San Francisco in August - hotel options?

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Raymond
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San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by Raymond »

My wife and I plus our two children (18 and 9 y.o.) will travel to San Francisco in late July for eight days, flying from Dallas on Southwest Airlines.

We'd like the hive mind's opinion on the following hotel plans:

1. Stay for four days in the Union Square area, possibly at the Galleria Park Hotel, to do all the touristy stuff (no rental car), then move down to the Staybridge Suites in San Bruno (near SFO) for the last four days, rent a car (free parking at Staybridge), and do day trips to Monterey and possibly Sonoma or Napa before flying home.

- or -

2. Stay the entire time at the Staybridge Suites, take the BART from the San Bruno station up to the city to see the sights each day, then return each night. Rent a car as needed for day trips.

- or -

3. Just suck up the extra cost and stay in the city the entire time, and rent a car as needed?

Do any of these plans make any sense, or do they make you shake your head in disbelief? :P
"Ritter, Tod und Teufel"
coolmax
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by coolmax »

As long as you can bear the commute, the BART options + Staybridge may not be a bad idea..do factor in the travel time + what's near a BART station. Many things are, and for others you can use Uber locally once you are in the. Might be far cheaper than renting a car and/or staying downtown.

Do rent a car for a couple of days to see Monterey and such.. those are worth visiting!
absolutFinance
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by absolutFinance »

definitely #1. traffic is a beast getting in and out of SF, don't bother when you don't need to (day trips with a rental). if most of your day trips are further south, then I wouldn't even bother staying up by the airport.

monterey has the aquarium, it has its own wine country (less uptight than napa, not as good as sonoma if you're really into wine), there's also santa cruz down south and i think watsonville may have its strawberry festival in august, which is pretty awesome. there's also the gilroy garlic festival down south too. not sure if those will overlap with the days you're planning to be in town.

you could knock out napa/sonoma while staying in the city by doing a tour. then you can taste and not have to worry about driving. all depends on your budget...
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LAlearning
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by LAlearning »

neither. airbnb or vrbo.....who does hotels in SF?
I know nothing!
sbaywriter
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by sbaywriter »

I'd vote for option #1. 3 days in SF would be plenty for me - fisherman's wharf, golden gate park, museums, maybe do a tour bus thingy. Don't know about hotels.

Monterey aquarium is great. Carmel is fun for adults but not sure if fun for kids. If you like ocean views and beaches, you can do a day trip over to the coast (Hwy 92 to Half Moon Bay) and drive south along the coast down toward San Gregorio.
southbay
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by southbay »

LAlearning wrote:neither. airbnb or vrbo.....who does hotels in SF?
people who use hotel amenities: room service, valet, fitness center, bellman, etc... hotels are a different experience.
traveltoomuch
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by traveltoomuch »

I would stay near where I'm planning to play, moving hotels as needed. So some variant of option #1.

I would probably limit the number of nights in the city, knowing there's more stuff far afield. I would do Monterey as an overnight (or longer) trip rather than a day trip, taking some time to see other bits south of SF. Spend some extra time on the coast. Watch surfers near Santa Cruz or just walk along the shore near Half Moon Bay.

You might find even cheaper lodgings in Santa Clara or San Jose - while you might not be drawn to Santa Clara as a destination, don't be afraid to stay at a cheaper hotel there en route to or from Monterey.

Overall, your schemes make sense to me! I'm shaking my head at the idea of Monterey being only a day trip (that's a very long day!), but otherwise you're thinking pretty sanely. I suspect your proposed hotels are just fine - the Galleria Park is a joie de vivre property, and they have a great reputation, and Staybridge is usually adequate. I love that Staybridge has free laundry. Keep in mind that you can easily rent cars in the city - the big rental companies have locations near Union Square which are open long hours - you could potentially do day trips from there without paying for parking. Likewise, there's an Avis at the mall not far from the Staybridge. It has limited hours, but it usually offers much better rates than the airport.

