San Francisco Help, Update with trip report Post 27

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by BadPinkTink, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. crewsn

    crewsn Mouseketeer

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    I know this thread is a month or so past, but hopefully still checking in on. We visit San Francisco quite a bit. My husbands family lives there so we go visit them a lot and plus he travels some their for work so we have stayed at various locations around the city.

    Honestly one of the best locations I felt we stayed in was at Parc 55 (a Hilton Hotel). It was right by Union Square, but located right by Powell and Market street to give plenty of transport options. You could take the cable car down to the Fishermans Wharf. Easily walk to Union Square. We actually one night walked to the Embarcadero and Ferry building one night then walked over to AT&T park on a whim to catch the baseball game. It is very close to the tenderloin area and a lot of panhandlers and homeless individuals around, but I never felt unsafe ever. I feel you see this throughout the city anyways. When we stayed in this spot my husband was there for work so I took my two young kids out in the stroller all day to various spots.

    We once stayed in the Embarcadero area when he was there for work too and I would avoid that if going as a tourist. Most everything around seems to shut down not long after work hours so it was pretty dead at night. We had to head out further to find places to eat that were open and things to do. We love the area and there is never enough time to do all we want to do each trip. If trying to see a lot in a short time one of those hop on hop off buses is great. We did that once when we brought a friend with us who had never been. Its a great way to get to go over the golden gate bridge and get pictures from the other side too then hit all the main areas faster.

    We actually have plans to head out there again this summer then drive down to ventura (my brother and sister in law are moving out there) then hopefully getting in a trip to Disneyland. It will be a 2 week adventure visiting family.
     
  2. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

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    hi @crewsn thanks for the information. In the next few weeks I will be finialising my San Francisco plans, so will be revisiting this thread again. :)
     
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  4. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

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    @bcla @SteveMP @crewsn

    been doing lots of research. For San Francisco I am on a really tight budget as its just a side trip, not my main trip. Most likely I will be staying just 2 nights, which will give me 1 full day in San Francisco.

    thank you all so much for your tips and knowledge about the different areas, its been really helpful

    I havent booked the hotel yet, but I just want to get your opinion
    I found this hotel http://www.fitzgeraldhotel.com/ its at Post St and Taylor Street. Im just looking for peoples opinions of the street and general area. Bus routes 2 and 3 stops are nearby

    At this stage, Im planning on a solo trip but it is possible that a friend will join me but its too far out for her to know her schedule.
     
  5. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    Again - that's right next to the Tenderloin neighborhood. The JW Marriott is on the next block though. It is near my favorite Indo-Pak restaurant - Shalimar on Jones St. You're also within easy walking distance of the Powell St cable car turnaround.

    [​IMG]

    Also - there's now a surcharge on BART to use blue "paper" tickets of 50 cents per one way ride. If you're taking BART from San Francisco airport, you might consider this and pay the $3 for a Clipper card at the airport information desk. They're no longer paper (some sort of thin plastic card) but they used to be made of paper. The idea of the surcharge is to encourage people to use Clipper. Before this surcharge there wasn't much of an incentive to use Clipper on BART save some special "high value" discounts and/or where there were interagency transfer discounts automatically calculated on Clipper.

    https://www.bart.gov/tickets

    *2018 CHANGES: Starting January 1, 2018, BART fares will increase by an inflation-based average 2.7%. There also will be a 50 cent surcharge per trip for Blue tickets. The surcharge will be prorated for discount paper ticket users so that seniors and people with disabilities pay a 19 cent surcharge and youth pay a 25 cent surcharge. Riders are encouraged to get a Clipper Card (www.clippercard.com) to avoid the surcharge.​
     
  6. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

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    just want to say thank you so much @bcla you have been a great help

    I have just booked my trip
    I booked Travel Lodge near Fishermans Wharf, it has 2 double beds, breakfast included and available parking. I booked it with a free cancellation rate so if something better comes along then its easy to change.

    I looked really hard at what I wanted to achieve with this trip, the main place I want to see is Fishermans Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. I am going onwards to Disney and LA so I will have plenty of opportunities for general shopping. There is a possibility of a friend joining me and she will have a car, so the extra bed and available parking ( extra charge though) were other things I had to think about.

