The best things to do in San Francisco for an amazing trip.

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A Full Week to Enjoy San Francisco’s Parks: The Perfect Trip

September 2nd, 2013 · Activities

For a city that’s less than 50 square miles in size, San Francisco has a surprising amount of space dedicated to public parks. In addition to the amazing pleasures you’ll find in the famous Golden Gate Park, you can discover treasures in parks here ranging from remote hiking areas to tiny temporary parklets. This itinerary offers you the opportunity to explore all of these gems in a one-week parks-oriented vacation in San Francisco.

Sunday: Golden Gate Park

Start your week with a visit to the famous Golden Gate Park. With tons to see, you’ll get a good start to your trip when you begin it with a full day spent here. It offers museums, indoor and outdoor gardens, windmills, sports centers and more. And of course it also offers plenty of regular park space to just walk around and enjoy.

A day spent in Golden Gate Park gives you the opportunity to check many of the city’s top attractions off of your list. Those include the California Academy of Sciences, De Young Museum, the local Botanical Gardens and aroboretum, the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Gardens.

Would you rather explore the parts of the park that are a bit more off-the-beaten-path? The bison paddock, the AIDS Memorial Grove and The South Windmill are all great less-traveled spots in this park. Learn more about all of these places and other options from our main article on Golden Gate Park:.

Here are five top tips for your day at Golden Gate Park

  1. Plan ahead. There is a lot to see in this park and you can’t actually get it all done in one day.
  2. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The park is more than 1000 acres in size and stretches across about forty blocks of the city so you will be getting your exercise as you explore!
  3. Consider alternative transportation. Check out San Francisco bike rentals in the park.
  4. Dress in layers. The temperatures will vary throughout the day and can change from one part of the park to another. Bring a sweater or jacket.
  5. Print out a Golden Gate Park map to take with you. The park has maps here and there but they aren’t regularly posted or easy to find so it’s smart to have one with you if you aren’t familiar with the layout of the park.

Monday: The Parks of the Mission

Every neighborhood in San Francisco seems to have at least one park to its name but The Mission is a special place when it comes to parks. This neighborhood offers a range of parks from the popular large Dolores Park to the small parklets lining busy streets. A day spent exploring the parks of The Mission will give you a lot of insight into not only the neighborhood but the city’s whole breadth of park styles.

Start your day Dolores Park. This park, located between 18th and 20th Streets and between Dolores and Church Streets, sits right on the border between The Mission and The Castro neighborhoods. It is usually one of the sunniest spots in the city and so it’s a great place to get out and enjoy a nice day in San Francisco. With stunning views of the city skyline it’s great for visitors as well as locals.

Some of the things that you might enjoy at Dolores Park:

  • A relatively new and impressive children’s playground
  • Courts for tennis and basketball
  • Soccer field
  • Ample space for picnics, Frisbee games and other park activities
  • Various seasonal and holiday activities; check out the festivities on Easter Day for example

In addition to visiting Dolores Park, some of the other parks to check out in The Mission include:

  • 24th St Mini Park. Mini parks are popular in San Francisco. They turn abandoned corners into beautiful little spots where kids can play. This mini-park, found at the corner of 24th and York, has bouncy rubber floors under the kids’ play area for safety. It also features beautiful local artwork including a mosaic snake sculpture called Quetzalcoatl.
  • Fallen Bridge Mini-Park. Here’s another mini-park option and one with an interesting history dating back to the 1970s. Find it under the freeway at 18th and Utah.
  • Garfield Square Park. This San Francisco park is home to a clubhouse with a pool, which is pretty rare here in San Francisco. It also has areas for barbecuing, which makes it popular for various celebrations. It is particularly known for Day of the Dead celebrations.
  • Franklin Square Park. Located at 16th and Bryant, this 5-acre park has been designed with kids of all ages in mind. It is home to one of the favorite playgrounds in the city and is also a popular spot for playing soccer.
  • Jose Coronado Playground. If you’re looking for a place to play sports then check out this small park, which has blacktop soccer and baseball as well as a basketball court and tennis court. Plus there is the playground of course. It’s locate dat Folsom and 21st.
  • Parque Ninos Unidos. Want to check out a newer park in The Mission? Parque Ninos Unidos at 23rd St and Treat was recently built with a clubhouse, lawns, gazebos, a community gardening and a gated-and-fenced play area.
  • Seward Street Slides. Not just for kids! Bring a piece of loose cardboard to slide down these concrete slides in the tiny tree-lined park located at the corner of Seward St. and Douglass St. Technically this is in Castro neighborhood but it’s close enough to make it park of your Mission parks day.
  • La Raza Skatepark. This urban skatepark is located at 25th and Utah. It’s a great spot if you love skateboarding. Kids are welcome but parents be forewarned that this area can get a little sketchy so you’ll want to stay and supervise your kids there just in case.
  • Parklets. San Francisco recently implemented a program called Pavement to Parks, which turns small areas right on main streets into little public parks. They’re located next to businesses but are open for anyone to use, no purchases necessary. Each parklet has a different style to it so it’s fun to find as many as you can. Many of them are located in The Mission; just walk down Valencia Street to start finding them.

