bay, lovely nature reserve, up over the Bridge, down into Sausalito, lots of lovely shops and cafes etc, then get the ferry back with your bike past Alcatraz to the Pier. Several companies do it. My two DC managed the ride when DD was 8, DS 6 and it was a challenge for them then, but not for an adult.

And have fun. It is my favourite all time place after London.

Lighthousekeeping Sun 01-Sep-13 12:38:09

If you want to step back in time then this place is fab. www.starlightroomsf.com/

I hugely regret not going out down Castro street. It was very difficult to find any life after midnight.

Lighthousekeeping Sun 01-Sep-13 12:39:19

Great place for breakfast www.kates-kitchensf.com/menu.html

Earthymama Mon 02-Sep-13 23:15:50

Thank you all, those ideas have been added to the list!

Light, that cafe is just the job, I got very excited by the menu. It's like the food in every American novel you ever read coming to life.

And the picture of the cafe with the checked table clothes looks exactly like one of my favourite Glastonbury places 100 Monkeys

Can anyone enlighten me about tipping? It's sounds scary and complicated.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Tue 03-Sep-13 04:43:34

Just back from a 3 week road trip in the summer…..we all want to go back!

The farmers market at the Ferry building is a really nice way to start a day before strolling along the embarcadero and visiting the children's museum or on to the wharfs.
Best sourdough bread in the country and lots of fresh produce and freshly churned better. Worry not!

the best way to see the bay was actually on the sea. I highly recommend adventurecat on pier 35. 4 hour golden gate cruise at $30 incl drinks and nibbles.
This is a good time to speak about the weather! It gets really chilly on the water and when the fog suddenly appears. Do pack a few fleecy things. (Or bring an empty suitcase and go shop in the many outlets around SF bay.) Everyone says the indian summer end October is actually a geat time to visit. better visibility.

It was great to stroll around town (another avid fan of tales of the city here). Make use of your bart card to go up the hills via bus or cable car and walk back down in any direction to get a feel of the many villages.
The Mission/Haight districts is now the only area to get the "beat" feeling these days.
Sausalito is shockingly posh. No aspiring artists there for sure, they are all A listers. Beautiful houses. We did not make it to Muir woods as we drove down to Big Sur.
Fillmore street is a good place for restaurants/bars. 1300 on Fillmore is a great gastropub dedicated to southern food (think corn and grits and jambalaya). grest jazz music and the crowd/musicians from the neighboring clubs.

I would definitely recommend a day out to monterrey/carmel. Its really not far (1h20mn) on highway one. maybe one night there? A great way to experience highway 1 and the stunning coastal scenery without going the long hog. You can rent a car with a GPS for 24h. Very easy to get around.

Rather than Berkeley, I would do another daytrip or overnight in Nappa with lunch in a sidewalk cafe in St Helena or Yountisville. you can do daytours incl.wine tasting. The soil is bountiful in this area. great simple fresh food.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Tue 03-Sep-13 04:48:01

tipping is pretty much mandatory.

add 15% to your net bill (that is without taxes)

If you don't the waiter will ask wether they did anything to offend you.

Service is soooo kind. Litteraly. People don't merely thank you there. They thank you "soooooo" much. All the time. Irritating at first but the general can do attitude is infectious.

runawaysimba Tue 03-Sep-13 05:13:09

For bread, the Boudain bakery is great, they've been using the same sourdough starter for donkey's years. I miss San Fran!
I wish we'd researched the foodie side of the city more before we went, but we still manage to stumble on some great places. Delicious, cheap Mexican at Fisherman's Wharf was a highlight.

Bunbaker Tue 03-Sep-13 06:59:07

You must have a dim sum lunch in Chinatown, although be careful what you choose because it can get a little stodgy.

Don't bother trying to drive. SF is one of the few cities in the US that is pedestrian friendly.

Things that surprised me were: how difficult it was to get on a tram - too crowded, and how cold it was in July.

On the first day we took a bus tour just to get a general feel for the city and then went back on our own to the places that interested us. Alcatraz is definitely worth a visit. We also took a helicopter ride over the bay, but it is only worth doing that on a clear day. Foodwise we were lost for choice, one of the best meals of the entire holiday being a Vietnamese meal.

I loved SF. It is so different to any other city in the US.

Earthymama Tue 03-Sep-13 08:33:57

Thank you all, it is starting to feel real now.

We are looking at an itinerary as I have some mystery exhaustion thing going on that means I will have to balance out high activity days with closer to base stuff.

It gives me an excuse for lots of stops in cafes and bars though so not all badgrin

mrswobblebottom Tue 03-Sep-13 08:42:00

We found the bus tour guides could offer useful recommendations for various types of restaurants in all areas also bars/club/music venues. If you do a tour use their knowledge and ask them questions.

Earthymama Wed 04-Sep-13 01:06:57

I can't sleep so just had a browse and found myself reminiscing about Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City.

Such an influential series of books and so important in my journey through life where being 'queer' was shameful and laughable.

So I found

Guides to Tour of Sites from books

Map of Locations

I am going to put all the books on Kindle and get the TV series on my iPad; Mouse, Mary Anne, Mona and above all, Mrs Madrigal!

solarbright Wed 04-Sep-13 01:13:05

The City Lights bookstore in North Beach. And hunt out Diego Rivera's murals. http://traveltips.usatoday.com/visit-diego-rivera-murals-san-francisco-11763.html

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