Have a great trip!
WasabiOsbourne
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by WasabiOsbourne »

a few thoughts... SF is one of the cities i know quite well..........

BART is great... . car traffic is not that bad to get to downtown SF from San Bruno most of the day. basic heavy two-way rush hour but the rest of the time is a complete breeze (where traffic is really bad is getting into SF on Bridge from Oakland/Berkeley). and i know of what i speak on the "complete breeze", i do it quite regularly.

so then it more becomes the experience of San Bruno vs. downtown............ i'll check your hotel in San Bruno as to location... how far are you from BART? i'm thinking airport hotels in San Bruno aren't necessarily near the San Bruno Bart station. maybe though airport shuttle to airport BART station.

i would definitely vie for downtown over San Bruno. SF has an excellent downtown but i think it really needs to be experienced (probably true to most places)

have you looked at priceline or hotwire... i bet you can get a really nice downtown SF hotel for $120-140. check out betterbidding.com... and you can get decent SFO airport hotel dirt cheap.

as per monterey, i'd say it's pretty far for day trip and then it's something that should be experience over more time... of course you have the downside of checking out of SF hotel and into monterey hotel, but i would do that personally. you can tell i'm not a fan of day trips.... i don't know napa at all.

fire away if you have more questions.. priceline has really cheap auto rentals at SFO. i've done $9 a day a bunch and $20 a day almost always as max
WasabiOsbourne
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by WasabiOsbourne »

forgot to add.............. on the BART vs. car to downtown SF, parking is a costly nightmare (arguably a little hard to even find if you don't know what you're doing).... i'd recommend car. BART isn't really that cheap when you have lots of passengers. and of course with car you can stop into lots of neat spots around central SF. SF is really good for little niche tourist spots i find.
WasabiOsbourne
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by WasabiOsbourne »

i slightly confused san bruno and daly city and their BART stations but it shouldn't have any effect on your plans.

i see your hotel is near tanforan mall which is just down the street from BART. a bit of a walk if you dislike walking but generally ok.

i would definitely look into luxury downtown SF hotel for $120-140.... hope i am not overlooking something like your time of year being very expensive.

i have done priceline many times. never the remotest issue and they've even fixed things when i screwed up royally
WasabiOsbourne
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by WasabiOsbourne »

i probably forgot about how much it will cost to park a car at a major downtown hotel... still i would recommend staying in downtown for at a couple of nights..

the one poster was right that you may run out of useful things in downtown SF in a couple of days... lots of stuff i like but downtown SF might be the most touristy place i know of (such cliched attractions but pretty good nonethless)...

anyway, the reason i pointed to this is you may want to do one day staying in san bruno and going into central - but not downtown - san francisco... lincoln park, golden gate park, zoo, seal rock, drive-around, beach etc..

whatever you do, don't go on youtube.com (a san bruno company) and type in "san bruno gas explosion"... it's quite a sight to see and to think the commentators were thinking it was airliner crash.
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curiouskitty
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by curiouskitty »

LAlearning wrote:neither. airbnb or vrbo.....who does hotels in SF?
I couldn't agree more. The hotels here are crazy overpriced for a tiny little room. Only do it if you *really* need a hotel for some reason.

Taxis are also hard to find which is why SF was the birthplace of Uber and Lyft.

Embrace the future :beer
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Raybo
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by Raybo »

While others have said mostly the same things, I thought I'd weigh in with my thoughts.

1. Don't forget that BART follows a narrow track through San Francisco. Once in SF, either you walk to your destination, take MUNI (bus), or get a cab/Uber. All of these will add expenses to what will be the twice-daily cost of commuting into SF from San Bruno, approx. $28 (and that requires getting a special ticket for your under-12 child).

2. Napa and Sonoma counties are about as far north as Monterey is south. Visiting them both in an 8 day stay might be pushing it. Personally, I find a trip to the "wine country" a full, exhausting day. Also, I'm not sure what your kids will be doing while you taste wine. There are plenty of bus wine tours that leave from SF.

