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San Francisco, Napa

Heading out to SF from the east coast. I've been to SF before, but my travel companions have not. I know the city has changed drastically since my last visit. Where is a safe place to stay? We tentatively plan on spending two nights in the city before heading up to Napa. Would like to see the usual tourist spots including Alcatraz. Any suggestions on hotels, tours, restaurants are greatly appreciated.

Posted by
146 posts

The Handlery at Union square is a decent hotel in a good location for catching the cable car and Bart places. Scomas at the wharf is an institution for a reason. Just leave your car at the garage near the hotel as there have been a number of break In reports at the wharf.
We did the HOHO bus as an alternative too last trip.

Posted by
861 posts

You really don’t want to stay in Union Square right now or walk around the City after dark. Maybe the St. Regis or something in the financial district.

Posted by
8872 posts

The Laurel Inn in Laurel Heights. Great option as you’ll have car.

Request a room with a view of The City.

Lots of food options a few blocks away on Divisadero. A number of shops as well. If you like Pho, My Father’s Kitchen is worth a visit.

Posted by
3337 posts

Check out the Cow Hollow Inn, and the Chelsea Inn - they're across the street from each other on Lombard and Steiner. The location is perfect for walking, and it feels safer than Union Square - not sure if anywhere in the world is truly "safe".

My current favorite restaurants in SF are Pacific Catch on Chestnut Street, and Uccello on Van Ness.

Posted by
894 posts

agentmommy, I have no info on where to stay, but regarding Alcatraz, you probably will have to prebook tickets. Only one ferry company can take you there (leave from Embarcadero area), and day-of tickets aren't usually available. Go to to find out about visits there. SF has changed a lot, but a cable car ride is worth the price, and the Cable it Car Museum is a treat and very interesting (about one hour to enjoy), picking up some food at the Ferry Bldg and watching the ferries come and go while eating it there is pleasant. I recommend the Asian Art Museum (kind of sketchy area now) and the Legion of Honor Museum, as well as the De Young and California Academy of Science (in Golden Gate Park) are all lovely. I'm not into modern art, so SFMMA isn't for me, but it's nicely curated. BTW, Alcatraz can take a good part of the day including ferry rides out and back.
Tadich Grill on California Street would be a good splurge for dinner. It's the oldest still operating restaurant in the city....old-time class, wonderful food and ambience worth the prices. Alas, thay don't take reservations, so best to go early-ish. We went in 2013 and still talk about how much we enjoyed it!
Have fun!

Posted by
894 posts

Regarding wine country, check into visiting Sonoma County instead of Napa County. It has equally excellent wineries to visit, lovelier scenery, better prices, and less snooty attitudes. We are in SoCal and do at least one California road trip a year. We have explored almost all the winery areas in the state (there are A LOT!) more than once, and are always happy to revisit Sonoma County. It has a beautiful drive to the coast on Hwy 128. If you have at least four days in the area, you could stay two nights around Sonoma, on the third day leisurely follow 128 to the coast, and drive along it up to Mendocino for a night or two to enjoy the glorious coast there (and wineries in Mendocino County also).

(Now I am ready to head north!)

Posted by
993 posts

The city has changed since the Pandemic. If you are planning on spending two nights, staying near the Embarcadero or Fisherman’s Wharf puts you close to good restaurants and tourist attractions. We typically stay at the Hyatt Embarcadero which is right across from the Ferry Building, on a transit line, and close to Fisherman’s Wharf. The Kimpton or Argonaut on Fisherman’s Wharf are also nice hotels.

As for where to eat, San Francisco has great food, so it really depends on the type of food you are interested in and the price point. My go to restaurants in the City are: Foreign Cinema (Mission)—California cuisine in an old movie theatre. On a summer evening, they show movies while you eat. Also in the Mission, I love Lolo’s for Mexican Tapas, Flour & Water for Pasta, Limon (Peruvian). Trick Dog is near Flour & Water and is an awesome bar with unique, lyrical cocktails.

In the Ferry Building, Hog Island has the best oysters and mussels with a great view of the Bay. Also at the Ferry Building for something more casual is Gott’s Roadhouse. My favorite there are the ahi poke tacos and my husband loves their green chili burger. La Mar is a wonderful bayside Peruvian Restaurant. If you are there during the farmer’s market, you can get some local food truck and farmer eats.

If you have specific price=points or cuisine, you can PM.

For Napa, I like staying downtown at the Andaz, Archer, or Westin. You can walk to wine tasting and really great restaurants. Downtown, we like Napa Valley General Store for breakfast, Scala Bistro for Italian, Oenotri for the best pizza and pasta, Hog Island (can’t get enough of their oysters), C Casa for Mexican, to name a few.

There are great places to get picnics from Kellys (Yountville) and Oakville Grocery (Oakville) to Sam’s General Store (Calistoga). If there are specific cuisines or price-points and/or wineries you are interested in, send me a PM.

Posted by
224 posts

Grace Cathedral at the top of Nob Hill in SF is worth an hour or so to see their amazing art collection. We were there last fall and were able to book a tour for a small fee. Bonus, hiking up the hill is great cardio.