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San Francisco Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your San Francisco vacation , west coast


Pokerface
San Francisco Disappointing if you Wash Up in Down Town 3 stars
I have to say that San Francisco is not quite all that I had envisaged it to be. However having said this I am myself probably to blame as to save money we opted for a cheap motel down town. It really schocked me how much poverty there was in the city.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a bit of an anti-climax but Canary Wharf is lovely- as is the clam chowder! Maybe I missed out on sights I should have seen but my highlight was China Town and Garibaldis!


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cosmoclaudio
Public Transport 5 stars
I was really happy with the public transport in San Francisco. I had to use it most of the days I was there. One day we met some friends that had a car and drove us everywhere, but the rest of the week it was all based on the public transport. They have good, new buses, that run frequently enough as to not have to wait more than 5 minutes in a bus stop. The subway is also very good and it seems pretty safe. The public transport runs till late at night and it’s what most of the tourists use. It’s very cheap and you can make it even cheaper if you buy a weekly transport pass. I didn’t find anything unpleasant about it.

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rhonda
Rainforest Cafe 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Yesterday, I had lunch with a couple of elephants, a gorilla, and a huge butterfly. Sound a bit out of the ordinary? Not if you are dining at the Rainforest Café. This is a delightfully fun and whimsical restaurant in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. While I admittedly went there because of my six year old’s constant begging, I was glad that I did. This restaurant is for truly for children of all ages.

Upon entering the establishment, you are lead through a gift shop, which normally I would find mildly annoying. However with its’ big salt water aquariums, and jungle foliage hanging from the ceiling, it is more a warm up for the fun that will follow.

This place is really all about the setting. It appears that you are in a tropical rainforest, with greenery or some decoration covering every square inch. Huge gorillas are peeking out of trees, life sized elephants are batting their eyelashes, and jungle birds are singing at the top of their lungs. Part of the restaurant appears to be underwater where diners are surrounded on three sides by spectacular salt water aquariums. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a dramatic waterfall that fills the background noise with the roar of rushing water. Not a calm and relaxing dining experience, but extremely entertaining.

I found the food above average, but a little pricey. Lunch for us ran one hundred dollars (one adult and two kids). Although we did all have an appetizer cup of San Francisco’s famous clam chowder, and a big desert in addition to our entrees. As expensive as the food was, the portions were very large. None of us could finish what we were served. I noticed that at almost every table great quantities of food were being taken away, uneaten. So much so that I even mentioned it to our server. She agreed that all the dishes served were monsterously sized. So you do get your money’s worth, just be sure to ask for a doggie bag.

This establishment is very good at marketing to kids. So you will find a very kid friendly children’s menu, complete with specialty drinks created just for the little ones. My kids ordered smoothies that came in their own water bottle that they could take home, and it included a toy as well.

It may be rare to hear someone complain about service because it was too much, but that was the case here! These people are trying very hard to earn your business. That is clear from the moment you walk in. There are greeters at the door, then people talking to you as you make your way through the gift shop. The waitress came by literally every five minutes to ask if we needed anything. I was actually getting annoyed by this because I could barely take a bite of food without someone coming up to the table and asking me a question while my mouth was full. Then when the waitress wasn’t patrolling our table the manager came over and asked if we were alright. The same parade of well wishers followed us out of the restaurant when we left. While I appreciated their efforts and concern if really felt like it was too much, almost desperate.

All in all, this is a fun place to go and I highly recommend it. Everyone should try a Rainforest Café once, just for the experience. It’s almost like taking a mini tropical vacation on your lunch hour!


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ogiovetti
Slow Food in San Francisco 5 stars
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
There is a lot of buzz about the Slow Food movement going on right now, particularly in the States and especially in the San Francisco Bay area. If you're a foodie looking for a truly authentic experience on the West Coast, run--don't walk--to Northern California and bring your appetite.

Slow food is a little over 20 years old and has been thriving since the 80s in San Fran thanks to chefs such as Alice Waters. It's a very European concept with a very American organizational structure. Fast food has lead to a fast life and the idea of Slow Food is to bring us back to basics: loving food, preserving gastronomic culture, and protecting some traditional foods in danger of going extinct. This story will give you a rundown of this Californian's favourite spots after a week of exploring with my stomach.


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4isabella
Sailing on San Francisco Bay 4 stars
A great way to spend a sunny winters day...sail over to Tiberon and then onto Sausilito, stop at either or both places, buy a coffee to go and sit on the waterfront and feel the sun on your face. Chat with the left over hippy at Sausilito who wants to legalise dope and now spends his time making his geriatric dog play his guitar. Sit up on the top deck of the ferry and watch the Bridge, Angel Island and Arcatraz. Ferry sails from pier 41, tickets from pier 39, $18 and take as long as you want to make your day. Remember to walk out to the end of pier 39 when you return, to say hi to the sea lions basking on their bleachers..they've been there for 17 years, since the last earthquake.