3. You don't say what it is you want to do/see in SF and environs. If you like to hike, bike, and see nature, then the choices you make may be different than if you want to see historic and tourist spots. If you want to do outdoor activities, you will definitely have to decide what you to do as there is so much to see.

4. If you want to just see museums and such, Monterey offers the aquarium, which is fabulous (get a reservation), but little else. Note that Berkeley offers some places to visit and is much closer to SF.

5. Renting a car if you stay in SF is nuts. I live in the center of SF and my wife and I have one car and a garage to hold it. Yet, I rarely drive in SF and then only if I know there will be parking at my destination. This is no secret and the hotels will gouge you for daily parking. While taking a bus with a family of 4 will be about $9 (I don't know the cost of kids under 12 on MUNI) a trip. Depending on where you stay, you can likely plan your day to take a bus to get to an area, walk around, and then take a bus back in the evening.

6. If you are interested in going to Alcatraz, I am a docent there and am willing to offer you (and anyone else who comes to SF) a free, personal tour of the island. You still have to buy the (steep) tickets to get there, but once on the island I can show you more than you'd see on your own and save you $10 a person on the audio tour that you won't need. Send me a PM to take advantage of this offer. Also, in July, Alcatraz will be sold out weeks in advance. Get your tickets as soon as you are willing to commit to specific dates and times.

7. If you like nature, you might think about visiting Big Sur, located 23 miles south of Monterey. In my opinion, these 23 miles are the prettiest of the entire California Coast. You can hike in Big Sur and even spend a night or two at the Park's hotel, though, in July there might be fog and you will definitely need reservations.

8. Weather-wise, July is not the best time to be in San Francisco. It is fog season. Depending on your luck, this can mean cold, windy days that feel more like winter than summer. Be forewarned.

San Francisco offers lots to see and do but the details of your visit has to include what it is you want to see and do. Without knowing how you want to spend your time here, it is hard to make more detailed recommendations.

Have a good time when you visit.
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NoGambleNoFuture
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by NoGambleNoFuture »

If you're looking for a recommendation, there is a great Grand Hyatt right there in Union Square and a pretty solid Marriott as well. If you want to spend a little less, there is a solid Parc55 close by as well. I wouldn't stay in San Bruno if my intentions were to play around in the city...

Similar to others, I'd recommend not driving into the city. You can BART getting on at the airport and getting off at the Powell stop which is close to Union Square.

There are numerous car rental spots in the city including in and around Union Square - I'm pretty there is even an Enterprise inside Parc55 as well as under Union Square. Other car options if you really needed them to leave the city would be GetAround (Rent someone's Tesla for the day!) or other Apps where you can rent cars... it is the bay, after all.

You will not need your own car to get anywhere within San Francisco proper, nor anywhere in Oakland, Marin, or as far south as the airport...
NoGambleNoFuture
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by NoGambleNoFuture »

Forgot to add, if you decide you absolutely must have a car the entire time, there is a garage at Stockton/Sutter very close to Union Square that will be the cheapest garage you can find in the city and will save you literally hundreds vs parking at your hotel.
jandres12
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by jandres12 »

Look into the motels in the Cow Hollow area on Lombard Street. Near the Marina District, great central non-touristy location with lots of great local restaurants nearby, and best of all free parking. Examples are the Cow Hollow Motor Inn and Coventry Motor Inn.
quantAndHold
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by quantAndHold »

I choose #1. Stay in the city without car for a few days, then get out of the city and rent a car.

You don't need or want a car in SF. Parking at or near your hotel will add $30+ per day, and you will end up not using the car while you're in the city. Take the Muni or use Uber. My family lives in SF. They have a car because they have a weekend place in Napa. The only time they ever drive is to go there, or to go to Costco.

Outside the city, you'll need a car.

Staying in San Bruno and taking the Bart into the city will cost $8+ per day per person for the Bart. The Bart stops running to San Bruno before 8 pm, and doesn't run on the weekends. It looks like the San Bruno Bart station doesn't have any daily parking, so you'd either have to walk or park somewhere else. Daly City (the closest stop that's open after 8 pm and on weekends) appears to have daily parking for $3.

