Author Topic: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)  (Read 2056 times)

Jeremy E.

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Hello all!

My girlfriend and I will be visiting San Francisco for the first time next month, we'll only be there for 1 day before heading off to Yosemite. We found some awesome tours, but most of them start around 9am and our plane arrives in Oakland at 10am. I've also seen private tours but they cost $75+ per hr which is too much.

I am currently deciding between 2 things on what we should do, but would take other suggestions as well

1) Get the following pass and visit all the places that interest us the most,
http://www.grayline.com/tours/san-francisco/san-francisco-city-loop-hop-on-hop-off-one-day-pass-5966_11/

2) Rent a couple electric bikes and go to the places that they go here,
http://www.dylanstours.com/ebiketour/

Does anyone know a good place to rent electric bikes in San Francisco? Preferrably not a Plugz, Pedego or A2B electric bike, so far I've found the following places that rent em for $65-$75/day
https://www.ebikelane.com/pages/e-bike-rentals
https://rentals.sportsbasement.com/rent/bikes

Which of these options would you choose? Or is there something else you would do?
Thank you all in advance for any advice you can provide.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 07:05:01 PM by Jeremy E. »

CU Tiger

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2016, 07:57:25 PM »
If I was going to be there one day, I would do ONE thing that interested me. See Alcatraz. Or Fisherman's Wharf. or drive to Half Moon Bay and walk along the coast. Or go see the art at SFMOMA, or whatever you want to see most. Spend as much time as you need to feel like you have really experienced it. Then find a good restaurant and eat there, taking time to enjoy it.

I recently spent a day in SF at SFMOMA, and it was fantastic. By the time I left my feet were killing me, my back was in spasms, and my head was full of thoughts about and ideas sparked by the art installations I saw.

SF is just too big and packed with interesting and exciting places, if you try to cram in too much you will not get to sink into any of the places you go. You will only skim the surface and I find that frustrating.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2016, 08:16:06 PM »
I agree that one day in San Francisco is really not enough to cover the city, and trying to do it all will end up feeling like you didn't really see anything.  If I had one day in San Francisco, I would probably do the official Alcatraz tour (plan for about 2.5-3 hours, and buy your tickets as far in advance as possible at alcatrazcruises.com) and walk around the nearby Fisherman's Wharf (before or after Alcatraz, depending on what tour time you take).  Afterwards, I would have a relaxed dinner at a nearby restaurant.

cchrissyy

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2016, 08:18:00 PM »
Yeah, no tour

Pick one part of the city to see. Golden Gate park OR the wharfs and piers OR the beach OR union square. Then explore it on foot.  Maybe the museum of moderns art plus the Academy of Science, since those are right by eachother.

emilypsf

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2016, 08:56:42 PM »
Rent bikes near Fisherman's Warf/north Beach and bike down Chrissy Field and across the GG Bridge then back.  Get take out lunch from Greens along the way.  After returning the bikes, ride a cable car or walk to Chinatown and meander around the back streets, pop into Grant But generally stay West of it.  Dinner at the Ferry Building.  Alternately, after biking through Chrissy Field, continue through the Presidio and hike the trail at Land's End.  Stop in at the Cliff House.  Bus back through the Richmond.  Stop for dinner on Clement (lots of different Asian options), on Fillmore (more upscale if you are near California St) or the Ferry Building.  IMO, the natural beauty and food are the highlights of SF.

llorona

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2016, 09:11:14 PM »
I agree with everyone else who responded about choosing one thing that interests you. Here are some ideas:

1. Alcatraz/Fisherman's Wharf are interesting yet touristy
2. Golden Gate Park has a lot to offer including the Academy of Sciences, Conservatory of Flowers, and Japanese Tea Garden
3. Chinatown offers a unique experience - it's as close to being in Asia as one can get without crossing the pond

I asked DH about transportation, and here we present you with two different perspectives.

I say: Maybe I'm an old lady, but I would strongly recommend AGAINST renting an e-bike. It's notoriously difficult to drive (or be on the road) in SF, especially downtown. It's hectic, it's congested, and most of the streets are one-way and narrow to boot. I hate driving there and I can't even imagine what riding a bike would be like. Please hop on MUNI or a cable car (that can be fun!) instead.

