A March 2005 trip
to San Francisco by aussieinva
Quote: A long weekend visit to San Francisco. Experienced the city, Alcatraz, Harbour, and surrounding areas.
San Francisco will cater to everyone who visits. The is a lot to see in the city, from the world famous cable cars, to the glow of the Golden Gate Bridge. There is so much to see that it will take several days to take in the city in its entirety.The cable cars are a must-ride when in San Francisco. This is a unique experience and gives a true appreciation for the steepness of the city's hills.
Alcatraz Island is one of the most famous prisons in the United States. Visiting the island is a unique experience that must be booked in advance.Harbor cruises showcase the harbor in a way that is simply not possible from land. It is highly recommended to take a 1 hour tour that will take you around Alcatraz Island and underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, and Ghiradelli Sqaure are some of the most visited areas in San Francisco. This is the place to shop for soveniers, and is a great place to look for meals as well. Dining in this area can be more expensive than other areas of the city, but also has some really good food.Plan on spending some time inside the city and consider spending time exploring areas like Sausalito, Tiburon, and Muir Woods which are all within 45 minutes of San Francisco.
Book your tours in advance! Alcatraz can, and will sell out days in advance, even during the off season and has been known to sell out for a week or two in the summer. Booking your tours in advance also ensures peace of mind.San Francisco has enough restaurants to eat at a different one, each meal, for over 15 years, so there are no shortage of choices. Most will also have a menu with prices outside their entrance, so you can determine whether the cuisine matches your tastes and budget. Shop around until you find something you like.Eat at a nicer restaurant for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch menus are often cheaper than dinner, so eat a larger meal at lunch and save some money.
If your time is limited, or you are like me and tend to get lost driving, it is recommended to book a few tours around the city. This is faster and more interesting than self-navigating as the tour guides know where they are going and have interesting commentary. Two of the main companies that offer tours are Travelsf and Grayline tours.
IntroductionThe Holiday Inn Golden Gateway is the perfect place to stay when visiting the San Francisco area. The close proximity to services, cable cars, and businesses make it ideal for tourists/business without the high cost of other hotels in downtown San Francisco.
LocationThe hotel is located about 2 miles from both Fisherman's Wharf and the Financial District. The hotel is located directly next to the California Street cable-car line. Having the cable car practically at the hotel's doorstep makes travelling through the city a breeze. From the California Street cable cars, you can easily connect to the other cable car lines, streetcars, and BART.
There is also a number of businesses nearby that you will appreciate, including two banks (Wells Fargo and Bank of America), a Starbucks next door (hot chocolate after a cold day is amazing), and a Walgreens a block down the street (who has ever gone to a big city and had trouble finding a drug store near their hotel?).
PriceRoom rates are competitive compared to other hotels of its quality in the area. It tends to be a little cheaper than some in Fisherman's Wharf or the Financial District, but with the convenience of the cable car at your doorstep, it's better to pay less and ride more. Room rates are normally somewhere between $100 and $170 per night, but we were able to get a package deal with flights from the East Coast and 3 nights for $350 pp.
RoomsThe rooms are what you should expect from a good three-star hotel. The rooms have a good view of the city, and we were able to view the cable cars going up and down the California Street line. The beds were quite comfortable and provided a restful night's sleep. The rooms were not huge but quite adequate for the number of guests they were designed for. The room and bathroom were very clean and well maintained and had the amenities that guests would require during their stay. The room was nothing outstanding, but exactly what you would expect, which is a good-quality room for a decent price.
Hotel ServicesThe hotel offers the standard services that are common in large downtown hotels. It has an on-site restaurant we utilized each morning for breakfast. The breakfast buffet was really good. An outside pool is also available during the warmer months. If you plan to drive, the hotel offers parking spaces, but at $30 per day, so it's much easier to use public transport. One feature that the hotel installed is key access to the public bathrooms and elevators. You used your room key to use the elevators and bathrooms in the lobby. This was installed to prevent vagrants from roaming within the hotel.
RecommendationThis hotel is perfect for anyone visiting the San Francisco area. Make it your lodging while in San Francisco.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 10, 2006
Holiday Inn Golden Gateway
1500 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, California 94109
(415) 441 4000
Attraction | "Aquarium of the Bay"
The Aquarium by the bay is an entertaining and informative way to learn about the marine life that lives in the San Francisco Bay.
LocationThe Aquarium is located on Pier 39, which is one of the most frequented areas in the city. The aquarium is in the area on Pier 39 with all of the shops/restaurants, and is next to the Blue and Gold fleet area. The ticket window and entrance to the museum is located at the front of the pier, so finding it is easy.
Getting thereThe easiest way to get here is by public transportation. The streetcars will drop you off right at the pier, or if you are riding on the Powell St. or Hyde St. cable cars, it is a few blocks on flat ground to get to the aquarium. The aquarium offers discounts to those who use public transportation, so keep your ticket stub.
PricesStandard tickets prices are $13.95 Adult$7.50 Senior$7.50 Child$33.95 (Family Pak, two adults and two children)
Prepaying for tickets online and showing your public transport ticket stub will save you around $2 per ticket. There are often discount coupons that you can get from your hotel or the staff at the aquarium. It is rare that you need to pay full price to get in. They also have a combo tour that includes a 1-hour bay cruise and aquarium admission, which is economical.
Inside the MuseumThe museum has three main areas. The first two areas have a moving walkway through a 150-foot clear tunnel. This allows you to see the marine life from all angles. The first tunnel has marine life from inside the San Francisco bay and the second tunnel has the marine that frequents outside the bay. There are a variety of species, including schools of fish, sharks, and starfish. The moving walkway in the tunnels will move you slowly through the exhibits, but you can step off the walkway at any point to view the fish more closely. In the last area, several touch tanks have been installed and guests are encouraged to handle the marine life. Staff members are on hand in all areas to ask questions.
How long should I plan to spend here?Most people would spend 2 to 3 hours in the museum, particularly if you have children. Take your time through the aquarium and enjoy it.
RecommendationDefinitely a good way to spend a few hours learning more about the marine life in San Francisco. If you have been to the Monterrey aquarium, it might be more of the same. If you plan to do a bay cruise as well, consider getting the package, as it will save you a good amount of cash.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 10, 2006
Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39
The Embarcadero at Beach Street
San Francisco, California 94133