General chatter - help - San Francisco trip!

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10-16-2007, 08:46 PM
Hi all,

My husband and I are taking a big trip in about a week to California (from the east coast). My cousin is being married in Monterey on Sat. the 27th, but we are flying into SF - we arrive around 9pm Wed. evening.

Our desire is to spend the night in SF Wed night and then have Thu to tool around the city. We plan to head to Monterey late Thu (most likely after dinner), as we already have a place to stay Thu, Fri, Sat in Monterey.

I need help/advice finding a hotel in SF- my cousin suggested a couple near her neighborhood (Haight) but I know very little about the city. I can't figure out the logistics of WHERE we should stay (close to the hotel or right in the city?) and where/when we should rent the car (we will need a car to drive to Monterey Thu evening, but I don't think we will need a car for the day Thu). What is public transportation like or should we plan to take a taxi from the airport to a hotel?

I just don't want to waste a lot of time floundering around with all these decisions - as it is, we only have one day in SF. Looking online seems to be like finding a needle in a haystack

So, if anyone has any advice - or even particular hotel names (or for that matter restaurants!), please share.

We don't want to spend a fortune on our hotel, but then again, we are trying to make it convenient.

Thanks in advance for any help!

10-16-2007, 09:01 PM
New thought...

Would this be smart?
1. Rent a car Wed night at airport. Drive to motel that is near airport and spend the night.
2. Thu. morning, check out of airport and drive to city.
3. Leave suitcase in trunk of rental car
4. Spend Thu hanging around in SF
5. Drive in rental to Monterey Thu night

**problems with plan -- what will we do with car Thu in the city? Is driving a nightmare in SF??

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

10-16-2007, 09:43 PM
on our honeymoon, we stayed in an inn that was just off the beaten track...but only about two miles from the hub of downtown SF...i would highly recommend it...great place, nice would help if you had a rental's the web site to the place we stayed at dh and i loved it. We had such a nice stay there. I would recommend just picking up the car when you arrive...even though public transport seems pretty is easier.

10-16-2007, 10:41 PM
Public transportation from SFO is great. The BART runs right into downtown SF. We take it all the way to Oakland to visit DS and DIL every year. Renting a car first and parking in SF - even at hotels can get expensive. I have found decent hotel prices on the discount hotel websites and the travel booking sites. Your plan to stay at the near the airport is a good one. Otherwise, I would take BART to SF hotel, use public transportation for a day in the city and then pick up the rental car just before you drive to Monterey. There are several rental car pickup spots right in downtown SF.

10-17-2007, 01:38 PM
Driving in SF can be a nightmare. I live in the Bay Area and won't drive in SF. I take Bart to the Oakland A's game and to SF when I have to go up there.

There are plenty of hotels near the airport. You could certainly stay there for the night then catch Bart into the city and back to the hotel. They would probably hold your luggage for you since you spent an evening there. There are plenty of shuttles from the hotels to the airport so you could take one back to get a rental car if needed. Remember, too, Enterprise will pick you up so you might be able to get them to pick you up at the hotel and then you could be off to Monterey.

Oh, another thought. Our rainy season seems to be beginning early this year. Be sure and bring something warm. October is usually the most beautiful month in SF however this year seems to be wet.

When you walk around Fisherman's Wharf, be sure and stop at some of the "holes in the wall" for some clam chowder. It's off your eating plan but count it as a treat. You can buy small cups of it. None of those people know how to make it on the "lite" side. Also, many of the places at Pier 39 will ship stuff for you so you don't have to lug it around.

Too bad you aren't spending more time. I'm sure some of us would like to get together and meet you.

Where is the wedding in Monterey? Monterey is beautiful.

If you've never been here before, don't think the ocean is like yours. IT'S COLD!!!! Monterey Bay averages 55 - 60 degrees year round.

I like Gator's suggestion. That sounds lovely.

Counting is right, too. Most hotels in SF charge for parking. Why rent a car, pay for parking and not drive it in SF? If you do get a shuttle to a hotel in the city, then wait and rent the car when you are ready to go. Just reserve it ahead of time. The others are right on this one.

10-17-2007, 02:57 PM
3. Leave suitcase in trunk of rental car

Do not leave your suitcase in the trunk of your rental car in SF. My friends just lost all their luggage this way in SF. Rental cars - the large fleets - are especially targeted. They lost all their stuff on a busy street in broad daylight. Even if you have checked out of the hotel, hotels will keep your luggage for you behind the counter during the day until you are ready to leave the area.