DH says: Are they young and adventurous? Do they have experience riding e-bikes? I think it would be a great way to get around - they can go anywhere!!
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 09:13:05 PM by llorona »

Rylito

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2016, 10:47:49 PM »
E-bikes would be a great way to get around the Embarcadero and northern part of the city (Fisherman's Wharf, Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge) since you would be mostly separated from traffic on sidewalks and bike paths.  If you want to ride across the bridge on the weekend you should actually ride the ferry TO Sausalito to save time and because it's a gorgeous trip, then ride back to SF FROM Sausalito.  The reverse route can be much more crowded with rental bikes on weekends, which is why I recommend this direction.  I would skip eating at Greens, there are much better places either in the Marina District or in Sausalito, depending on where you end up and your timing.

I wouldn't recommend riding in other parts of the city for novice bike riders, but if you have urban cycling experience you should be fine riding down to Golden Gate Park to explore.  GGP is closed to cars on Sunday, which is nice if you're on a bike.

FYI the CA Academy of Sciences (CAS) is no longer located near SFMOMA, it's in GGP while SFMOMA is south of Market (SOMA).  Both areas have lots to see, as mentioned GGP has CAS, the DeYoung Art Museum (maybe that's what cchrissyy was thinking of), the Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, paddleboats at Stowe Lake, lots to do.  SOMA has all kinds of cool museums like SFMOMA, African Diaspora, Contemporary Jewish Museum, and is close to Union Square/Powell St. cable car and the Embarcadero/Ferry Building so you also easily visit those spots.

Since the weather in SF is so unpredictable, if you don't do anything that requires reservations like going to Alcatraz, you may want to play it by ear and decide your itinerary when you arrive...if the weather is nice do something outdoorsy, but if it's blowing snot and freezing cold in SF (which may be the total opposite of the weather in Oakland!), do something indoors.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2016, 10:19:03 AM »
Thanks for all the responses, still deciding on what exactly I'll do but I have a lot more to think about now

JoJo

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2016, 10:33:41 AM »
It hasn't been said specifically, but if you're doing Alcatraz, make sure you have reservations as soon as you know from the official site - the only place that lets you get on the island and in the prison.
http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/

Tickets often are sold out a couple weeks before, especially summer, holidays, and weekends.

nereo

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2016, 10:37:26 AM »
Thanks for all the responses, still deciding on what exactly I'll do but I have a lot more to think about now

I'll echo the other posters that suggest picking one area to see; the SF bay area has a ton of things to see and do.
what kinds of things are you interested in seeing?
FYI you can take BART (their commuter light rail) and skip using bikes entirely - though biking through Golden Gate Park is pretty awesome on a Sunday (and you don't need an ebike if you are relatively fit - just rent one of the city bikes).

Since you are arriving in Oakland, don't count out stuff around the East Bay.  Jack London Square (Oakland) is a fun area with a great view of the city.  If booze is your thing check out St Georges Spirits in Alameda (bonus; right next door is a good wine-tasting room (Rock Wall) and a good brewery (Faction).  It's less than 3 miles from the Oakland airport. You can even take the ferry from directly to the Ferry Building on the embarcadero.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2016, 10:52:55 AM »
It hasn't been said specifically, but if you're doing Alcatraz, make sure you have reservations as soon as you know from the official site - the only place that lets you get on the island and in the prison.
http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/

Tickets often are sold out a couple weeks before, especially summer, holidays, and weekends.

It actually has been said before, but it is worth repeating.

. . . I would probably do the official Alcatraz tour (plan for about 2.5-3 hours, and buy your tickets as far in advance as possible at alcatrazcruises.com) and walk around . . . .

cchrissyy

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2016, 11:15:46 AM »
Ha, sorry you're right,  I did mean Deyoung!

zoltani

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2016, 12:14:33 PM »
Skip fisherman's warf, such a tourist trap.

Picnic in golden gate park or delores park, walk around mission district.

