A Perfect Week: suggestions on how to put it all together
Create a PLAN for a Wonder-full Vacation in San Francisco, our extraordinary Wine Country, Monterey, Carmel, Silicon Valley, San Jose...Yosemite?
If you're lucky you'll enjoy a whole week in our San Francisco Bay Area…there's enough to do here to fill at least 7 days (and nights). Or maybe you only have a long weekend. Whatever the case, don't block out activities for every hour. Leave time for coming across completely un-expected places where you'll want to linger...or return. Do allow time for casually exploring a fascinating neighborhood or picturesque town, for enjoying our natural environment, for joining in our vibrant nightlife, or for taking a nap after a shiatsu massage. Be aware that with some free guided tours you gain access to a Victorian home interior, the magnificent nave of Stanford's Memorial Church, or the most delicate murals at Coit Tower--places often closed to the general public. A Friend in Town can alert you of those possibilities once we know your particular interests.
(Day 1) Arrive. If there are hours remaining before bedtime, begin to recover from jetlag and your long day by relaxing with activities that do not require reservations: ride the "little cable cars that climb halfway to the stars" (the Hyde Street line from Powell & Market) up Nob Hill thru Chinatown and down to Fisherman's Wharf, where at Pier 39 you enjoy the antics of frisky sea lions; appreciate views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge; make dinner of fresh crab from a street stand or clam chowder in sourdough bowls at Boudin's. Still not tired? Ride a historic trolley (the F Line) to the end of the line and back. Or climb Telegraph Hill for its panoramic views of city lights and the Bay.
(Day 2) Take A Friend in Town's "Everybody's Favorite City" Tour* that can feature the amazing! Muir Woods redwood forest, quaint Sausalito and Golden Gate Park. Evening offers theater (road shows from Broadway and others that you may not have at home), stand-up comedy, or live jazz by local and international stars. Try our world-class opera, orchestras, ballet...historic speakeasies and clubs. If you're a foodie, you already know that there are 4000 restaurants in The City alone: for the popular, top-rated ones, make your reservations weeks in advance. For recommendations see our Where to Eat? page.
(Day 3) Sleep in. Take a free walking tour of one of the city's unique neighborhoods or landmarks—with San FranciscoCity Guides. Enjoy a leisurely lunch. Step inside boutiques on Union Street, a quiet shopping district oriented towards but not exclusively for more mature women. Or revisit the Sixties on Haight Street...whichever you choose, you'll discover treasures never seen at Bloomingdale's. Or consider taking A Friend in Town's "Neighborhoods" Tour* where you can see more one-of-a-kind neighborhoods in less time. Having arranged it several weeks in advance, take Alcatraz' Evening Tour...admire sunset views of the Bay on the way out and the twinkling city skyline on the way back.
(Day 4) Take one of A Friend in Town's Wine Country Tours*. We offer more choices as to regions, wineries, restaurants, scenery, things to taste other than wine...than any other tour company! ...even a tour for those who don't consume alcoholic beverages. Back in San Francisco very relaxed, you may want to do something that doesn't require close attention :-) As of summer 2021, the combination of the popularity of wine tours, past and anticipated wildfire activity, and Covid-related restrictions have made the traditional and spontaneous drop-in wine tastings extinct. We're currently recommending that if you can, book your wine-tasting tour with us at least 3 weeks in advance.
(Day 5) If it's Sunday, get in line early at Glide Memorial Church to experience a truly diverse congregation and some of the city's best gospel music. Glide is the most philanthropic place in the city's Tenderloin, but be aware that many homeless people are concentrated there. Afterwards take a bus out to the Cliff House for brunch overlooking Ocean Beach. Spend the afternoon on a Segway tour in Golden Gate Park. Set aside a couple of hours for the justly famous Japanese Tea Garden, the dramatically designed DeYoung Art Museum next door, the "green" California Academy of Sciences directly across…or lounge in a paddle-boat on Stow Lake. If you're a fan of avant-garde technology, you may want to take our Silicon Valley /San Jose Tour*, where you can stop by Apple's corporate HQ and experience the superb Computer History Museum (near the Googleplex) and,or tour the beautiful campus of Stanford University.
(Day 6) Take A Friend in Town's Monterey & Carmel Tour*, during which you'll see some of the world's most productive farmland en route to some of California's most spectacular coastal scenery along the Seventeen Mile Drive. There's also Carmel-by-the-Sea, for which the adjective "charming" was invented. Clint Eastwood lives nearby...Doris Day used to...and the late "Painter of Light" (Thomas Kinkade) was often inspired by Carmel. You have options: visit the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium, enter the world-famous Pebble Beach Lodge, see thousands of magical monarch butterflies (in season), spot otters in their natural habitat, enjoy the incomparable vistas along the Big Sur* coast.
What about Alcatraz? for many a "Must See" attraction. It's best to make arrangements for doing it on your own. Use the National Park Services' website-- www.alcatrazcruises.com. For holiday weeks and from May through September, reserving your tickets 3 months in advance is not too early, especially for the most popular Evening at Alcatraz tour.
(Day 7) Spend your last day power-shopping in Union Square, visiting our excellent Asian Art, African Diaspora, Contemporary Jewish and,or newly expanded Modern Art Museums, or following up on something that really intrigued you before—perhaps those Dead posters on Haight Street—or just blending in with locals nursing a cappucino at a North Beach cafe.
Book with us and we'll help you determine whether it's opera or baseball (Go Giants! Go A's!) or NBA championship basketball (Warriors!), hiking or skating, dim sum (Chinese) or a ceviche (Peruvian) that are going to make this your vacation of a lifetime!
* Usually we're happy to take you on as many as 3 tours if you're new to A Friend in Town... 4 tours if you've been out with us before.