Tuesday: Hiking Day

Put your hiking shoes on for the day, enjoy some exercise and experience some history all while enjoying beautiful ocean views!

Start your day by heading out to Ocean Beach, one of San Francisco’s best beaches. Located at the West end of this beach you’ll find The Cliff House restaurant alongside the historic Sutro Baths Ruins. Take a moment to soak in the beauty of the ocean waves crashing against the shore there as you get ready for your hike.

Before you start hiking, check out Sutro Heights Park. This 22-acre park was the home of Adolf Sutro for whom the baths were named. It has views of the historic Cliff House and the ocean. It once had beautiful gardens and statues. It’s no longer the monument it used to be but is still a great park to visit while you’re in the area. From here, head over to the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center on Point Lobos Avenue, a new visitor’s center with lots of information to help you along your trek.

Ready to hike? Head West on the Lands End trail, where you’ll have the chance to continue enjoying stunning ocean views. Keep your eye out for things bobbing in the water. If they’re moving, then they’re probably sea lions (although dolphins and sharks can also occasionally be spotted here). If they seem to be staying in one place then you might be looking at the buried remnants of the many ships that wrecked along the coast long ago.

As you walk you’ll come across the USS San Francisco Memorial. Stop here to see the statue and learn a little bit about the history here. You can detour off of Lands End Trail if you’d like and do a loop to Eagle Point Labyrinth, for some unique views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The loop will take you right back to Lands End Trail and you can continue on. At this point you’ll be located close to the Legion of Honor Museum so you might want to stop there. Even if you decide not to check out the art at the museum, it’s worth it to see the architecture of the building. Then you can continue on Lands End Trail all the way to its Western End, which is Eagles Point. When you get here you’ll be at approximately 33rd Avenue and Lincoln Highway.

If you’re ready to keep walking your next stop will be China Beach Park. This is a small park set in a cove. It has beach access and areas for picnics, making it a great place to have lunch. From here you can walk along the coast to Baker Beach. Be forewarned that a portion of this beach is considered clothing-optional.

Now that you’re at Baker Beach, you’re officially on the edge of The Presidio. There is a lot of beautiful parkland to enjoy here but you probably won’t have enough time to do it all today. For this part of the hiking trek we recommend sticking to the coast or walking along Lincoln Boulevard towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Check out Historic Foint Point. Enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge visitor’s center. If you aren’t completely exhausted by this time, you can finish your hike with an ambitious walk across The Golden Gate Bridge. When you get to the other side you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the San Francisco city skyline. Enjoy!

Wednesday: Presidio and Maritime National Historical Park 

Since you started to see The Presidio yesterday but barely got a glimpse of it on your hike let’s give it a little bit more time and attention. This home to historic army barracks is filled with trees and other beautiful nature that a park lover will enjoy. Some of the things that you will want to check out during your trek through this neighborhood include:

The Presidio has about 25 miles of hiking trails; the visitors’ center can point you in the right direction. If you’re dealing with bad weather and want to be indoors, The Presidio has some good options for you to consider. If you still want to be active check out the rock climbing gym or House of Air, located next to each other. If you’re feeling a little less active, enjoy a visit to The Walt Disney Museum. Just outside of the Presidio you’ll find The Palace of Fine Arts, offering beautiful sculptural architecture and a grassy area surrounding a lake.

If you’re up for some more hiking then a nice choice is to walk along Marina Blvd. This will take you past Marina Green and Fort Mason, through more beautiful coastal parklands all the way towards Ghirardelli Square. You can spend the rest of your day in this spot rich in tourist attractions including Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. While you’re in this area, you’ll also want to check out Maritime National Historical Park. See the historic ships here, at Hyde Street Pier and at the USS Pampanito Submarine Museum.

Thursday: Back to Nature 

There are several parks located inside of San Francisco city limits that you feel remote. It’s as though you’ve truly gone into nature even though you can easily get to them using public transportation. Enjoy one or more of these parks today.

  • Mount Davidson. San Francisco is a city of hills and this one doesn’t seem too special at first glance but it holds some secrets. First of all, it’s the highest natural point in San Francisco. Second, it’s located really close to the geographical center of the city, affording some great 360-degree views. And finally, it is home to a massive 100+-foot-tall historic cross; you have to see it to believe it. There are short hiking trails here.
  • Glen Canyon Park. This 70-acre city park has everything you could want from playgrounds and rec centers on the edges to the more remote internal trails loved by hikers as well as rock climbers. A popular feature is Islais Creek, which flows for about a mile through the canyon. Keep your eyes out for hawks, coyotes and other wildlife here.
  • Twin Peaks. These two peaks, located not far from Mount Davidson, offer a popular opportunity to see great views of the city. Other than the tourist traffic, this place feels remote because you’re so high up away from the bustle down below. Be aware that even on a nice day it’s going to be terrifically windy up here!
  • Mt. Sutro Open Space Preserve. This is a 60+ acre undeveloped hilly area owned by UCSF and located near the center of the city. It Is open to the public and is home to the beautiful Sutro Forest, made up mostly of eucalyptus trees. You can enjoy hiking and biking trails here. You might also want to check out the Rotary Meadow, a garden of native plants that also has a view of the forest.