Driving time from San Bruno to Monterey is just short of 2 hours. Napa and Sonoma are closer, but driving from San Bruno forces you to drive through the city. If it were me and I wanted to go to Napa, I'd find a place to stay up there, and if I wanted to go to Monterey, I'd find a place to stay there.

I'm not sure I'd do both Monterey and Napa in a 1 week trip. Personally, I'd choose one. If you like wine, vineyards and cows, then Napa/Sonoma. Sea Otters and cliffs, Monterey.

I've never stayed at the Galleria Park, but the Joie de Vivre hotels are quirky and generally a pretty good bang for buck. Expect your Union Square hotel room to be small at anyplace that's not the big Hilton.
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WasabiOsbourne
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by WasabiOsbourne »

Staying in San Bruno and taking the Bart into the city will cost $8+ per day per person for the Bart. The Bart stops running to San Bruno before 8 pm, and doesn't run on the weekends. It looks like the San Bruno Bart station doesn't have any daily parking, so you'd either have to walk or park somewhere else. Daly City (the closest stop that's open after 8 pm and on weekends) appears to have daily parking for $3.''

is that correct? seems implausible to me and contra to my experience? BART service to/from the airport does change during that time but it's largely invisible to the consumer...

i completely concur that rental car while staying at expensive downtown SF hotel doesn't make sense

one HUGE downtown SF pet peeve of mine is that their 3 big box book stores all closed. not to mention the 2 closest to downtown.. if one has replaced them it would have been very recent.
''
kir_royale
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by kir_royale »

Driving to and back from Monterey from SF will be a beast, especially if you head down the peninsula early on a weekday morning. Or worse, if you have to drive over 17 toward Santa Cruz/beach areas on a weekend morning--you will sit in summer beach traffic. That 2 hour drive will become 3, easily. I would drive down on a weekday at mid-day and change hotels to somewhere in Monterey. Or, pop out into Half Moon Bay and take the coast all the way down and stop in Santa Cruz for lunch.

With kids, I'd prioritize Monterey over Napa, but Napa is much quicker to get to from the city.
quantAndHold
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by quantAndHold »

WasabiOsbourne wrote:Staying in San Bruno and taking the Bart into the city will cost $8+ per day per person for the Bart. The Bart stops running to San Bruno before 8 pm, and doesn't run on the weekends. It looks like the San Bruno Bart station doesn't have any daily parking, so you'd either have to walk or park somewhere else. Daly City (the closest stop that's open after 8 pm and on weekends) appears to have daily parking for $3.''

is that correct? seems implausible to me and contra to my experience? BART service to/from the airport does change during that time but it's largely invisible to the consumer...


''
That's what I got from Bart's website. It seemed odd to me too, but the map has everything south of Daly City marked as M-F, 6am-8pm, and the schedule has the last train arriving in San Bruno at 8:45pm.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
quantAndHold
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by quantAndHold »

Raybo wrote: 6. If you are interested in going to Alcatraz, I am a docent there and am willing to offer you (and anyone else who comes to SF) a free, personal tour of the island. You still have to buy the (steep) tickets to get there, but once on the island I can show you more than you'd see on your own and save you $10 a person on the audio tour that you won't need. Send me a PM to take advantage of this offer. Also, in July, Alcatraz will be sold out weeks in advance. Get your tickets as soon as you are willing to commit to specific dates and times.
Alcatraz is very, very interesting. Take advantage of this offer.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
WasabiOsbourne
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by WasabiOsbourne »

BART has lots of confusion.. buying tickets from a machine is an intelligence test i think. you are basically buying a cash ticket not a ticket to where you are going.

