Sunday City Spotlight: San Francisco

san francisco bay bridge

An amazing view of The City by the Bay!

San Francisco

What to see/do

The Marsh: On Friday nights, San Francisco comes alive with live theatre at this favorite spot for both locals and tourists. 1062 Valencia Street; 415-826-5750

CityPass: A very popular option for travelers visiting a major U.S. city. For a fare of $59 (adults) and $44 children (7 and under), you get full access to such sites as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Aquarium of the Bay, a Blue and Gold bay fleet cruise, the Asian Art Museum and more. The CityPass works for 9 consecutive days and goes into effect once you visit your first site.

Wharf Pass: Another viable option for travelers that are looking to see a lot, but not spend a fortune in the process. If you are visiting The Wharf, this pass will get you into 10 attractions, such as bay cruises and sightseeing tours. With this pass, you can enjoy a 2-day hop on, hop off tour of San Francisco, a bay cruise under the Golden Gate bridge and plenty of other fun activities to keep you busy in the city by the bay. This pass also includes discounts on shopping, dining, activities and much more. It cost $55 for adults and $38 for children (5-11). You can even combine the Wharf Pass with an Alcatraz ferry and audio tour. In order to do that you must however contact Alcatraz Cruises directly at 415-981-ROCK. To simply get the pass check out their official website.

Golden Gate Bridge: Of course anyone who visits this great city must venture to it’s most popular and recognized attraction. This bridge was listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. That should be more than enough incentive to visit.

Coit Tower: Located in the North Beach section of San Francisco and sitting on top of Telegraph Hill is Coit Tower. This tower was dedicated to the firefighters (after the 1906 massive fire that destroyed half of the city). The tower is supposedly designed to resemble the nozzle of a fire hose. Be prepared for a work out as you must climb 250’ to reach the top of the tower. But all that hard work will be worth it once you take a look around at the awesome view of San Francisco.

Lombard Street: Nicknamed “the crookedest street in America”, this popular tourist spot has people baffled at the design of this very narrow and winding road. It is located between Hyde and Leavenworth on Russian Hill.

Golden Gate Park: This urban oasis sits right in the middle of San Francisco and includes such goodies as a museum, carousel, windmills, the Japanese Tea Garden and so much more. For a map of the park and a full listing of upcoming events, check out their official website.

San Francisco Zoo: Who doesn’t like a zoo? A great place to spend a lazy afternoon with some penguins, llamas and lions.

Haight-Ashbury District: Birthplace of the hippy movement in the 70s, Haight-Ashbury is now sadly much more commercial. But it is still a must see for people visiting San Francisco, especially the ones that prefer a “live and let live” kind of lifestyle.

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The elegant entrance to the popular Sir Francis Drake Hotel

Where to stay

Sir Francis Drake Hotel: This chic and lively landmark Union Square hotel just celebrated it’s 80th birthday and is still going strong. Sir Francis Drake is located just minutes from top SF attractions such as Moscone Convention Center, Chinatown, SOMA, and the Theatre District.

The Omni San Francisco Hotel: This luxurious Nob hill hotel is located right along the cable car line and minutes from high-end shopping in Union Square. Chow down at Bob’s Steak & Chop House, which is considered to be one of the best steakhouses in America.

Carlton Hotel: Voted Citysearch.com’s #1 budget hotel in San Francisco for 2008. This boutique hotel underwent a complete renovation by the Joie de Vivre groupin 2004. A nice feature of  The Calrton is that since it is not hemmed in by other buildings, most of the guest rooms enjoy unobstructed views of downtown San Francisco.

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Chow down at Chow, which is a popular spot to dine on Church Street in the Castro section of SF.

What to eat/drink

Chow: This affordable spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner offers healthy high quality comfort food. All ingredients are from local shops and farms and offer customers such quality items as organic free-range chicken, organic eggs, all natural beef and wild seafood. Fresh juices are pressed to order. Check out their spaghetti and meatballs, cobb salad or the Burger Royale with cheese. Brunch available on weekends. 215 Church Street; 415-552-2469

Magnolia Pub & Brewery: Located in the Haight-Ashbury, this brewpub, which is the only one in the neighborhood, offers an excellent beer selection and a mean gourmet cheeseburger in a friendly and lively pub setting. 1398 Haight Street; 415-864-7468

Chutney: The Bay Area’s premiere Indian and Pakistani restaurant is low on prices and quick on service. It doesn’t hurt that this place is spotless! Try the chewy naan bread, stuffed with spicy ground beef,  potatoes and chopped onions. For a main dish, check out Chutney’s chicken korma curry, which offers customers tender chicken that is cooked in mild curry sauce with yogurt and spices. 511 Jones Street; 415-931-5541

Franciscan Crab Restaurant: Not only is the food at this Fisherman’s Wharf seafood eatery amazing, so are it’s panoramic views of the San Francisco bay. Diners enjoy the mouth watering items like Dungeness crabs, iced oysters, clam chowder and many other “always fresh” seafood entrees. Pier 43 ½ Fisherman‘s Wharf; 415-362-7733

Café Arguello: The finest Basque and Spanish comfort food in San Francisco. Enjoy such culinary treats in this family owned Mission District restaurant as the saffron pasta with pork or any other paellas. Wash all this goodness down with a perfect sangria or a glass of wine. 2832 Mission Street;415-643-3160

Bacchus: This self described “show box sized” wine bar is located in the Russian Hill section of San Francisco. Wine connoisseurs sip on the fine collection of reds and whites. Plus enjoy a collection of sakes. The atmosphere is laid back with dim lighting and candles. 1954 Hyde Street; 415-928-2263

Harry Denton’s Starlight Room: Located on the 21st floor of the historic Sir Francis Drake hotel, this lounge offers guests a retro feel that includes bartenders in white tuxedos, waitresses in black cocktail dresses and celebrity photos on the walls. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin can be heard from the speakers on certain nights, while other evenings you will find live bands performing. Dress to impress at this late night locale where the “sophisticated” crowd lets loose. 450 Powell Street; 415-395-8595

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A day trip over the Golden Gate Bridge to the beautiful quaint town of Sausalito is well worth the visit.

Day Trips

Alcatraz Tour plus Muir Woods, Giant Redwoods and Sausalito day trip: This is a 7 hour tour that departs at 9am sharp from centrally located SF hotels. You will have plenty of time at each attraction. Tour is priced at $63.99/person. For more information check out Viator tours:

Sausalito: Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and you will be privy to a most beautiful and quaint San Francisco Bay Area city. Known for its numerous houseboats and European feel, this artsy neighborhood is worth a day trip.

San Jose: A one hour drive south will find you in San Jose, which is the third largest city in California. San Jose is known as a place where “the fun never stops”. It includes such attractions as various wineries, golf courses, museums and shops. Take a stroll in the 5 ½ acre San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, which has 4,000 rose bushes. Also check out Rosicrucian Park, which offers travelers a museum, planetarium, peace garden, plaza and fountains. A great place to sit and people watch.