San Francisco/Golden Gate

Travel Guide North America USA Western United States California San Francisco San Francisco/Golden Gate

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Introduction

With some of the most beautiful scenery and intact natural environments in the city, the Golden Gate area is the spectacular northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula. The city's most famous landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge, connects this district with Marin County across the Bay. The area is made up of two National Historic Landmarks — The Presidio and Fort Mason — as well as several upscale neighborhoods famed for their Victorian architecture and views of the city, including Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, and the Marina District. The district is roughly bounded by the San Francisco Bay to the north and west, Lake St and California St to the south, and Van Ness Ave to the east.

Pacific Heights

Pacific Heights, located 370 feet above sea-level and overlooking the Bay, was little more than a sandy hill until 1870, when the Cable Car line was extended and connected the area to downtown. Today, it's favored by visitors for its impressive panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and the Presidio, its abundance of opulent Victorian mansions, historic chateaus, foreign consulates, and finally its many upscale restaurants. The three blocks on Broadway St between Lyon St and Divisadero St have particularly good vistas and are known as the "Gold Coast." Some of the buildings date back as far as 1853, with the majority being constructed after the 1906 earthquake. Considered today to be the home of "old money" families and young urban professionals, it was first settled by the "nouveau riche" of the late 1800s. The neighborhood is predominantly peaceful and residential with most of its activities centered around Fillmore St. It was also the backdrop for the 1990 movie "Pacific Heights" starring Melanie Griffith.

Cow Hollow

Cow Hollow derived its name from the many dairy farms that were established there in the mid-1800s. However, with the advent of the Gold Rush, the neighborhood flourished. Prominent San Franciscans began to settle the area and erected grandiose well-appointed Victorian, and then later Edwardian mansions. By 1891, the area had become so popular that all the dairy farms were closed down. Today, this once luscious grazing land is more renowned for its impressive mansions and its eclectic mix of antique stores, art galleries, bars, and restaurants. Union St is the main drag, where the Union St. Festival is held annually.

The Marina District

The Marina district was built on landfill — some of it wreckage of the 1906 earthquake — in the early 20th century to provide a fairgrounds for the 1915 World's Fair (also called the Panama-Pacific Exhibition). Its poor foundation made it the focus of most of the damage (and media attention) in the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. Today it is an affluent, residential neighborhood with well trimmed hedges and colorful flower window boxes. Bounded by the Bay, the neighborhood actually has an impressive marina, which is home to a couple of prestigious yacht clubs. Marina Green, an 8 block stretch of grass running along the edge of the bay, is a favorite place for jogging, strolling, picnicking, and kite flying. Only a few blocks away, Chestnut St. is where shoppers can peruse boutiques or people watch while sipping on a latte. "Culture vultures" circle round Fort Mason, with its array of museums, art galleries and quirky theaters.

Fort Mason and the Presidio

Fort Mason and the Presidio are two former military posts on the northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula. Today, both are national historic landmarks and come under the remit of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. Fort Mason is smaller and has a world class youth hostel as well as several museums and theaters. The Presidio is huge, with 1,480 acres of rolling hills, forests, hiking trails, historic buildings, architecture, beaches, and marsh lands. It has one of the most intact natural environments you will find on the peninsula and is a must for every itinerary.

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Sights and Activities

There are lots of things to see in this district ranging from the pristine natural landscapes of the Presidio, to man-made marinas, Victorian architecture, and the Golden Gate Bridge. In places like the Presidio and Fort Mason you'll find an interesting blend of both, with modern offices, historical buildings, and museums making their home alongside sandpipers, coyotes, and fox squirrel. "City slickers" should be more at home further inland where they'll find galleries and museums, architecture, and urban parks. Naturalists will be more at home along the coast line, from Fort Mason all the way along into the Presidio.

Golden Gate Bridge

If you haven't walked across Golden Gate Bridge in the evening, toward sunset, you really haven't lived. The setting sun's rays reach into the glowing city and make for a spectacular scene. Below you, the peace of the bay clashes and mixes with the drama and power of the endless Pacific ocean. At times, some locals say it can be better than the Grand Canyon. Bring someone you love to make the moment complete. After walking or biking north across the Golden Gate Bridge, coast down to the absolutely charming village of Sausalito. When you've had your fill of galleries and coffee shops, take the ferry back across the bay. The ride is nearly as romantic as the bridge, and affords a lovely view of Alcatraz and Angel Island.

