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jeffh747
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San Francisco for a few days?

Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:14 pm

Hi everyone,
I am in the midst of planning to fly to SFO for the first time in late May for a certain inaugural event. I plan on using my AAdvantage miles to get to SFO on either Saturday or Sunday of the 28/29 and then flying back during the middle of the week. As this is my first trip out there, can anyone recommend decent/cheap hotels with access to San Francisco's public transportation systems? I would like to spend maybe $80 max a night on hotel. Additionally, I do not plan on renting a car so I figure my best bet would be to rely on public transit, or Uber if I have to.

Do you have any recommendations for interesting places that aren't as tourist-y? I am already coming back in the Summer with my family and would prefer to save the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Fisherman's Warf for that trip. Also, where are good places to do some spotting there? I would love to spend a day or two just planespotting nonstop!

Cheers,
Jeffrey Hernandez
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aklrno
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:28 pm

On one of your trips you should rent a bicycle and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. You can ride both ways, or continue to Sausalito or Tiburon and take a ferry back.
 
aeromoe
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:35 pm

Quote: "Also, where are good places to do some spotting there? I would love to spend a day or two just planespotting nonstop!"

Take a shuttle bus from the terminal to the Marriott or other hotel near Bayfront Park and watch planes from there. You'll see the arrival action on the 28s and you can also see the departures on the 01s.

Moe
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spacecadet
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Wed Feb 15, 2017 4:33 am

It's honestly going to be difficult to both get a hotel for $80 per night or less *and* rely only on public transportation and/or Uber. (A round trip on Uber would basically pay for a car for the day anyway.) SF is an expensive city and while it has a decent public transportation system, it's not as extensive as New York's or most European or Asian cities. You're mostly going to be looking at youth hostels or Motel 6 type places, but typically they are going to be a little off the beaten path.

You could try this site: http://hotelsnearbart.com/

But there's not a lot close to $80 (though there are a few). From BART, you can get to the city center and transfer to MUNI buses or streetcars.

If you rented a car, you could go even a bit further out of the way and probably pay for your car with the money you end up saving on the hotel and public transportation (and definitely uber). I really recommend that. I used to live in SF and I still visit there every couple years and I just can't imagine doing all that much without a car *unless* you stay right in the city, which by nature would be very expensive. But even then, you're kind of limited to what you can get to by public transport. I guess the point I'm making is that while it seems counterintuitive, it's probably actually cheaper to rent a car than not, and you'll be able to do more things.
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vhtje
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Wed Feb 15, 2017 6:59 am

As far as accommodation is concerned, Air B&B, I think, at that price point. You might luck in and find somewhere close into the action such as Castro, Noe Valley, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, etc.

Aside from aircraft spotting, you do not mention what your other interests are. Food? Art? Theatre? History? Hiking? Beach? Fitness? A clue would help direct suggestions. For aircraft spotting, I like Junipero Serra Park - it offers terrific all-of-airfield views.
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intotheair
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:31 am

$80 does not get you much in San Francisco — even AirBNB rates (for private apartments) are about the same as hotels. For $80 in the city, you could find some low end hotels/motels and hostels. There are also a lot of off-brand three star hotels in Union Square that are a little strange and small but nice. I think the best thing to do if you're trying to get a good hotel for not much money in SF is to try bidding on Priceline or Hotwire and restricting your search to something central (Union Square, Financial District, SoMa, etc.) I think booking something too far out in either Daly City, Oakland, or SFO is a big mistake, as you won't get the same feeling as being right in the city, and you'll be spending a lot of money just getting there.

Contrary to what's posted above, SF is a very well-connected city in terms of public transit. Sure, it's not New York, but BART works very well, and Muni has a decent system of light rail (Muni Metro) and bus. There's also Uber and Lyft, of course. San Francisco is a very walkable city, so even if public transit doesn't get you exactly to where you need to go, it's still pleasant.

I would not skip out on the Golden Gate Bridge if it's your first time there. You could save walking across it for when you go the second time, but you can get a nice view of it from the beach at Crissy Field. If you like art, the SFMOMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the DeYoung (in Golden Gate Park), and the Legion of Honor are all spectacular. I'd also spend some time at Golden Gate Park, Mission Dolores Park and surrounding areas up Valencia St, Little Italy and Washington Square Park. There's also a nice neighborhood worth walking through in Hayes Valley (around Hayes and Octavia Streets).

If you have time to spend a day outside the city, head over to Oakland and see Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, Rockridge, Temescal, and/or Berkeley. The Oakland Museum of California is one of my favorites. It really gives you a great sense of what the Californian Dream is and how it may be different from the American Dream.

