5 Nights in Sacramento, 1 Night in San Francisco

I’m going to be in Sacramento for work next month for 5 nights, and then I’m spending the night before I fly back to Ireland in San Francisco.

I’m going to be working Monday to Friday during the day in midtown Sacramento, and I’m staying at the Marriot Courtyard Sacramento Midtown .

I’m flying back from SFO on the Saturday at 16:45. I’m planning to leave Sacramento on Friday after work, say 5pm, and drive to San Francisco and stay overnight there.

So, I’m looking for cool things to do in the evenings during the week in Sacramento and for my night and half day in San Francisco.

I have been to San Francisco before, on vacation 16 years ago. I have seen a lot of the touristy things, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, ridden on the cable car, Haight-Ashbury, Chinatown, City Lights and general roaming around.

I’ve never been to Sacramento.

Things I like include twentieth century history, Jazz, wine, microbrews, books, shopping & good food
(I was going to put jazz, wine and beer first, but I thought I’d go with something classier!)

I suppose my specific questions are as follows:


[li] Are there any jazz Clubs in Sacramento that anyone could recommend midweek?[/li]
[li] Any restaurant/microbrewery recommendations for Sacramento[/li]
[li] Are there any vineyards or gold towns that could be visited from Sacramento after work during the week?[/li]
[li] Following from that, what time does it get dark at the start of March?[/li]
[li] Any other must sees/does in Sacramento?[/li][/ol]
San Francisco

[li]I am considering returning my rental car to the airport on the Friday and then getting a taxi to my hotel (which I haven’t booked yet, but somewhere downtown), so that I can then get a taxi from downtown straight to the terminal on the Saturday, meaning that I will have more time on the Saturday in SF. Is it easy to pick up a taxi to the airport downtown? How much approximately will it cost? and how long would it take?[/li]
[li]Anyone able to recommend a Jazz Club in San Francisco?[/li]
[li]Is there anywhere you could recommend to see or wander round on the Saturday morning from say 8am to 1pm? [/li]
[li]Alternatively, would I be mad to get up early on Saturday (6 or 7 am) and head out to the wine country, visit a vineyard and then drive back to the airport? Knowing that I won’t be abe to taste much (any) wine, is it worthwhile going to see the scenery and the wine making facilities?[/li]
[li]I’m planning to stay in the Hilton on Union Square or the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins on Nob Hill. Would either be better or does anyone have another recommendation. These are both approximately $120 p/n.[/li][/ol]

Now I know that’s a lot of questions, so please don’t feel you have to answer all of them, but if you could answer one or two I’d appreciate it.

If you’re in town after mid-March, you’ll have the benefit of an extra hour of daylight after work (DST starts on the 14th). You might be able to make it someplace in Gold Country (Auburn, maybe?) before it gets dark, depending on the traffic.

There are a couple of great museums right in town, but they aren’t open in the evening. The Railroad Museum closes at 5. The California Auto Museum is open until 6PM, but you have to get there by 5.

Rubicon and River City both have good food and good beer. If you like hoppy beers, try Rubicon’s Hop Sauce and River City’s Woodenhead. Hoppy Brewing’s Hoppy Face IPA is pretty solid too. I’ve never eaten at the brewpub though. Pyramid is decent, but I usually opt for the local spots rather than the chains.

I don’t think they are exactly open yet, and they are kind of secretive about where you can find the beer, but if you do find it, make sure to try something by Odanata Beer Company. My husband and I just got back from spending a week in San Francisco for Beer Week and our favorite beer overall was their Rosa sour followed by their Beersel sour. Their Water Witch was pretty interesting as well. In fact, I think I enjoyed every beer I tried of theirs. Good stuff.

The Firehouse in Old Sacramento has great food and a wine list (book) that will literally knock your socks off.

If you like trains, there is the California State Railroad Museum. I’m not a train guy and have never been, but a I know someone who is a train guy and he really likes it.

Plan to spend between $40-$50 to go from downtown SF to SFO. You may just want to take BART from downtown to SFO for less than $10.

Just a heads up: if you’re going to leave Sac at 5:00 PM on a Friday, don’t expect to arrive in San Francisco before 8:00 or 9:00.

I know nothing about Sacramento, and aside from horse shows have never visited.
For San Francisco, I second the suggestion to take BART unless you have lots of luggage. Cheaper and faster.

I’ve stayed at the Mark Hopkins right after 9/11 when it was very cheap, but there is a lot more to do around Union Square. I don’t think there is any way you can get to Napa and back in time, so scratch that idea (and the redwoods too.) If you like books, though, there are tons of excellent used book stores in walking distance from Union Square, but you need to check when they open - none do at 8am! If it interests you, the Cable Car Museum is not that far, and it is free. Golden Gate Park is not especially convenient to BART. Alamo Square has the famous painted ladies, which you can see from a nice park, and is not far from Japantown. When we go to town, we usually visit the Ferry Building which has lots of interesting food, and a farmer’s market too.

Don’t know anything about jazz clubs.

This is an excellent point. In fact, I would recommend checking out parking rates at the hotel, since driving from the Bay Bridge to 101 to the airport, returning the car, getting a shuttle to BART, taking BART, and walking or cabbing to the hotel will add an hour and a half to the trip if you’re lucky - and a cab from the airport won’t help much. On Friday evenings, at least, most traffic on 80 is going East.

BTW, Union Square is a lot closer to the BART than the Mark Hopkins.

The gold rush towns are about an hour to the east; more like an hour and a half if you leave Sacramento at 5:00 on a weekday. Unfortunately, they’ll also be pretty much closed in the evenings. Old Sacramento is probably your best bet for gold-rush-era stuff. A bit touristy, but accessible & open on weeknights.

The same is true of wineries, although some of them are south rather than east. On the other hand, you’ll have no problem at all finding a restaurant with good local wines available by the glass. There are a couple of places that specialize as wine bars - The L Wine Lounge and 58 Degrees & Holding are both in midtown.

Jazz is sadly rather hit-and-miss. No reliable clubs that I’m aware of, but you can always check the entertainment listings in the Sacramento Bee and you may find something of interest while you’re here.

Early March daylight should last you until about 6:30 or 7:00.

I’ve heard from a friend that Yoshi’s is one of the better jazz clubs in SF (there is also an Oakland location, which is the original club; it might host better shows.)

I would also check out the schedule for Cafe du Nord. The venue is great and they host pretty eclectic shows, although the one show I saw there wasn’t jazz.

As I think others have mentioned, it’s not possible to make it from SF to wine country and catch a late afternoon flight out of SFO.

My family had a good experience staying at the Westin St. Francis at Union Square. I don’t know anything about staying at the Mark Hopkins hotel, but the Top of the Mark restaurant and bar at that hotel has a fantastic view of the city skyline, particularly at night. They usually have live jazz on the weekends, although I think they host local artists. We were there on a weeknight; there was no live music, but were able to get a fantastic table with a panoramic view of the city, and we had drinks and appetizers rather than dinner.

From either Union Square or Nob Hill you can pretty easily walk through Chinatown and North Beach (the Italian neighborhood), as long as you’re OK with hills. You could even walk up to Coit Tower at the top of Telegraph Hill. Lots of stuff to see in these neighborhoods.