San Francisco – must dos?

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  • San Francisco – must dos?
  • DT78

    So looks like I need to be in SF for a couple of days in Sept. I’ll be on my own or maybe with a chap from work.

    What are the must dos?

    I have the option to extend the stay at my expense is it worth doing if you are on your own?

    Any must do rides in the region (on or off road)?

    Only been to NYC so not really seen much of the US


    See – Alcatraz (it’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s really cool if you’ve grown up seeing it in your favourite movies). Also, just wander around. It’s such a beautiful wee place and, like Manhattan, you can cover large areas in a day on foot.

    Eat – Gary Danko (my favourite restaurant in SF, been there loads and the evening has never been short of outstanding. Book now though.)

    Drink – my favourites are Rickhouse, Smuggler’s Cove, Zeitgeist and Beach Chalet down between the golden gate park and the ocean.

    Bike – I’ve said it before on here, but ragging a bike around the streets at 5am is incredible.


    I’ve been 4 times I think. I like:

    the Boozer in the Transamerica Building, there’s another near Russian Hill.
    Coit Tower
    Riding in Marin
    Haight/Ashbury is fun
    Eat Mexican
    Good views from Twin Peaks but I think you need your own transport
    Trolley Car museum.
    Anchor Steam brewery – we got wasted on the tour.

    Just hanging out drinking in the atmosphere, I worked in Noe Valley, nice wee area. A bike is perfect for getting around, it’s just fun riding down Lombard etc.

    Pier 38 is a pile of crock IMO.

    Alcatraz is OK, if I had 2 days I’m not sure I’d bother – though if I was there with work I’d add a few more days, hire bikes, do Marin etc.


    If you can stay for a few days on your own then do it.
    September is perfect weather for going up to Yosemite for a couple of days. Hike up Halfdome. Brilliant!

    Depending on what you like, a trip to the Napa Valley wine tasting takes some beating too. You can cycle up the Silverado trail and back down the main valley. Awesome!

    In SF, you need to walk around Chinatown.
    Marin Headland for some MTB


    Just remembered there’s some very good MTB on the hills east of Napa valley. Uplift too I think.


    I say it everytime go visit Roaring Mouse Cycles down on the Presidio 😆

    Some great road rides Sausolito Mill Valley area, the Mice can give you some good advice


    Careful with the hire car 🙂


    Gary Danko for dinner one night (you need to book exactly 2? months before, to the day) – chinatown another. Hire a bike and ride over the golden gate bridge, get the ferry back. A great place for a business meeting!

    Careful with the hire car

    Nah! Let’s go mental, it’s a rental!

    Chinatown is worth a stroll. Take the cable car along Hyde, very good.
    Irish coffee at the Buena Vista

    Breakfast in Marin is nice, too! Tiburon is lovely.


    Cycling along the San Andreas Fault – has to be done !!

    Premier Icon peteimpreza

    Roaring Mouse Cycles +1

    A seedy bath house.


    Bike ride to Golden Gate Bridge, then ride over the bridge, follow cycle path to Sausalito then catch the ferry back to San Francisco.
    Have a meal in Chinatown.
    Climb Coit Tower
    Trolley car ride, hanging on to the side if possible.
    Just enjoying the sounds, views and atmosphere of a great city.


    Go to the ‘Top of The Mark’ see here
    Nice martini/piano bar, at the top the Mark Intercontinental hotel. 360 degree view of the city, great place just to sit and have a drink and ogle at the city.

    Alcatraz should be seen. It’s touristy, but really quite chilling to approach via boat.

    Get down to Haight-Ashbury. There’s still hippies there from the 60’s. Great place to find a cool bar and sit and relax, usually live music on too. Look at the painted houses. Incredible music shop there called Amoeba Music if you like to buy records too.


    +1 for over the golden gate bridge, round the bay and back again on the ferry. There’s also the option to hang a left after the bridge and go up a big hill to get nice photos of the bridge, and the ferry back goes within a couple of hundred yards of Alcatraz if you’re curious but not bothered about actually setting foot there.

