#1 Posted by bruno0091 (51 posts) -

Hi!

I'm currently intending to make my first trip to America, and San Francisco is at the top of my location list right now. I'm hoping to be over for the 4th of July (30 June -7 July), cos I figure the weather will be good and there's probably going to be a load of stuff going on?

Anyway I had a few queries about the city, where's good to eat and drink? Any good recommendations on where to go at night (bars/clubs etc)? Also any general advice on customs etc, for example, being from England, tipping isn't something we do as standard, so I'm not clear on what's accepted and what circumstances you should or shouldn't tip in.

I won't be driving, but is there anything I should make sure I do or see? I'm going to do the obvious like Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge (I assume you can walk/run over it) etc.

I've not finalised a hotel yet, but to give you an idea of the starting area, I'm currently looking at staying in either The Stanford Court, W San Francisco on Third Street, or Hotel Palomar on 4th Street, unless anyone local has heard anything bad about those places?

#2 Posted by Rokkaku (214 posts) -

I'm not from the US, but having been there a couple of times, I can tell you that you should tip in pretty much every circumstance where a service is being done for you. Examples include in every meal, and even drinks in bars I think, having your bags carried up by porters in hotels, taxis, etc. When in doubt, tip! I can't remember what the standard amount is, perhaps 10% but that seems a little low.

#3 Posted by panvixyl (325 posts) -

I'm real fond of Burma Superstar for group dinners, and it's Laotian food which isn't something you get everyday (try their rainbow salad!). To see there's Lombard Street, the Cartoon Art Museum, and the de Young art museum (which is in a lovely park and has a great viewing tower).

And always, ALWAYS tip at least 18%. It's how a lot of serving staff make their living over here.

(P.S. Remember that San Fran is cold even in summer and if you plan to walk the Golden Gate bring warm clothing especially. Funniest thing on earth is seeing dumb tourists buy emergency overpriced parkas on the bridge cause they were stupid enough to wear shorts.)

#4 Posted by bruno0091 (51 posts) -

What are we talking about when you say cold? I'll wear shorts over here in anything over about 18 Celsius.

#5 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4282 posts) -

@Rokkaku said:

I'm not from the US, but having been there a couple of times, I can tell you that you should tip in pretty much every circumstance where a service is being done for you. Examples include in every meal, and even drinks in bars I think, having your bags carried up by porters in hotels, taxis, etc. When in doubt, tip! I can't remember what the standard amount is, perhaps 10% but that seems a little low.

This has little to do with advice for the OP, but this post is incredibly depressing. I never actually noticed how many goddamn leeches are sucking my blood until you lined 'em up like that.

#6 Edited by Jams (2956 posts) -

As a Californian, if you aren't a yuppy fuck (aka everyone from San Francisco) or incredibly rich then just double the tax when you tip and that's if the service was at least decent. That's for services with a tax though. As for hotel service and stuff, just spit in their hand and tell them to move somewhere else.

#7 Posted by panvixyl (325 posts) -

@bruno0091: Little lower than that? And at night it gets even colder - see, it's the winds that'll really getcha.

Remember: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

#8 Posted by panvixyl (325 posts) -

@bruno0091: Also, check out Tartine bakery in the Mission. They're fucking great.

#9 Posted by Athadam (638 posts) -

I don't know much about San Francisco, but I live in California myself. If you can, you should make a trip down to southern California as well because there are a lot of places down here to visit within a close distance. You can visit Hollywood, Disneyland, Orange County, Laguna Beach all within one or two days.

San Francisco looks great and has amazing restaurants and culture, but if you want the more typical "Californian" experience, you should check out socal.

#10 Posted by Legion_ (1198 posts) -

I'm not from SF, but I do travel a lot. And this is my advice. Don't plan to much. Like, where are you going to eat? Who cares, just eat wherever you end up. Planning the trip to much will just kill it. Maybe have some major stuff, like the landmarks you mention, and just let the rest take care of it self. That's how I like to travel at least. And talk to the natives! You'll learn so much more than you would from just reading a book.

#11 Edited by idBloc (126 posts) -

I wouldn't advise you to come during summer time because it's just foggy, windy and cold.

Look at this video: http://vimeo.com/27041893

Best time is April/May/June and October/November

For tips, I tip 10% when the service was so-so or inexistant and up to 25% when the service was excellent. Once in Japanase restaurant, after finishing my glass of beer the waitress came, took the bottle of beer and filled up my glass so I gave her a really good tip.

