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Need basic starting points to plan trip.

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Need basic starting points to plan trip.

Greets fellow DEs, frequent posters, casual visitors, and lurkers,

Hi I am in the earliest planning stages for a two week trip to San Fransisco. I am on business, and will be near the area of 4th and Market.

Thanks for your wonderful "Top Questions" very informative stuff.

A couple of quick questions to get me started.

Should I fly to Oakland or San Fransisco, any advantage of one over the other? Price won't be a deciding factor for me.

I guess the most efficient way to Market is BART. Any tips, traps, concerns there? I'm very used to public transit. Also, is there a reasonable town car service?

Car rental? Is it worth the effort? I am an experienced driver in congested cities- this kind of leads to my next question.

I will likely have early afternoons and evenings to explore (and a weekend). I am not one to do tourist things, I am much more interested in meeting local people and seeing what's on their minds and eating or going to local hang outs. Someone told me in general SF folks lean towards being the friendly type.

That being said tips for cheap(er) drinks around town? I usually guzzle a couple of drinks at Happy Hour..I'm pretty sure the cost of living is higher is SF than my town so help in this area would be nice (can't expense alcohol).

Thanks and as payment for your wonderful advice I promise to pack up some sunshine from here for you in January.

Yogi

Edited: 2:56 pm, December 21, 2012
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San Francisco
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Oakland
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1. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

1. RE which airport. You will likely have a much broader range of flight choices using SFO rather than OAK. Weather can be an issue at SFO but I think for people in SF it's the airport of choice. People with destinations in the East Bay find OAK very convenient.

2. RE transit from the airport. Either has BART availability. At SFO you use the airport's free Air Train to the BART station at the International Terminal. At OAK the Air BART bus is $3.00 and requires exact fare.

If you are coming in/leaving late at night or early on a weekend, be sure to check BART hours. www.bart.gov

I use Pleasant Limo -- I believe their flat fare to/from SF to SFO is $57. www.pleasantlimo.com

3. Car Rental -- Unless you have a desire to take a day trip out of the city (say Muir Woods or Wine Country) you will not need a rental car. Driving in the city is not for the uninitiated. Downtown especially. And the transit is quite good and it's a good way to people watch and interact.

4. Local places and people. I tend to think that SF'ers are welcoming and friendly to visitors. SF is a conglomeration of local neighborhoos, each being different and distinct. And each has local shops, restaurants and bars. Which makes for fun exploring. This may have been in the TQ's but it's a thumbnail description of the SF neighborhoods from the local rag. http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/

Edited: 4:17 pm, December 21, 2012
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London
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2. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

Explore union street. It has shops and bars.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

4th and Market area is walking distance to Union Square, Westfield Shopping Mall (where there are eateries in the lower level and a movie theater)) and the Metreon, with its giant Target store and another movie theater. So you're pretty much set!

Will you be working in the Financial District? If so, it's also walking distance from where you will be staying. If not, then you have transit options. There's a great trip planning tool on the website 511.org where you can plug on your starting and ending points, then choose between hoofing it or taking public transit. It will give you a couple viable options.

If you're planning on riding BART or Muni a whole lot (like more than ten times total) I'd recommend you purchase a Clipper Card from the vending machines (there's a few at the Powell or Montgomery St. Stations). It will be easier than scrounging for change. Make sure you don't get the one for "Muni only" otherwise you can't use it on the BART. You might even be able to deduct that as a business travel expense, right?

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4. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

Hi Yogi,

You already have some good advice to get you started.

I just wanted to add at this point that SFO would be a far better choice particularly if cost is not important and the limo service that Sal recommended is a good one.

Friendly people_____hell yes.

I had people from Los Angeles with me one time who couldn't believe how everyone spoke to them and were so friendly.

Let us know how the planning is going.

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Los Angeles
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5. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

If you're traveling on business and you are reimbursed for transportation expenses, then there is absolutely no reason to fly into Oakland. There is no upside at all. SFO is your airport of choice.

If you happen to have a decent per diem for food expense a day, and you have at least a week or two to spread out the expenses, sometimes it may be possible to "average out" the expenses to meet company's per diem, and at the same time, get your drinks covered.

For example, if I spend $40 one day and $100 a second day, the average is $70 per day, to meet the per diem cap.