Of course if you actually do want to get out of the city and into nature you could also do a day trip to surrounding Bay Area parks. Muir Woods in the North Bay, Tilden Park in Berkeley and Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the South Bay are all great day trips.

Friday: Parks that Locals Love 

Getting tired yet? Today’s a good day to enjoy some of the city’s smaller parks besides those that you’ve already visited in The Mission. Every neighborhood has a park to love so you have a lot of different options. Here are some of your choices:

  • Take the City Guides SF Public Walking Tour called City Scapes and Public Places. It’s offered free most Fridays and gives you a chance to explore the Financial District’s hidden public parks and rooftop gardens.
  • Do a tour of the city’s waterfront parks. Explore the parks located along the South Bay of the city. You can start anywhere along The Embarcadero and head south towards AT&T Park until you reach approximately Pier 90. Some of the parks you’ll find along the water include Bay Front Park, Warm Water Cove Park, Heron’s Head Park and India Basin Shoreline Park. From here you can head to Candlestick Point, a waterfront park in the Bayview neighborhood. This neighborhood is up-and-coming and can be considered sketchy so keep your eyes open but the park is a popular State Recreation Area.
  • Pac Heights Parks. The Pacific Heights neighborhood is bordered by Van Ness and Lyon Streets and Green and California Streets. If you add in the lower Pacific Heights neighborhood it stretches down to Geary Street. This neighborhood is one of the neighborhoods rich in unique city parks including parks popular with families and dogs. Check out Lafayette Park and Alta Plaza Park, which are both large parks that have terrific views of the Bay (and sometimes even Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge). You may also want to visit Allyne Park (a small corner park with beautiful plant life), Hamtilon Rec Center (which has a playground, pool, soccer fields and library), Cottage Row mini-park (bordered by historic houses pre-dating the 1906 earthquake) and Raymond Kimbell Playground / Park. If you’re visiting this neighborhood it’s also worth it to hike the Lyon Street Steps, a plant-lined staircase at Lyon and Broadway with beautiful views.
  • Washington Square Park. This is a popular neighborhood park in the North Beach neighborhood. It’s located right next to St. Peter and Paul Church, made famous in part because it’s where Marilyn Monroe took her wedding photographs when she married Joe DiMaggio. This park is frequently home to music festivals during the summer months. On any given day it’s a great place to take some gelato, a picnic blanket and a good book. 

Saturday: The Catch-All Day

What do you feel like you’ve missed even after six days rich in San Francisco Park explorations? There remain many options for you to check out on your last day in the city. Here are some top choices:

  • Stern Grove. Many locals know about this beautiful 30+-acre park because of the popular free summer concerts held here each year. It’s a great park all year round, though, with lovely trees, a dog park section, playgrounds, places to play sports and more. It is home to Pine Lake.
  • Lincoln Park. You’ve actually already seen this park if you’ve been following this itinerary but there’s more to see than what you might have noticed the first time around. This is a 100-acre park located off of Lands End and is the home to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. It is also home to an 18-hole San Francisco golf course.  Check out the Children’s Theatre Association, the small playground area and The Holocaust Memorial as well.
  • Corona Heights, Buena Vista and The Panhandle. Take the MUNI to the Castro Street Station and you’ll find yourself right near Corona Heights Park. This park has huge views atop an earthy hill. From here make a stop at Buena Vista Park, the oldest official park in the city. Then you can head to the popular Panhandle, a stretch of park area located between Fell and Oak Street near Masonic.
  • Pioneer Park. Many locals don’t actually know that this is the name of the park at the top of Telegraph Hill. It is a small park but it’s rich in things to see. It is home to Coit Tower. Enter for free to see the historic murals made during the WPA era. For a small fee you can go to the top of the tower and enjoy terrific hilltop views. Surrounding the tower you’ll find historic statues and a small grassy area. From here you may want to walk down the Filbert Steps, which trek past many historic homes filled with wild outdoor gardens. Keep your ears open; this park is home to the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.


Enjoy your week of back-to-back park visits when you follow this week-long itinerary. Alternatively, bookmark it and use it as a guide whenever you get in the mood to check out another local park. San Francisco is rich with them.

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Strangest Laws in San Francisco

September 2nd, 2013 · news

Did you know that some San Francisco residents have the legal right to keep a miniature horse in their apartment and take it with them to places like City Hall and the public health clinic? We wanted to explore more about this and some of San Francisco’s other strange laws. We combed through the written laws and found those that made us raise an eyebrow. Now we know that we could be in serious trouble if we sell watercress grown near a sewer or clean our spittoon in the street.

San Francisco’s Strangest Laws on the Books

Unless there’s a link showing otherwise, all of the laws that we’re highlighting in this section are current San Francisco ordinances found on the American Legal website.