    So in the end I cut the amount of time in San Francisco to stay somewhere more central.

    I have the evening of my arrival day, 1 full day and the morning of my departure day. I have booked a Southwest flight from SFO to LAX and will be going over to Anaheim for 3 park days.

    I did look at Southwest from SFO to John Wayne but the getaway now prices were gone for the afternoon flights.
     
  7. oakleycat

    oakleycat DIS Veteran

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    We have stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, which is right by the Travel Lodge, and it's a great location for everything you want to see. For Alcatraz, remember to book tickets right when they come available (I think 3 months out) if you want the more popular times, especially the night tour. Have a great trip!
     
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  8. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

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    Im back to update and say a big thank you to @bcla :)

    I landed in SFO on Sunday 17 June and booked Supershuttle to take me to my hotel.

    I stayed at Travelodge , Columbus Avenue, Fishermans Wharf.
    First impressions, holy moly, the perpendicular roads. Slight issue getting to my hotel, the shuttle driver wanted to go up Columbus Avenue towards Fishermans Wharf, but a portion of the road was closed due to a music festival, so he had to go a round about way. The detour ended up being useful as I was able to get orientated and figure out my routes for walking around.

    The hotel / motel is a really good location. It is a small building so I would say it books up fast. I booked in February for a June visit. There are 3 floors, and no elevators, just stairs. There is a tiny lobby / reception area at the front. Parking is extra, $25 per night. There is a free breakfast but I didnt check it out.

    The room was clean and average size, with 2 Queen beds. There was a fridge, microwave, coffee maker,hairdryer, ironing board and TV. There was a table between the two beds with what I would call an office chair. Under the TV there was a narrow long shelf. There were plenty of shower, gels, shampoos etc in a basket in the bathroom.

    The bathroom was small, just a toilet and shower, the sink was separate, in the room, so if two people were staying in the room, one person could using the shower and the other person could be using the sink. The shower was quite large though, it seemed as if they took out the bath and put in a shower tray which was the same length as the bath.

    There is a decent sized Walgreens across the street and Starbucks 2 minutes walk. Holiday Inn and a Marriott Hotel are across the street.

    I walked down Columbus Avenue , past the Holiday Inn towards Fishermans Wharf on my first night to meet my cousin. The whole area along the waterfront is full of restaurants, and shops. There were lots of people around and a great vacation atmosphere, full of tourists. It reminded me of Hollywood Boulevard or Times Square. I felt relatively safe walking around on my own in the daylight. Like any major city, you should always be streetsmart and aware of your surroundings.

    I spent the evening with my cousin and his daughter and he was impressed that I had done research and knew about The Tenderloin Area :)

    Monday 18 June I did the Alcatraz Tour. Tickets go onsale 90 days in advance and book out quickly. I booked my ticket at the 80 day mark and booked the 11.30 am cruise departure.

    I walked down Bay Street to Starbucks and then continued walking down Bay Street to Pier 33, the Alcatraz Cruise / Tour departure point. Like in Disney you line up to board. They start boarding approx 30 minutes before your departure time. It takes about 15 minutes to travel from the mainland to Alcatraz. Once you reach the island, there is a short welcome / orinatation by a park ranger and then you are on your own. The island is self guided and there is alot of walking. The main building is the prison building which is right at the top of the hill. It is 1/4 mile up 4 very steep swicthbacks. There are benches along the way. They also have a shuttle cart from the dock to the prison building for those with mobility issues.

    At the prison, you collect your free audio guide and off you go. They also have a number of free talks and exhibitions are various locations and times.

    Boats back to the mainland are every 30 minutes and are on a first come basis.

    After Alcatraz I walked back to Pier 39 which is the main shopping area. I again met my cousin and we had food at Hard Rock Cafe. After Hard Rock we walked down towards Fishermans Wharf and went to see the seals.

