Request: Advice for trip to San Francisco in March

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We are thinking of taking a trip to San Francisco in mid-March of next year.† Any recommendations on good, clean hotels for under $200 a night?†

I haven't been to the area since I was kid.† Is Fisherman's Wharf still a good†site to see or should we avoid it?† Mostly looking for kid-friendly activities, our kiddo is 7.† I know we want to take a side trip and see some redwoods and†drive up the coast a bit.† Anyone have any tips, maybe some off-the-beaten-path things to see?† Interests include science, technology and nature.

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SanFran isn't kid friendly.

There is a world class aquarium in Monterey.

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

I personally like to stay near Union Square, but Fisherman's Wharf is fine. †I strongly recommend using Priceline or Hotwire with the help of Hotel Deals Revealed (www.hoteldealsrevealed.com).††But prices fluctuate quite a bit in the city. †For under $200 you should have no problem getting a hotel. †Maybe you'll get lucky and get something like the Marriott Marquis for $89 per night as I recently did. †Try to get a hotel with a swimming pool.

We drove down from Canada and did the coast. †I would not recommend the Northern coast unless you have a lot of time. †Driving through wine country is a long haul before you get to some cool Redwood forests. †Marin is nice -- enjoy the views just over the GG Bridge. †Maybe a drive down to Santa Cruz or the 17-mile drive near Carmel. †

SF definitely IS kid friendly. †Tons of things to do in the city. †I recommend this site:†http://www.chatterblock.com/events/san-francisco/†for family-friendly events in SF. †My fave things to do:
- Alcatraz
- Aquarium By the Bay
- Cable Car Rides
- Hanging out at Fisherman's Wharf
- Stroll along the Embarcadero †(cool chocolate factory)
- Lombard Street (my kids absolutely loved it)
- GG Bridge, and hiking in Marin
- Exploratorium
- Childrens Creativity Museum
- SF Zoo
- Strong along some of the great beaches if the weather is great.
- Coit Tower. †We took the public bus to the top. †Kids had fun up there.

San Francisco is very kid friendly. It's a great walking city. Walk a few blocks, in any direction, and you're in a entirely new neighborhood.

Every 7 year old in our family would find these "highlights" unacceptable. (esp in March)

DSJ said:   SanFran isn't kid friendly.

There is a world class aquarium in Monterey.

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

††
Uhm, there's an amazing aquarium in SF as well. Steinhart Aquarium is awesome.†http://www.calacademy.org/academy/exhibits/aquarium/

Also, with kids you HAVE TO check out the exploritorium. Giant wharehouse filled with science related hands on educational exhibits. I loved this place as a kid and was just there on my last visit. It's freaking awesome.†http://www.exploratorium.edu

For a hotel <$200 a night, your best bet is Airbnb. I stayed at a place on the 20th floor with views of the city for $125 a few months ago. You can't touch a hotel room downtown for that price.†

Before the trip: Ck out golden gate park, Muir woods, east to lake tahoe, Ck out the book "hidden San Francisco & Northern California" by riegert even though it's not new for off the tourist trap stuff. After few nights staying in hotel, ck out phone app "hotel tonight." Google san fran hotel deals. Don't look for less than 3 star hotel.

ranman1973 said:   I personally like to stay near Union Square, but Fisherman's Wharf is fine. †I strongly recommend using Priceline or Hotwire with the help of Hotel Deals Revealed (www.hoteldealsrevealed.com).††But prices fluctuate quite a bit in the city. †For under $200 you should have no problem getting a hotel. †Maybe you'll get lucky and get something like the Marriott Marquis for $89 per night as I recently did. †Try to get a hotel with a swimming pool.

We drove down from Canada and did the coast. †I would not recommend the Northern coast unless you have a lot of time. †Driving through wine country is a long haul before you get to some cool Redwood forests. †Marin is nice -- enjoy the views just over the GG Bridge. †Maybe a drive down to Santa Cruz or the 17-mile drive near Carmel. †

SF definitely IS kid friendly. †Tons of things to do in the city. †I recommend this site:†http://www.chatterblock.com/events/san-francisco/†for family-friendly events in SF. †My fave things to do:
- Alcatraz
- Aquarium By the Bay
- Cable Car Rides
- Hanging out at Fisherman's Wharf
- Stroll along the Embarcadero †(cool chocolate factory)
- Lombard Street (my kids absolutely loved it)
- GG Bridge, and hiking in Marin
- Exploratorium
- Childrens Creativity Museum
- SF Zoo
- Strong along some of the great beaches if the weather is great.
- Coit Tower. †We took the public bus to the top. †Kids had fun up there.