10-17-2007, 04:36 PM
If you go to Fisherman's . look for SF sour dough French bread , it's the best in the world. I would not drive in SF , take the shuttle from the airport and get the rental when you are ready to leave.And take a warm jacket, Monterey can b e pretty chilly, too.

10-17-2007, 04:55 PM
Don't miss Ghirardelli Square - you can inhale the chocolate and also chinatown. Both are within walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf. For restaurants, I love A. Sabella's and their pirate Salad - just get the dressing on the side and you really will have a wonderful and not too unhleathy meal.

10-17-2007, 08:01 PM
Well, since we have you at Ghirardelli Square, go into a little shop there. It's named Lark In The Morning. They have a collection of some of the most intriguing instruments.

10-17-2007, 08:22 PM cool, if you have the time.

10-17-2007, 09:55 PM
Hi everyone,

THANK YOU for all the wonderful suggestions! I ended up booking a hotel last night because I got so worried about not having one. I can still cancel it if I need to. It's called the Andrews, and it's right in Union Square (Post Street - or Ave). It is quite reasonable ($130 is the total - for a king), and it has several good reviews on the internet. The worst review I saw of it said that it is a bit dingy looking but clean (oh, and tiny bathrooms)- I believe it was built in 1895, so that's understandable. We will only be there one night, so I think it will be ok. The guy I talked to on the phone was great - he said they still had 11 rooms open that night, so he gave us the a quiet corner one on the back.

My thinking was that even though we will get to the hotel late (probably 11-11:30), we will wake up there and be able to venture out into the city. They are also supposed to have a good continental breakfast at the hotel, which I read was rare for SF hotels.

About the car... the hotel has parking for $18.00 a day. So, we could rent at airport Wed night, drive to hotel, leave it in their parking lot for the day on Thu. Or, we could take BART and rent a car just before heading to Monterey. The hotel guy told me there is a car rental directly across the street. I'm thinking they may be better because 1) then we don't have to drive much in the city 2) don't have to worry about the car on Thu. He did say we could leave our luggage in the lobby, locked up.

So, one more dumb question - is BART a subway or bus? I haven't been to SF since high school 15 years ago. For all of you with experience, would you take BART (or an airport shuttle or taxi) to the hotel Wed night or rent car? It sounds like several of you were in favor of not renting car till Thu...BTW, Ennay, thanks for sharing about your friend's bad experience. We will definitely not leave stuff in the car (whenever we get it)!

And as far as food goes ... thank you for all the suggestions! I do not plan to worry about what I eat for the 4 days I'm there (within reason, of course). So I will have a little chowder, sour dough, and chocolate for all of you!

Mare - the wedding is at the Monterey Museum of Art. My father was stationed at the Presidio about 10 years ago, and I was in Monterey/Carmel area once, but like I said, it's been 25 years! I am very excited about this trip. My husband and I (only married 3.5 yrs) have never really had much in the way of romantic trips together, especially this far away.

Gary - I would love to go to Alcatraz, but since we will only be there one day that will have to wait for another time... hopefully not 25 more years.

The wedding is outside in the afternoon and I was planning to take a short sleeved dress, but I guess I need to rethink that! Maybe I will go shopping this weekend.

Thanks again to all of you for the wonderful advice! If you think of anything else between now and next Wed, feel free to share!

10-17-2007, 09:56 PM
I just skimmed my post, and I meant to say my dad was at the Presidio about 30 years ago!

10-17-2007, 10:10 PM
Bart is a train/subway. You catch it right at SFO. The machine takes cash, credit & debit cards. You can look up your stops and what the fare will be and buy a ticket for exactly what you need. will give you all the info you need.

Have a great trip!! We are going to SF again the end of December. Our first Christmas with the kids in CA. I can't wait!!!

Your short sleeve outfit can work, just pair it with a wrap in case the weather is chilly. The others were right on target for the weather this time of year.

10-17-2007, 11:03 PM
If you are doing sightseeing in Monterey two things I would reccomend are The 17 Mile Drive and/or the Aquarium. Have a great time.

10-18-2007, 09:55 PM
Oh how I love living in the bay area! I really hope you have fun. Ride BART just for the fun of it. Either into another city or just to ride. I love it!