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Marc888
Bacar, San Francisco 4 stars
Whilst wandering around South of Market in San Francisco I came across Bacar, a very nice wine bar and restaurant that had an instant appeal. It was so welcoming that I soon found myself inside ordering some late afternoon food. The dining area featured an open kitchen, something which I think should be in every restaurant. It also had a number of booth seats and since I find these to be more comfortable than standard chairs I grabbed a booth all to myself. Even though it was only late afternoon, the place was still relatively busy which added to the welcoming feel. I ordered a tuna salad which came out larger than life, in true Californian style. I was not ready to indulge in any alcoholic drinks, but the wine list was extensive and so I have earmarked this place for a return, evening visit.

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TimeTraveler
Cable Car Musuem 5 stars
I live cable cars and seeing them in San Francisco was so cool. I visited the cable car museum and I thought that it was such as cool museum.

The city of San Francisco is well-known for the cable cars that go up and down its busy streets. The Cable Car Museum of San Francisco is a museum where visitors can learn about the history, the evolution, the technologies, the builders, and the expansion of the famous cable cars of San Francisco. The museum is home to several cable cars, pictures, mechanical displays, and equipment used on cable cars. It is a non-profit organization that is truly dedicated to the preservation of the famous San Francisco cable cars.

The Cable Car Museum was opened in 1974 and is run by the Friends of the Cable Car Museum. Since its opening, it has maintained a nice collection of cable cars and devices such as braking systems, track, cable, and tools. There is also a very large collection of cable car photographs that were taken in San Francisco throughout the years. Visitors can learn a lot about the history and life of the famous cable cars of San Francisco in this popular museum.

Because the museum is a non-profit organization, it depends a lot on its sales and profits from the museum gift shop and from the online store. Customers are able to purchase memorabilia about the cable cars such as T-shirts, hats, charms, pins, patches, toys, ornaments, and even authentic cable car bells.

The Cable Car Museum is a very popular museum in San Francisco because it is so dedicated to preserving the cable cars that are native to San Francisco.


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TimeTraveler
California Academy of Science 4 stars
The California Academy of Science is a museum where visitors can explore, explain, and protect the natural world. At the Steinhart Aquarium, visitors can view various fish such as piranhas, electric eels, pythons, alligators, dart frogs, and more. The Steinhart Aquarium opened in 1923 and is one of the oldest municipal aquariums still in operation in America. Visitors can get an up-close look at various animals, which are set up in exhibits that replicate their natural environments. There is something interesting for visitors of all ages and intellects.

The California Academy of Science offers a wide range of educational programs for everyone. There are programs for school groups, adult groups, large and small groups, and walk-in groups. There are also programs available for home school groups and early childhood groups. There are guided tours and self-guided tours available at the museum.

Memberships are also available at the California Academy of Science. There are several benefits that come with a membership purchase. These benefits include free, unlimited admission for a year, four guest passes, a 10% discount in the museum gift shop, free member lectures, free or discounted admission to more than 250 science museums worldwide, and travel opportunities to exotic places around the world.

The California Academy of Science is a unique and fun place to visit for people of all ages. Visitors can view various animals up close while learning about their lives and how to protect them. The efforts to educate the public on preservation of America’s wildlife is the main goal of the museum.


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melissa
Best US vacation ever 5 stars
Honestly, if the purpose of your vacation is to refresh yourself, you really can't choose a better place than San Francisco. I have been all over the world and have never seen another city that combines such a high level of multi-cultural cosmopolitan atmosphere with fresh air, good food, and friendly locals. We spent a week there and it just wasn't long enough. I could have spent a week down at the Wharf alone, and we kept having such good meals down there that we never managed to tear ourselves away and try restaurants in other parts of town (aside from one amazing dinner in Chinatown that made us wish we had an extra week to spend there). It's definitely a high priority on my list to go back and really force myself to look around more and not just get sucked in by one great area, because every area in San Francisco is amazing and deserves full attention.

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Marc888
the end of a long day in San Francisco 4 stars
I really was happy with my decision to depart that night. Although San Francisco undoubtedly had much more to offer, I was very pleased to leave all of that for another time. I was also very happy with the fact that I had managed to see so much of the city in just a single day. The very early start no doubt helped that.

I headed back to the airport using the same airport bus that I had used earlier in the day. As I entered the terminal building, I had a moment to contemplate my time in this city. The very same scene greeted me when I got off the bus, as it did when I first got on it. This time though, I knew what was beyond the realms of the car parking area! Soon after, I was strapped to another plane bound for Detroit and then New York. Safe to say I didn’t see much of this flight as I fell asleep as soon as the plane took off!


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Marc888
A wander around the Wharf area 4 stars
Having already achieved much of what I wanted to, I decided that rather than stay in San Francisco that night, I would take my late night flight to New York. The flight left at around midnight and so I still had plenty of time to enjoy the evening. I called the airline from fisherman’s wharf and confirmed my flight for that day. I was required to be in the airport by 10:30pm. Since it was only a domestic flight, check in procedures would be quite quick at the airport. My late departure would also allow me to avoid the rush hour evening traffic, thus making my return trip to the airport relatively easy.