    Did that on a hired triple tandem with a couple of mates when I was a student, we got some funny looks that day 🙂

    Bike ride to Golden Gate Bridge, then ride over the bridge, follow cycle path to Sausalito then catch the ferry back to San Francisco.

    +1 but instead of just ferrying back, go further out through Sausalito to see of you can find the tidal model of the bay. it ws in some tourist leaflet i’d picked up and it was amazing. Not well advertised and not all that easy to find, but pretty amazing. Then ferry back


    Spend a day in SF itself, do Alcatraz (book well in advance), Chinatown, Lombard, Coit Tower, walk the streets, ride the trams.

    Rent a bike and ride out to Marin and up Mount Tam, the views are fantastic. IIRC the old railway gradient or something heads up that way. Take your pick of trails from there, take in Repack if you have time, Muir Woods is lovely and there’s a nice pub down near there for a spot of lunch. Ride back over and get the ferry back to the city.

    If you stay for longer then explore the peninsular or further afield. Santa Cruz isn’t far, there is some pretty good redwood forest on the way (Felton and surrounding area), some lovely roads for riding/driving, and lots of trailheads. IME the locals are all pretty friendly and happy to show you around (riding).

    Oh and the cable car museum. Not much there, just the engines that drive the cables but as a souvenir you can buy bits of old cable.
    that appeals to my inner geek


    Seriously, Yosemite – would be such a shame to be that close and not do it. Going to properly eat into your time but I did two weeks in San Francisco back in 2002 and aside from generally being a fantastic city, my main memory is the 2 night stay in Yosemite.

    Alcatraz was cool, Golden Gate has to be done, did a walk up in Marin. Make sure you ride the cable cars 🙂


    We went for a trip napa, there’s an old faithful geyser there that no one cares about, me and the wife were the only ones there, it was pretty spectacular.

    I enjoyed buying a ridiculously huge slice of pizza from a dodgy takeaway and Chrissy fields is lovely.

    Premier Icon DaveRambo

    We spent a week there last summer and everything we did was great.

    I took a day to hire a bike and ride over the GGB to Marin county – must do
    We ate mexican – Amazing
    We visited the museums and galleries – equally good if that’s your thing.
    The bars were good
    Cheesecake factory in Macy’s
    Riding on a cable car
    Night trip to Alcatraz was far better than we were all expecting and a bit of a highlight.

    We did quite a lot in a week but also ‘hung out’ and just wandered about which was brilliant.

    I’m jealous and enjoy.


    Get messed up in the bars round Valencia and 18th, Bike the Golden Gate Bridge, watch a band at the Chapel, chill on the beach, visit the museums at the Golden Gate Park and go for a stroll.

    It’s a great place just to relax and eat good food.


    Twin Peaks is worth a stop, good panaromic view of the city from there, I walked there from the “mission” area and was lucky it was quiet when I went, there’s probably a closer bus/BART stop though

    Berkeley, if you have time, go there on the BART

    Premier Icon Stoner

    San Francisco – must dos?

    There was this girl from San Mateo and…..well, highly recommended.


    Clam Chowder in a sourdough bun from fishermans wharf is a great snack.

    Go for a wander around china town backstreets, not the tourist bits but the proper back streets. We found a fantastic dim sum cafe that we were the only westerners in there, the servers all pushed trollies with the dim sum on and nobody spoke any english, the best chinese meal i have ever eaten and we spent $15 for lunch for 2.

    Theres also an amazing korean restaurant opposite the Phoenux hotel, but dont walk through the Tenderloin to get there.


    You need to have the ‘bush man’ jump on you when you are at unawares!

    Premier Icon nach

    cynic-al is right about the piers, they’re a horrible touristy old crock with adverts shouting at you from every surface, but hidden among them are:
    Musée Mécanique, full of weird old arcade machines.
    Segway tours by Electric Tour Company, who make you wear hi-vis and a helmet, but it’s totally worth it just to mess around on a Segway if you’ve never ridden one before. Much more fun with friends obv.

    If you find yourself near 9th and Irving (Near east end of Golden Gate Park), Arizmendis is one of the best bakeries I’ve ever been to.