as per San Bruno, here's what i'm pretty sure it is:

during the busier hours, BART runs trains from downtown (technically many originate elsewhere and go south through downtown) to both Millbrae and SFO airport. during less busy times, they run only one train and it does SFO, Millbrae and San Bruno as a loop (the train i think changes direction at two points) .. i have seen the way they describe it on the map and it is confusing... but it's just a different, longer route during non-peak hours. basically they can run half the trains off-peak. definitely millbrae, SFO and San Bruno get service generally for as long as BART is running.
WasabiOsbourne
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by WasabiOsbourne »

never been to alcatraz but everyone raves about it..

i like the ferry to sausalito. very relaxing... sausalito beautiful but too many tourist shops.

love the quick-serve seafood bistro at the ferry building... hogg island? i assume it's still there, i think it was closed for reno's.
quantAndHold
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by quantAndHold »

WasabiOsbourne wrote:BART has lots of confusion.. buying tickets from a machine is an intelligence test i think. you are basically buying a cash ticket not a ticket to where you are going.

as per San Bruno, here's what i'm pretty sure it is:

during the busier hours, BART runs trains from downtown (technically many originate elsewhere and go south through downtown) to both Millbrae and SFO airport. during less busy times, they run only one train and it does SFO, Millbrae and San Bruno as a loop (the train i think changes direction at two points) .. i have seen the way they describe it on the map and it is confusing... but it's just a different, longer route during non-peak hours. basically they can run half the trains off-peak. definitely millbrae, SFO and San Bruno get service generally for as long as BART is running.
You are probably right. My knowledge of the further reaches of the Bart system could be stored in a thimble.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
EvelynM
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by EvelynM »

I spend a lot of time in SF - my daughter lives there and I live an hour away and take the train in. I always use DeSoto Cabs and have never had trouble getting one soon. Their cars are always clean, their drivers have been very friendly - 415-970-1300 - I agree with the other readers who recommended you take a cab/Uber, not rent your own car in SF.

For parents and kids of ages 9 and 18 I recommend:

< the Ferry Building on Embarcadero near Bay Bridge (great for meals and ice cream with kids, right on the bay with spectacular views, the ferries to Sausalito and Alcatraz) - very nearby are both Muni and Bart - ride to Union Square, Chinatown, the Castro

< Drive to the Golden Gate and walk over it and back (not a long walk and not to be forgotten - and worth it even if it's cold/foggy)

< Crissy Field - if the weather is good, lots of people will be out walking/running/biking/frisbee'ing/dogwalking - a wonderful view of the Golden Gate

< Ocean Beach - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_Bea ... _Francisco (nearby is the SF Zoo)

I lived in Pacifica for 8 years, a wonderful beach town 6 miles south of SF (on Highway 1) - your kids might enjoy walking out to the end of the pier - http://visitpacifica.com/index.php?page=5

Pillar Point Harbor in Princeton (on Highway 1), right outside of Half Moon Bay, has one of the last remaining harbors for wooden fishing boats, and it's a wonderful place and some really nice old-fashioned seafood restaurants: http://www.smharbor.com/pillarpoint/
It's also the location of the world-renowned surfing contest, Mavericks: http://titansofmavericks.com/history/

Hope it's a great trip!
WasabiOsbourne
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by WasabiOsbourne »

i concur that pacifica is a fantastic spot within a major USA city... it's not far at all from anything but isolated and very beautiful. lots of nature and spectacular beaches but tons of shopping/commerce/golf/etc. so it's good for everyone.
westcoastinvestor
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by westcoastinvestor »

I would either stay in San Francisco the entire time and take a rental car or Zip car for day trips, or stay in San Francisco for 4 days and then stay in Monterrey for the other 4 days. Monterrey is a long day trip from San Francisco. Staying near Union Square for 4-8 days can be pretty intense. You might want to look at hotels near Fisherman's Wharf like the Argonaut and the Hyatt. They are close to the water, north beach and other interesting areas. Plan to use UBER or Lyft in the city.
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Raymond
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by Raymond »

OP here.
You guys rock, outstanding information from everyone! :sharebeer

Based on all your posts:

- As my wife and I are not wine enthusiasts, and the kids will probably be bored senseless, Napa and Sonoma are off the itinerary.