The Presidio

The Presidio was founded in 1776 and was the longest-running military post in the U.S. before closing as a base in 1994. It is now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Congress has designated it a National Historic Landmark District, which is the highest historic designation that can be given in the U.S. The park is a beautiful 3 square miles of mostly hilly and wooded areas. The Presidio has around 800 buildings within its perimeter, many of which are of historical significance. Some of the buildings have residential tenants, others commercial ones. At the end of 2005, about 2,500 people lived in the Presidio and it is home to the headquarters of Lucasfilm (owned by George Lucas, the creator of "Star Wars"), a unique situation for a national park. Part of their drinking water comes from Lobos Creek (Rio de los Lobos), the last free-flowing creek in San Francisco. The Presidio Trust, that manages the majority of the park, is renovating the remainder of the buildings, with a view to increasing its list of residents to 5,000. The Presidio contains 11 miles of hiking trails, including the Golden Gate Promenade, the Coastal Trail, an ecology trail, and portions of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the Bay Trail, and the Anza National Historic Trail. Cyclists can explore the area on 14 miles of paved roads and along some unpaved parts of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. A world-class board-sailing area borders Crissy Field, while fishing and crabbing opportunities abound from the nearby rocks and pier. Along the way there are also many historical and architectural points of interest as well as some fantastic vistas and natural scenery.

Fort Mason

Fort Mason was a U.S. Military coastal defense post and port for over 100 years. In 1985, it was ordained as a National Historic Landmark, primarily for its vital logistical role during World War II and then later the Korean War. Today, it is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is under the remit of the National Park Service. Situated on a headland, Upper Fort Mason has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and of Alcatraz. Lower Fort Mason, which comprises approximately 13 acres, is the site of the former military port and today houses the Fort Mason Center, which is committed to nonprofit and cultural activities with an emphasis on entertainment, recreation, and education in the fields of; the visual/performing arts, humanities, and ecology/environment. It has three museums and six theaters and hosts nearly 20,000 events each year. Most of the activities are provided at nominal or sometimes no cost to the public.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Car

The main entryways are Van Ness Ave from the south and Bay St from the east. From the north and west, take Highway 101 through the Presidio to Lombard St. Chestnut St, one of the main shopping and restaurant streets, is one block north of Lombard St — parking is scarce and can sometimes take up to an hour to find. The best choice for parking may be the free area in Fort Mason, at Beach and Buchanan Sts, another 4 short blocks north of Chestnut. Union St, being Cow Hollow's main street, is three blocks south of Lombard St.

By Bus

Public transportation, provided by MUNI, is plentiful and frequent.

Cross town routes: The 28-19th Avenue bus travels along Lombard St to Fort Mason from the Daly City BART station, traveling first a long way up 19th Ave and stopping at the Golden Gate Bridge. Buses 29-Sunset and 43-Masonic traverse much of the western part of San Francisco before terminating in the area, with the 29 stopping at Baker Beach and the 43 running through the Presidio before stopping in the Marina district. The 22-Fillmore bus (24-hour service) from the 16th St BART Station goes north on Fillmore St all the way to the Marina Green.
From Downtown: From the Caltrain station, traveling through Downtown past the Montgomery St BART station (outbound) or the Powell St BART station (inbound), the 30-Stockton bus (which runs about every 6 minutes during the day, until 1AM) gets you to Chestnut St and near the Palace of Fine Arts. You can also take the 41-Union, 45-Union/Stockton (both serve Union St), and 76X-Marin Headlands Express. Routes 1-California, 2-Clement, and 3-Jackson serve Pacific Heights and Lower Pacific Heights.

In addition to the many MUNI routes, there is also the free PresidiGo shuttle service with three primary routes: a Downtown route that runs directly between the Transbay Terminal in Downtown to the Presidio, a Presidio Hills route which runs from the main Presidio complex through the hills to Baker Beach, and a Crissy Field line which loops between the main Presidio complex, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Crissy Field.

