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Old 04-16-2013, 09:17 PM
 
Location: Coastal Connecticut
15,350 posts, read 19,046,647 times
Reputation: 3591

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I'll be in the area from 4/27-5/4 with my girlfriend.

I'm big on exploring, going off the beaten path, not so big on touristy things like guided tours and whatnot.

Some things my girlfriend and I like: architecture, art, museums, music (indie-ish rock especially), national parks/coastline. I'm also a big foodie. In my home city of NYC, my favorite neighborhoods would be the West/East Village type areas.

Here's the big debate: car or no car. On one side, I like the freedom and the ability to explore. How car-unfriendly is SF? From what I understand, it's pricey to park at hotels. But keep in mind I usually drive into Manhattan (at least once a month), which some people find to be complete madness. I have no problem with it. I've also driven in Boston many times before, and I can't imagine anything being worse than that.

A few things I've considered car-wise:

- Stay in city without car in ideal location, walk/use public transport to get around for 3-4 days. Rent a car and stay outside the city for the remainder of the vacation, visit Napa, redwoods, and other areas outside SF.
- Stay just outside the city and/or at a hotel in the city that has "cheap" parking, and have a car the whole time. I don't especially mind driving into the city if it takes less than 30 minutes.

Would like to save money on things like hotels. I've looked at Airbnb.com, which is interesting - but I'm not sure how much is available. Would love to spend under $150 a night. The less, the better - but I don't want to stay in a dump either.

Thoughts, suggestions on things to do, etc. would be really appreciated!
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Old 04-17-2013, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Northern California
3,679 posts, read 13,130,785 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stylo View Post

A few things I've considered car-wise:

- Stay in city without car in ideal location, walk/use public transport to get around for 3-4 days. Rent a car and stay outside the city for the remainder of the vacation, visit Napa, redwoods, and other areas outside SF.
- Stay just outside the city and/or at a hotel in the city that has "cheap" parking, and have a car the whole time. I don't especially mind driving into the city if it takes less than 30 minutes.
You can do either. Public transit is fairly good in SF. Driving around SF can be bad but worse is the lack of parking. SF is a compact city almost like NYC and there isn't much parking available and parking garages can be expensive.

Most hotels in SF charge extra for parking. One alternative is staying at a hotel around SFO airport and Millbrae about 10 miles south of SF (about 30 mins or less). Hotels are cheaper, have free parking and most have free shuttles to the airport and the BART station. BART is a subway in downtown SF. BART - Bay Area Rapid Transit. Some airport hotels: San Francisco Airport SFO Hotels

One recommended day trip is to drive from SF towards Santa Cruz on Hwy 1 (about 75 miles). Lots of rugged coastline with many beaches.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:28 PM
 
Location: San Francisco
434 posts, read 846,590 times
Reputation: 201
If I were in your shoes, I would:
  • use TripAdvisor to scout hotels on the peninsula within walking distance of a BART station, perhaps near the airport or in Millbrae, as humboldtrat suggests. BART is the Bay Area-wide subway system, as you'll see if you visit BART - Bay Area Rapid Transit . You also might consider a hotel closer on the peninsula to San Francisco.
An excellent $3 Muni system map is available at the Powell/Market Street cable car ticket kiosk.

If you can hack driving in Manhattan and Boston, you might be comfortable behind the wheel in San Francisco. But I live here, and dislike driving anywhere north of Geneva ... which almost qualifies as an inside joke, as Geneva is near the south end of the city.

You might be able to find an affordable hotel close to BART or Muni in San Francisco proper. If you find a candidate hotel, you can check the system maps at Muni Maps to see if you can access transit services from it.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:39 PM
 
Location: US
17,878 posts, read 17,716,836 times
Reputation: 13858
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stylo View Post
I'll be in the area from 4/27-5/4 with my girlfriend.

I'm big on exploring, going off the beaten path, not so big on touristy things like guided tours and whatnot.

Some things my girlfriend and I like: architecture, art, museums, music (indie-ish rock especially), national parks/coastline. I'm also a big foodie. In my home city of NYC, my favorite neighborhoods would be the West/East Village type areas.

Here's the big debate: car or no car. On one side, I like the freedom and the ability to explore. How car-unfriendly is SF? From what I understand, it's pricey to park at hotels. But keep in mind I usually drive into Manhattan (at least once a month), which some people find to be complete madness. I have no problem with it. I've also driven in Boston many times before, and I can't imagine anything being worse than that.

A few things I've considered car-wise:

- Stay in city without car in ideal location, walk/use public transport to get around for 3-4 days. Rent a car and stay outside the city for the remainder of the vacation, visit Napa, redwoods, and other areas outside SF.
- Stay just outside the city and/or at a hotel in the city that has "cheap" parking, and have a car the whole time. I don't especially mind driving into the city if it takes less than 30 minutes.