  • If you live in San Francisco, you must recycle. The San Francisco Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance (No. 100-09) says that you are legally required to sort your recyclables, compostables and trash. This is not just a suggestion, it’s a law.
  • You can’t sell watercress that’s been grown near a sewer. “No person shall gather, or sell, or offer for sale, or keep for sale, or give, or distribute, or otherwise dispose of any watercress, or any other edible herb or vegetable which has been, or is, or may be, growing within 1,000 feet of any sewer outlet, or any cesspool or any other place where stagnant water, or seepage, or other drainage, or any offensive matter, or any matter dangerous to health has, or may be accumulated.”
  • If you want to be naked in public then you have to get a parade permit. This is thanks to a controversial nudity ban that went into effect on February 1, 2013. Prior to that you could be naked in public if you so desired but you were required to sit on a towel if you were sitting on a public seat or bench.
  • It is illegal to walk nine or more dogs at once. This is part of a new 2013 law that places a variety of limitations on dog walkers.
  • You can’t clean your spittoon on the street. “No cuspidors, spittoons, tubs or other such articles shall be washed, cleaned or emptied on any public streets, sidewalks or alleyways in this City and County.”
  • It is illegal to sell or distribute ground squirrels.There are a lot of rules about the types and number of animals that you are allowed to own in San Francisco but section 103 of the health code is specifically all about making it illegal to sell or distribute ground squirrels.
  • You can’t carry manure through the streets. “It shall be unlawful for any person … to transport manure or stable refuse through the public streets …” There’s a lot more to the law than this but basically you need a permit to transport manure or other garbage from stables through San Francisco.
  • It is illegal to play ball in the street. “It shall be unlawful for any person to play at or participate in any game of ball on any public street or highway.” Keep those kickball games in the parks kids.
  • It is illegal to carry bread in an open basket through the streets. “It shall be unlawful for any person, company or corporation to carry, transport or convey, or to cause to be carried, transported or conveyed through the public streets in open baskets or exposed containers, or vehicles or otherwise, any bread, cakes or pastry intended for human consumption.” There won’t be any skipping through San Francisco with your bread basket here Little Red.
  • You have to ask permission before pointing a laser pointer into a moving car. “It shall be unlawful for any person to direct intentionally the beam from a Laser Pointer into a moving vehicle or onto another person without such person’s prior knowledge and consent.” You may not, however, point a laser pointer in a movie theater or other public space even with permission. Cars okay, with consent, theaters not okay. Got it?
  • You may not use feces to grow vegetables. That seems like a pretty reasonable law. “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to use human discharges or excrement, or any water containing any human discharges or excrement, or the waters of any well, spring, pond or creek, which receives the discharges of any sewer or drain, or which by any means whatever has become polluted with sewage discharges, for the purpose of irrigating or sprinkling vegetables used for human consumption.”
  • Don’t fill balloons with explosive gas. “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to use, sell or possess any balloon inflated with inflammable or explosive gases.”
  • It is illegal to sell mule meat. Mule meat and horse meat explicitly cannot be sold for human consumption in San Francisco. Thankfully.
  • Keep your lumber piles shorter than 35 feet tall. “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to place or pile, or cause to be placed or piled, any lumber or timber to a greater height than 35 feet measured vertically from the general level of the ground on which it is placed or piled.” A 30 foot tall pile of lumber in the city doesn’t really sound like a good idea but apparently it’s not illegal.
  • It’s illegal to go into a public toilet with another adult. “It shall be unlawful for more than one person over the age of thirteen (13) years old to enter or remain in an automatic public toilet at one time, unless the person using the automatic public toilet has a disability that causes the person to require assistance, in which case the person’s assistants may enter and remain in an automatic public toilet with the disabled person.” Keep your bathroom activities solo people.
  • Keep your bodily waste to yourself. “It shall be unlawful for any person to deposit or cause to be deposited any human urine or feces upon any public or private highway or road, including any portion of the right-of-way thereof, or in or upon any private property into or upon which the public is admitted by easement or license, or upon any private property without the consent of the owner, or in or upon any public property other than property designated or set aside for that purpose.” If you read that carefully it seems to imply that you can put your human waste on private property if you do get the consent of the owner, though.
  • No Ker Chew! “It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, give away or in any manner to distribute within the City and County of San Francisco any “ker chew powders,” “stink balls,” or similar substances designed to give offense to the senses.”
  • You can’t ride a horse while drunk. Well, maybe you can, but it’s against the law if you do.
  • It is illegal to injure lampposts. “It shall be unlawful for any person to hitch or fasten any animal to, or to place any placard or notice upon, or in anywise to injure any lamp post or hydrant, or any growing tree, upon any public street, or, without authority, to extinguish any public light. This Section shall not prohibit any person from fastening any dog on a leash to any lamp post, hydrant or growing tree.”
  • You may not own a slingshot.  “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to buy, sell, offer or expose for sale, barter, exchange, use or have the possession of any sling shot or metal knuckles.”
  • Dead bodies can’t be displayed for profit … unless the dead person said it was okay. “It shall be unlawful to display to the public all or part of a dead human body or bodies for consideration or commercial purposes without valid written authorization from the deceased, which consent may be given in the last will of the deceased.” 