By Foot

If you enjoy walking, you can take the Historic F-line streetcar from downtown along the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf, and walk along San Francisco Bay past Fort Mason — it's a bit of hill — to the Marina Green. If you're downtown, simply follow Van Ness Ave all the way north and take a left anywhere from California St to Lombard St.

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Getting Around

With six lanes, going east-west, Lombard St is the main road and considered (along with north-south Van Ness) to be part of Highway 101. The winding section of Lombard St is due east, on Russian Hill.

This is a fantastic area to either walk or cycle through as it is predominantly flat (with the obvious exception of Pacific Heights), and also because it's a very safe area. Given the area's popularity with joggers, walkers, power-walkers, and cyclists, you will definitely not be alone. Chestnut St is the business section of the Marina and considered among the poshest of San Francisco's streets. Union St and Fillmore St are the other two main shopping areas in this district. To the north, along San Francisco Bay, runs the 74 acre stretch of Marina Green. Your walk can continue along the bay to the west, through the Presidio, along the restored Crissy Field marshes, all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge; or to the east, a short climb through Fort Mason and down into Fisherman's Wharf.

If you are interested in biking around the area — "biking the bridge" is very popular activity — there are several companies that rent bikes out to tourists by the hour or for the day, including Bay City Bike, Bike and Roll, and Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals.

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Eat

There is an excellent selection of restaurants in this area; everything from regional Chinese restaurants to Tapas bars, and from Japanese sushi houses to American steakhouses, romantic French bistros, and Italian restaurants. A lot of the food plated here is of the healthier variety — a reflection of the heightened overall health consciousness of residents in this area. Therefore, many of the restaurants serve up food that's organic, vegetarian, or produced from locally sourced ingredients. Like most other businesses in the area, most restaurants are on Chestnut St, Union St, and Fillmore St; or indeed, one of the side streets leading off them.