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2016, 12:24:48 PM »
FWIW - I live here and I wouldn't go to Alcatraz if I only had one day.  It will suck up too much of your time.  It is not going anywhere and you have a limited time budget.  Many of the other destinations listed above will have a better ROI in my opinion.

robartsd

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2016, 12:53:00 PM »
I agree 1 day is not enough. With only one day I'd either go to a museum or two in Golden Gate Park during the day, and try a restaurant in the evening or spend the whole day exploring the city on MUNI (including the Cable Cars).

DW and I spent days 3-days/2 nights there for an anniversary. We went to a Giants game the night we arrived, explored the City with a MUNI pass on the full day we were there (including going on a free walking tour), and drove to Golden Gate Park on our last day. We used UrbanSpoon to find nearby restaurants (our favorite was the one we tried first, right across the street from our hotel - but all were great experiences).

If I visiting SF again with 2-4 days, I'd buy a MUNI 3-day pass; however, my recommendation for seeing San Francisco taking 5-7 days and buying a CityPass. I haven't done this yet, but my sister's family had a great time.

I also want to ride The Wiggle on a future SF trip.

bognish

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2016, 01:17:05 PM »
At lot of the tourist must sees in SF are realtively close together and easy to see in a 1 day walking tour. Catch the Bart from Oakland to Powell Street station. Start walking north: 3 blocks to Union Square, Head to 3 blocks to Chinatown at Grant & bush. Head north on grant towards North Beach. Grab a drink at Specks or Vesuvio onGrant & Columbus for the Beat history. Cross Columbus into North Beach. Grab a slice at Golden Boy Pizza on Green St. Head to Filbert and turn east to go up to Coit Tower. Check out the Diego Rivera murals in the tower for free. Head down the Greenwich stairs on the east side of the hill (look for the green parrots of telegraph hill) to Levi Plaza. Follow the embarcadero to Pier 39 and look at the sea lions. Thats about a 2-3 mile walk. The line for the cable car to come back is typically outrageous. The Muni street car line is cool to and heads along the embarcadero to Market street. If you have to walk over the bridge, you can catch a Muni bus from close to Fishermans Wharf to the toll station. The same bus heads back to Market street. I did this with numerous vistors in a casual afternoon when I lived in SF.

More importantly whats the plan for Yosemite?

zoltani

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2016, 01:22:07 PM »
Landing in Oakland? Personally I would just stay in Oakland, it rules. Nowadays when I go to the bay area I don't even go into the city, I just hang out in Oakland and Berkeley.

Of course, SF is something to see so if you have never been there and don't see yourself going back then check it out for sure. Don't waste the day with fisherman's warf or Alcatraz, check out the city.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2016, 01:45:44 PM »
At lot of the tourist must sees in SF are realtively close together and easy to see in a 1 day walking tour. Catch the Bart from Oakland to Powell Street station. Start walking north: 3 blocks to Union Square, Head to 3 blocks to Chinatown at Grant & bush. Head north on grant towards North Beach. Grab a drink at Specks or Vesuvio onGrant & Columbus for the Beat history. Cross Columbus into North Beach. Grab a slice at Golden Boy Pizza on Green St. Head to Filbert and turn east to go up to Coit Tower. Check out the Diego Rivera murals in the tower for free. Head down the Greenwich stairs on the east side of the hill (look for the green parrots of telegraph hill) to Levi Plaza. Follow the embarcadero to Pier 39 and look at the sea lions. Thats about a 2-3 mile walk. The line for the cable car to come back is typically outrageous. The Muni street car line is cool to and heads along the embarcadero to Market street. If you have to walk over the bridge, you can catch a Muni bus from close to Fishermans Wharf to the toll station. The same bus heads back to Market street. I did this with numerous vistors in a casual afternoon when I lived in SF.

More importantly whats the plan for Yosemite?
I'm much more excited about Yosemite, we have 5 days for our trip and decided on 1 day in SF and 4 in Yosemite, I have a friend who lives in a small town right next to it that'll be showing me around, he has extra camping gear as well, so it should be sweet

robartsd

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Re: Need help Planning for a 1 Day San Francisco Vacation (First Time)
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2016, 05:35:46 PM »
The line for the cable car to come back is typically outrageous.
There are three cable car lines in SF. The California Street line is the least busy. Powell-Hyde is the busiest. Instead of waiting in the queue at the end of the line, walk up the street a stop or two (yes, this is always uphill) and catch the ride there.