Strange San Francisco Laws that May or May Not Be Current 

If you do a web search for strange San Francisco laws, you will find that there are a lot of old ones that were on the books at one time or another that frequently get posted on “weird laws” sites. They aren’t necessarily in the codes now, but they are a lot of fun to look at! Some of the favorites include:

  • Elephants may not walk down Market Street unless they are on a leash.
  • It is illegal to wipe one’s car with used underwear.
  • Ugly people are not allowed to walk down the street in San Francisco.
  • It is illegal to pick up and throw used confetti into the air.
  • “Prostitutes in San Francisco are not obliged to make change for bills larger than $50.” (source)
  • “San Francisco has an ordinance prohibiting “cane games.” City officials have no idea what cane games are. But when revising city laws recently, officials decided to keep the prohibition on the books, in case someday, somehow, cane games came back, they were deemed improper and the city needed the law.” (source)
  • The city of San Francisco holds a copyright on the name San Francisco so if you want to manufacture anything using that name then you have to get permission first.
  • San Francisco bans any “mechanical device that reproduces obscene language.” (source)
  • San Francisco is widely reported to be the only city in the nation to have ordinances guaranteeing sunshine to the masses.

And Strange California Laws

Likewise, there are a lot of weird California laws that may or may not still be on the books. Here are some favorites repeated often around the Internet:

  • It is illegal to wiggle while dancing according to a law form the 1920s.
  • California law prohibits a woman from driving a car while dressed in a housecoat.
  • Animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship.
  • Peeling an orange in your hotel room is banned. Eating an orange in your bathtub is also banned.
  • You may not have a bear’s gall bladder in your possession in the state.
  • It is strictly illegal to trip horses for entertainment.
  • Prison workers may not have sex with inmates. This should be a given but apparently it wasn’t so now it’s a law.
  • “Film producers must have permission from a pediatrician before filming a child under the age of one month.” (source)
  • Dogs are banned from pursuing a bear or bobcat in this state.
  • It is a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale.
  • In California, it’s a crime to pickle a spiny lobster.

Okay, So What About That Horse?

San Francisco has maintained a broader definition than the larger nation as to what defines a service animal. People with various disabilities here can get permission to have a service animal with them at home and in many public settings to assist them with a variety of different tasks. In most cases, the service animal is a dog … however in San Francisco it is also sometimes allowed to be a miniature horse. With proper permission a disabled person may keep their horse in their apartment (even though trying to get pets allowed in other situations may seem almost impossible!) The service animal can also enter public buildings including City Hall and the Department of Public Health, contracted agencies like public health clinics and mental health services and even certain alternative housing such as homeless shelters.

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25 Free Things to Do in San Francisco

August 16th, 2013 · Activities

When people imagine San Francisco, they think of luxury and a potentially expensive vacation.  But we’ve found 25 great things to do in San Francisco that are 100% free.  With our list, you can enjoy a week in San Francisco spending on nothing more (unless you want to) than on lodging, transportation, and food.  Let us know how you like our new list of 25 amazing free things to do in San Francisco.

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San Francisco’s Most Expensive Hotel Suites

July 17th, 2013 · Hotel Reviews

Do you have a very special occasion that deserves the absolute best hotel room in San Francisco? Do you want to impress someone with an opulent, fantasy hotel stay? Or would you like to just dream about what it would be like to stay in the finest San Francisco penthouse hotel rooms? Whatever your plans, we’ve got the stories and details on the most expensive hotel rooms in San Francisco.   Our estimated prices range up to $15,000/night; prices can vary based on month / day and are estimated based on June 2013.


The Fairmont Hotel Penthouse Suite: $15,000

The Penthouse Suite at The Fairmont Hotel is well known around San Francisco as the most expensive hotel room in the city. In a city where apartments can be as small as 220 square feet, this sprawling eighth-floor penthouse impresses at 6,000 square feet in size. The Penthouse includes three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a living room, a formal dining room, a two-story circular library and a billiard room covered from floor to ceiling in Persian tile. It accommodates up to 60 people for dining and 100 people for entertaining, offers an expansive terrace with views of both the city and the bay, and has amenities that include a fireplace, a grand piano, a secret passageway and a huge wine cellar.

Fairmont Most Expense San Francisco


Visitors staying here get to indulge in the knowledge that they are sharing a space that has been graced by numerous famous visitors from the political (JFK, Gorbachev) to royalty (Price Charles of Wales, King Hussein of Jordan) to celebrities (Mick Jagger, Elton John). And you’ll be treated like a star while you’re there with access to a private butler, chef, personal trainer, housekeeper and masseuse. This hotel is rich in history; it was built right before the big 1906 earthquake and was destroyed in the subsequent fires. It re-opened one year later with a lavish banquet. The penthouse was added in the 1920s as a private residence; at $1000 per month it was 100 times more expensive than the average residence at that time. Most recently the room was updated just a few years ago to increase its opulence even more and it was at that time that the price jumped from about $10,000 per night to the current rates.

Learn more on this suite at Gadling and the Fairmont. 