Ace Wasabi's Rock-N-Roll Sushi, 3339 Steiner St (just north of Lombard St), ☏ +1-415-567-4903, fax: +1-415-749-1873. M-Th 5:30PM-10:30PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Su 5PM-10PM. This sushi place is popular with the locals, offering good sushi with a rock and roll theme. Quirky and a bit of fun. $5-14.50.
Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers, 3344 Steiner St (between Chestnut St and Lombard St), ☏ +1-415-563-0307. M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-9:30PM. Great gourmet burgers here at a very affordable price. They have a great selection of burgers including some interesting vegetarian options like "tofu burgers," and fyi, all their burgers can be wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun... give it a try! They also serve salads and sandwiches. $8-12.
Home Plate, 2274 Lombard St (between Pierce St and Steiner St), ☏ +1-415-922-4663. M-Su 7AM-4PM. Wonderful breakfast/brunch place on Lombard St. Its always busy on weekends and it can feel a tad cramped but the food is worth it — delicious homemade scones with homemade jam and preserves, omelettes, pancakes/waffles, and eggs benedict. This is certainly one of the best breakfast places in the city! $5-10.
Pluto's Fresh Food for a Hungry Universe, 3258 Scott St (at Chesnut St), ☏ +1-415-775-8867. M–F 11AM–10PM, Sa–Su 10:30AM–10PM. Fun American restaurant that's part of a chain. It's mostly green salads and sandwiches here — custom made to your discerning specifications! $7-12.
Alegrias, 2018 Lombard St (between Webster St and Fillmore St), ☏ +1-415-929-8888, fax: +1-415-929-9215. W-M 5:30PM-10PM. Alegrias is a colorful, friendly, and romantic little Tapas bar in the Marina. Like many other Tapas bars, it's a great place to go if you want to sample many flavors and tastes from small plates. If you're still hungry after that, they have a more substantial main menu with plates like grilled lamb, paellas, and stewed rabbit. $8-23.
Bistro Aix, 3340 Steiner St (between Lombard St and Chestnut St), ☏ +1-415-202-0100, fax: +1-415-202-0153. W-Th 6PM-10PM, F-Sa 6PM-11PM, Su 5:30PM-9:30PM. A great dating restaurant with intimate, comfortable seating, and a romantic decor. They use fresh seasonal, local ingredients in their dishes. $14-22.
Circa, 2001 Chestnut St (between Mallorca Way and Fillmore St), ☏ +1-415-351-0175, ✉ info@circasf.com. M-W 5:30PM-midnight, Th-F 5:30PM-2AM, Sa 10:30AM-3PM and 5:30PM-2AM, Su 11AM-midnight. This lively Marina lounge turned restaurant has a relaxed casual atmosphere and serves traditional American fare. They have a good selection of smaller more adventurous plates to get you started like "lobster and white truffle mac-n-cheese" and "angus sliders black truffle and brie." $20-30.
Dragon Well Restaurant, 2142 Chestnut St (between Steiner and Pierce St), ☏ +1-415-474-6888, fax: +1-415-775-9888. 11:30AM-10PM daily. Light but satisfying modern Chinese food — not your typical oily dishes here! $11-14.
Greens Restaurant, Building A, Fort Mason Center (Lower Fort Mason), ☏ +1-415-771-6222, fax: +1-415-771-3472, ✉ info@greensrestaurant.com. M 5:30PM-9PM, Tu-Sa noon-2:30PM, 5:30PM-9PM, Su 10:30AM-2PM, 5:30PM-9PM. Located in Fort Mason, Greens organic vegetarian restaurant is a firm favorite among veggies and the health conscious. They have fresh, tasty international food that appeases all appetites (except for carnivorous ones of course!). Over the years it has become a bit of a local institution as its views over the water are hard to beat. $16-23.
La Mediterranee, 2210 Fillmore St (at Sacramento St), ☏ +1-415-921-2956, fax: +1-415-921-4061, ✉ information@cafelamed.com. Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. Serving up affordable Middle Eastern classics like quiche, hummos, pita bread, and kebabs. $10-15.
Pacific Catch, 2027 Chestnut St (at Fillmore St), ☏ +1-415-440-1950, fax: +1-415-873-1315, ✉ michael@pacificcatc.com. 11AM-10PM daily. There isn't much seating in this place, but that doesn't seem to matter for the patrons that come here to taste Asian/Pacific cuisine. The tuna bowl comes highly recommended. $11-15.
