Help me give my 50 year old uncle a 4 hour tourist ride through San Francisco
April 21, 2008 1:04 PM   Subscribe

My 50 year old uncle is visiting San Fran this Thursday for the first time. I am picking him up at SFO at 11 and we want to be back to Novato by about 330 to beat (most of) the traffic. On the way out we will certainly go up to the Marin Headlands, and he is a big seafood guy so I am guessing we will catch lunch down near the Wharf or maybe at the Cliff House. Obviously we don't have much time, so what recommendations do you all have for a few cool things to see in the city on the way out? I think we'll do Lombard, but otherwise I'm not terribly interested in super-touristy stuff. Maybe some historic spots?
posted by Chuck Cheeze to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (13 answers total)
Twin Peaks is always a great quick stop for tourists.
posted by gnutron at 1:07 PM on April 21, 2008

If he's a Kerouac fan take him to Vesuvio and City Lights.
posted by rocket88 at 1:12 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Holy crap, I don't think you'll make it doing Fisherman's Wharf and Marin plus traffic in 4 hours.. that's about 2.5-3 hours by my count for non-driving. I think you're better off going over to Pt Reyes for seafood and skipping the city entirely. Take 1 up through Stinson Beach, Pt Reyes, and then to Novato - it's more scenic and you can get Muir Woods and some seafood on the way. If you have time to get up to Tomales Bay, Tony's Seafood is a great stop.
posted by kcm at 1:17 PM on April 21, 2008

Another note - I actually think the bus tours are great for people who've never been here to get all the touristy stuff out of the way, see a bit of the city, and then be prepared to dive into the specifics of their personal desires. If you have a few hours on another day, perhaps you could do that. Some of the companies have combo deals with a city tour + one of Napa, Marin, or other non-SF highlights.

And don't call it San Fran. :)
posted by kcm at 1:19 PM on April 21, 2008

Swan at Polk/California. You won't have time for anything but lunch and drive-through sights.
posted by rhizome at 1:57 PM on April 21, 2008

You've probably thought of this, but if you end up with extra time, you could get off at San Marin (just north of Novato), turn east (right) off the exit, park and walk around by the wetlands there. The Cliff House & Hwy 1 are spectacular, of course.
posted by salvia at 2:17 PM on April 21, 2008

I'd skip fisherman's wharf on that timeline (and in general) and instead take a scenic drive up past the cliff house and around the Presidio. You can also park at the north or south ends of the Golden Gate Bridge and walk it.

There are some beatiful old coastal fortifications in the Marin Headlands that you can drive to, if you like great views of the ocean.
posted by zippy at 2:30 PM on April 21, 2008

As a many-time tourist to the area I always love eating down by the waterfront in Sausalito, just for the view of the city.
posted by Jakey at 3:27 PM on April 21, 2008

Response by poster: Great ideas all - and good points. As a caveat - we don't have to be back to Novato at 330 - I just know that we can't stay in the city too long or I'll be spending the whole afternoon in traffic.

@kcm - I'll call it whatever I like :)

@salvia - I actually live just off San Marin drive in Novato.

@zippy - not a bad thought - maybe even will go to the beach chalet for lunch instead, or take Jakey's suggestion and maybe hit Sam's in Sausalito.
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 3:57 PM on April 21, 2008

I assume you meant Sam's in Tiburon? If I can offer up a suggestion, I'm a fan of Fish in Sausalito.
posted by junesix at 4:53 PM on April 21, 2008

2nding Fish in Sausalito. No skyline views but it's really good seafood.
posted by spatula at 5:28 PM on April 21, 2008

I'd take him to Hog Island Oysters in Point Reyes. I'm a bit less is more guy. I am sure you can find a nice place in Marin.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:40 PM on April 21, 2008

If you really want good seafood, I would avoid all the places you mentioned. The Cliff House, the Wharf, and the Beach Chalet are all pretty poor choices for good food. I'd go to Pesce, or for San Francisco atmosphere and cioppino, Tadich Grill (stick with the basics there, they don't do fancy well). Fish is also a good suggestion.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:28 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

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