St. Regis Presidential Suite: $10000

The Presidential Suite at the St. Regis is terrific for a business trip. The 3,200 square foot space is designed to sleep just one person. In addition to the bedroom, dining room and main living room there is an office that features an oversized leather-topped desk and swiveling executive chair. When you’re not working, you can enjoy the panoramic views of the city offered by the many large windows of this 20th-floor suite.

Saint Regis San Francisco

Source: The Saint Regis

Alternatively, you could relax in the oversized jetted tub or prepare yourself a snack in the butler’s pantry. Although the room only sleeps one, you can invite guests over for the evening to enjoy dinner at a table that seats ten or to relax on the mohair-and-silk sofa in front of the 42” Plasma Screen TV. Have a guest that you want to stay over? You can rent an adjoining suite to turn this into an even bigger two-bedroom suite.

Learn more at the Saint Regis.



Four Seasons Hotel Specialty Suite: $8,000

The Specialty Suite at the Four Seasons may be only a one-bedroom suite but it’s a large 2300 square foot space that spans the 16th and 17th floors of the hotel. It can also be re-configured as a 2-3 bedroom suite by renting out the additional connecting rooms.

Four Seasons San Francisco

Source: The Four Seasons

The décor is rich in marble, including a full marble bathroom with a two-person soaking tub and marble-topped coffee tables.  Other natural materials to enjoy in this room include ebony chairs, eucalyptus ottomans, hand-woven area rugs, and silk wall coverings. The floor-to-ceiling windows let in natural sunlight and overlook the beautiful Yerba Buena Gardens and the bay. A special treat is the relaxing contemplation room.

Learn more from the Four Seasons


 Ritz Carlton Presidential Suite 910: $8,000

 If you enjoy being outside in the fresh air as much as you enjoy being in your room then you’ll enjoy the 1200 square foot balcony that accompanies the 1,960 square foot living space of Presidential Suite 910 at the Ritz Carlton. The balcony overlooks the city. The inside includes a living room with a grand piano, a master bedroom, and a dining room with a table that seats eight. The master bath includes a whirlpool tub, a separate shower and a large flat screen TV.

Ritz Carlton San Francisco

Source: The Ritz Carlton

The suite is designed as a one-bedroom suite but can be converted to a two-bedroom suite by renting out the connecting adjacent room. Additional perks here include an impressive ten-speaker surround sound system, a personal espresso machine and access to a wine cellar. Notably this is a pet-friendly suite and animals can get special treatment including a custom-made bronze bed and a dog bowl filled with freshly made meat treats.

Learn more from the Ritz Carlton on this amazing suite.


Mandarin Oriental Taipan and Oriental Suites: $6000

 The Mandarin Oriental hotel offers two 2-person suites that are 2,000 square feet each in size. The Taipan Suite offers a city view from a stunning balcony that runs the entire length of suite. In addition to a master bedroom (featuring a custom-made floor-to-ceiling headboard), this suite includes a living room, dining room and spa-like master bathroom with a freestanding bathtub and a walk-in rainforest shower.

Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

Source: The Mandarin Oriental

The Oriental Suite has similar features but the 800 square-foot terrace of this suite overlooks the bay instead of the city so if you want to look out on the water then this is the choice for you. The Oriental Suite averages $6000 per night while the Taipan suite is $5000.

Learn more from the Mandarin Oriental on this amazing room.


Hilton Imperial and State Suites: $5,000

Like at the Mandarin there are two large suite options at the Hilton in Downtown San Francisco. The Imperial Suite and the State Suite are each two-level suites with two bedrooms, two marble bathrooms, an outside deck and a wet bar. Additionally, they each have two large 680 square foot parlors capable of accommodating up to 200 guests. Redwood decking, a spiral staircase and a decorative fireplace are other features of the suites. The 19th floor suites offer sweeping views of the city and the location of the hotel on the border of the Financial District makes it convenient for many travelers.


Adagio Bolero Penthouse Suite

 If you book in advance you can plan an impressive party on the 16th floor of Hotel Adagio by renting out the entire floor. This includes the one-bedroom Bolero Penthouse suite, which has direct access to the 400 square foot outdoor Seville Terrace. The terrace connects to the 500 square foot Seville Room, which is designed for meetings and small events, which is in turn connected to the larger 720 square foot Siena Room that has city views, fourteen-foot ceilings and a massive fireplace. In total, renting out this floor gives you a bedroom suite for 1-2 but the space to entertain up to 150 people. Enhance the experience by getting artisan culinary catering from Bar Adagio.


Omni Suites: ~$1,500

 There are two interesting options for expensive suites at the Omni Hotel, depending on whether or not you’re traveling with kids. If you are then you might want to check out the Kids Fantasy Suite. This suite is designed just for kids with colorful décor, bunkbeds, bean bag chairs and lots of toys and snacks. Parents rent out the adjoining Deluxe King room for themselves.

If you’re looking for something more adult-oriented then the Omni also offers the Presidential Suite. This 16th floor suite has a single bedroom but like many of the others can be converted into a two-bedroom suite by renting out the adjoining room. The 1300 chandelier-adorned square feet in the main suite also includes a living room, an eight-person dining area and a Jacuzzi bathroom. It’s not quite as impressive or luxurious as the most expensive hotel rooms on this list but even at a tenth of the price it’s still costly and special.