A16, 2355 Chestnut St (between Scott St and Divisadero St), ☏ +1-415-771-2216. Dinner: Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM Lunch: W-F 11:30AM-2:30PM. This is part wine bar part restaurant; they serve simple Italian favorites (pizza, pastas, salumi) from the Campania region of Italy. They also have traditional wood-burning ovens to perfect your pizza. $15-30.
Boboquivari's, 1450 Lombard St (between Franklin St and Van Ness Ave), ☏ +1-415-441-8880, fax: +1-415-441-8805, ✉ comments@boboquivaris.com. Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM. Popular steakhouse in the Marina, Bobo's is a "surf-n-turfers" dream. The menu boasts excellent steaks (porterhouse, fillet mignon, New York bone-in) combined with mussels, shrimp, lobster, and Dungeness crab... yummy! Bobo's is a colorful, if upscale restaurant, that is very popular and almost always busy. $30-65.
Brazen Head, 3166 Buchanan St (at Greenwich St), ☏ +1-415-921-7600, fax: +1-415-921-0164. Bar Hours: 4PM-2AM Dinner: 5PM-1AM. Serving wholesome American cuisine including their signature dish "Certified Angus Beef NY Pepper Steak" — this restaurant is a very well kept local secret. $18-30. edit
Capannina, 1809 Union St (at Octavia St), ☏ +1-415-409-8001, fax: +1-415-409-8004, ✉ info@capannina.us. Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-10:30PM. A new Italian restaurant that focuses on the familiar and tempting classics of Italian cuisine. They have a "prix-fixe" as well as an "à la carte" menu. $25-75. edit
16 Eastside West Restaurant and Raw Bar, 3154 Fillmore St (at Greenwich St), ☏ +1-415-885-4000, fax: +1-415-885-4001, ✉ info@eastsidewestsf.com. Dinner: Tu-Sa 4PM-10PM, Su 5PM-8PM, Brunch: Sa 11AM-3PM, Su 11AM-5PM. They have excellent seafood here — shrimp, mussels, crabs, lobsters, and oysters. It's perfect for appetizers and drinks on a weekend afternoon; or how about their happy hour M-F 4PM-7PM, with $1 oysters and $2 draft beers... the perfect combination! $14-40.
Isa, 3324 Steiner St (just off of Chestnut St), ☏ +1-415-567-9588, fax: +1-415-409-1879. M-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30-10:30PM. Comfortable environment with an innovative fusion menu made up of small plates that blend French style with Asian flavors. Owner Luke Sung is one of San Francisco's most celebrated young chefs. $10-30.
Izzy's Steaks & Chops, 3345 Steiner St (between Lombard St and Chestnut St), ☏ +1-415-563-0487. Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30-10:30PM. Classic steak restaurant with wood floors, saw dust, comfortable booths, steak sauces, and the requisite cowboy hat to boot! Their pricing is affordable and their steaks big and tasty. $17-37.
Jackson Fillmore Trattoria, 2506 Fillmore St (at Jackson St), ☏ +1-415-346-5288, fax: +1-415-454-1768, ✉ dkrietzman@jacksonfillmoresf.com. Tu-Sa 5:30PM-10PM, Su 5PM-9:30PM. This 3 star trattoria serves up old-style southern Italian food and wine from the region. The food is excellent and affordable (given the quality) and the place is usually crowded as a result. $25-45.
Perry's, 1944 Union St (between Charlton Ct and Laguna St), ☏ +1-415-922-9022, fax: +1-415-922-0843, ✉ unionstreet@perryssf.com. Lunch & Dinner: F-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su-Th 11AM-11PM, Brunch: Sa 9AM-3PM, Su 8AM-3PM. Over 40 years old, this restaurant is another Cow Hollow tradition. It is known for its classic American cuisine. $17-30.
Presidio Social Club, 563 Ruger St, Bldg 563 (at Lyon St), ☏ +1-415-885-1888, fax: +1-415-885-9188. M-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Su 5:30PM-9:30PM, Brunch Sa-Su 10AM-2PM. Serving traditional American and international cuisine like fish and chips, Kobe beef, and liver and onions. They have a large outdoor veranda that is an excellent place to dine... weather permitting! There is also a lively bar on the premises if you fancy a few stiff drinks. $18-27.
Rose's Café, 2298 Union St (at Steiner St), ☏ +1-415-775-2200, fax: +1-415-775-9600, ✉ matthew@niceventures.com. M-Th 7AM-10PM, F 7AM-11PM, Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 8AM-10PM. Features Italian and Californian fare created using fresh organic and local produce; this is certainly a restaurant for the more environmentally conscious. It's a very romantic spot and a favorite among locals. $16-30.