- Monterey would be a tedious day trip (at least six hours round trip), and as we like doing mostly city tourist stuff, we've decided to stay at the Cow Hollow Inn & Suites (two-bedroom suite with full kitchen) near the Marina district (parking included!) for the entire time. We will rent a car for part of the time to explore Marin and Pacifica, maybe Half-Moon Bay.

- Public transit or shanks' mare within the city.

Raybo, many thanks for your very kind offer, I will buy tickets ASAP and contact you via PM.

We are all stoked about this trip, and everyone's posts are greatly appreciated :happy
"Ritter, Tod und Teufel"
happyhiker
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by happyhiker »

I live on the Central Coast and have a few ideas for your Monterey side trip. First off I agree with others that you should stay over at least one night, probably two, and that you should drive down as far as Big Sur. While there, stop at Nepenthe, a restaurant on the ocean side of Hwy 1. It is touristy but for good reason - you can sit outside on the side of a cliff and take in the rugged coast. If it works out that you want to stay in Big Sur, check out Deetjen's (deetjens.com) an historic, very rustic roadside inn. It is across the road from the ocean, so no ocean views, but the grounds and rooms are very charming and reasonably affordable. There was also a really good restaurant on site.

Carmel is worth a stop for the quaint shops, galleries and the beach, which sits at the end of the main downtown street. The beach is really beautiful even if it is foggy, maybe especially so. And if you like nice houses and good scenery, the 17 mile drive is fun. You can stop at the Lodge at Pebble Beach along the way and have drinks at the bar. If you start at the Carmel end of the 17 mile drive you will end up in Pacific Grove, the town at the very tip of the Monterey Peninsula. PG has a cute downtown but the real draw is the coast at Asilomar, which has great walking paths going through to Spanish Bay.

Monterey itself has the Aquarium which should not be missed. If you could time your visit I would say try to be there on a Wednesday so you can see the Farmer's Market in downtown Monterey as well. The few times that I have been there I was impressed with the variety and quality of items sold there.

About 45 minutes north of Monterey is Santa Cruz. The Boardwalk is a seaside amusement park - I'm pretty sure your kids would love it. Every Friday during the summer there are free concerts on the beach next to the Boardwalk. They get bands that were famous...once. Mostly it is just fun to hang out on the beach. A mile up from the Boardwalk is West Cliff Drive and Steamer's Lane, where you can watch the surfers. Just north of town is Wilder Ranch State Park, a great place for mountain biking. BTW, the weather is often more sunny and warm in Santa Cruz than on the Monterey Peninsula.

The hotel in San Francisco looks nice and Union Square is convenient. I actually like the Embarcadero/Ferry Building area a little better, but DH and I usually stay wherever we can get a room at a decent price. A car is unnecessary and parking in the city is ridiculous. Do go to Alcatraz. I also really like the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. I hope you and your family have a great time!
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by happyhiker »

I just saw your follow up that you are not going to Monterey! You could still do Santa Cruz as a day trip as it is only 90 minutes each way. I would seriously consider Santa Cruz over Half Moon Bay, both because you are likely to get much better weather and Santa Cruz is a lot more fun for the kids.
BAM!
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by BAM! »

Option #1 is by far the best.

Staying downtown will give you a feel for SF. plus restaurants are walking distance. If you drive in each day to do touristy things, it will make for long days. Plus parking is a huge pain. not to mention traffic. Not sure if the hotels are nice though.

Staying a few days in the burbs is good too. good for daytrips to napa / monterrey. though a day trip to napa from the south bay is a LONG day. might be worth it to spend the night.


