Sunday afternoon in San Francisco

I’ll be in San Fran the afternoon of June 26 and staying at the Coventry Motor Inn on Lombard street. I’ll have my 17 year old daughter with me and plan to do a little sightseeing. A few questions:

What would be good to visit in an afternoon? Preferably within walking distance of the hotel. I was thinking Coit Tower, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf.
Any areas we should avoid?
Anyone have any familiarity with that hotel?
We need to get to UC Berkeley by 9:30 the next morning. I thought leaving an hour or so to get there would be sufficient. I know San Fran traffic is horrendous, so is that enough time?


Exploratorium fer sure! Especially if you and your kid haven’t seen it before.

Not sure if it’s exactly in walking distance, but it’s not far.

ETA: Will you be trying to drive yourself to Berkeley, or taking BART? There’s a BART station very close to the campus.

We’ll be driving over to Berkeley. We go from there to Standford in the afternoon for to see that campus.

The San Francisco Pride Parade and Celebration is on the 26th. The parade runs from roughly Main to 8th Street down Market, and the post-parade festival near City Hall fills several blocks. The parade makes crossing (or getting anywhere near) Market St by car impossible from roughly 9 AM to 4 or 5 PM. The Market St BART and Muni stations will be accessible by walking to/from them, but you will need to thread your way through tens of thousands of people. I do the parade and skip the fest.

Google Maps does say it’s about an hour from the hotel to UC Berkeley at that time of day, but I’m suspicious of that as you’re not familiar with the area, so the chances of making a wrong turn are higher than typical, and the traffic here is very fragile. All it takes is one fender-bender or even just someone changing a flat on the shoulder for everyone to slow down and rubberneck. I’d plan on at least an hour and a half for traffic (and don’t forget about some time to find parking). Planning two hours wouldn’t be stupid - you’d probably rather be unhurried and have some time to kill before the appointment at a coffee shop at the college than to be stressed due to running 15 minutes late. At least I’d prefer to be early. :cool:

Continuing on to Stanford will be about an hour and a half without traffic, give or take some depending on exactly where you’re going and finding parking.

So you have an idea of how bad traffic can be, take a look at tomorrow between 7:30 and 9:00 AM…

It is possible to walk from your hotel to the places you’ve named. Keep in mind that San Francisco is hilly, so it’s possible to wear yourself out. For example, the famous twisty block of Lombard Street is fairly steep.

If you do decide to go to Coit Tower, you will probably want to see some of the North Beach neighborhood. A lot of it is on Columbus Avenue. There are some great Italian coffee and pastry shops around there, including Caffe Greco and Caffe Trieste.

If you go to Fisherman’s Wharf, check out Musee Mecanique. It houses a great collection of antique mechanical games and carnival attractions. Admission is free, although you have to pay to play the games.

If you visit Pier 39, be sure to visit the sea lions that bask in the sun there.

If you’re a foodie, be sure to visit the Ferry Building Marketplace. Google Maps says it’s about an hour’s walk from your hotel.

I agree with gotpasswords that the Pride Parade will cause traffic problems. One thing you can do is take the long way around - instead of using the Bay Bridge, take the Golden Gate Bridge and the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge to the east bay.

Don’t try to find street parking in Berkeley. Park in a lot near campus - if you’re going to start your tour in Sproul Plaza, you can use the lot near Telegraph Ave. that occupies the block between Durant Ave. and Channing Way.

Just to clarify, the parade and festival are on Sunday. Going the long way around on the Golden Gate may indeed be a useful way to reach the East Bay on Sunday, if you want to leave the city, but really, Lombard to Van Ness down to 80 should be OK, just expect delays around City Hall. Your GPS will probably try to turn you right into the middle of the fest - stay on Van Ness, cross Market, continue about four blocks on South Van Ness and get onto the freeway.

I would not recommend taking the long way around on Monday morning, as that would dump you into 80 southbound between Richmond and the Bay Bridge, a drive that I would characterize as “Oh HELL no!”

I would consider taking BART to Berkeley anyway. Parking around the UC campus is very limited.

Stanford is on the other side of the Bay (the San Francisco side), so going back to the city and taking your car to Palo Alto from there might make more sense.

Looks like you are going to be only a couple blocks from Fort Mason, the Maritime Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, etc. All walking distance. The Wharf area is right from Fort Mason, and is a crowded tourism mecca, but if you go left from Fort Mason, it is a bit more scenic and low-key as you head toward Chrissy Field - lovely views of the Bridge if it is clear - a nice afternoon walk. Bring a jacket.

You said you will be in SF on Sunday, and then going to Berkeley Monday, right? If so, traffic is definitely heavy, but keep in mind weekday mornings most people are going from the East Bay INTO SF - you would be going the opposite direction. Nevertheless, allowing 90 mins would be prudent.

Edit: Oh, and please don’t call it San Fran - It is always San Francisco. :slight_smile:

I could have SWORN that there used to be an on-ramp onto 80 (actually, I think it’s onto 101) at the foot of Gough. Or maybe it was at the foot of Laguna? I’ve got it etched into my mind that I used to drive that way, back in the 1970’s or so. But now, there doesn’t seem to be any such ramp. Has the whole freeway configuration been re-built in that area? (Perhaps since the Loma Prieta earthquake?)

Anyway, Jeff Lichtman suggested above that you might actually walk all the way from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Ferry Building, if you’re up for an hour’s walk. I’ll add that the Exploratorium (that I mentioned above) is along that route.