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Drink

The area is not particularly well known for its cutting edge nightlife; it's more residential vis-à-vis downtown, and it does not have the cool cachet of trendy hotspot SoMa, nor the hipster popularity of North Beach and The Mission. So, if you're looking for a progressive clubbing scene, you probably won't find it here. What the area does offer though is many upscale bars, wine bars, sleek lounges, and clubs. The scene here can be pricey and many people deliberately avoid the bars and clubs here feeling that they are too pretentious, and consequently sterile. However, this can be a mistake as there are also plenty of cheaper options where you can get equally raucous and debaucherous on your nights out.

Judy's Cafe, 2268 Chestnut St (between Scott St and Pierce St), ☏ +1-415-922-4588, fax: +1-415-922-4588. M-F 7:45AM-2:15PM, Sa-Su 7:45AM-3PM. Quaint European style Marina cafe serving healthy portions of food.
La Boulangerie de San Francisco, 1909 Union St (at Laguna St), ☏ +1-415-440-4450, fax: +1-415-928-3701. 7AM-6PM daily. Traditional French bakery and cafe. The owner was born in Bordeaux France and has a lifetime of baking experience. The cafe sells bread made of organic flour from their very own wheat mill.
Tully's Coffee House, 2455 Fillmore St (between Jackson St and Washington St), ☏ +1-415-929-8808, fax: +1-206-233-2077, ✉ customer.comments@tullys.com. M-F 5:30AM-9PM, Sa 6AM-9PM, Su 6AM-8PM. Cozy cafe with decent coffee and wi-fi available. They also have a flat screen in store to keep you up to date with the news etc. The outdoor seating is also a nice touch.
Union Street Coffee Roastery, 2191 Union St (at Fillmore St), ☏ +1-415-922-9559. 6:30AM-10PM daily. Decent coffee, an excellent location, plenty of seating, and very friendly staff are what attract patrons here.
Bar None, 1980 Union St (between Bunchanan St and Laguna St), ☏ +1-415-409-4469, ✉ partybarnone@yahoo.com. M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa-Su noon-2AM. Featuring pool, darts, beer pong, a good selection on the jukebox and the "Power Hour" — Su-Th 9PM-10PM, $2 Wells and Drafts.
Black Horse London Pub, 1514 Union St (at Van Ness Ave), ☏ +1-415-928-2414. 5PM-midnight. They advertise this place as the smallest bar in San Francisco... "Small Pub, Big Heart." It is exactly 7 wide and 19 foot long... not for the claustrophobic! It may be small but this is a fun little bar with a list of "Tenets" on the wall; including "Thou Shall give priority seating to all Women in the Bar. (If you need further explication, please see "Exit.")" and "Thou Shall have one pub and one pub only. (Ours...)."
Blue Light, 1979 Union St (between Buchanan St and Charlton Ct), ☏ +1-415-922-5510, fax: +1-415-922-5852, ✉ lcossey@sbcglobal.net. Bar: M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa-Su 11AM-2AM Kitchen: Kitchen M-F 5PM-10PM, Sa noon-10PM, Sunday 11AM-10PM. Their "Taco Tuesday" is a long standing favorite among locals and features $3 margaritas for the ladies. Guys are equally well served with $2 Coronas, and with $1 tacos, who could go hungry?
Bus Stop, 1901 Union St (between Charlton Ct and Laguna St), ☏ +1-415-567-6905. M-F 10AM-2AM, Sa-Su 9AM-2AM. The Bus Stop has a comfortable "homey" atmosphere with 17 TVs and sports memorabilia on the walls. It attracts a twenty-something/thirty-something crowd. Happy Hour (M-F 4PM-6PM has $1.50 domestic beers and half price cocktails).
Lion Pub, 2062 Divisadero St (at California St), ☏ +1-415-567-6565. 4PM-2AM daily. Small intimate Pacific Heights bar specializing in fresh cocktails. It's well decorated inside with marble tables, candles, and even a fireplace (doh... it's fake!). They also lay out an impressive spread of free, fresh bar snacks like cheese and crackers.
Mauna Loa Club, 3009 Fillmore St (between Filbert St and Union St), ☏ +1-415-563-5137. M-F 2PM-2AM, Sa-Su noon-2AM. Pretty cool little Hawaiian bar decked out in island regalia. They have a nice circular bar, open windows that peer out over Fillmore St, and lots of games inside to keep you occupied. They have a pretty decent happy hour M-F 4PM-7PM, to get your night started.
Monaghan's, 3259 Pierce St (at Chestnut St), ☏ +1-415-567-4466, ✉ info@monaghanssf.com. M 4:30PM-2AM, Tu-F 2PM-2AM, Sa-Su noon-2AM. Another Irish bar turned sports bar in the Marina district which draws an eclectic crowd. They have a long happy hour that runs M-F 4PM-7PM; and nightly specials including "Ladies Night" on Thursdays where cocktails are half price.
California Wine Merchant, 2113 Chestnut St (at Steiner St), ☏ +1-415-567-0646, fax: +1-415-567-1639, ✉ greg@californiawinemerchant.com. M-W 10AM-midnight, Th-Sa 10AM-1:30AM, Su 11AM-11PM. Formerly just a wine retail shop, the California Wine Merchant is now a hip little spot where you can enjoy a few glasses of wine, watch people walk by on Chestnut St, or pick up a few bottles to bring home.
Nectar Wine Lounge, 3330 Steiner St (just off Chestnut St), ☏ +1-415-345-1377, fax: +1-415-345-1305, ✉ info@thenectarwinelounge.com. M-Th 5PM-10:30PM, F-Sa 5PM-midnight, Su 3PM-10PM. Order your wine from the experts — this sleek wine bar comes complete with wine-connoisseur bartenders. Great stop off point before or after dinner.
Ottimista Enoteca Cafe, 1838 Union St (between Octavia St and Laguna St), ☏ +1-415-674-8400, fax: +1-415-674-8333, ✉ info@OttimistaSF.com. Tu-Th 2PM-11PM, F noon-2AM, Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-10PM. Nice little upscale Italian wine bar that has mostly Italian and Californian wines in their exposed cellar. They have a decent selection of circa 40 wines by the glass; 250 by the bottle. They also serve small plates of food to compliment your wine.