Stuff to see in random positions:

  • Coit tower ($5-$10 I forgot the exact price ~ nice view on SF)
  • Buffalos in Golden Gate Park (free)
  • Cable Car Museum (free)
  • Take the Cable Car ($5 one-way ~ take it early in the morning to avoid the crowd at Powell & Market or at the opposite side)
  • Sea Lions on Pier 39 (free)
  • Golden Gate Bridge (you will need to take the bus or rent a bike ~ I'd go for the bike)
  • Japanase Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park (http://japaneseteagardensf.com/visit.php)
  • Twin Peaks at night (http://bit.ly/TJ7xRy)
  • Japantown (so-so because very small)
  • Chinatown (because... well... it's different)
  • Good food on Saturday Morning during Farmers Market on Embarcadero
  • Ruby Skye is an OK-club (I don't like clubs in SF personally) although there are tons of clubs all around ~ just follow the hot girl
#12 Posted by HerbieBug (3840 posts) -

The sea lions smell! You have been warned! D:

#13 Posted by mosespippy (3735 posts) -

San Francisco has the highest minimum wage in the US ($10.55/hour) compared to the federal rate of $2.13/hour for jobs with tips. So don't feel bad if you undertip in San Francisco since the staff actually make a working wage. I'm in Canada so I don't tip for most things myself but taxi drivers are my one exception. They are on dangerous roads and carry around strangers. Their life is always at risk when they work so tipping makes sense to me in that situation.

Go to a baseball game if you can, even if you don't like baseball. There is something relaxing about being outside on a sunny afternoon eating terribly unhealthy food in a crowd of like minded individuals. AT&T Park is one of the better ball parks in the league too.

#14 Posted by BrianP (348 posts) -

@mosespippy said:

San Francisco has the highest minimum wage in the US ($10.55/hour) compared to the federal rate of $2.13/hour for jobs with tips. So don't feel bad if you undertip in San Francisco since the staff actually make a working wage. I'm in Canada so I don't tip for most things myself but taxi drivers are my one exception. They are on dangerous roads and carry around strangers. Their life is always at risk when they work so tipping makes sense to me in that situation.

Go to a baseball game if you can, even if you don't like baseball. There is something relaxing about being outside on a sunny afternoon eating terribly unhealthy food in a crowd of like minded individuals. AT&T Park is one of the better ball parks in the league too.

San Francisco is also one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Just tip.

#15 Posted by MC_Hify (305 posts) -

Tipping advice: Tip a dollar a drink at a bar, if someone carries your bags in a hotel tip a dollar a bag. For sit down meals double the tax for the tip. If you see a tip jar on the counter of a cafe or something it's up to you, I usually throw a dollar and change in there if I am paying with cash.
 
July 4th will be really crowded and everyone will raise their prices.  
 
I just saw this today: http://www.emperornortontour.com/ and I kinda want to go on it now. I've wanted to check this out too: http://www.museemechanique.org/ but Fisherman's Wharf will be total clusterfuck over July 4th.
 
And yes you can walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.

#16 Posted by bruno0091 (51 posts) -

@idBloc said:

I wouldn't advise you to come during summer time because it's just foggy, windy and cold.

Look at this video: http://vimeo.com/27041893

Best time is April/May/June and October/November

That seems a bit counter-intuitive, but I guess being in England I can't comment on weather, ours is completely batshit crazy most of the time. Hmmmm... my Birthday is in November, so I guess I could go then and treat myself.

Thanks for the recommendations too, generally I just go explore, but if there's some awesome places I should check out for food/drink etc. I'll try and work them in somehow. I don't think I can go to America and not have waffles/pancakes, doughnuts and some kind of fast food that I can't get over here, so if there's anywhere in SF that does amazing versions of that stuff I'd like to check it out.

Are there any good food trucks around? I've heard/seen a lot about them on TV, so I'd like to experience a couple of good ones, but it's not something that's caught on in a big way over here yet.

#17 Posted by panvixyl (325 posts) -

@bruno0091: The food truck industry is so competitive in San Fran bad ones don't stay open for long.