I'd also highly recommend the Muir Woods to someone going for the first time, but it's a little hard to get to without a car.

As for planespotting, I've never really done much of it myself, but I think there's a good view from the parking garage at West Field Road (accessible by the SFO AirTrain). There's also a good view of Int'l Terminal G on BART coming into and out of SFO.

Also, just because something is touristy doesn't mean it's not worth seeing. Just like in all the great cities of the world, I wouldn't hesitate to see the big landmarks just because they'll be busy. It's still worth it to see them. Only exception to this might be Fisherman's Wharf, but the bridge, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, Chinatown, etc. are all definitely worth seeing.
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OlafW
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:32 am

For my visit some years ago I chose a private room in the HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel. Dorm prices should be within your limit, but depends whether you're comfortable with that. Anyway, the price is quite reasonable for the location close to Union Square and you could walk to man ypalces from there.
If you want to rely on public transport, the best way in my opinion is to get a Muni visitor pass for three days. Nearly everything is included, even cable cars, which are usually more pricey than the bus or streetcar options, and i got around the city very well. Plus, you certainly will see some less touristy places when you take a bus.
 
LBA1432
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Sun Feb 19, 2017 2:48 pm

It's not a hotel, but if you're aged 18-30 and travelling alone have you considered a youth hostel?
I stayed at the USA Hostels on Post Street in the Nob Hill district of the city when i was there in August 2014. Clean hostel, comfortable and dorms of 4 so it was good to meet people or you could have private rooms i think too if you wanted to. The hostel organised pretty decent bar crawls in the evening and was walking distance to Union Square and Powell Street BART stop for direct airport access. I enjoyed my stay there, cheap and cheerful, clean and organised tours for the solo traveller if needed (i used the pub crawls at night and did my own thing in the day).

So much to see and do in SF, I had 4 days there and loved every second, its probably my favourite city. Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz (book well in advance for the first sailing), Fishermans Wharf, North Beach, Union Square, AT&T Park, Haight-Ashbury, The Castro, Golden Gate Park, Alamo Square Park with the painted ladies, its a truly iconic city.
 
MartijnNL
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:52 pm

aeromoe wrote:
Take a shuttle bus from the terminal to the Marriott or other hotel near Bayfront Park and watch planes from there. You'll see the arrival action on the 28s and you can also see the departures on the 01s.

When I visited San Francisco for the first time in 2002 I went several times to the airport. Once I spent an entire day close to the Marriott and other hotels just to watch aircraft. It's a great location. I would suggest to bring binoculars. The shuttle buses are free of charge. The departures are now behind a fence. The arrivals are pretty distant, but still nice to see, especially the side by side landings. When I was there for the second time, in 2014 (travelling on a KLM MD-11) I visited this location once more and enjoyed it again. You will see a mix of small and large aircraft from airlines from all over the world. Take the advice from aeromoe. You won't regret it.
 
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jeffh747
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:39 am

Thank you all for the fabulous suggestions! I am not particularly interested in staying in hostels- never stayed in one and I wouldn't feel as safe as at a hotel. I've upped my price range for the hotel and might consider staying at the DoubleTree by SFO.
Side note; I know that just because an area is touristy doesn't mean it's not good. As I previously mentioned, I wanted to save the great stuff for when I go on the trip with my family a few months after. I wanted to see some stuff my family wouldn't have interest in seeing. Normally, anything aviation related would be my go-to option but it seems that there aren't as many aviation attractions such as museums around the San Francisco area, as there are in Dallas or Los Angeles.

Also, now that I'm booked, that certain inaugural event is the Virgin America A321neo service ;). Being a huge VX fan, I want to stop by and see the headquarters which I see is not that far from that park some of you guys mentioned so that would work out. As far as my interests are concerned that aren't aviation related, I really enjoy scenic views and nature, and would love to visit if there are any mountains around there. Perhaps I should've mentioned that slight detail in my original post.

Thank you all for the wonderful replies so far!
Jeffrey
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SJCMSP
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:42 pm

jeffh747 wrote:
Thank you all for the fabulous suggestions! I am not particularly interested in staying in hostels- never stayed in one and I wouldn't feel as safe as at a hotel. I've upped my price range for the hotel and might consider staying at the DoubleTree by SFO.
Side note; I know that just because an area is touristy doesn't mean it's not good. As I previously mentioned, I wanted to save the great stuff for when I go on the trip with my family a few months after. I wanted to see some stuff my family wouldn't have interest in seeing. Normally, anything aviation related would be my go-to option but it seems that there aren't as many aviation attractions such as museums around the San Francisco area, as there are in Dallas or Los Angeles.