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Sleep

The neighborhoods in this district are really just that — neighborhoods; as such, you won't find many of the larger luxury chain-hotels here. Many of the areas accommodations are located on Lombard St, which runs east from Russian Hill to the Presidio in the West, and actually forms an informal boundary between the Marina and Cow Hollow. Most of the accommodations along Lombard range from run down motor lodges to slightly more respectable bed and breakfasts. Thankfully, as the area is not as congested as downtown, many of the hotels/motels offer free parking.

Country Hearth Inn, 2707 Lombard St (at Baker St), ☏ +1-415-567-2425, fax: +1-415-567-8222, ✉ sanfrancisco@countryhearth.com. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. This hotel is ideally located less than a block from the green expanses of the Presidio. They offer a complimentary continental breakfast and limited free parking. $75-110.
Greenwich Inn, 3201 Steiner St (at Greenwich St), ☏ +1-415-921-5162, fax: +1-415-921-3602, ✉ info@greenwichinn.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Budget hotel with free parking, located just one block from Union St. It has 32 recently renovated guest rooms and offers an in-room coffee service and a complimentary newspaper daily. $54-104.
Hostelling International-Fisherman's Wharf Hostel, Fort Mason, Building 240 (Upper Fort Mason), ☏ +1-415-771-7277, ✉ info@norcalhostel.com. Check-in: 2:30PM, check-out: 11PM. Even if you're unsure about hostels, you should still consider this place; the location alone makes it worth your while, as it is in a park-like setting with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz and is within easy walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf. It has a total of 150 Beds in dormitory style rooms. Quite clean and safe, with wi-fi, laundry facilities, lockers, and free breakfast. Dorms: $26-30 Private family rooms: $65-100.
Presidio Inn & Suites, 2361 Lombard St (between Pierce St and Scott St), ☏ +1-415-931-7810, fax: +1-415-931-5318, ✉ presidioinn@gmail.com. Small budget European style inn located in the Marina District. They have free wi-fi and offer a complimentary breakfast. It's just one block from Chestnut St. $70–140. edit
Travelodge Golden Gate, 2230 Lombard St (between Greenwich St and Steiner St), ☏ +1-415-922-3900, fax: +1-415-921-4795, ✉ Travelodge2230@Gmail.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. This hotel had a recent renovation in 2004 and has cable TV and high speed internet. As with many of the other hotels in this area, they also offer free parking. $90 year round.
Buena Vista Motor Inn, 1599 Lombard St (between Franklin St and gough St), ☏ +1-415-923-9600, toll-free: +1-800-835-4980, fax: +1-415-441-4775, ✉ info@buenavistamotorinn.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Another standard motor inn, this one offers free parking and a complimentary continental breakfast to get you going in the morning. $80-140.
Chelsea Motor Inn, 2095 Lombard St (at Fillmore St), ☏ +1-415-563-5600, fax: +1-415-567-6475, ✉ Reservations@ChelseaMotorInn.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Features an English Tudor style building with an antique roof. Clean, good quality rooms at a reasonable price. Nothing too special, but it is centrally located. $77-145.
Cow Hollow Motor Inn & Suites, 2190 Lombard St (at Steiner), ☏ +1-415-921-5800, fax: +1-415-922-8515, ✉ reservations@cowhollowmotorinn.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Centrally located in the Cow Hollow neighborhood, this motel offers 112 standard and reasonably priced rooms. The decor is definitely dated and will not suit everyone — they have floral wallpaper that might just keep you up at night! However, the rooms are comfortable and they do offer free parking. $79-145.
Hotel del Sol, 3100 Webster St (at Greenwich St), ☏ +1-415-921-5520, fax: +1-415-931-4137, ✉ del@communehotels.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Voted CitySearch San Francisco's "Best Budget Hotel", "Best Family-Friendly Hotel," and "Best Hotel Pool" in 2006. Part of the fancy Joie de Vivre hotel group, this formerly nondescript motor lodge was rejuvenated with some cool colors, interior design, and upgraded management. $119-199.
