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How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

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Vancouver, Canada
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How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

Hello,

We are a family traveling to SF from Vancouver, Canada. We will be staying for 2 days, in a hotel in downtown Old Oakland. So basically we will go to SF during the day and go back to Oakland at night. Our train, Coast Starlight, will probably arrive in Oakland at 10:30 am on the first day. We are aiming to visit the Lombard Street, Golden Gate Bridge and the Academy of Science, but walking around and appreciating the city won't hurt.

My questions are: What is the best way to travel in San Francisco in 2 days?

1. Is the Hop-on Hop-off tourist bus a good choice? How does it work?

2. We really want to experience the famous cable cars too...Do you recommend them? Should we get the 1-day pass?

3. We are watching the Giants-Phillies Game at AT&T Park at 7:15pm the next day. So we probably will have to finish up the tour before that time. How do we get back to Oakland from San Fran? By train?

Any opinion is greatly appreciated. Thanks all in advance. :)

San Francisco, Ca
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1. Re: How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

Is there ANY chance you can change your hotel reservations to stay in San Francisco, since it seems like most of your activities will be in that city? You'll spend at least an hour a day (or more) traveling to and from your vacation. And depending on which hotel you're in, there are parts of "old Oakland" that I wouldn't want to be walking around at 11 pm or later.

But, that's not what you asked, so to answer your questions:

1. The HoHos are ok, sort of a "light" tour with the benefit of flexibility as you can get off and on and see what you want. The disadvantage is that buses are frequently full up (trying to get back on at the GG Bridge or Golden Gate Park, for example) and you may have to wait for some time for one to arrive with room.

The way they work is you buy a ticket for 24 or 48 hours, pick a spot to board along that company's routes, then get off and on as you wish. Companies space buses every so many minutes (usually every 20 minutes or so during high season), and they generally operate from around 9 am to 6 pm. Most of them have a route that covers most of the city in about 2 hours; some operate two or three interconnecting routes.

2. Of course! Be sure to ride before 9 am or after 10 pm for the easiest boarding of the Powell-Hyde or Powell-Mason lines. Or ride the California Street cable car any time just for the experience (the route doesn't go to the Wharf, so is less crowded). The pass is good if you are using other public transit that day ($15 per person), but if it's only the cable car ($6 per person each ride), it may not be worth it. (The pass does not work on BART, the train you'll be using to/from Oakland.)

3. Yes, BART is the most cost-effective way. But you'll have to either walk or take MUNI (our local bus system) back to Market Street to catch BART.

If you want a suggestion for a comprehensive tour, look into Dylan's. They do a 5-hour tour that includes the highlights of the city plus Muir Woods. They're frequently recommended on these boards.

San Francisco...
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2. Re: How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

If staying at the Courtyard in Old Oakland, it will be very convenient to the BART station for the 12 minute ride into downtown SF. If not, consider SFSusan's advice.

But while you're in Old Oakland, you can visit Oakland Chinatown for cheap food or the neighborhood around Old Oakland for more hipster offerings (if your family is into it and you are careful not to walk into the "wrong" neighborhood). nytimes.com/2014/05/04/fashion/oakland-calif…

From AT&T, you would take MUNI to BART to get back to Oakland. Just make sure you purchase your return ticket ahead of time to avoid long lines after the game. Watch out if there are extra innings as BART stops running like Cinderella after midnight. https://goo.gl/maps/8kW4S

I don't recommend the cable cars for actual transportation as they cost more than regular buses or subways. But for pure enjoyment, they are worthwhile. To avoid extremely long lines, take BART to Embarcadero station. Take Exit A2 up to Market Street and walk straight ahead Drumm and California where the California St cable car line is much less crowded. …blogspot.com/-W1ZvepCWo8Y/…bart.png

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

Thanks for your post! I have just one more question: Is the 1-day $15 pass effective for both MUNI and Cable Cars (i.e. We don't need to purchase additional tickets transferring from MUNI to Cable Cars, vice versa)?

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

ALTippet, thanks for your info :) And yes we are planning to stay at Courtyard by Marriott Oakland Downtown on 9th and Broadway. Is that neighbourhood particularly 'unsafe'? Because we are going to a baseball game that starts at 7:05pm, we will probably go back to the hotel around 11pm. Thanks in advance.

Pacifica, California
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5. Re: How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

I rarely go to downtown Oakland, so take my advice for what it's worth. I happened to be in the neighborhood last month, and walked right by the Courtyard Hotel. It seems like it's one of those areas that's fine during the day, but you wouldn't want to be hanging around outside at night. At 11PM, I would go directly from the 12th Street Oakland BART station to your hotel.

If you're using Amtrak and are only there for two nights, it's probably not worth the hassle of changing to a San Francisco hotel.

The $15 Muni Passport includes the cable cars.

San Francisco...
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6. Re: How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

I don't think that hotel area is so bad for transport into San Francisco. It would be nice to stay in San Francisco, but it's a shorter commute time from there to downtown San Francisco then it is from about half of the neighborhoods in San Francisco to downtown on public transit.

The main disadvantage is that you have to pay per ride on BART and the prices add up and it makes it a barrier to go back to your hotel if you want to during the day. It also doesn't have the same fun atmosphere around the hotel that some parts of San Francisco have.

Sometimes saving money is worth the tradeoff though. My opinion is that the location you picked is one of the best ones if you need to stay outside of San Francisco (better than the SFO locations by a considerable amount).

Have a good trip.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

Thanks for the replies! We will try to leave the ballpark earlier. Are there any tips about entering the 12th Street Oakland City Center BART station? Should we enter through the civic center entrance? I've heard people say that riders were mugged in broad daylight there.

Pacifica, California
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8. Re: How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

As you walk up Broadway from your hotel to the 12th Street Oakland BART station, you'll see a station entrance at the corner of Broadway and 11th Street. That will be the closest entrance.

http://www.bart.gov/stations/12th/map

9. Re: How to get the most out of SF in 2 days?

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