All stressed out, ready for a short holiday far away from home, I'm about to book a trip to San Francisco in 2-3 weeks from now. That's definitely one of the places that I always wanted to visit. Now the thing is, I'm a single traveller and I don't like driving cars in other countries, especially if you're driving alone... It just doesn't seem to be very responsible to me..
Anyhow, so I want to come over for a week or so (7-8 days, depending flight availability) and from what I can understand that's a little too much for San Francisco only? What I'ld like to do is (besides seeing SanFran.) visit somekind of a wine region, meet some people (always important to grab a beer with someone you don't know ), I wouldn't mind seeing some of the nature part as well (although I need to admit that I'm not that kind of a nature guy ) , ...
I'm used to some travelling, don't mind walking around, have done NYC a couple of time last year, but I'm up for something new..
Is eight days too long? and what about the car stuff, is it required or will the BART just do fine? And any insider info which you won't mind sharing ?
The Napa Valley is definitely worth a visit, but it is difficult to do on your own without a car. Consider renting a car just for the day or two you plan to visit, or look into tours of the area that include several wineries. One thing worth noting: don't just go to the city of Napa and expect to be impressed. The vineyards and wineries, along with all of the tasting opportunities, are north of the city. You can go all the way to Calistoga and have wine tasting opportunities galore.
You might be able to access the Napa Valley via public transportation by doing the following: take the ferry from the Ferry Terminal in SF to Vallejo, and then see what kind of public transportation you could use to get to the town of Rutherford, which is in the heart of the valley. Rutherford has some (expensive) lodging options, plus some great restaurants (Rutherford Grill) and a large winery (Beaulieu Vineyards) in the middle of town. There's a small winery to the east that is nice also called Honig.
As far as nature goes, you can explore the Golden Gate Nat'l Recreation Area which covers the land at either end of the Golden Gate Bridge. You could also see about getting up to Muir Woods to the north.
I think 7-8 days is a good amount of time to spend in the San Francisco Bay Area if you take a day trip or two. Although I have not lived there in 10 years, I am a native San Franciscan (I now live in Washington, DC) and am thrilled that you have chosen to spend so much time in what I believe to be one of the most beautiful spots in the U.S. October is also the best time of year in SF - great weather, no fog, nice blue skies for photos, etc.
You really do not need a car in San Francisco proper, it has a pretty good public transportation system, and is small enough to walk most anywhere as well (if you don't mind hills!) That said, it is really not that difficult to drive in the U.S. - big roads, clear signage. Where are you from and do you drive often at home? I have driven cars in Europe, Iceland, Japan, the Caribbean, and yes, it took some getting used to, but in a pinch it was ok...My advice is to get out of the usual tourist spots like Fisherman's Warf and Union Square (nice, fun, best essentially just shopping) and head out to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, to the Marina and walk along the bay towards the Golden Gate bridge, poke around the funky shops in the mission district, etc.
When you go out of town, there are lots of cool spots where you might be able to get on a tour since you don't have a car. Some suggestions: The Wine Train - yep, just like it sounds, a train that goes up into the wine country and stops at various wineries - a great way to meet folks too! Also, consider going to Muir Woods - it is like nothing you have ever seen, because there is nothing like it on the planet - HUGE trees, lovely groves, etc. On of my favorite places in the world, and a place I pay a pilgrimage to every time I go home is the Point Reyes National Seashore. Check out the web site online - it is a place where you can hike, look at Elk, and if you are lucky, see a Mountain Lion!
Bon Voyage! and (in advance) welcome to San Francisco!
The city itself is a great place to rent a bike. I suggest going out to Haight Street, and across the street from Golden Gate Park are several bike shops that will rent you a mountain bike. Golden Gate Park is huge and goes all the way to Ocean Beach. You can also take the bike across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito in Marin County and take the ferry back to the city on the bike.
Be sure to see the 360 degree views from both hilltops - Twin Peaks (beyond the Castro Dist. follow Upper Market St.) and Buena Vista Park (on Haight St.)
The city is really a terrible place for a car due to lack of parking, and this town is best seen on foot, bike or cable car - I lived there 25 years, and know it well.
hey you guys.
Thanks for the many responses. you all convienced me to stay around SanFran for that time.. I'm thinking to do the wine region by a guided tour, you know, I guess it's easier to do when you're with a group of people instead of being there alone.
Although, I need to admin that the wine train is something I couldn't find on the internet, so that's a very valuable tip for me! thanks bryan!.
To answer bryan's question: I'm from Belgium, live near to antwerp (a small city called 'Lier', very cosey and you can compare it to a small bruges with some creativity). I have a (company) car, do quite a lot of kilometers a year, but just to avoid issues I think it's best not to drive around in regions where you're not familiar with... You know, I can imagine that driving around in the US is quite different then it is overhere, and I wouldn't like to endanger my or someone else's life because of somekind of a ridiulous reason... anyhow, we'll see, you never know I guess..
Hey, what about a small trip report after I've done this? Is there any room on this forum/site for that or is that a little too much?
Thanks again & have a great night there!
Welcome to the US...again. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities. I believe it can all be seen and experienced in 3 days tops. San Fran has a great transportation center and of course you have to ride on the famous cable cars. I recommend getting a 3 day pass. We took a double decker bus tour that is good for two full days and you hop on and hop off various places. Really worth the money of about 50 dollars. Greyline tours I believe is the name. Alcatraz tickets are ok if you like history, but honestly I would pass it up. You can take a wonderful trip of the harbor by taking a bay ferry over to sausilito. I think it is like four dollars. You can take also through Grayline a tour out to Napa Valley which is the wine country. Since I don't think you mentioned what time of year you were going there is also Yosemite which is a 5-6 hour drive. Renting a car isn't a must, but if you want to ride down the awesome Coast 1 down toward San Diego you can get there in 10 hours...then hit I-5 back up to San Fran and make it in 8 hours.
I love to stay in Hostels...there are some great ones in San Fran. Since you like meeting other people you can go to www.hostels.com and find a room. If you do not feel like grabbing a bunk many of them offer private rooms. Rooms in downtown San Fran can be very pricy.