San Francisco and Los Angeles, best area to stop?

Discussion in 'Travelling & Holidays' started by True Romance, May 10, 2017.

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  1. True Romance

    True Romance
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    Looking at a multi centre holiday next Feb to New York and then San Francisco. Know New York but never been to San Francisco before so looking for suggestions as to the best location to stay. Looking at Fishermans Wharf area, anywhere better?? Hotel recommendations would be appreciated. Will not be renting a hire car so will be walking or using public transport.

    *edit* so slight change of plan potentially. Now looking at LA plus SF. So same question regarding LA, would be looking to visit universal studios.

    Many thanks,
    TR.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2017
  2. hyperfish

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    Stayed at Fisherman's Wharf for 3 days in 2002, just at the Holiday Inn so nothing spectacular. We didn't venture too far from that district but it seemed to be where the action was.
     
  3. LV426

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    Public transport is very good and the city is compact anyway. Fishermans Wharf is a lively area, but in case it works for you - you could stay anywhere downtown in shouting distance of Market Street and take the electric tram (streetcar) round, or cablecar over, to the FW area anyway.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2017
  4. AdeC

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    We stayed at the FW Hyatt centric last year. It was a good hotel in a nice location. Close to a cable car stop that doesn't get too busy.
     
  5. TheBlueBrazil

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    What do you want to do when in SF? Let me know that and I can tell you exactly where to stay but in summary:

    1 - Fishermans Wharf - very touristy - great for Alcatraz, bike hire, cycling the golden gate bridge etc

    2 - Union Square - where all the bars, shopping, food can be found.

    3 - SOMA - Some nice hotels but not exactly touristy - good for a convention at the Moscone but not recommended for a first visit.

    Let me know how many days you are going for and I can give you some suggestions of things worth doing.
     
  6. True Romance

    True Romance
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    @TheBlueBrazil Thank you :smashin: Will be there for 4 days. Is just an holiday so will be doing all the tourist things. Will be travelling with our daughter for her 16th birthday so close to more family orientated areas would be better. Torn between FW or US but think may be FW is the better choice? How far are the two areas apart?
     
  7. cooey

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  8. TheBlueBrazil

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    ok - I went to SF in October last year with my oldest son for 4 nights - we stayed at HI Express Fishermans Wharf as I wanted to be in the touristy bit as we were doing touristy things.

    SF is not a big city - you can walk from FW to US (uphill) quite easily and it's quite a nice walk - we walked from the hotel to the Coit Tower, Financial District, Union Square, Market St, City Hall and back to FW via Market, Union Square, North Beach. That was a nice way to spend day 1 when you are up at silly o'clock due to the time difference. Don't walk back from City Hall via any other route than Market Street though as you will find yourself in Tenderloin and you don't want to do that.

    Market Street has a lot of homeless but they are harmless - just keep walking and dont' stare.

    You can get a 3 day ticket which gets you on the Cable Cars and buses - a single ride on the cable car regardless of distance is $7 (regardless of distance) so a 3 day ticket makes sense - there is a cable car stop in FW area which takes you to Market St. You can get the F line street car from Market to FW (and the E line now as well). Get a 3 day ticket and you can ride the cable cars for fun. The advantage of FW is that the line to get on is never as busy as the line at Market so my strategy is Cable Car to Market and then bus/streetcar back to FW.

    More to come.....
     
  9. TheBlueBrazil

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  10. TheBlueBrazil

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    Alcatraz - you have to do this - there are 3 options now

    Day tour
    Night Tour
    Behind the Scenes

    Alcatraz tour comparison chart

    I've done the first 2 - the Behind the Scenes wasn't available when I booked unfortunately. I would definitely go for it the next time.

    The Day tour is recommended by me for first time visitors as parts of the island as shut off at night.
     
  11. True Romance

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    Last edited: May 11, 2017
  12. TheBlueBrazil

    TheBlueBrazil
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    Never been in Feb - only ever been in September/October but I believe the climate is fairly reliable all year round. Just because it's raining, cold and foggy in SF it could be glorious sunshine across the golden gate bridge.
     
  13. TheBlueBrazil

    TheBlueBrazil
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    20161009_115029.jpg
    20161010_103549.jpg
     
  14. TheBlueBrazil

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    20161008_143900.jpg
    20161008_181006.jpg
     
  15. Si80

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    We stayed at the Scarlet Huntingdon opposite the Grace Cathedral. Hotel was lovely, rooms large and plush.

    Tram stop right outside and I preferred being away from Fishermans Wharf. Was a short walk to Union Sq (downhill).

    Alcatraz tickets are available 3 months in advance so keep an eye on the main website so you don't get stung by "tour" operators with a large mark up on tickets.
     
  16. MarkyPancake

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    I really like Universal Studios Hollywood. Head straight to the tour and get that done, as it incorporates some fun experiences along the way, then you can enjoy the rest of the park.

