We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

What to do in only a few hours on May 1 in SFO

Chicago, IL
Destination Expert
for Cape Cod
Level Contributor
14,381 posts
34 reviews
Save Topic
What to do in only a few hours on May 1 in SFO

Need your expert advice please. On May 1 we will arrive via criuse ship for a few hours and have five options as to how to spend our time from 8AM to 2PM. They are:

1. Chinatown Culinary Adventure tour with Wok Wiz. (eating involved)

2. SanFran Local Tastes of the City Tour in the Fisherman's Wharf area (w/more eating)

3. SanFran Movie tours-see sights made famous by popular movies and TV over the years

4. Hop on and hop off a double decker bus (see city on own)

5. Do your own thing.

One of us has never been to SFO and the other was there 25 years ago. Whatever tour we select is free so cost is not a concern.

So, what do you think?

Los Altos...
Level Contributor
6,111 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
11. Re: What to do in only a few hours on May 1 in SFO

It's not clear from your latest post whether the Fisherman's Wharf tour your partner wants to do is the #2 option or a new one not listed. It's also not clear whether you are talking about sightseeing on motorized "cable cars" or real cable cars (the former just look like cable cars and are actually tour vehicles)

Anyway, from Fisherman's Wharf, where you'll be at some point, there are two (real) cable car lines ending there, so you can choose which is closest to where you are. There is the Powell-Hyde line that ends near Aquatic Park and Ghirardelli Square and there is the Powell-Mason line that ends at Bay and Taylor streets just a few blocks north of the water.

Neither of those lines go through the heart of Chinatown, though they skirt near it and you can walk downhill into Chinatown proper.

The line that goes through Chinatown is the California line which intersects with Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines on Nob Hill behind Powell and California streets. By the time you're there, however, you might as well just walk the block down to Chnatown.

Tour companies operate popular "hop on, hop off" routes that use either double-decker buses or the faux "cable cars." Since they do not operate on a cable line, they are not cable cars at all, just picturesque transportation. But they're a fun way of getting around town for everything from tours to special event transportation.

One thing to keep in mind is that cable cars are not cheap to take on a pay-as-you-go basis. While they are part of the public transit system, locals really only take them if they've got a monthly or weekly pass -- or are in the mood to pay $5 with no transfer passes available. If you've got the idea that you can ride the cable car for a ways, then hop off and walk around in a neighborhood, then catch the next one headed back or onward, you've should be prepared to spend another $5.

See www.sfmuni.com and look for "Fares." It might be worthwhile for you to buy a 1-day Muni Passport for $11 that allows you unlimited cable car, bus, streetcar, etc. riding. Here's the specifics on that, including a link for how you can buy a Passport online ahead of time:

sfmuni.com/cms/…passports

As for North Beach, you can walk from Fisherman's Wharf to the outskirts of this district pretty easily. The cable car gets you a little closer, but only by a few blocks. If you have a Muni Passport, it's probably worthwhile to jump off of the Powell-Mason line around Vallejo and Mason and walk a few blocks downhill to North Beach. The heart of North Beach is Columbus Avenue and Broadway. (Broadway, Vallejo, Green, Union are all streets that will intersect with Columbus). If you get off on Broadway, you will be on top of the Broadway tunnel, so will need to take the stairs down.

If you end up riding the Powell-Mason or Powell-Hyde line all the way to the end on Powell & Market streets (this is right by Union Square), you can get back to the pier area easily the fun way, taking the F-line historic streetcar, which are very popular, too. They run along Market Street, all the way to the Ferry Building and along the Embarcadero all th way up to Fisherman's Wharf.

If you are headed back to your ship, south of the Ferry Building, take the Muni Metro light rail line, the "N-Judah." From the Powell street cable car turnaround on Market street, you just head downstairs and take an "inbound" direction N train. It will go along Market Street, then come above ground and head south along the Embarcadero.

A tip: Find out the pier # at which you are docking. Piers north of the Ferry Building are odd numbers. Piers south of the Ferry Building are even numbers.

I don't cruise, but I seem to remember that the cruise ship terminal is south of the Ferry Building.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
2,860 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
12. Re: What to do in only a few hours on May 1 in SFO

Most cruise ships put in at Pier 35. If that is the case, you are in business. It's a 5-10 walk to Fisherman's Wharf, the cable cars, or tour buses and cable cars. Get an early start and you won't have to wait too long to jump an authentic cable car as opposed to the tour kind (motorized).

By the bye, the SFO thing is confusing here, as we often get questions from people who are between planes with a few hours to kill. Since the airport is actually several miles outside the city, it is often impractical or impossible to go into SF proper. That is why SFO is different from "SF", in terms of reference, and becomes a source of confusion at times.

You are not that far from both Chinatown and North Beach, both worthy of a visit. (and more eating!).

nj
Level Contributor
30 posts
1 review
Save Reply
13. Re: What to do in only a few hours on May 1 in SFO

Cape Cod Charlie: What a COINCIDENCE that I read your postng today!! I will be in San Fran next week keeping myself busy while my husband has business 1 day.(We r also going to Sonoma & Carmel) I just read about your # 2 Wok Wiz in MSNBC on line & thought it looked interesting. (HOW DID U HEAR ABOUT IT ??????? ) I was hoping someone on trip advisor had done it. here's a link to it:

Fun foot tours of San Francisco - Spring Travel - MSNBC.com http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9901227/

Hard decison for you only having 6 hrs. yes, see the sea lions!! You'll just have to go back again & visit..........