I second Santa cruz option over half moon bay. they have a good theme park there too. it's a little bit of a drive though. probably not too bad if you're already in the south bay.
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by bargainhuntingking »

I use an app called "Hotel Tonight" that gets decent deals on last minute hotels. I've frequently gotten good deals using it in SF's Union Square area on some boutique hotels (e.g. the Kensington Park), but it depends on availability. If there is a big tech conference in town, expect to be screwed. The are public parking lots near Union Square with 24/hr rates in the $25 range vs $50+ range at hotels. I often have my car or rent one in SF and while I mostly walk in the city, I do find it convenient if I'm going across town or to Marin or the East Bay, or stocking up on groceries in Japantown. You can pay a premium for parking, but there are free spots around too. Always a great place to visit, too bad it's become so unaffordable to live in. Billboards now advertise new home sales for condos "...in the low 1,000,000s!.." as if that's a steal. Ridiculous!

PS: Suck up the cost and stay in the city the whole time. There is so much to explore and enjoy. I lived in the Bay Area for 10 years and still love spending all day going on 16+ mile walking tours around the city. It never gets old.
EvelynM
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by EvelynM »

A few other things your kids might enjoy:

< The fortune cookie factory in Chinatown - it's a tiny shop and memorable: http://www.sanfranciscochinatown.com/at ... ookie.html
Both of your kids would probably love the uniqueness of Chinatown, especially the fun little gizmo shops and the markets with live chickens/frogs/fish, etc.

> Lots and lots to do at Golden Gate Park:
http://www.sanfrancisco.travel/article/ ... -things-do

Fun things near your hotel:

> Especially your 9-year-old would probably enjoy the Exploratorium, which is within walking distance of your hotel, but it's really interesting for all ages:
http://www.exploratorium.edu/

> Fort Mason - Your hotel is within walking distance of Fort Mason. One of my favorite restaurants in SF is Greens (mentioned in the link below, amazing food, exquisite views, kid-friendly):
http://www.sanfrancisco.travel/article/ ... son-center

< Palace of Fine Arts is near your hotel, a very cool place to roam around and has an interesting history - 15-minute walk from your hotel
http://www.lovethepalace.org/history.html

> Ghirardelli Square is about a 25-minute walk from your hotel.
https://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/N ... -BR-1.html

and of course Ghirardelli Chocolate! http://www.ghirardelli.com/

> Since you have a full kitchen in your hotel room, if you want groceries delivered to you, sign up for Instacart. My daughter uses it all the time and it's very efficient and not too pricey: https://www.instacart.com/

> I reiterate what a previous reader said: it can be really cold in July! Bring heavy sweatshirts for sure.

Fun!
nordsteve
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by nordsteve »

Be sure to ask for a room away from Lombard at the Cow Hollow.

You have some good bike rental options nearby. If weather permits a ride over the GG Bridge would be fun. You can also get around many parts of the city via bike, if the riders are in decent shape.

With that location, you'll want to develop an understanding of the Muni. Consider buying a pass.

I didn't see the Walt Disney Family Museum mentioned. We liked it.

If you take the cable car, it's worth stopping at the museum.

If you want an old time Italian dining experience, with the whole family waiting on you in a small storefront restaurant, stop at Francino.
vested1
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by vested1 »

With the kids in mind I would add the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. If you've never been there or haven't been for awhile the improvements are amazing. There is a planetarium show that shouldn't be missed as well as numerous exhibits with live mammals, insects, reptiles, and sea life. The butterfly exhibit is wonderful, where you enter an enclosed area two or three stories high and walk among the butterflies, some of which may land on you. The choice of restaurants is astounding, but for the true flavor of SF I would go to the North Beach area for a wonderful Italian dinner. Alcatraz is an absolute must.

I live on the central coast and disagree that there is little to do in the Monterey area. I would suggest a visit to Point Lobos, which has a small whaling museum, and several walking trails that follow the coastline and overlook the rocks and ocean. There is nowhere like it on earth. I would also consider renting kayaks and either paddling out on the Monterey bay near wharf #1, or at Elkhorn slough at Moss Landing. The slough is a wonderland of animal life, with otters and all manner of birds. If you decide to do that make sure you check the tides. Your children would never forget that experience. There is also whale watching, which in August is good for seeing humpbacks and the occasional blue whale, or even pod of orcas. Grey whales are more prevalent during the spring migration, and dolphins sightings are almost guaranteed. I would visit the aquarium on a weekday if possible, as weekends are crazy crowded.

