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San Francisco

San Fransisco: Where to Stay, What to See

I will visit SF in March for 3-4 days. Our party will be a total of 4 persons and we will have a car. Which is the best area to look for accommodation? Is it better to look for a hotel or search airBnB?

Which are the sights that we absolutely must not miss!

Thanks in advance!

7 Answers

top answer by
Peter from Munich

If you dont mind staying outside of the city, I can recommend you the Best Western Plus Coyote Point Inn. They offer free parking and even have underground parking on site. The hotel is very nice, clean and I like to stay there. It's quiet even that it is near the freeway or close to the airport. I didn't had any problems with noise. The also have some good rates and in a couple minutes you are in Downtown San Francisco. I checked a couple hotels in downtown itslef, but they all charge you for parking. Haven't found a descent hotel. 

You also can use BART (light rail) to get in to San Francisco. There is a station at BART Millbrae 

They have a small parking fee during the week and its for free on the weekend. 

What you also could do, but I never have tried it. You could check if the hotel offers free shuttle service from and to the airport. If so, just take the shuttle to the airport and from there you can hop on the train. That save you, I belive, the 2 dollars for parking at Milbrae station.

Also if you drive into San Francisco, they also have free street side parking on the weekend. on most of the streets. But like the area around fishermans wharf you still have to pay on the weekend. But just park a little further away and have a nice stroll through the city. It's worth walking around, every street and alley has its own flair.

What to see:

Golden Gate Bridge

Lombard Street

16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project

since you have a car drive up to Twin Peaks. Check it out during day or night, always awesome.

Sausalito if you love arts and crafts

Alcatraz best is to reserve up front as early as possible

Treasure Island (San Francisco) great views of the city by day and night and you dont have to pay the toll if you just go to treasure island and return back to the city.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Best Western Plus Coyote Point Inn (hotel)
  2. BART Millbrae (attraction)
  3. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  4. Lombard Street (attraction)
  5. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project (attraction)
  6. Twin Peaks (attraction)
  7. Sausalito (city)
  8. Alcatraz (attraction)
  9. Treasure Island (San Francisco) (metro area)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Courtney from Los Angeles

I don't think this is what you meant, but I just took a look at your style blog (which is great, by the way!) and I bet you would love a store called bellocchio. It's a bit out of the way (and kind of hidden) but it's amazing and anyone who's a style freak should know about it! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. bellocchio (attraction)
3 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Fritzi from San Francisco

Having a car is not necessarily an asset within the city of San Francisco, although it is very helpful if you wish to visit the wine country Sonoma

Napa ValleyCarmel or the coast side, Half Moon Bay.

I agree with the gentlemen who suggests you stay on the Peninsula and take BART into the city.  However, in that case you will not have a place to hang out and rest.  Hotels within SF are expensive, but I have seen some good deals at Le Meridian, in the financial district, which caters to international groups.  The Hyatt at Fisherman's Whart is a good location, also the Hyatt at the Embarcadero.  These are expensive hotels.  I have stayed at the Wydham and Nikko.  Again, it is not easy to get a good deal.

Within the city, I highly recommend you visit the Cliff House  for its tiimeless views, walk Ocean Beach, tour Alcatraz, visit Ferry Building Marketplace, take a Bay Cruise, enjoy the Haight-Ashbury, the Mission District, and do some food research for some outstanding local cuisine.  The Civic Center has beautiful buildings, you can go inside, and also the Asian Art Museum.  I love the views from Lincoln Parkas well as the museum there, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. For shopping, my favorite area is Hayes Valley; many boutiques, and if you are up for a custom corset fitting, Dark Garden.

Strolling San Francisco Chinatown is fun, but North Beach is

very touristy.

Several people I know have been very disappointed with AirBnB, in the

sense the location was nothing like the picture or description.  It's a risk.  My advice is to search the "low end" of established  brands, like the

Fairfield by Marriott or the Hampton Inn, or a Best Western.  You can count on the brand wanting to preserve its reputation.