#18 Posted by idBloc (126 posts) -

@bruno0091: Well, that's San Francisco's weather right there.. in Summer it's super hot outside the city (literally), I originate from Western Europe and I surprised myself wearing a short without t-shirt on a January that's how 'weird' the weather is.. Definitely, avoid San Francisco during summer time :s also, December and February is not so great (rainy season)

#19 Posted by bruno0091 (51 posts) -

Hmmm, looking at it, I think I'm going to have to stick with the end of June/early July, the hotel costs for end of October/early November are mental. It goes from about $2,400 to around $3600 and up.

#20 Posted by Meltac (1901 posts) -

This is all you need to know about the dear city Frisco. If it's good or bad, you can decide for yourself.

#21 Posted by bruno0091 (51 posts) -

To follow up, thanks for everyone's comments, I'm all booked up and I'll be there 1 July - 8 July. I'll be staying in a hotel on Post Street. I imagine I'll be doing a lot of walking around exploring, but are there any areas/places I should avoid or seek out? Also where are some good places to drink/spend the evening, ideally within a mile or so of that area?

#22 Posted by Wrighteous86 (3642 posts) -

@bruno0091 said:

Hi!

I'm currently intending to make my first trip to America, and San Francisco is at the top of my location list right now. I'm hoping to be over for the 4th of July (30 June -7 July), cos I figure the weather will be good and there's probably going to be a load of stuff going on?

Anyway I had a few queries about the city, where's good to eat and drink? Any good recommendations on where to go at night (bars/clubs etc)? Also any general advice on customs etc, for example, being from England, tipping isn't something we do as standard, so I'm not clear on what's accepted and what circumstances you should or shouldn't tip in.

I won't be driving, but is there anything I should make sure I do or see? I'm going to do the obvious like Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge (I assume you can walk/run over it) etc.

I've not finalised a hotel yet, but to give you an idea of the starting area, I'm currently looking at staying in either The Stanford Court, W San Francisco on Third Street, or Hotel Palomar on 4th Street, unless anyone local has heard anything bad about those places?

DuskVamp and I are probably heading there around the same time. Tipping is 10%-20% depending on quality of service, and you tip waitstaff and taxi drivers, mostly.

#23 Posted by NTM (7032 posts) -

If I may ask, which I'm going to anyways even if I may not... :D Anyways, why San Francisco? And the answer can't be "why not?"

#24 Posted by bruno0091 (51 posts) -

Seems like a nice city that i can get around most of on foot. There's a few obvious tourist things to do, like Alcatraz, GGB, Academy of Sciences etc. I can jump on the ferry and spend a day in Sausalito, if I want. New York seems more like a long weekend to me, which is the other 'obvious' location, apart from Florida/Miami. I'd like to go to Hawaii next time I think. Not driving is the real limiting factor for me, otherwise I'd probably just rent a car and go driving between 2 places, stopping along the way.

#25 Posted by MB (11297 posts) -

@bruno0091: Get your tickets for Alcatraz in advance because they do sell out, especially during the summer and on weekends. If you expect just to be able to walk up to the ticket booth at the Pier and buy a couple the same day, you will probably end up being disappointed.

Cal Academy of Sciences is worth a visit I suppose, but it's not really anything that you haven't seen before if you've been to other aquariums and natural history museums. The butterfly and bird atrium is pretty cool though and presents some unique opportunities for photographers.

Moderator
#26 Edited by GlenTennis (3143 posts) -

Dolores Park is awesome because it's a park you can totally get drunk in. Located in the mission, it's a quick walk form any number of amazing taquerias like El Cancun or El Farrilito.

Do the touresty stuff. It's popular for a reason. Pier 39 is a great tourism spot, as is Alcatraz and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Check out Soda Popinsky's It's a 90s theme bar with NESes in the bar where you can play punch out. They also have a drink wheel and roulette and tons of other fun stuff.

Don't go to the Tenderloin.

#27 Posted by packs217 (91 posts) -

I live in Seattle, and make the trip to San Francisco a few times a year. I've gotten used to the city and am almost adapting my daily grind into it, but if I only had a week I would at least include the following:

  • Golden Gate Park (a lot to do, my favorite is the Cal museum, but to each his own)
  • Sausalito is nice for lunch, but unless you plan on going for a hike I don't know that Marin will offer you much but a view from the headlands. If you do want a hike, I thought the Muir Woods trails were nice. A lot of wildlife.
  • I've only done the Alcatraz tour once, years ago, but as far as "tourist attractions" go it's one of the best in the country. Really interesting tour.
  • AT&T Park will be rockin' when you're there in July, so see the Giants play. The park is really nice, and the fan base is loud and proud.