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Marc888
Ending the tour 4 stars
It was most definitely a very different part of the city compared to the adjacent area, and I was taken aback at what was such a stark contrast in our surroundings within the space of just a few short streets. I expect that at night it would be a much more foreboding place to go, and I was already aware that there were plenty of warnings in guide books and information websites to avoid the area if possible after dusk. I am not sure how the residents of the area feel about tourists perpetually visiting their ‘habitat’ from the apparent safety of tour buses in almost a fishbowl style, but there is no doubt that this remains a very popular part of any tour itinerary. It was a scene that undoubtedly was far removed from most peoples lives (at least those on the tour bus), and so maybe that was its draw.

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Marc888
The swift tour around town 4 stars
Since I was fairly short on time, I decided to take one of the shorter tours which was expected to be only a couple of hours’ in duration. The route took us near to the Golden Gate Bridge, then close to Baker Beach, and after that, through some of the now higher class suburbs of San Francisco. We then proceeded into the down town area via Geary Boulevard. The tour also included a look around the Tenderloin area. Normally I don’t like to join these types of tours, but on this occasion the driver was also the tour guide which meant that we were able to stop at, and get a great deal of insight into many of the places. The tour guide also knew all of the best photo opportunities and viewing points around the city and was more than happy to make extra time available for all on board.

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Marc888
The city tour 4 stars
I left the restaurant feeling great. It was nice to have a large breakfast after such an early start. The tour office was just opening, but I could already see a crowd outside. Apparently this was the meeting point for people who had booked on previous days too. The wharf was also looking busy. San Francisco had certainly come to life by now and the scene was a very stark contrast to that of just a couple of hours ago. I decided to book a tour that was to take me to some of the suburbs of San Francisco, as well as the down town area, and also around the fabled Tenderloin part of the city. The tour left soon after I picked up my tickets and the coach was a really comfortable shiny new vehicle.

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Marc888
Early morning tram to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf 4 stars
I was in luck as the tram was waiting at the end of the line, and as I boarded I was greeted with a big smile from the tram operator. The morning fog licked the bottom of the tram and I recall the steep 45 degree hills that are so much a backdrop of numerous Hollywood car chases. The tram driver was quite a character and since this was pretty much the first tram of the day I was one of the very few customers in his car. He afforded me all the attention I needed and helped me to find my bearing whilst at the same time drove the tram, sometimes at breakneck speed, other times at a crawl. I got to the wharf where it was pretty much deserted but there were a few early café’s starting to open.

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Marc888
Down Town at 5:30am! 4 stars
I checked with the driver and sure enough this bus was the one that was to take me to the down town area. Predictably it was almost empty, since it was still only 5:30am, but it provided a great way to see San Francicso at its sleepiest! The royal blue sky began to give way to daytime, and I can clearly remember seeing the early morning mist in patches as we traversed our way towards the city. I got off the bus in the down town area, and it was my plan to ride the tram to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s wharf in order to start my day there.

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Marc888
The Bus to the city 4 stars
In the end I managed to find the baggage lockers and stowed my bags safely away. I walked out of the airport terminal to be greeted by just a car parking area, a drop off point, and a chilly dawn. Without any preparation for this day, I distinctly remember wondering what mysteries lie in wait for me beyond this airport car park! Today was to be a foray into uncharted territory and it gave rise to a feeling that defines what traveling is all about. A mixture of foreboding on the one hand, and confidence on the other. With my curiosity increasing, the airport bus arrived and took its place at the stand near to where I had exited the terminal building.

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Scarlett3001
Fisherman's Wharf – harbor and excitement in San Francisco 4 stars
Fisherman's Wharf is located in the harbor area of San Francisco. There you can find a lot of nice situated, but quite expensive, restaurants along the promenade. Also many showmen try to entertain the visitors with pantomime or picture-painting. In the area, it is possibly to visit some old ships (quite expensive) and an aquarium.
Fisherman's Wharf creates a nice atmosphere both at day and at night. If you like, you can also take a ferry to Alcatraz or tour the Bay Area, but those attractions are quite crowed, and you should also take care to not lose your valuables. Parking at Fisherman's Wharf is almost impossible during the day.


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Marc888
The flight to San Francisco 4 stars
The trip to the airport was very quick and I was a little sad to say goodbye to Hawaii. However I was quite looking forward to seeing San Francisco and so my departure was quite bearable!. The flight was with North West Airlines and was not a terribly long flight. But it was overnight. The plane left at 11:30pm and arrived in San Francisco just before 5am or so local time. I didn’t sleep well, but I was able to catch some rest before the plane landed. I remember distinctly seeing the deep blue sky on our final approach which signified that it was not quite night time, but was still way before dawn.

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Marc888
Departing for San Francisco 4 stars
It was another great afternoon on the beach of Waikiki but on this day I knew I had to prepare for my flight to San Francisco which was to depart that very evening. I was actually mid way between a trip that was to take me from Bangkok to New York and then onto London. Having already stopped in Tokyo and Hawaii, my onward travel took me next to San Francisco, then to Detroit and on to New York. I was to catch another flight to London which I had not yet booked but was planning to on route. I returned to my Waikiki hotel at dusk and with a late checkout already arranged, I had time to pack, or rather repack, my bags.

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