    The Sycamore in The Mission does pork belly donuts. Deep fried, battered pork belly filled with maple syrup. You can basically feel your arteries clogging up as you eat them (Slightly dodgy neighbourhood around 16th and Mission though; not as dodgy as Tenderloin).

    If you like architecture: Coit Tower (Telegraph Hill, which it’s on top of, is well worth wandering around too. Most of the roads marked on google maps are wooden boardwalks through the trees, which have parrots in them), Palace of Fine Arts, Embarcadero Center, De Young Museum (Has a good observation tower, some free exhibitions, excellent sculptures in the grounds, and a permissive photography policy in most galleries).

    If you like nature or science: The California Academy of Sciences (opposite De Young) has a living rainforest habitat with lots of non-native species.

    If you get tired wandering about near Market, Yerba Buena Gardens is a nice spot to relax.

    Marin does have some spectacular views. Repack Road’s just up near Fairfax too 🙂


    He, I went to Muse Mechanique, near Seal Rock, yeah? It was cool.


    @ mamadirt – Adnams now distribute Lagunitas in the UK, on draught at the Pelt Trader in Cannon St, yum.


    another +1 for roaringmousecycles – owner chris is a Brit and an old school friend and will sort out any biking for you, rentals/routes/spares.

    Marin is a must for biking, i dont think its the most exciting but its kinda a aplce you have to go to at least once. I’d also recommend finding Boy Scout, a fab trail. Chris will also give you a map of the streets and a route to take around the city, it’ll put you up some steep hills and down some fab ones. It will tire you out.

    If you have time, go and ride Downieville/Toads, biut thats a car / overnight camp.

    Tourist wise, Alcatraz is a must see and I’d also say Haight is definitely worth a walk around. Skip the pier defo, like Disneyland. but while you wait for the ferry to Alcatraz wonder around and see the seals off that pier.

    Enjoy, its the best USA city.


    So much love for the Mice 😆

    Premier Icon Lifer

    +1 for Yosemite, so beautiful, if dates match up it’s hard to beat Green Tortoise:

    Really good fun and pick up/drop off in SF.


    Thanks of al the great suggestions guys loads for me to look at, especially like the idea of the guided tour of Yosemite as I will be on my own


    @ mamadirt – Adnams now distribute Lagunitas in the UK, on draught at the Pelt Trader in Cannon St, yum.

    Ooooooh! Cheers rewski! Love the stuff 😛

    wanders off to google

    Premier Icon nach

    He, I went to Muse Mechanique, near Seal Rock, yeah? It was cool.

    I don’t know seal rock, but it’s also not far from Ghiradeli square IIRC. It has some really cool old pinball machines, as well as some early arcade cabs and really weird old mechanical stuff. The guy who runs it whizzes around on rollerskates fixing things.

    Premier Icon iain1775

    Extend your visit at your own expense?

    Hell yes don’t ever come back, emigrate, awesome place
    As for rides in the area, are you aware of the origins of Mountain biking?
    Maybe not as free as it was back them bit still plenty to explore

    Repack Rider

    Marin County, Cali

    I see a lot of the regular touristy diversions listed above. It’s hard to get bad Mexican food in California. Haggis is harder to find.

    The bikes for hire in SF that you can ride across the bridge for the ferry ride back, are as ordinary as bikes can get. The maps are also terrible. Still, it’s hugely popular, and a drive across the GG Bridge on a sunny weekend will see several dozen inept riders on the bridge at any given time.

    If you get a chance, Fairfax is 20 miles north of the bridge. It’s Ground Zero for mountain biking, the site of the first races that started the sport, a town monument to mountain biking, a bicycle museum, two mountain biker pubs, and private singletrack, with a DH pump track at the Tamarancho Boy Scout camp. If your timing is right, you might hit on the weekend when one of the bike demo trailers arrives. Otherwise, hire a bike at one of several local shops.


    Midlothian, Scotland.

    Fairfax is a great town with brilliant riding. Well worth the trip for a day or 2 if you CBA.

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