    If you've got time, I really enjoyed the Warner Bros Studio Tour when I went in 2014. They had a brilliant Batman exhibition at the time, one room of vehicles and one of all the cowls and costumes from all the films.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
  17. Flipper

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    We stayed at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in 2013. Great hotel in a nice location at the top of Nob Hill. Easy cable car access. Their club lounge was a very welcome site at the end of a long day!
     
  18. Cloth-Ears

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    San Francisco is actually a big city, just that where a tourist would go is relatively speaking a smallish area seen zoomed out on the map in relation to the whole. You'll get the feeling that SF is a proper city of its own, with neighbourhoods and feels like a characterful place to love - and it is, greatly, rated by Americans as one of the very best loved places to be on holiday.

    LA is very different in nature and which you will actually enjoy more comes down to what you want to do. LA is better described as many "cities" merged by growth and connected by freeways.

    Public transport is extensive in both places, but in LA, given the sheer scale of things and the separated locations of the good stuff, public transportation is far less useful than it is to a tourist in SF. ( I speak generally )

    In SF you need book just one hotel, even for a long stay. Use public transport, taxis and your own feet to get around. In LA, you need to look at it as a series of different places and stay accordingly in more than one place, even three, depending on why you are there.
    SF will tend to be more expensive. There is more choice in LA to be able to save money by staying off hot spots, but doing this you're really best with a car ( I speak generally ). In SF a car is more of a hinderance.

    For weather, February isn't ideal for either, but it should be warmer down south, but Feb is LA's rainiest month )

    Climate San Francisco - California and Weather averages San Francisco

    Climate Los Angeles - California and Weather averages Los Angeles

    Actually, if you want a place in California that's nice and warm with low rain in February, think about San Diego. It has really nice beach areas, lots to do both in terms of fun and heritage. You can take a short and scenic train ride to get there from LA or Orange County.

    From New York, you could as well fly there directly. Or fly to LA and do a bit of both LA and SD. Or fly to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, do Disney, which will be open in February and should be quiet mid week, then take the train to San Diego from Anaheim Amtrak station. United go direct, but you can do it for less than half if you involve 1 stop.

    A wild card suggestion, is to make Las Vegas your western part of the trip. Should be warm and while Feb is also their rainiest month, its at a fraction of what you get in LA. Or another idea, fly to John Wayne , do Disney, then transfer on a special door to door coach transfer service for Las Vegas, I can link you if you're interested. No need to have a car at all for Disney and Las Vegas.

    May I ask what sort of things would interest you to do in SF and LA ?
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  19. Cloth-Ears

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    sActually, reading more of the thread, I see you are particularly interested in Universal.

    Great ! There are worthwhile differences between Universal here compared with Florida, including a unique topographical aspect. You also have the rest of Hollywood nearby.

    There is something to be said for staying onsite and perhaps taking some kind of ticket package with the hotel. It comes down to Hiton or Sheraton, so not cheap but then, maybe that's the level you'd be going for anyway, I don't know. You'd be right next to the off park attraction areas - Universal City Walk, etc.
    Staying here, you'd have good proximity to other Hollywood things, like Warner Bros, Downtown Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park. Unlike downtown Hollywood, which is fun but grotty, here its is more of a safe, resort nature. Yet close to the film industry and stars related attractions by taxi, metro train or bus. Sightseeing bus tours, including "stars homes/Beverly Hills" type tours will certainly pick up from these hotels, to cover anything else that interests you, however I will say that if it is something distant like Disney, its a convoluted thing, a long day and it would be better in a way to go stay right next to it, depending on durations, level of interest etc.

    I highly recommend the VIP tour of Warner. Its a different animal from the backlot tour at Universal. That's not to criticise Universal, just that one is an interesting and compehensive behind the scenes look, the other more an extended theme park ride - both great, just different !

    Warner Bros. Studio Tour

    Speaking of Metro, the Red Line now extends up to Universal City, which gives you local train access to downtown Hollywood and ultimately to Union Station, for downtown LA i.e. the main high rise business district but also an historic old town centre. Usefully, if you don't mind taking your luggage on the Metro, Union Station is your departure point for Amtrak to San Diego, or to Anaheim for Disney by either Amtrak or the suburban Metrolink service.

    If you are going to train it to San Diego, I'll give you a nicer way to do it. Take a taxi to the Amtrak station at Burbank Airport. You can pick up the same Pacific Surfliner service from there instead of Union Station ( but use Union Station for checked bag service - see website for carry on restrictions )

    www.Amtrak.com

    Usefully, if you are coming to stay on site at Universal as your LA stay, one airline flies from New York to Burbank airport, which is just up the road ( as opposed to flying to LAX ). JetBlue do it on certain days of the week and happen to be one of the nicest and best domestic carriers.

    https://www.jetblue.com/#/

    While in my earlier post I said that LA works best by staying in two or three different locations, that is relevant more to a comprehensive LA/so-Cal holiday. For a short visit and for what you have indicated is your interest, a single stay close to Universal and in particular on site at Universal City, is just fine as a single location. That, augmented perhaps by sightseeing tours and use of the Red Line Metro.

