This suburban girl LOVES the city. I’m sure if you’ve been following me for a while now, you know that I can’t get enough of a big city. New York has my heart, but I also love any excuse to sneak up to San Francisco. There are SO many fun shops, restaurants and things to see and do. I feel of sitting in a high-rise hotel window listening to the sounds of the city and watching the world go by is one of my favorite things to do. San Francisco is such a fun city. If you’re looking for a little get-away here are some of my suggestions for a weekend in the city…we’ll start with getting there and where to stay.
Flights in and out of Oakland or SFO are easy to come by and are often relatively inexpensive on a carrier like Southwest Airlines. Public transportation is well designed so once you fly into either of these airports, you don’t need any ground transportation to get to the city. BART (Bay Area Public Transit) is easy to locate and will take you right where you need to go, all for under $10 a person. If you fly into Oakland, BART will take you through some pretty sketchy neighborhoods, but I have never had a problem riding this route even late at night.
Where to Stay:
Hotel options in the city, especially on the weekends when business travelers are back at home, are usually pretty easy to come by and are often less expensive than they are on the week days. Now, that’s not to say they aren’t expensive. 😉 Like any big city, you’re going to pay a premium to stay, but if you’re prepared for it, at least I won’t be such a shocker, right? I would say expecting to pay at least $250 a night would be fair, with something more in the $350-400 range more probable. Check Travelocity, Priceline and similar sites to get a feel for what price ranges are out there for your travel dates and in the area you are hoping to stay. Anything in the Financial District, Nob Hill, Fisherman’s Wharf, Marina District, Union Square will give you easy access to all the things you want to see in the city. Again, because the public transportation is so great here, it really opens up your hotel options which makes it easier to find a nice place to stay. Here are a few of our favorites…
For the ultimate high-rise, big city, gorgeous, modern hotel experience the Loews Regency San Francisco can’t be beat. When you are in a city like San Francisco, you want a hotel that maximizes views and the Loews Regency does not disappoint. Located between the 38th-48th floors in one of the tallest buildings in the city, incredible views and amazingly comfortable beds await. Because it’s located in the center of the Financial District, the surrounding streets are relatively quiet on the weekends, but offer a bit of respite from the hustle and bustle of all the touristy sites. It is conveniently located to a BART station, so you can wheel your luggage from the airport to the hotel with no problem. And, like anything else in the city, it’s an easy walk to whatever you want to see. Service here is impeccable, the décor upscale and inviting. Special-rate plans for families are available. The Loews Regency definitely deserves it’s Five-Star rating. Tip: If you stay here, don’t miss the opportunity to walk across the sky bridge located on the upper floors. Panoramic views from bridge to bridge will take your breath away.
The Fairmont San Francisco: located at the to of Nob Hill, a very high rent district, this iconic hotel has been around from the early 1900s and is chalk full of history. It’s grand entrance and two story marble lobby will transport you back in time. There are to parts of this hotel, the older section and a newer tower. I have stayed in both and both are nice…the rooms in the older part of the hotel look a little more tired, and don’t have the views that the tower rooms do, but you receive top notch Fairmont service no matter which room you choose. We have found rooms here on occasion for as little as $199 a night which is a steal, but expect to pay more in the $350+ range. It is a quick walk down the hill to Union Square, Chinatown and the Financial district and it sits right on the California street Cable Car Line which makes it REALLY easy to hop and off any time. If you’re going to stay here, sign up for their President’s Club. It’s free and will give you access to free wifi, morning newspapers and some other nice perks. I think it’s one of the best “loyalty” programs in the hotel industry.
Hyatt Regency Embarcadero is a hop skip and jump from the famous Ferry Building. Located on the edge of the financial district, it also sits right at one end of the California Street Cable Car line which is by far the quietest stop, and easiest place to hop on and off for a Cable Car ride. Rooms are nice and perfect for couples or a family.
Personally, I have never stayed at The Marker, but because it came so highly recommended by my dear friend Courtney, I have to add it to the list. I know she has incredible taste, and since her and her family enjoyed it so much, I am sure that you will too. Comfort for a family when traveling is huge and I appreciate it! Located in Union Square, it is perfectly situated for great shopping and dining.
When you arrive on Friday night check into your hotel and ask the front desk where you can buy a 3-day MUNI pass. You can purchase them at some local drug stores (CVS etc.) and they are well worth the cost if you plan on using public transportation. For roughly $25 a person you can ride unlimited cable cars, buses and street cars. Just to give you some perspective, a one way cable car ride is $6 per person without a pass. Four one-way trips on a cable car during your stay and you’ve paid for your pass. Some of the cable car lines can be incredibly long. If you are trying to hitch a ride in union or ghirardelli square wait times can exceed an hour. The California line, which picks up at the bottom of the hill in the financial district can be next to empty most times of the day. Be smart. Sometimes it might make more sense if you really want to ride a cable car, to take a bus or street car to that stop rather than wait in line at one of the busier stops. But, if you find yourself in a long line, enjoy it…it’s all part of the experience. BART is separate from MUNI, but once you are in the city, you won’t need to ride BART.
After you buy a pass, pick the public mode of transportation of your choice (or walk) and head to North Beach also known as Little Italy. There are tons of fun restaurants there, and it just has a fun vibe.
Tony’s is my recommendation for pizza…you know we are always on the hunt for the best Neopolitan style pizza and this place has won award after award for it. It’s located on the corner of Washinton Square, which will be nice, because they don’t take reservations and you will need somewhere to walk and explore while you wait for at east n hour for your table. They don’t take reservations and there is ALWAYS a wait. After dinner stroll around and grab a pastry or gelato to finish your night.
Head back to the hotel and rest up for lots of walking tomorrow!