La Luna Inn, 2599 Lombard St (between Broderick St and Divisadero St), ☏ +1-415-346-4664, toll-free: +1-800-536-8446, fax: +1-415-346-4665, ✉ reservations@lalunainn.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A rejuvenated 1960s Motor Inn. The bespoke furniture and colorful decor creates a bright, fun, and fanciful atmosphere here. $79-129.
Laurel Inn, 444 Presidio Ave (between California St and Sacramento St), ☏ +1-415-567-8467, toll-free: +1-800-552-8735, fax: +1-415-928-1866, ✉ thelaurelinn@communehotels.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Built in 1963, this renovated hotel has a comfortable yet fashionable interior. Each room is spacious and similar in size to a studio apartment with some even having kitchenettes. $159-209.
Lombard Motor Inn, 1475 Lombard St (between Van Ness Ave and Franklin St), ☏ +1-415-441-6000, fax: +1-415-441-4291. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Standard motor inn at an affordable price. The building interior is getting a bit old and worn, however it is clean. If you're a light sleeper, try to get a room that doesn't overlook the busy street. $77-135.
Marina Inn, 3110 Octavia St (at Lombard St), ☏ +1-415-928-1000, fax: +1-415-928-5909, ✉ info@marinainn.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Comfortable and traditional style inn with a quiet B&B atmosphere. They have 40 guest rooms and offer complimentary continental breakfast and free newspapers. $69-159. edit
Marina Motel, 2576 Lombard St (between Broderick St and Divisadero St), ☏ +1-415-921-9406, fax: +1-415-921-0364, ✉ marinamotel@value.net. Check-in: 3PM-11:30PM, check-out: 11AM. Classic motor inn with a Mediterranean flavor — flower boxes fragrance the quaint European style rooms. They offer free wi-fi, free parking, and complimentary in room coffee. $85-135.
Motel Capri, 2015 Greenwich St (at Buchanan St), ☏ +1-415-346-4667, fax: +1-415-346-3256. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. This is a small family run motel with just 46 guest rooms. Thankfully, this one is set back one block from the noisy Lombard St in a quieter residential area. This is definitely an older, slightly jaded motel, but the rooms are clean and the staff are extremely friendly. It's close to the shopping on Union St as well. $100-135.
Travelodge at the Presidio, 2755 Lombard St (between Baker St and Lyon St), ☏ +1-415-931-8581, fax: +1-415-776-0904, ✉ tlsfpresidio@whg.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Standard Travelodge, but set in an excellent location right on the cusp of the Presidio. If you like having the natural world close to your doorstep, then this is the place for you. With its proximity to the Palace of Fine Arts and the historic buildings of the Presidio, it's also a good place to come if you are a fan of architecture. $60-140.
Francisco Bay Inn, 1501 Lombard St (at Franklin St), ☏ +1-415-474-3030, toll-free: +1-800-410-7007, fax: +1-415-567-7082, ✉ franciscobay@staysf.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Located conveniently on Lombard St and has newly renovated rooms. All of the rooms and hallways are 100% non-smoking. Free parking. $149-214.
Hotel Drisco, 2901 Pacific Ave (at Broderick St), ☏ +1-415-346-2880, toll-free: +1-800-634-7277, fax: +1-415-567-5537, ✉ reservations@hoteldrisco.com. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. Built in 1903, this is a higher-end, boutique hotel right in the heart of Pacific Heights. $189-259.
Jackson Court Hotel, 2198 Jackson St (at Buchanan St), ☏ +1-415-929-7670, fax: +1-415-929-1405, ✉ ej@jacksoncourt.com. Check-in: 2PM-7PM, check-out: 11AM. This is an opulent three-story brownstone Victorian mansion set in upscale Pacific Heights. With only 10 rooms, it's more of a B&B than a hotel. The price includes a continental breakfast and afternoon tea. $160-230.
Union Street Inn, 2299 Union St (at Steiner St), ☏ +1-415-346-0424, fax: +1-415-922-8046. Check-in: 2PM-7PM or by special arrangement, check-out: noon. Edwardian home with spacious airy rooms and a quaint cottage garden in the back. $190-330.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

San Francisco/Golden Gate Travel Helpers

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This is version 7. Last edited at 17:43 on Apr 19, 20 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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