Sorry if this manages to confuse everyone. The downside is: it does require a bit of maneuvering and accounting.

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Oakland
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6. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

I wish that type of averaging were allowed with my company. Spend too much on one particular meal and you either have to justify it or cough up the difference. Though I guess that's good for the bottom line - and I don't travel very often.

Miami, FL
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7. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

Everyone,

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I'll be flying into SFO then based on your recommendations. I will either take Bart or the town car suggestion given depending on my arrival time as I haven't booked flights yet.

I have a per diem, but have to turn in receipts, anything with an alcoholic beverage is disallowed, hence my question on cheap drinks around the area of 4th and market. I really prefer places that have a local regular crowd.

I'm having a hard time finding a Priority Club hotel (Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, etc) that is near 4th and market or near a transit line that can take me to 4th in a short amount of time. I see there is an Intercontinental really close by, but I prefer Candlewood suites, they have free laundry which would allow me to travel with just a carry on.

If I get the muni card or the clipper, that's not valid on cable cars right? Are cable cars used for daily commutes, or is it a a tourist thing?

I'm sure I'll have other questions, but so far it's a good start. Thanks so much folks, can't wait to get there already.

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8. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

The IC you're probably referring to is on Howard near 5th St . That makes it about 2.5 blocks from BART but the blocks south of Market are quite abit longer than those north. Still walking distance however.

It's quite new and has gotten good reports here from people who have stayed. It is very "convention center" oriented -- both in location and clientele.

The other IC in town is the Mark Hopkins -- a SF grande dame hotel on top of Nob Hill. An older building so the rooms are smaller. And it's a bit further away from where you're probably going each day. You would use the cable cars for transit however.

The Holiday Inns in town (Fisherman's Wharf, Van Ness and Civic Center) would not be good choices. They're either too far away from downtown or, in the case of the Civic Center location, not in a good neighborhood.

Cable cars are occasionally used by locals who live close to the line. In order to use them ecomically one needs either a monthly pass loaded on a Clipper or a Visitor Passport. Visitor Passports are issued in 1,3,7 consecutive day increments. A 7 day Passport in 2013 is $28 and allows unlimited use of all buses, Muni Metro, cable cars, historic trolley -- whatever Muni runs (does not include BART).

So to directly answer your question: yes, they are rather touristy but that doesn't make them fun. In January they won't be anywhere near as crowded as they are in summer when people line up for an hour or more. Also, they are always less crowded in early morning and late in the evening. They run until after midnight.

Full info on Passports here: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mfares/passports.htm

If you have any intention of getting out into the neighborhoods, where you will find more locals, and their drinking holes, then a Passport would be convenient. And $28 for a week isn't much.

Happy Hours are popular around here and many bars downtown have them. Some neighborhood spots do too. Getting away from downtown will provide less expensive options for both dining and drinking.

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9. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

As far as hotels with free laundry, I don't know of any. There was a previous post about laundry near union square, which is somewhat close-ish to 4th and Market. A reasonably priced laundry service came up http://www.sfcoinlaundry.com . The other thread is at tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60713-i30-k351074… .

You have a large number of hotels to choose from for a 4th and Market destination since Union Square is a 3 block walk from there and has a large number of hotels. There are some on or near market street, too. When looking at the blocks south of market, keep in mind that they are much larger than those north of market and will take longer to walk.

You will probably want to narrow hotels based on budget and amenities you require (if you are picky about them) and perhaps hotel type. The Four Seasons is very close to 4th and market, but I suspect your workplace might balk at paying $495 a night. You probably have a lot of choices in January for under $200 a night. The Chancellor, the Handlery, Parc 55 are some places that come up here frequently and are under $200 a night in mid January. There are clean budget hotels for quite a bit less, too ($100 to $150 a night).

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10. Re: Need basic starting points to plan trip.

I'll just add that the California Cable Car line works well for transit (assuming you've got a pass & aren't paying $6/ride). Basically you can always board the next car and never a line (that I've seen).

Now one reason for this is that it doesn't go between the tourist Meccas of Union Square & Fisherman's Wharf nor does it have the iconic views, but for traveling east/west - Ferry Building/Embacadeo to Van Ness (including Chinatown, Nob Hill and somewhat Union Square) - it's a reasonable option for those with some kind of pass.

That's my $.02,

hlo

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