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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Trip To San Francisco
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06/10/2006 07:16:15 PM · #1
I am taking a vacation trip to San Francisco the second week of August. I will take the Amtrak train from Chicago; that will be nice - going through the Colorado Rockies and then Donner Pass. I hope that I didn't pick a bad time of the year to go (foggy weather, etc.). I wanted to go in September when the weather seems to be the nicest but the Amtrak sleeping cars for September were pretty much sold out - back in February!

I have a few questions:

1 - Any dangerous areas of San Francisco which I need to avoid? People have told me that Haight-Ashbury can be dangerous or at the very least one would be continuously harassed there by panhandlers. I would like to visit there because I love taking pictures of Victorian houses.

2 - The guide books and web sites mention transit passes (for 5 days I believe) which cover cable cars, BART, Muni, etc. but no mention of where to buy them. Is it possible to buy one of those transit passes ahead of time online or through the mail?

3 - A shuttle bus from the Emeryville Amtrak station will take me to the Ferry Building ideally around 5:30 PM. However, if the train is late and I don't get to the Ferry Building until 9:00 PM or so, will I have any problem getting a cab there, and is it safe around there in the late evening?

4 - Any suggestions for 'off the beaten path' areas to visit and take nice photographs?

5 - Anybody familiar with the Nob Hill Lambourne hotel? That is where I will be staying.

Thanks,

John Vlcek
06/11/2006 03:04:52 AM · #2
I can't give you any specific advice about San Fran, but I can give your questions a bump ;-)

Many years ago, I took Amtrak across the whole US, from Rhode Island to Washington State. It was awesome (btw, first time for me to see Chicago, too)! I'm so jealous of your trip. Have a great time!
06/11/2006 03:49:01 AM · #3
I live very close to the sf and go there quite often. To me I wouldn't be so worried about haight ashbury espcially during the day at all. At night like any other city you have to be careful but i haven't heard of anybody having problems. there are panhandlers but they have never been overly aggressive to me. I will write more later tommorrow or the next day since I have to be at work in about 8 hours and I have to drive for about an hour to get there. But I wanted to write something so I could find your thread later and give you alittle bump.
06/11/2006 03:53:52 AM · #4
Have a wonderful trip. We travelled to SF 7 years ago so my advice is probably out of date but I was worried about Haight -Ashbury yet desperate to see the 60's hippie area. In fact we had no trouble there - quite the opposite but as I said times change so don't take my word.The park are down by the Golden Gate WAS dodgy. If you want to visit Alcatraz then you have to book well in advance.

It's the most wonderful city and one I felt very safe in. I loved it and would move there tomorrow if I could.

P
06/11/2006 08:04:49 AM · #5
I've been to SF a number of times and while I'm no expert, I've always found the city to be very safe. That's not to say that there aren't some funky areas but nothing to get overly worried about. Like in any big city...watch your stuff every single second, don't leave things alone for a moment. That's like giving it away.

The Haight has lots of people/kids trying miserably, to relive the 60's or something like that and the bozo's that feed off of them are mixed in. From what I could see they seem to filter down towards the Golden Gate Park where they sleep. That is at one end of the area but the main part of the strip is slightly less affected. Just ignore them.

The one area that seemed really sleazy is called The Tenderloin and even there during the day you'll be fine.

Message edited by author 2006-06-11 08:12:48.
06/11/2006 08:15:08 AM · #6
I will throw in one suggestion here. A few years ago I planned that trip in the opposite direction. I was going to take the train from SF (which is actually Oakland) to Chicago and then fly home from there.

Everyone I spoke to said that the train ride between SF and Denver is incredible (and it was), but between Denver and Chicago theres nothing to see, unless you like looking at cornfields and wheatfields. I took the advice and flew out of Denver trading an extra day of sightseeing.

You might consider flying to Denver and using the extra day to take a quick trip Rocky Mountain national park which is very close.
06/11/2006 08:17:34 AM · #7
i will be in San Francisco in the 2nd week of September, any news from above would be welcome as my bride to be is a little nervous after watching "the Rock" ;-)
06/11/2006 09:42:58 AM · #8
Hey John,

Well, I think you're going to have fun taking pictures in SF - there is a LOT to see and do in the Bay Area. I'm a Chicago transplant - been in the Bay Area 18 years now (although no SF specifically). I'll give you my 2 cents on the questions below:

1) I wouldn't worry about the Haight too much. General rule, SF is like most Cities, ok during the day usually, just a "few" areas you might not want to be a night. If you're from Chicago, you'll be able to read the environment and know when to get out. :-)

2) Not sure on passes. Google SF BART (Bay Area Regional Transit), you may pick up something.

3) Ferry Building at 9PM, probably not the ideal time, but you should be ok.

4) Wow, there is a LOT to see. Not sure how long you will be here, but I would suggest picking a section of the City a day and just walk around. I also found this book helpful: sf-ba places (Note: I was mostly practicing candids that day)

5) Nob Hill is a nice area. I don't know anything about that specific hotel.

Here are a few shots of SF that I took on a walkabout one day last summer: SF pics

Post something in the Out and About forum for a potential GTG. Rikki and I have been talking about getting the gang together again. Here are some pics from our last GTG: SF GTG

Message edited by author 2006-06-11 09:45:29.
06/11/2006 11:45:41 AM · #9
511.org is the site for regional transit information -- you should be able to get info about transit passes there.

The classic picture from SF in August is of tourists shivering in their shorts and T-shirts, shopping for parkas : )

It really depends on the fog -- days in August in SF can range from the low 50s to the mid-80s. SF itself is also known for its many "micro-climates" -- the Sunset District (facing the Pacific) can be socked-in with a heavy fog, while the Mission District a couple of miles away (and over some hills) can be in the sunny 60s. Best to pack for both warm and cool weather.

You can get current weather and forecasts at the KCBS Radio site.

Some other things to see which you might not find in the midwest:

Muir Woods -- a redwood forest in Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Mt. Diablo State Park -- at over 3800 feet, on a clear day you can see from the Farallon Islands (30 miles off shore) to the Sierra Nevada range to the east.

Ano Nuevo State Preserve -- Beachside dunes and elephant seals. Unfortunately the direct "scenic route" (State Highway 1) from SF is currently blocked by a landslide at "Devil's Slide" near Pacifica; I don't know if it will be repaired by August.
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