Have a great trip.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Sonoma (city)
  2. Napa Valley (attraction)
  3. Carmel (attraction)
  4. Half Moon Bay (city)
  5. Cliff House (attraction)
  6. Ocean Beach (attraction)
  7. Alcatraz (attraction)
  8. Ferry Building Marketplace (attraction)
  9. Haight-Ashbury (attraction)
  10. Mission District (neighborhood)
  11. Civic Center (attraction)
  12. Asian Art Museum (attraction)
  13. Lincoln Park (attraction)
  14. California Palace of the Legion of Honor (attraction)
  15. Hayes Valley (neighborhood)
  16. Dark Garden (attraction)
  17. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
  18. North Beach (neighborhood)
2 thanks

answered by
Frances from North Carolina

I always like staying down by the water.  We have stayed in Union Square and the Financial District  and I am always sorry.  Most of the time we have stayed at the Argonaut Hotel - A Kimpton Hotelwhich is great and centrally located.  It is not in the center of all the toursity stuff on the wharf.  Once we had 3 couples and we shared a 3 bedroom at the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square in Ghiradelli Square.  WOW!  That was one of the most phenomenal hotels ever!  Roof top terrace, driver, etc.....But of course very pricey. The last time we went we had the family and rented an apartment in the Marina District. I loved the area, however, I didn't like not having hotel services. IE: when we arrived there was no key and it took 45min to track down the manager to come let us in. Then there we were short towels and had to leave a message. All of these things were resolved but I felt responsible to make it work and when I'm on vacation I don''t want that.  I will not do that again for that reason. I would rather pay the extra money. There is a hostel that has amazing reviews in Fort Mason. We went and looked at it (from the outside) and it does look really nice (for a hostel) if you are into that.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Union Square (attraction)
  2. Financial District (attraction)
  3. Argonaut Hotel - A Kimpton Hotel (hotel)
  4. Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square (hotel)
  5. Marina District (attraction)
  6. Fort Mason (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Noel from The Big Island

If you have a car you can visit many places around the city that are not always easy to take public transportation, but I would advise you take transport anytime you head into the downtown area since parking is very expensive. I have some really cool places to visit that is beyond the typical tourist traps or attractions, you can check it out on my post here, mostly the fun and interesting neighborhoods and off the beaten path locations of the city.

1 thankscomments (3)

answered by
Jenifer from Berlin

I've booked a lot of travel for employees to come to San Francisco and I can tell you that an airbnb will be way more cost effective for your group of 4 and quite honestly more interesting than a hotel. If you don't mind not having access to housekeeping or room service any hour of the day, go for an airbnb. If you find one in a neighborhood with easier parking (Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, certain parts of the Mission, SoMa), then you won't have to worry about paying that much, or at all, for parking. 

As for things to do, here are some suggestions in no particular order. Apologies if they are repeats from other answers:

- Head over to Treasure Island (San Francisco) at dusk to get a breathtaking panoramic view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Great for photos.
-  Drive to the top of the hill that Sutro Tower is on in Twin Peaks for a complete bird's eye view of San Francisco. 
- If I had to choose one museum to check out, I'd highly recommend the California Academy of Sciences (California Academy of Sciences) in Golden Gate Park. 
- Get tea and walk through the garden at the Japanese Tea Garden also located in Golden Gate Park.
- Bring a blanket, a beer, and a burrito and find a good spot in the higher part of Dolores Park to relax and people watch. Great views of the city from here too. If you're lucky there might be a festival or party going on.
- Take a stroll through San Francisco Chinatown. It's the largest Chinatown outside of Asia! 

If you want to check out some things closer to the ocean:

- The Wave Organ (The Wave Organ) in the Marina district is very unique. Best heard during high tide.  
- Sutro Baths (Sutro Bath Ruins) at Ocean Beach.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Treasure Island (San Francisco) (metro area)
  2. Sutro Tower (attraction)
  3. California Academy of Sciences (attraction)
  4. Japanese Tea Garden (attraction)
  5. Dolores Park (attraction)
  6. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
  7. The Wave Organ (attraction)
  8. Sutro Baths (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by

There is so many different areas to stay in San Francisco. What are you looking for? Union Square is great if you want to shop. Fisherman's Wharf is great if you want to be near the sea. Nothing will be cheap in San Francisco but it is worth it in my opinion. You can't miss walking the Golden Gate Bridge, it's always my favorite day. We love the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, delicious food and fun trinkets. Golden Gate Park is wonderful to explore with lots of options, the tulips may still be in bloom in March and they are beautiful. Alcatraz is a fun trip and pretty interesting. What type of activities are you looking for?

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Union Square (attraction)
  2. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
  3. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  4. Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (attraction)
  5. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  6. Alcatraz (attraction)
1 thanks

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