There is a San Francisco hotel room for every type of traveler and nearly every budget. If you’re looking for something extravagant then these amazing San Francisco rooms are ready for you.

, Copyright JSLN Ventures

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First Try on Lyft: Love It.

July 15th, 2013 · Taxi, Travel Apps

The number of transportation alternatives to standard taxi rides continues to grow.  After reading for months about the alternatives to the bad service and quality of taxi rides in San Francisco, we decided to try out some of the “app-age” alternatives.   It was a Saturday night in the Mission District, and we were right outside the police station area, near 17th and Valencia.  It’s a busy nightclub and restaurant area, with lots of people out on the town – drinking and having a great time.  We considered 3 alternatives, and saw many cabs picking up people or with fares in the area:

  • A standard taxicab
  • Uber / UberX
  • Lyft
  • Sidecar

lyftWe decided on Lyft as one that was the most interesting to try – partially because of the ease of knowing which car would be ours with the trademark pink moustache on the front of the car.  After pressing the request ride button on our phone app, we immediately had a driver confirm the ride — just about 5 minutes away from us.  Lyft showed us a photo of the driver and the car, which was a beautiful new Chrysler PT Cruiser.  When the car arrived, we knew it would be for us – which was a great feeling versus guessing if a black towncar might be ours.

The car’s driver, Jovero– was truly a pleasure to meet.  From the first second in the crystal clean car, it was clear that he loved his job and loved to meet new people around San Francisco.  The car’s condition was a pleasant change from the often smelly / stinky/ broken cabs that we have driven in so many cities around the United States.  Jovero was great to talk with, and we shared ideas and stories from both of our cities.  He offered free chocolate croissants in the back seat, which was a nice treat after being out on the town.  And the fist-bump getting in the Lyft car was a nice sign of the community and camaraderie that is a big part of how Lyft tends to stand out from its competitors.

What we loved most about the ride, was that there was no “judging” of our destination.  I’ve often got the impression from cabs that they don’t like short rides – and going to some of the outlying neighborhoods in San Francisco is something that they avoid.   Our Lyft driver was only too happy to head to a far outlying area of San Francisco and was very happy to go there.

Our Lyft fare was fair and reasonable, and we got to rate our driver – which was sincerely an awesome.  With so much customer service lacking when you travel, and even friendly customer service harder to find, we are totally sold on Lyft.  We’ll try out Sidecar and others in the days to come and share with you a comparison between the alternatives.

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San Francisco Named to Flipkey Top Cities

June 20th, 2013 · news

cable-car-fray-sanfranciscoSan Francisco has just been named to the Flipkey Top Cities list based on many of the factors that we know makes SF amazing.  Judging factors included:

  • Reviews from visitors
  • Convention and conference feedback
  • World-class cuisine and dining
  • Rich historical past brought to life in museums and city streets
  • An amazing selection of things to do.

It’s not surprising to find San Francisco on this list, if not at the top of it — but we are excited to be honored once again for what makes the City so special.  Flipkey offers a vacation rental alternative, similar to companies such as VRBO and AirBnb.  Congratulations San Francisco!

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Australian Youth Choir comes to San Francisco

June 10th, 2013 · Events

yvm 2 copyUnder the direction of Mark O’Leary, the Young Voices of Melbourne is one of Australia’s finest young choirs, renowned for its vibrant performances and exciting repertoire.
Join the choir for a program of Australian and international songs, featuring some of Australia’s finest composers and wonderful arrangements of music from around the world.
This concert will be held at Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral at 660 California Street near Grant in San Francisco.  The July 5th concert is totally free except for your own optional donation.  See the Young Voices of Melbourne at this video link:  Young Voices of Melbourne Live Concert Video
Get full details here:   Concert Details

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Medieval Festival at a Castle Winery?

June 10th, 2013 · Events

castleCastello di Amorosa winery will host a Midsummer Medieval Festival on June 22, 2013 from 6:45 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. Festivities will include a wide array of medieval activities like a full-contact jousting tournament, displays of showmanship and a sumptuous array of food and wines for guests to enjoy.

“This is one of our most popular events at the Castello,” says President Georg Salzner. “We always look forward to seeing our Wine Club members and their guests dressed in medieval attire enjoying the wines and events we have in store for them.”



The festival kicks off with the live, full-contact jousting tournament at the Castello’s Lake Mario, where guests can marvel at knights in full regalia competing in various feats of skill atop their charging steeds. After the thrills of the tournament, guests can make their way into the Castello where numerous medieval delights will await them throughout the 121,000 square foot Tuscan-inspired castle winery.

This year’s festival will also include a newly reformatted element, as the Castello’s 14th-century inspired courtyard will be transformed into a medieval marketplace complete with displays of falconry, sword play, and archery. Minstrels and singers will serenade guests as they sample the various dishes available throughout the courtyard, artfully prepared by Oak Avenue Catering and all keeping with the medieval theme of the event. From roasted turkey legs to cherry hand pies, each dish is crafted to pair deliciously with the Castello’s numerous Italian-style wines.