    By the way, if you're also interested to finish your trip in Las Vegas for another high octane blast, then Southwest fly from Burbank, once again letting you fly more conveniently.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  20. rustybin

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  21. True Romance

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    Thank you guys some great info :thumbsup: The last plan is fly to SF for 2-3 days. Fly to L.A. for 3-4 days but hire a car and drive to SD for a night or two. Then drive back to L.A. for the flight home. However the weather issue is now putting us off so may postpone the trip until later in the year after our daughters exams finish (end of June start of july) but prices rise quite significantly then which will put it over our budget :( Just wanted to see as many places while in socal so we can plan future trips should we really like any of the stops.
     
  22. Cloth-Ears

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    I feel that timing is so important. February isn't a great time really.

    Unfortunately summer also has its problems. Different ones, in SF and LA. And crowds at attractions.

    Especially in these days of poor exchange rates and especially in the context of a trip to NYC, SF and so-Cal, its all so expensive a beast, you really want to be getting the best out of it, so select your month carefully.

    If your timing is linked to school holidays, then I suggest the October break.
    ( I am presuming they get two weeks in October - that's the position in Scotland anyway )

    Regarding San Diego, yes you can rent a car , but you can take a nice train ride and also, fly home out of San Diego airport.
    You do not really need a car for San Diego. Just locate yourselves to a nice beach hotel and chill. Its better than LA for this. Use the tram or bus or taxi to get to the other interesting parts of town, or do a tour to augment. You don't need a car. And it leaves you free to not have to double back before your flight home. I think BA still fly from San Diego direct home to London. When I have played with that possibility online it didn't seem much different to a flight out of LAX.

    October is a great time for LA and a great time for San Francisco and a great time for New York.

    Regarding Burbank airport as a near to Universal alternative to LAX, United and Southwest do flights from SFO. A reminder, the train to San Diego is the Pacific Surfliner ( several departures ) and you can go from Burbank Airport station or if you need checked baggage get down to Union Station.

    If you do rent a car, it does open up possibilities en route, such as visiting the original Disneyland and/or the unique Disney California Adventure adjacent ( there are many hotels rights by these ). There should be no one way drop off fees returning the car within state at San Diego airport. You might as well not double back to LA, so long as flying back from San Diego isn't too much more ( if any ).

    Just one other thing about San Diego. I mentioned it originally in the context of being in so-Cal in February and suggested it as a place to get better weather. While San Diego is a great place and is better in terms of say beaches, it doesn't compare to the potential around LA for high octane fun that may appeal to a family with teenagers. I don't know, just look at what each offers and judge for yourselves. If its all meant to be about adrenaline and whacky places, then your rationed time might be better in October spent staying put in the LA area. But if you want to wind down a bit and enjoy a place that is quite beautiful while still having fun things to do, then San Diego is certainly worthwhile.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  23. Cloth-Ears

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    Come to think of it, TrueRomance, if I were you I'd forget about NYC altogether and spend all of the two weeks in California. Especially if this is a family trip. And go as I suggest, in October.

    You can nip over to New York for short holidays or as part of a longer eastern thing at another time.

    There is such a world of things to do for a family in California and even with two weeks you'll be having to make difficult decisions between things. In the context of a two week trip, you can also enjoy a large section of the iconic Highway 1 coast route, with some surprising fun things to do along the way. Start in San Francisco, do several days around there, drive down the coast, finish in either LA or San Diego.

    I can help you by typing out itineraries for you to consider. I know a lot and I am a cat, which is an advantage also.
     
  24. True Romance

    True Romance
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    Thanks going to wait for flight prices at different times as there only showing up till May 2017 atm.
     
  25. Cloth-Ears

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    October is cheaper than summer but I think would be more than Feb, especially during school holiday dates. Still, cheaper than summer holidays. Buying long in advance is usually best. Don't dither, especially for Premium Economy if that's what you'd buy.

    BA do direct from San Diego, if that's where you're finishing. Their LA route uses the A380, if that's where you're finishing. They cover San Francisco directly as well. As economy class goes, BA aren't bad long haul.

    Lufthansa are really nice. Saves you getting to Heathrow over land as you'd do for BA or Virgin. They have connecting flights from Birmingham to either Frankfurt or Munich as the case may dictate, if Wolverhampton is still profile says you live. Their Premium Economy is exceptional. Flights from Germany to both SFO and LAX are direct. Connection from BHX is Lufthansa also, for your peace of mind. With Lufthansa also, you might get an A380, which I've noticed in use for both SFO and LAX. Just be careful when booking, to select an actual Lufthansa plane, not a United one.

    Virgin from LHR are another favoured option. SFO and LAX are direct. The Premium Economy seats are big and there are several perks. On SFO and LAX you might get a Dreamliner 787, otherwise a nice Airbus 330 or 340, not a noisy old 747. I may be wrong but I think they're phasing it out on LAX and haven't used it on SFO for ages. Virgin always seems to get decent ratings and does the entertainment well.

    Just three better option I thought I'd mention.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017

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