Also, now that I'm booked, that certain inaugural event is the Virgin America A321neo service ;). Being a huge VX fan, I want to stop by and see the headquarters which I see is not that far from that park some of you guys mentioned so that would work out. As far as my interests are concerned that aren't aviation related, I really enjoy scenic views and nature, and would love to visit if there are any mountains around there. Perhaps I should've mentioned that slight detail in my original post.

Thank you all for the wonderful replies so far!
Jeffrey


There are plenty of mountains around there. Mt. Tamalpais is not too far north of the Golden Gate Bridge with redwood forests (Muir Woods). Also to the southwest of the airport are the Santa Cruz Mountains with redwoods in the Felton area and Big Basin State Park.
 
DesertAir
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:12 pm

San Francisco is a great walking city. My favorite is starting at Union Square then wandering up to California street, through Chinatown then onto North Beach and down to the Wharf area.
 
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jeffh747
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:45 pm

Fantastic suggestions. I've heard great things about San Francisco being a good walking city. Also, SJCMSP, thank you for listing those places. I will look into those. Those parks sound very interesting to visit.

One last important question;
Which side of the aircraft should I sit on going into SFO? I'm flying in on an A32B in Main Cabin Extra and there's plenty of seats open, but as this is my first time visiting. I don't know which side would have a better view (if there even is one). I get in around 4:30pm.

Cheers,
Jeff
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dfwjim1
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:08 am

jeffh747 wrote:
Fantastic suggestions. I've heard great things about San Francisco being a good walking city. Also, SJCMSP, thank you for listing those places. I will look into those. Those parks sound very interesting to visit.

One last important question;
Which side of the aircraft should I sit on going into SFO? I'm flying in on an A32B in Main Cabin Extra and there's plenty of seats open, but as this is my first time visiting. I don't know which side would have a better view (if there even is one). I get in around 4:30pm.

Cheers,
Jeff


I fly into SFO several times a year and I like to sit on the left side of the plane as it affords great views of the Peninsula and then the airport itself especially when landing on the 28s (most commonly used approach).
 
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jeffh747
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:39 am

dfwjim1 wrote:
jeffh747 wrote:
Fantastic suggestions. I've heard great things about San Francisco being a good walking city. Also, SJCMSP, thank you for listing those places. I will look into those. Those parks sound very interesting to visit.

One last important question;
Which side of the aircraft should I sit on going into SFO? I'm flying in on an A32B in Main Cabin Extra and there's plenty of seats open, but as this is my first time visiting. I don't know which side would have a better view (if there even is one). I get in around 4:30pm.

Cheers,
Jeff


I fly into SFO several times a year and I like to sit on the left side of the plane as it affords great views of the Peninsula and then the airport itself especially when landing on the 28s (most commonly used approach).

Thank you for the quick reply! Good thing I already selected a seat on the left side! Going out of SFO on the nonstop to DCA, would a left side seat be more preferable as well?
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dfwjim1
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:51 am

jeffh747 wrote:
dfwjim1 wrote:
jeffh747 wrote:
Fantastic suggestions. I've heard great things about San Francisco being a good walking city. Also, SJCMSP, thank you for listing those places. I will look into those. Those parks sound very interesting to visit.

One last important question;
Which side of the aircraft should I sit on going into SFO? I'm flying in on an A32B in Main Cabin Extra and there's plenty of seats open, but as this is my first time visiting. I don't know which side would have a better view (if there even is one). I get in around 4:30pm.

Cheers,
Jeff


I fly into SFO several times a year and I like to sit on the left side of the plane as it affords great views of the Peninsula and then the airport itself especially when landing on the 28s (most commonly used approach).

Thank you for the quick reply! Good thing I already selected a seat on the left side! Going out of SFO on the nonstop to DCA, would a left side seat be more preferable as well?


Yes, left side again when departing...great views of the City when departing the 1s or 28s.
 
dfwjim1
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:52 am

jeffh747 wrote:
dfwjim1 wrote:
jeffh747 wrote:
Fantastic suggestions. I've heard great things about San Francisco being a good walking city. Also, SJCMSP, thank you for listing those places. I will look into those. Those parks sound very interesting to visit.

One last important question;
Which side of the aircraft should I sit on going into SFO? I'm flying in on an A32B in Main Cabin Extra and there's plenty of seats open, but as this is my first time visiting. I don't know which side would have a better view (if there even is one). I get in around 4:30pm.