DO NOT leave valuables in your car.


As long as you’re heading towards north beach, make a stop at Ghirardelli Square and pick up some chocolate, or get a gigantic ice cream sundae.

If you’re going to see Coit Tower, take the time to walk down the steps on the eastern side of Telegraph Hill. It’s rather surreal to see tall, steep cliffs in the middle of a city, and you may see some wild parrots.

Fisherman’s Wharf is mostly a tourist trap, but the aquarium there is quite good, worth checking out if you’re into that.

We plan to hit Monterey Aquarium on Tuesday, so I don’t know if we’ll want to go to the one in San Francisco as well.

We are coming in from the North and right now the directions say to take Golden Gate into San Francisco. I’ll have to check the traffic tomorrow to see how hard it will be to go from downtown to Berkeley. I suppose I could try to figure out Bart, but that seems like a hassle.

Yeah, you’re right. Taking that route during commute time would be awful. My mistake.

I agree that if you’re going to the Monterey Aquarium you shouldn’t bother with the one at Fisherman’s Wharf. I’d suggest that you get an early start on Tuesday - Monterey is a couple of hours drive from San Francisco, and you’ll want to spend at least four hours at the aquarium (it’s that good).

One possible route for your walking tour is to head down to Fort Mason, and then follow the waterfront to The Embarcadero. You can walk along The Embarcadero as far as you like, then head inland and make your way back along Columbus Avenue to Lombard Street. This will take you past many of the spots that have already been mentioned: Ghirardelli Square, Musee Mecanique, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Ferry Building (if you feel like going that far), Coit Tower and the crooked part of Lombard.

Doesn’t matter what else you do, never ever again refer to our city as San Fran.

I’d recommend skipping all the walking and getting out on the water. Find a boat trip - ferry, catamaran, speed boat, or anything and head out on to the bay.

Barring that if you are up for a healthy walk, leave your motel and cross Lombard heading North. Walk one block up Buchanan to Chestnut and then take a right on Fillmore. Walk to Marina. If you want to head towards the bridge (west), you are about 1.5 hours at a slow pace from Ft Point (the foot of the south end of the Golden Gate bridge). Alternatively, turn right (east) and walk along Marina turning right on Laguna and left on Bay. If you want to check out Ft Mason you can but I think it is skippable - lots of small theaters and “spaces” and a great art store but nothing super tourist friendly. If you were a hipster I’d recommend going into The Interval but if your kid is just entering college then no.

So stay on Bay 5 blocks (heading east at this point) until Polk, when you take a left, walk downhill 2 blocks and take a right on Beach. Walk up beach a few block until Taylor. At this point you have a decision. Do you want to check out Fisherman’s Wharf or do you want to ride a cable car? If Fisherman’s wharf, take a left (north). If Cable Car take a right (south). Either way about now is a good time to either buy lunch or eat the lunch you have in your backpack.

I’d choose cable car, but that’s me. If you do, line up, pay your money and enjoy your ride over the hill to Market Street, where you can see our world-famous homeless population and shop at F21 and the like.

If you go towards Fishermans Wharf check out Pier 39 (and think again about that boat trip), and eat if you didn’t already then walk along the Embarcadero to Powell where you take a right (south) and then walk up Powell to Lombard. Another decision point - Coit tower or Crookedest street? Tower to your left up Lombard, Crooked to your right, each several blocks away. Either way be prepared for hills.

At this point, you are exhausted from walking, so call an Uber which you cleverly already downloaded onto your phone because someone you know told you it’s impossible to hail a cab in SF. Give them your motel’s address and thankfully let them take you back.

Good luck, have fun, and wear layers.

Another option is to head west and check out Fort Mason, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Presidio, Walt Disney Museum and Golden Gate Bridge. You can rent bikes at the Marina and it’s a fine bike tour. The Walt Disney museum is an underrated attraction in the city and if you’re interested in the history of film and animation, it’s a great spot to see.

LOTS of layers.
I dunno ‘bout June…but when I was there in August, I frickin’ froze to death.
Nice, warm and sunny in the afternoon, and then…very, very UN-warm in the evening.

Monterey Bay Aquarium makes pretty much any other aquarium look like a mason jar with guppies by comparison. As noted above, between drive time and gawking at all the fish, kelp forest, jellies, otters, penguins, etc, you could easily fill a full day.

If you haven’t already done so, look at getting a CityPASS, if you’re thinking of doing multiple attractions like the Monterey Aquarium, Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, a sightseeing cruise on the bay and riding around on Muni.

Forget about Alcatraz - their site is showing the first available tour time isn’t until July 11. Yes, it’s that popular, and yes, it books up that fast.

Can I type it as SF and say San Francisco in my head?

Good tip about the boat tour. I’ll check them out. Seems like an interesting way to see things.

Thanks for the very detailed walking plans, too. I checked out the route on a map and it looks like a great way to see the area. We’ll have had a very long day of driving so I’m not sure if we’ll be up for walking or not. But it nice to have a plan. Good idea about uber, too. I hadn’t thought of that.

My brother was once in the San Francisco area and decided to attend a Giants baseball game. He and his wife headed in for the evening game in t-shirts and shorts, and wondered what the people bringing in parkas and heavy coats were doing. They found out around the 7th inning. Great tip about the layers.

Hey, cmosdes, how was the trip? What did you see and do?