The suggestion of Nepenthe in Big Sur is a good one, and if you go be aware that it takes two hours round trip from Monterey in the summer. Highway 1 is very scenic south of Carmel but some find it has too many curves for their taste. Nepenthe's outdoor restaurant, Cafe Keva is a great place for a casual lunch overlooking the expanse of the ocean to the west and the San Gregorio wilderness area to the east. A longer trip could include camping at any one of the available sites and a hike from the back of the State Park to the Ventana wilderness area on well marked trails. If money is no object I would suggest either Ventana (the hotel) $$$ or Post Ranch $$$$$$.
Beth*
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by Beth* »

Spend at least one night on the Monterey peninsula. If you do it as a day trip you will spend all your time driving. My favorite town on the Monterey peninsula is Pacific Grove. Check Asilomar to see if they have rooms available. It's a good place to stay with kids. Do not miss Point Lobos. It is on of the most beautiful places on earth. The parking lots can fill up, so get there early early. If you have another day, drive down the Big Sur coast. Nepanthe isn't over-priced for lunch but worth it for the view on a non-foggy day.

Napa and Sonoma are beautiful but wine tasting is not a great expedition with kids. Your children may like Santz Cruz. Also, there are redwood forests outside of Santa Cruz that are much less crowded than Muir Woods.
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Duckie
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by Duckie »

Raymond, since you have a nine-year-old stop by the Musee Mecanique for the antique arcade games. It's at Pier 45 at Fisherman's Wharf. Also at Pier 45 are the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, a Liberty ship from WWII you can climb all over, and the USS Pampanito, a WWII submarine you can crawl through.
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Raymond
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by Raymond »

OP here.

Many thanks for the additional suggestions!

I think that another trip next year will be needed to visit Monterey, and I appreciate all the information on that area.

Question on getting to the hotel from SFO: Uber, shuttle, taxi, limo service?
"Ritter, Tod und Teufel"
Sublime8700
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by Sublime8700 »

I'd use hoteltonight App -- amazing deals.
traveltoomuch
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by traveltoomuch »

Raymond wrote: Question on getting to the hotel from SFO: Uber, shuttle, taxi, limo service?
UberXL or a taxi.

With four people, an UberX can't be relied on to have sufficient space, so you'll be paying the UberXL premium. SF taxi fares are the same for SUVs/vans as for cars, but they will still be slightly more than an UberXL.

With four people, SuperShuttle won't save much. With fewer people, I might consider it.
sfnerd
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by sfnerd »

If you're going to the union square area, you can take BART (the train) to the Powell stop, which would cost you 8.65 * 4 = $34.60, or like traveltoomuch says, you can go with an UberXL, which will cost around $50. If your kids are small and luggage is small (a couple suitcases and a couple carry ons) you can get away with an UberX for $35.

All of those options are quite easy. If you're not going to be traveling close to a BART stop, definitely do UberX or UberXL.
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William4u
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by William4u »

Raymond wrote:My wife and I plus our two children (18 and 9 y.o.) will travel to San Francisco in late July for eight days, flying from Dallas on Southwest Airlines.

We'd like the hive mind's opinion on the following hotel plans:

1. Stay for four days in the Union Square area
We have staying in a few hotels in the Union Square area and found it ideal as a starting point for an excursion around SF. The BART is nearby, and the BART is great.
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JonnyDVM
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Re: San Francisco in August - hotel options?

Post by JonnyDVM »

We stayed at an eclectic little place in Union Square called Hotel Triton that was a 3.5 star hotwire mystery hotel. The stay was delightful. I've found the mystery hotel to be a good way of doing things if you want an area but are not picky about a specific hotel. It was a good starting point to walk through China town, to Fishermans Warf ect. Plus it's easy to jump on a street car if you don't want to walk.
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