Guests are encouraged to arrive in their finest medieval-themed attire for this evening of food, wine and revelries at the Castello. Shuttles to local Calistoga hotels are provided at no additional costs for the guests. Cost is $155 for the winery’s wine club members and $185 for their guests. Call 707-967-6274 for more information or to purchase your ticket.   Get more information on wineries all around the Napa Valley from SF Travel.

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Study in San Francisco

June 3rd, 2013 · Activities

With our world becoming increasingly tight-knit, San Francisco has a diversity like almost no other U.S. city. Around the globe, people are continuing to learn 2nd and even 3rd languages to expand their knowledge and connectiveness to meet new friends and business colleagues. Although there are many online programs that can help you learn a new language– nothing compares to language immersion.

This summer, you can even combine an amazing time in San Francisco, with building up your language of English. A number of programs provide both part-time and full-time language programs in San Francisco each summer. The nice part is that you can combine the studies during the day – with putting your improved language skills in action at night and on weekends at attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the high-end shopping of Union Square. Study in San Francisco

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Bicycling San Francisco: What Kind of Cyclist Are You?

April 9th, 2013 · Bikes

For a city known for its hills, I have no idea how or why bicycles took off as a major method of transportation in San Francisco. But, the San Francisco bike messenger is a city icon right up there with the Silicon Valley entrepreneur and locavore chef. Particularly within the past few years, though, it seems like everybody here is getting into cycling, and it’s particularly a great way for tourists to get out and see the real San Francisco.

Of course, not all cyclists are created equal. Keep reading to figure out what kind of cyclist you are, along with my tailored-for-you recommendations for touring SF on two wheels.



The Lycra Road Warrior

This might be you if:

1. Obviously, you own a lycra bicycle outfit.

2. You actually did some research before buying your bicycle. And then went and paid real money for it.

3. You care about things like drafting and electrolytes.


You should consider renting from:

The Sports Basement, The Presidio

San Francisco Bike Rentals, Fisherman’s Wharf


Where to go:

Make like most cyclists in this city and head to Marin Country. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t the bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito that’s plastered all over the Blazing Saddles bike maps (even though that’s not for the faint of heart either). Serious cyclists take it to the winding cliff side highways of the north bay, making their way through seaside villages, dairy farms, and redwood groves. For a short ride, consider cycling to the Marin Headlands for dizzying views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate. If you want to make it epic, plan a trek to Point Reyes Station for lunch at Cowgirl Creamery or at the oyster farms on Tamalas Bay.



The Urban Cyclist

This might be you if:

1. You’ve taken part in a Critical Mass ride. Or, you know what Critical Mass is and choose not to partake in it.

2. You bought the cheapest road bike you could find on Craigslist and you plan on riding it into the ground.

3. You cycle as an alternative to driving or riding transit.


You should consider renting from:

Streets of San Francisco Bike Tours and Rentals, Hayes Valley

Bike Hut, South Beach


Where to go:

You could go to San Francisco’s Mission District and hang out with fellow urban cyclists. Or, if you want something a bit more interesting, I’d recommend heading over to the industrial waterfront of up-and-coming Dogpatch. This narrow slice of a neighborhood, three miles south of Union Square, is bordered by the mountainous Potrero Hill on one side and the working piers of San Francisco Bay on the other. You can cruise past desolate urban warehouses and piers, maybe catching the phenomenal sight of a 200 ft tall cruise ship docked for repairs, then head inland to 3rd Street for some of San Franciso’s best new restaurants.

If you do make it down there, make sure to check out Warm Water Cove for wildflowers taking over abandoned industrial lots, crumbling warehouses, and impromptu public art displays.



The Beach Cruiser

This might be you if:

1. You cycle when you’re on vacation

2. You like to cruise nice and slow, preferably on a boardwalk.

3. You don’t want any part of hills or rush hour roads.


You should consider renting from:

Parkwide Bike Rentals and Tours

Golden Gate Park Bike and Skate


Where to go:

Of course, you could go bicycling along the Marina; it’s a favorite pastime for visitors to San Francisco. With flat streets and Golden Gate Bridge views and some of San Francisco’s finest restaurants only a few blocks away, the Marina is a no-brainer.

But, if you’d like to do something a little bit more local but just as fantastic, head to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach. On Sundays, San Francisco shuts down JFK Drive, the park’s major thoroughfare, to auto trafic, and the entire city floods in on bicycles, roller blades, unicycles, and even tricycles. It’s pretty much the happiest place on Earth.

After cycling through Eucalyptus groves and past the Golden Gate Park buffalo range and rose garden, you’ll come to San Francisco’s 10-mile long sandy beachfront: Ocean Beach. From there, you can cruise on the wide cement boardwalk, stop for lunch at the Beach Chalet, pick up sandwiches from nearby Safeway for a beach picnic, or head a few blocks north for an elegant lunch at the Cliff House or a ramble through the Sutro Baths ruins.


Additional Resources

Check out SF Travel’s Top Five Bike Rentals.

For specific route information, check out Google Maps Bicycle Directions. Click on Get Directions and the Bicycle icon to see all of San Francisco’s bike lanes and bike paths.

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