Help make this vacation rock!
January 31, 2010 2:13 PM   Subscribe

My family is going on a trip to San Francisco this spring (March 27-April 3). We're staying at the Grand Hyatt on Stockton Street. Food/Activity recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

We're a family of five, me, my twin brother (16) my little brother (11) and my parents.

Recommendations for places to eat (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, coffee etc.) that are family friendly but still delicious would be greatly appreciated. It would be better if they're in walking distance (or easy to get to on streetcars) but if some place is really great feel free to mention it too (I think we'll have a rental car).

Advice on what to do there would be great as well. We're pretty much open to anything, so throw out the parts of San Francisco that shouldn't be missed.

I think we also want to go an a trip to a beach sometime during that trip. I know that there aren't really any ones in San Francisco, but are there any nice ones that aren't too far away? (I know it won't be warm enough to swim).

I also love photography, so if there are any parts of San Francisco that are particularly photogenic it would be great if you could share that too!

If you have any other advice feel free to mention it here as well! I'll be around to answer any clarification questions you have, thanks so much!
posted by kylej to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There are most definitely beaches in San Francisco: Ocean Beach, where the Pacific meets land, and Crissy Field, on the bay. The water's too cold for all but diehard swimmers, but both are nice for strolling. Ocean Beach is very long and flat, but offers nice waves rolling in from the open ocean. Crissy Field has a restored wetlands area that attracts lots of birds, so it's pretty interesting, and another area usually has lots of enthusiastic dogs romping in the surf.

Both beaches are accessible by transit. The transit trip planner works pretty well for figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B, so you should be able to get wherever you need to go in the city without a car (parking can be a nightmare in many areas).
posted by Quietgal at 4:05 PM on January 31, 2010

Exploratorium (surely mentioned in links above).
posted by math at 4:11 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can take the N-Judah Muni train to Ocean Beach and walk across the street to the shore. The wind will knock you over and blast you with sand, so afterward you can go back across the street to the Java Beach Cafe where the train let you off and get warm..
posted by jgirl at 4:13 PM on January 31, 2010

Don't forget Baker Beach! Rodeo Beach is a short drive north and is one of my favorite local beaches.

Read through the other SF AskMes and see if anything in there helps, and come back with more specific questions. There are a million restaurants and things to do here, and the question gets asked a fair amount; you'll get the most helpful answers if you narrow down the kinds of things that you most like to do.

Like for photography--are you most interested in architecture? Nature? Panoramic views of the Bay? People?
posted by gingerbeer at 4:16 PM on January 31, 2010

(I love answering questions about San Francisco and it's an amazing place with lots of great things to do, but I don't want to throw out a bunch of ideas that aren't your and your family's speed at all.)
posted by gingerbeer at 4:18 PM on January 31, 2010

The Tadich Grill is nearby and is a SF institution about as old as Levi's jeans. It's fun and good food, and reasonably priced for all that.
posted by caddis at 6:14 PM on January 31, 2010

Free walking tours sponsored by City Guides. Hugely informative and lots of fun.

You'll be a short walk from the Cartoon Art Museum and the California Historical Society.

Stroll down to Market Street and hop on the historic F Line streetcars. (These aren't cable cars; they're streetcars.) You can board from the north side of the street and head toward the Castro, or board from the south side of Market and head toward Fisherman's Wharf, which is a little more family-oriented.

You might want to look into getting Muni Passports for unlimited rides over 1, 3, or 7 days. They're good on the cable cars - and if you want to take a cable car, consider the California cable car line (which runs east and west) rather than the other two lines (which run north and south) - the California is usually MUCH less crowded.

There are bus (and cable car) maps in the transit shelters.

If you do have a car, drive out to Ocean Beach. Park in the parking lot on your right, just before you reach the beach - just before the little diner called Louis. There's a trail from the north end of the parking lot that offers great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can then walk back past your car, past Louis, past the Cliff House, and check out Ocean Beach. After your hike, you can grab a bite at Louis, or the Cliff House, or the Beach Chalet - Louis is my favorite; the Cliff House is pricey.

Finally, you might want to check out the arboretum and botanical garden in Golden Gate Park ... it's been free for decades, but they've started pushing to charge for it.

Have a wonderful time!
posted by kristi at 2:39 PM on February 2, 2010

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