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First Trip to San Fran in June

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Carlisle...
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First Trip to San Fran in June

My Hushband-to-be and I are taking our honeymoon to San Francisco and would like to know what to hit. We are planning on Alcatraz, a cable car tour, Muir Woods, heading to Marine World for the day (he loves rollar coasters) and doing a bay cruise. I have been told that Monteray is beatutiful, but how long does it take to get there? We are renting a car, but I don't want to rush through it too quickly.

What is this I'm reading about Blue and Gold Fleet no longer selling Alcatraz tickets? Where can I buy them? A lot of people have told me to buy in advance, but tickets are not yet available for the time I will be there.

Any great restaurants I can't live without? Bubba Gump Shrimp has been recommended already, and I see the Cliff House mentioned quite often on the forums. Anywhere else?

I'm interested in doing to San Fransisco Bay Aquarium, any idea how long I should plan on being there? I want to do Alcatraz, a bay cruise and the aquarium in one day - is that possible or am I pushing it?

Any and all information would be wonderful! Thank you in advance!

Australia
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1. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

Congratulations on your engagement!!

I too am planning a trip to San Francisco in June. I've used this website to book a tour of alcatraz. They also have tours to Muir Woods!

Hope this helps you out!

http://www.AlcatrazTickets.com/

Sherie

Los Altos...
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2. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

Congratulations on choosing San Francisco for your honeymoon! There is a lot of information on this forum, as well as around the TA site, that is just waiting for you to explore.

You'll undoubtably get answers to your very first post on this forum, but to take full advantage, I urge you to use the search function to draw out some amazingly detailed answers to some of the questions you've asked here. Just go to the field on the upper right hand side above your post, under the green bar. Type in a few key words, whether "restaurants," "best hotels," "honeymoon" (other people have used this subject line), or "itinerary," "neighborhoods" to see what you get.

Here are some top-of-mind responses to your questions.

1. Attractions: You've chosen some of the most popular ones. Marine World will take a little planning, if you go by public transit, since it is outside San Francisco, or you could rent a car for the day. If your husband loves roller coasters, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk is also a place to go (plus, it has a "warm" beach, at least by Northern California standards). It will also require some transit planning or a rental car.

2. Monterey is beautiful. Allow 1.5-2 hours to get there.

3. Blue and Gold Fleet lost the contract for exclusive service to Alcatraz Island with the National Park Service. Currently, during the transition, it is providing service through May 29. See www.alcatrazcruises for information and click on the first "click here" link to fill out a form to receive information. The new operator, Hornblower Yachts, aka Alcatraz Cruises, has not uttered a word about when it will be up and running. Also, keep checking the blueandgoldfleet.com site to see if they open up new dates of service. The "transition" could take longer than currently projected (originally, Hornblower was going to take over May 1, but blew past that date). It's driving everyone crazy.

4. Restaurants. I'm not a fan of Bubba Gump because it is a chain, and San Franciscans get all snotty about chains. You can find Bubba Gump just about anyplace. You're in a seafood town and you want something special, go elsewhere. Swan Oyster Depot (seafood here, not just oysters), Crustacean, Hog Island Oysters, are all local. Others will suggest places if you state what kind of restaurants you would like to go to. This is a foodie town. There is not a shortage of restaurants to recommend.

5. You can do the aquarium and Alctraz in one day, easily. I presume you're talking about the Pier 39 aquarium.

6. You didn't ask this, but I imagine you will be, in your subsequent posts. Got a question about hotels? If you get names of hotels that you're wondering about, plug them into the hotel review section of the TA site. People are very honest in their opinions. If you need help in choosing, or need clarification, make a new post using that subject line.

Los Altos...
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3. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

Re Sherie's posting about purchasing Alcatraz tickets: This is a tour broker or packager. ONLY Blue and Gold, and later, Hornblower have the exclusive contract to sell you a ticket to Alcatraz.

Is she getting ripped off? Probably not, but she may be paying an extra fee to the packager without realizing it.

Many of the tour operators or brokers, sell a combined city-tour-with-Alcatraz-tour as a convenience to customers who are combining sites. They act as your front to buy the Alcatraz tour ticket and get you there in time for the sailing. But they are not doing the tour themselves, they are not operating the boat that will take you there.

If, for example, Hornblower screws up and can't offer tours and Blue and Gold for whatever reason cannot or is not allowed to do the tours in the interim, you would still not be able to go to Alcatraz. The tour broker or packager, if reputable, would have to refund your Alcatraz ticket price, and you would simply not go.

I found one broker who was charging a premium of $10 just to book you the Alcatrz ticket, something you could do yourself on the Internet through Blue and Gold.

So, read carefully and know what you are buying.