† Great list!† I live in SF and if I had to pick the best kid-friendly things from this list I would say:
-Exploratorium (they just remodeled and moved it and it is awesome)
-Lombard Street (windiest road in the US, pretty cool IMO)
-Cable Car Ride (don't get on at Powell St. b/c it's crowded there - you can just hop on it elsewhere)
-Fisherman's Warf / Alcatraz (the seals are always fun to see at the warf, for Alcatraz make sure you reserve ahead of time if you actually want to go on the island - though Alcatraz may be a little depressing, especially for a kid b/c it is a prison afterall)

Thank you for the recommendations!† I didn't know there was a chocolate factory and an art/science center there.† This is going to be great!

DSJ said:   Every 7 year old in our family would find these "highlights" unacceptable. (esp in March)
††
Poor kid - family "vacation" consists of watching dad crap of FW Travel threads.

Also agree with the other recommendations made, particularly
- Exploratorium
- Cal Academy
Your kiddo will love them!

There are also some great places for kids just outside of SF
- Discovery Museum†(20 min north of SF over the Golden Gate bridge)
- Curiodyssey†(20 min†south of SF)
- Oakland Zoo†(might want to consider, depending on the weather; Oakland Zoo is much warmer than SF Zoo, which is near the coast)



I'm planning for my San Francisco trip for this December, finally settled with Club Quarter hotel booked with Orbitz.com. I linked Google Wallet with Orbitz app and got $30 credit + using promo code "Celebrate" to get 15% off on hotel.
Here's link to that $30 credit : http://www.orbitz.com/rewards/google-wallet-terms/

Having lived in the area for four years, and just been back for a vacation in August, I can agree with some of the ideas above.

The Exploratorium is a great idea. Unfortunately, I didn't get to go to their new location when I was there this summer. They're aren't open on Mondays and I didn't realize that until we got to the door.

I've been to the Aquarium of the Bay (at Pier 39) and it's excellent. It's a bit on the small side, so don't plan on staying long, but it's worth the visit. I haven't been to the Steinhart Aquarium, so I can't comment on it.

As chunkalunk said, the SF zoo is out west very close to the coast and can get cold. The Oakland zoo is very good and is much warmer.

If you want to drive the coast and see redwoods, there's nothing that says you have to drive north. You can just as easily drive south to Santa Cruz and maybe head on down to Monterey to the aquarium there. When we were there this summer, we took the coast highway south to Santa Cruz, wandered there for a bit, and took the highway back to the north. If you decide to do that, look up the Roaring Camp Railroad. Kids love it, and there's plenty of great hiking in the area. If you go that way, you're also really close to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

About an hour south of SF, in San Jose, is the Tech Museum of science. They have a Star Wars exhibit going right now, but it ends in mid-February.

Another kid friendly thing (that grown ups also love) are the concrete slides at the park on Seward Street. You read that right, concrete slides. There are plenty of pictures online so you can see what you're getting into. They're fairly safe. You're not likely to do much more than scrape an elbow, really.

Some of this will depend on whether you want to rent a car to get out of town or if you want to stay in town the whole time. On my last trip, we rented a car for one day to go down to Santa Cruz, but we spent the other four days in town with no car. You don't need a car to get around in the city, and with parking as difficult and expensive as it is, you really don't want one. BART and MUNI are by far your best options for getting around in town. For getting around in town, google maps is your best friend. There are way too many bus routes to keep straight on a map. Just tell google maps where you're going, and switch it to "transit mode" and it will tell you which bus/trolley/subway to use to get there from wherever you are.

Also, if you are not going to have a rental car, instead of just relying on public transportation, I suggest you download and setup one of the many cab/ride-hailing apps that are available.

Either Uber or Flywheel - should help you get a ride in a pinch if you find yourself in a less traveled area of SF or late at night.

chunkalunk said:   Also, if you are not going to have a rental car, instead of just relying on public transportation, I suggest you download and setup one of the many cab/ride-hailing apps that are available.

Either Uber or Flywheel - should help you get a ride in a pinch if you find yourself in a less traveled area of SF or late at night.

††
We will have a rental car.† I was hoping to be able to stay outside of the city, drive in and park somewhere and ride the public transportation around for convenience.

There's a hub of hotels located in Millbrae and Burlingame (because it's near the airport). You can probably find a decent deal in that area. Fairly centralized location that puts you ~20-30 mins from SF, Oakland, and Palo Alto.

Bizatch said:   San Francisco is very kid friendly. It's a great walking city. Walk a few blocks, in any direction, and you're in a entirely new neighborhood.

Agree. The science center in Golden Gate park the kids should love. Many of the piers have been revamped with shops and restaurants. From about Union Square to the pier (Ferry Building) at the end of Market Street is a very nice walk with lots of areas to explore. The area I find very safe. I live in L.A. and L.A. doesn't seem as safe, along with San Francisco being an easier city for visitors to navigate.

Fisherman's Warf is a nice area, but I prefer Union Square as it's a nice and convenient area. I'll be there later next week. I'm stay at the Westin near 3rd and Market. BART now takes you all the way to the airport. The MUNI may be sufficient for your other transportation needs. I never bother renting a car. Parking in San Francisco can get expensive.



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