    My cousin went home and I walked back to my hotel, with a slight detour to the Krispy Creme cafe :)

    Tuesday 19 June, I had a lie in and just went to Starbucks. Check out is at 11am and I had booked Supershuttle for 11.30 am pick up. Again another adventure with the mad roads. As usual with Supershuttle you pick up other people. I was the first pick up, and the second pick up, we drove up one of the crazy perpendicular roads. We were stopped at lights at the bottom and the driver said to me, we go up now, and um yeah, it was a take a deep breathe and hold on tight moment.

    So I didnt really do that much, it was mainly a couple of days chill out and meet family time.

    Click Here To Return To My Main June 2018 Trip Report
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
  9. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    For future reference (or anyone else thinking of staying) there are groceries in the area. I like the Trader Joe’s there. There is also a Safeway supermarket,
     
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  10. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

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    good point. Trader Joes and Safeway are along Bay Street, past Starbucks. :)
     
  11. kuzco-like

    kuzco-like Earning my ears

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    I was just coming to the boards to post questions about planning for San Francisco, and found this wonderful thread. How lucky!. My main question was going to be about which company to use to book Alcatraz, but as I'm less than two weeks out from my time in SF, I might not have a choice. That's what I get for planning a somewhat last-minute trip! But just in case, which company did you use, BadPinkTink? Also, thanks for the hotel review; I think that I've booked the same one: Travelodge by Wyndham by the Bay. I haven't yet read this whole thread, but I'm sure it will be helpful. So thanks to bcla and everyone else for their contributions.
     
  12. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    Sure. It's a residential neighborhood just south of Fisherman's Wharf, and those are the primary grocery stores for that neighborhood. I've done the local tourist thing and I'll stop by those places for a snack or a beverage.
     
  13. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    There's only one official source - the one that has the contract with the National Park Service. I took a look and it's pretty much sold out. I put in one ticket and found a few times available for just this Saturday and scattered availability. But if it's two I don't see any availability until August 15. There are also some dates where they have their combination Alcatraz and Angel Island tours available, although that might take a lot more of your day.

    https://www.alcatrazcruises.com

    I've been on the tour twice. Once it was run by Blue & Gold Ferry and later run by Hornblower (the current concessionaire). Strangely enough both times were in the middle of summer on a weekend and I just got them walk up.

    Other sightseeing companies might have combination tours which include the Alcatraz tour as part of their package. However, they're going to cost a lot more and may include stuff you don't want. You can look up "Alcatraz combination tour" in a search engine.

    Also - I don't know about calling it a "tour". It's really just a ferry ride to the dock. Once you get off the dock you then go to the visitor center and get an audio tour with a headset. The tour is basically self-guiding where you can punch the number. The last time I was there I saw a few people asking for a different language to be programmed.
     
  14. BadPinkTink

    BadPinkTink DIS Veteran

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    I just checked, thats a different Travelodge. Its further away from Fishermans Wharf than the one I stayed at.

    I used the website @bcla posted https://www.alcatrazcruises.com they start selling tickets 90 days out. I booked my ticket at 80 days. HOWEVER, on the day when I got to Pier 33 Im pretty sure I saw a kiosk selling walk up tickets. I dont know what time or day these tickets were for though. . I was there at 10.50am for the 11.30am departure and
     
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  15. bcla

    bcla DIS Veteran

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    Various sources claim that same-day walk-up tickets become available early in morning. The official answer is that they don't have walk-up tickets unless they're not sold out, but there are multiple sources claiming that they start selling them at 7:30 when the ticket window opens. There may also be standby available when there are no-shows, although I'm not how the payment works.

    https://www.oursausalito.com/alcatraz-2/alcatraz-tickets-and-what-to-do-when-sold-out.html

    There are the consolidators that buy up blocks of Alcatraz tickets, but that's going to cost way more than the official cost, which I think is $30. The combined package costs seem to start around $120, but may be the only option short of waiting in line first thing in the morning.

    I guess when I went it was way different. I literally walked up and bought tickets for the next sailing. Also - it was much cheaper when Blue & Gold was running the show. I think I paid $12 (without the audio tour fee) and then maybe paid another $3 to get the tour. It was also at the Blue & Gold terminal at Pier 41. When Hornblower took over, the prices immediately jumped to maybe $25 and the audio tour fee was included. Pier 33 isn't that close to Fisherman's Wharf either.
     
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