Would like to save money on things like hotels. I've looked at Airbnb.com, which is interesting - but I'm not sure how much is available. Would love to spend under $150 a night. The less, the better - but I don't want to stay in a dump either.

Thoughts, suggestions on things to do, etc. would be really appreciated!
Driving in San Francisco is a piece of cake. The only con is having to pay for parking. If your budget allows you to pay for parking, then go for it. It makes going to Twin Peaks, Golden Gate Park, Land's End, Baker Beach, Sausalito, Mt. Tamalpais, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach etc so easy and convenient. There are hotels around Lombard Street in the Marina District that offer free car parking. I'd recommend the Columbus Motor Inn, Cow Hollow Motor Inn or Chelsea Motor Inn. These hotels are similar to Best Western or Quality Inn. The Marina District has a lot of neighborhood restaurants, bars, lounges etc along Chestnut Street and Union Street. You can walk to Crissy Field, which has beautiful views of the Bay. You also won't be surrounded by tourists.

If you don't get a car, I would recommend staying in Union Square and buying a MUNI PASS, which gives you unlimited access to pretty much everything besides BART and Caltrain.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:58 PM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 11,427,596 times
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SF's not that bad to drive in, the main problem is parking. Street parking is really hard to find in most neighborhoods (it's easy out by the beach) and paying to park in a garage can be expensive, like $30 a day, which adds up fast.

If you're staying in SF I'd avoid a car while in SF, Muni and BART are pretty good for getting around. Hotels in SF are expensive but check out the hotels in Japantown and on Lombard near Fisherman's Wharf for slightly cheaper deals.

By the airport is another option as humboldtrat said, hotels that would be $200 a night in Union Square in SF would be like $65 by the airport. You could probably get by without a car as humboldt said, just use a shuttle to get to BART, that is a bit of a commute to SF though and would cut down on your ability to enjoy nightlife compared with being in the city.

As for stuff to do, I'd definitely recommend going to Land's End in Lincoln Park, it's a really great rugged coastline trail at the outer corner of the city. Definitely walk down Valencia in the Mission, lots of good bars and restaurants and book stores. As for live music it depends on what's playing on any given night, there's places in the Mission, North Beach, and scattered all around. The Fillmore near Japantown often has decent shows.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:53 PM
 
Location: San Francisco, CA
326 posts, read 456,107 times
Reputation: 223
Just to chime in, I would highly recommend to NOT stay on the peninsula. The nearest towns south of SF don't have anything near the charm as SF and you have to drive quite a bit north to see most of the major attractions that SF has to offer.

Places that I love in SF:
- North Beach: Yes it may be slightly touristy but to me nothing beats Washington Square Park and some good Italian food. Plus, the walk(hike) up to Telegraph Hill has some of the best views and houses in the city close by.
-The Mission District: While The Mission is pretty hip place to go to these days, I've found you can still find parking pretty easily and get some of the best cheap food in the city and see some beautiful old victorians. Plus, Dolores Park might win out as the most popular park in the city among locals and has beautiful views of the SF skyline.
-Lands End Trail:Great hike, you can see the GG Bridge and hike down to beaches.

You pretty much can't go wrong anywhere you go in SF as long as you avoid Union Square
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:21 PM
 
Location: Baghdad by the Bay (San Francisco, California)
3,530 posts, read 4,248,782 times
Reputation: 3145
The option of staying in the City for a few days without a car, then renting one for a day or two makes the most sense to me. In fact, that's exactly what I did the first time I visited.

Staying somewhere in the area north of China Basin and east of Van Ness will put you in a great place to walk to most things of interest or to easily catch Muni to others.
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Old 04-19-2013, 09:14 AM
 
Location: Coastal Connecticut
15,350 posts, read 19,046,647 times
Reputation: 3591
Thanks for all the great info so far!
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Old 04-28-2013, 12:08 PM
 
Location: Coastal Connecticut
15,350 posts, read 19,046,647 times
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Alright, so I'm here. At the Bay Landing for 2 nights near the airport, then a night in Santa Cruz, a night in the Napa area, then 3 nights back in Union Square area. Only have car when in SC/Napa.
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Old 04-28-2013, 12:22 PM
 
2,622 posts, read 4,794,742 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stylo View Post
Alright, so I'm here. At the Bay Landing for 2 nights near the airport, then a night in Santa Cruz, a night in the Napa area, then 3 nights back in Union Square area. Only have car when in SC/Napa.
I suggest picking up the car early and using it to explore places in SF like Twin Peaks, Legion of Honor, Land's End, Golden Gate Park,Inner Richmond and Haight St. There is not much to do in Burlingame without a car.

You could also take the Bart from Millbrae to downtown SF but this will be a duplicate of your days in Union Square.
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