Cheers,
Jeff


I fly into SFO several times a year and I like to sit on the left side of the plane as it affords great views of the Peninsula and then the airport itself especially when landing on the 28s (most commonly used approach).

Thank you for the quick reply! Good thing I already selected a seat on the left side! Going out of SFO on the nonstop to DCA, would a left side seat be more preferable as well?


Yes, left side again when departing...great views of the City when departing the 1s or 28s.
 
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jeffh747
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:43 am

dfwjim1 wrote:
jeffh747 wrote:
dfwjim1 wrote:

I fly into SFO several times a year and I like to sit on the left side of the plane as it affords great views of the Peninsula and then the airport itself especially when landing on the 28s (most commonly used approach).

Thank you for the quick reply! Good thing I already selected a seat on the left side! Going out of SFO on the nonstop to DCA, would a left side seat be more preferable as well?


Yes, left side again when departing...great views of the City when departing the 1s or 28s.


Perfect! Thank you once again!

Jeff
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dfwjim1
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:53 pm

If you decide to rent a car be sure to check out San Jose International, Oakland International, Hayward Airport and Moffett Field in Sunnyvale. Moffett has ANG, NASA aircraft coming and going and a blimp hanger. I believe the field is restricted to those with security clearance but you can see aircraft from the side road near the airport.
 
SJCMSP
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:18 pm

dfwjim1 wrote:
jeffh747 wrote:
Fantastic suggestions. I've heard great things about San Francisco being a good walking city. Also, SJCMSP, thank you for listing those places. I will look into those. Those parks sound very interesting to visit.

One last important question;
Which side of the aircraft should I sit on going into SFO? I'm flying in on an A32B in Main Cabin Extra and there's plenty of seats open, but as this is my first time visiting. I don't know which side would have a better view (if there even is one). I get in around 4:30pm.

Cheers,
Jeff


I fly into SFO several times a year and I like to sit on the left side of the plane as it affords great views of the Peninsula and then the airport itself especially when landing on the 28s (most commonly used approach).


If you're going to SFO twice, I'd recommend trying both sides when landing. The left side is great for the reasons mentioned above. I also like the right side because you get more of a feeling the plane is going to land in the bay and then the runway pops out underneath you.
 
PI4EVER
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:36 pm

You've gotten a ton of good suggestions, but I'd like to add my first choice for spotting.
The Embassy Suites SFO Waterfront hotel on Anza Blvd in Burlingame. Free shuttle from airport.
This hotel is located on a spit of land that juts into the bay and you can walk the length of the spit/breakwater to view planes arriving.
Its popular for joggers and folks strolling to enjoy the sights but is a great location for plane spotting.
Pick up some food at nearby fast food or in the hotel, grab a bench and take in this beautiful spot on the Bay.
P.S. A great hotel, but likely too pricey for your budget unless you find a good rate for at least a one night stay!
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jeffh747
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:41 am

PI4EVER wrote:
You've gotten a ton of good suggestions, but I'd like to add my first choice for spotting.
The Embassy Suites SFO Waterfront hotel on Anza Blvd in Burlingame. Free shuttle from airport.
This hotel is located on a spit of land that juts into the bay and you can walk the length of the spit/breakwater to view planes arriving.
Its popular for joggers and folks strolling to enjoy the sights but is a great location for plane spotting.
Pick up some food at nearby fast food or in the hotel, grab a bench and take in this beautiful spot on the Bay.
P.S. A great hotel, but likely too pricey for your budget unless you find a good rate for at least a one night stay!


Thanks for the suggestion! I just booked my hotel, which is one of the Hilton brands, right there on the waterfront in Burlingame. I was wondering how that area would be with regards to planespotting, and I'm glad you mentioned that!

Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions. As I've continued to plan this trip out, I've taken into account everyone's ideas and tips! I'm very much looking forward to this trip, and sharing a TR on here later on!

Cheers,
Jeff
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aeromoe
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:16 am

Can you please relate when the Inagural is for the A321?

Thanks
Moe
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jeffh747
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:52 am

aeromoe wrote:
Can you please relate when the Inagural is for the A321?

Thanks
Moe


Hey Moe,
Right now, the first scheduled VX A321 service is May 31st on San Francisco to Washington Reagan.

Cheers,
Jeff
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aeromoe
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Re: San Francisco for a few days?

Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:13 am

Thanks Jeff for the info. Just another new A321 in the US to fly!!
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