For consideration as you plan for your trip, including what to pack, and perhaps experience new!--massage, ballet, whale watching, the Tactile Dome at The Exploratorium.
What to Wear in Our Climate? The city of San Francisco has a mild, Mediterranean climate—little to moderate heat in spring and summer, occasional rain but no snow in "winter" (usually late November to late April). The region as a whole (Napa, Silicon Valley, Carmel, San Jose et. al.) is a mosaic of micro-climates whose particular features are determined by distance from the Pacific or the Bay, on which side of a hill you're walking, and by whether fog comes out to play.
Many visitors find San Francisco chilly! especially on its many windy days, and after sunset. Staying comfortable often depends on where you're headed on a given day and the types of activities you plan to enjoy. Layered clothing almost always works best: light to medium-weight, long-sleeved casual shirts and blouses, full-length pants. Bring a nice sweater, hoodie or windbreaker too.
Our tours assume that you are a reasonably fit pedestrian, although length and difficulty of walks are up to you; in any case, well broken-in shoes are highly recommended. If your mobility is limited, we will try our best to accommodate you through careful planning and a more leisurely itinerary; people in lightweight, foldable wheelchairs have enjoyed many tours with us. A collapsible umbrella, rain hat or light poncho is advisable for November through May. If you're in the habit of wearing sunglasses (or a sun visor), you'll want to bring them as well. For people particularly sensitive to cold, bring a coat to help preserve body heat in the evening, and when traveling over water or in a forest.
How to dress for an evening out? We're more informal than not. For men, a nice jacket or blazer will suffice at most upscale restaurants, the opera and symphony; blue jeans (invented by Levi Strauss in San Francisco) are acceptable most everywhere. For women, high-end venues welcome dressier evening wear if you're looking for somewhere to show it off.
Upon Arrival... Anyone traveling a significant distance to reach our area is advised not to commit to a major pre-paid activity within 4-5 hours of his or her scheduled arrival time--your flight may be delayed due to fog...there may be traffic congestion coming in from the airport or across a bridge…you may just be tired from all the effort of getting here. What if you've settled into your hotel or friend's home but still have nervous energy? Start recovering from jet-lag 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 the turnaround at Powell & Market, near Union Square)...they take you up Nob Hill thru Chinatown and down to Ghirardelli Square. Walk over to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 where often hundreds of amusing sea lions hang out; 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 enough for bed? Take a taxi to Coit Tower up on Telegraph Hill for its panoramic views of city lights and the Bay...take the next bus back down to the popular North Beach neighborhood. Back in your room, indulge in a great local wine, realizing that your wonder-full California vacation has already begun! Un-expected Events Yes, we do have earthquakes! here, but the probability of a significant tremblor occurring during your visit is miniscule. In the rare case that you do feel shaking, move away from anything that might fall on you, then wait for the moment to end seconds later--what a story to tell when you get back home! Unfortunately, wildfires in Sonoma, Napa and Russian River Wine Country and near Big Sur have become a fact of life. We can't seem to predict these outbreaks or their duration. A Friend in Town suggests that you pay attention to hotel and other vendors' cancellation policies, consider travel insurance, and generally be alert to activities and venues that may be affected by fire and smoke.
________'Things to Do' in and around San Francisco_________
These are activities for which we suggest planning and/or reservations well in advance of your visit… especially if you intend to be here on any holiday weekend, or Spring Break through the Thanksgiving holiday. Be aware that with some guided tours you gain access to a period 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. These time frames are approximations. A lucky visitor may find available tickets (or seating, an appointment, etc.) on the same day of a desired activity or event; but that would be the exception.
.............Activity or Event Description (Location), Planning Time Frame,Contact.............. Marrakech Magic Show (wonderful entertainment for the whole family), 2-3 weeks, sanfranciscomagictheater.com The Ahwahnee Hotel (Yosemite National Park) possibly the most beautiful lodge in the nation--room reservations available a year ahead for peak season...otherwise, several months ahead; or, The Lodge at Yosemite Falls (bigger rooms, more modern) Alcatraz Island Tour (famous prison complex), tour reservations available 3 months in advance: www.alcatrazcruises.com Boulevard (Art Nouveau-style French restaurant, San Francisco), 2-3 weeks Chez Panisse (Alice Waters' original "California Cuisine" restaurant, Berkeley, a month
The French Laundry (French...Yountville in Napa Vly), Eight Tables (Chinese...SF Chinatown) top-rated hautecuisine restaurants $$$$. For Laundry, book exactly three months prior to your preferred date...begin dialing :-) San Francisco City Pass public transit, museum fees at a discount, buy on arrival Massage/"mud bath" in Calistoga various spas (north end of Napa Valley) 3-4 weeks ...ask us for suggestions
Paramount Theater free Tour (one of best examples in the country of spectacular Art Deco- style movie palace), 1st & 3rd Saturdays A.M., or by arrangement San Francisco Ballet (one of the nation's best troupes), 1-2 months San Francisco International Film Festival (first-run, first-rate, hard-to-find movies ...some may never appear on Netflix), April/May
San Francisco Opera (grand musical drama) 4-10 weeks San Francisco Symphony...also Oakland Symphony (orchestral excellence), 1-2 months SF Jazz Center new superb performance space 1-8 weeks Land's End serene 3-mile (round-trip) walking trail, mountain views, bookstore
The Exploratorium (an unique space for understanding science), one of the nation's most creative science "museums,"3-4 weeks for the sui generis Tactile Dome Trapeze Arts classes & just fun (summer & weekends) Oakland & Sonoma, trapezearts.com Local/Regional Theater: Berkeley Rep, the Aurora & The Marsh (among the best in the nation for classic and new/experimental works) Berkeley & San Francisco), 3-4 weeks
Yoshi's (premier jazz club in Jack London Square, Oakland) Whale-watching, 2-3 weeks (during migration season) oceanicsociety.org, sanfranciscowhaletours.com, sfbaywhalewatching.com
In the Bay Area, one of the best resources for finding fascinating activities in which to participate, or to watch, is the San Francisco Chronicle's e-Guide: www.sfgate.com. Check out our comedy clubs featuring both well-known and up-and-coming artists; find people to hike or bicycle with; be inspired by folk and flamenco dancers; plan to see movies at the Film Noir, LGBT or Silent film festivals. We have several world-class art museums and places to expand your science knowledge. We're also famous...infamous? ...for our kinky and mainstream nightlife possibilities.
Come, enjoy your vacation of a lifetime!
A Private Custom Sightseeing Service for the San Francisco Bay Area