Los Altos...
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4. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

OK, I got curious and looked at alcatraztickets.com

This is similar to another site I looked at last month. You are paying a $10-15 mark-up for the same ticket you could buy yourself on blueandgoldfleet.com

Here, do the math. alcatraztickets.com charges you $26.50 "Internet rate" for a 9:30 a.m. sailing on Thursday, May 17. The exclusive contractor, Blue and Gold Fleet, charges your $16.50 for the same sailing on the same day.

In both instances, the boat you ride on to Alcatraz, and the audio tour you get, is provided by Blue and Gold Fleet. The difference? None. Except that when you book on Alcatraztickets.com, you pay them $10 for the privilege of them charging your credit card, and they get $10 from you.

That's a pretty decent lunch.

Why would anyone do that?

Perhaps peace of mind. You cannot buy tickets beyond May 30 now, via Blue and Gold, and there are no answers about WHEN you will be able to buy tickets. Maybe you want to move on with your vacation planning and don't want to be worried about missing the word that tickets are available to book through the exclusive contractor to Alcatraz.

That's the only reason I can think of.

If you'd prefer to do it yourself, you can register your name and e-mail on Hornblower's site (the new provider at www.alcatrazcruises.com), and keep watching the blueandgoldfleet.com site to see if it is selling new dates beyond May 30.

If you don't want to do it yourself, there aren't many other options. IF you like the idea of a city tour and like the idea of packages, at least you can get some value out of the combined package without paying that ridiculous $10 markup.

San Francisco
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5. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

Congrats to you on your engagement and impending wedding! It's such a great time in your life! : )

Anyway, I would highly recommend Gary Danko. Perfect for a special dinner in San Francisco. Make reservations far in advance! They fill up quickly! www.garydanko.com

Others I recommend:

Fleur De Lys (special ocassion)

The Hyde Street Bistro

The Hyde Street Seafood & Raw Bar

The Slanted Door

City View (Dim Sum)

McCormicks & Kuletos at Ghiardelli Square. They have very good views of the Bay.

Mama's in North Beach for breakfast

Frascati

Ana Mandara

San Francisco...
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6. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

Saks recommended: "Fleur De Lys (special ocassion)" Was a great restaurant. Is still good but, according to a recent report on ba.food, not as good as it was.

"The Hyde Street Bistro" is extremely noisy. So is "The Slanted Door".

Local foodie Al Eisner says to break fast at "Ella's at California and Presidio. This is one of the best Breakfast places I've been to . . . their biscuits are the best I've had around here in a long time. They are decidedly non-fluffy, fresh-tasting, and flavorful)"

purplepitgirl said: ny and all information would be wonderful!"

The "Don't-miss sights in San Francisco" page geocities.com/iconoc/Articles/Sights.html has enough to keep you busy for nine twelve-hour days. There's a chart of annual temperatures as well as a link to current conditions. There are links to your best source of advice on where to eat here, the UseNet Group ba.food, and the quite-good sfSurvey.

The best on-line map of San Francisco is an inter-active PDF: geocities.com/iconoc/Grafix/MuniMap.gif. Click on it to get the *.PDF. I recommend 150-200% magnification. A creation of the San Francisco Municipal Railway, it includes all of its routes.

The frequently-updated SPECIAL EVENTS page has irregularly-scheduled music and dances as well as links to seven calendars of regularly-scheduled dances, a composite of five of them, and one of dance cruises and events around the world: geocities.com/dancefest/Specials.html#t

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7. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

If you think you want to go to Gary Danko, book asap. I am on a waiting list for a meal that is over three weeks away! Boulevard is our #2 choice, down by the Embarcadero. Slanted Door for lunch sounds great. They have a website and offer fixed price meals which is nice. Have fun!

My son recently enjoyed a nice meal at Scala's and had a great massage at 77 Maiden Lane in Union Square. :)

Santa Cruz...
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8. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

If you want to do the Monterey aquarium...highly recommended..you really need a day. At least two hours down and back. But while you are there you can take advanage of other venues on the Monterey Peninsula. Look at a guide book. Shop in Carmel...hike around Point Lobos, etc. If you decide on this trip, call ahead and buy your tickets with your credit card..to avoid standing in line with everybody else. Just walk up to the will-call window.

Pacific Grove...
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9. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

I also recommend the Monterey Aquarium. They have a great cafe with good clam chowder at the aquarium. It is a wonderful place.

I would not recomend the Cliff House which is now named Sutro Towers. We ate there last September and were not impressed. The food was fancy looking, expensive, and not too good. My Salmon was overcooked and the sauce did not go with it to well. People were very dressed up. It is only good for the view. The management seemed bad. The waiter was a victim of that.

Pacific Grove...
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10. Re: First Trip to San Fran in June

I would also not recomend Bubba Gumps. They have one in Monterey too that is not too good, so do not get sucked in.