San Francisco accommodation - help please

(21 Posts)
raskolnikov Sun 22-Sep-13 06:44:39

I'm flying into SF next month for 2 weeks on the PCH, I've found B&B accommodation in Oakland which looks lovely but looking at the map again I'm wondering if its too far out of SF for 4 days sightseeing?
Whilst writing, itinerary is SF 4 nights, Yosemite 2 nights, Monterey 2 nights, Cambria 1 night, then thinking Santa Barbara, LA and San Diego - I have 6 nights left, how would you split them up?
It's just me and DD14.

Oakland is a bit of a way out of town, is there no way you can stay in the centre of SF instead?.

CA as a state is huge, it is too easy to underestimate how vast this state is. San Diego is a long way south, the driving time to San Diego from SF is just under 8 hours and for two weeks is best saved for another visit (starting in LA). You do not want to be spending all your precious holiday behind a wheel.

Bigwuss Sun 22-Sep-13 11:54:13

A couple if nights of near the beach in LA? Close enough to visit the centre of LA but a bit more chilled in the evening. We stayed between venice and marina del ray and loved it. We also found an apartment through homeaway. Then a couple of nights at disney if you plan to do that, although you can do this from the beach if you want to stay somewhere for more a night or two.

Santa Barbara is lovely and there is quite a bit to do, so I would send a couple of nights here too. It all depends on what you like really.

I agree that Oakland is quite a long way out and will make sightseeing a long day.

PestoSwimissimos Sun 22-Sep-13 11:58:09

When we stayed in San Francisco we chose to stay centrally in Fishermans Wharf Holiday Inn. It was great as you could walk to most places and there was a covered car park too, which we used as we had a hire car & had driven down from Tahoe.

sweetestcup Sun 22-Sep-13 23:25:26

Why do you want to stay in Oakland and not San Francisco itself? We are just back and stayed in the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway - a small walk from Fishermans Wharf but in a nice area. We then did 1 night in Monterey and 1 night in Santa Barbara, really just stop over for the night points but didn't get to see them much, but it gave us 4 in LA and then another 4 in Laguna Beach, which was great.

mrswobblebottom Mon 23-Sep-13 17:47:03

Stay in SF! There are so many hotels etc in different budgets it should easy to find one that suits you, check trip advisor too. You will fill 4 days easily and you don't want to waste time sitting in traffic. Didnt hire a car until leaving SF. We stayed near to fishermans wharf/fort mason area in a VRBO apartment which had an amazing view of the GG bridge, self catering could be another option?

I've been following the "we are off to California" thread it has had lots of useful info from past visitors which you should find really helpful!

BlackMogul Mon 23-Sep-13 18:05:36

Personally I think the Nob Hill area inSF is better as this is closer to the down town area and Fishermans Wharf is a bit tacky. It is quite a hike from the shopping and museum area. I think you are trying to do a bit much by trying to go down as far as San Diego! This is another 2 week holiday. I would do the SF section and stay centrally so you do not need a car. Go to Yosemite and then Carmel. This is a fabulous area and you can visit Monterey and also Big Sur on Highway 1. It is then possible to go further south down highway 1 to Santa Barbara where we stayed in a B and B. it is wonderful and very relaxed there. Don't miss Hearst Castle either. There is a lot to see in LA but stay in Santa Monica. You can easily get to the most interesting sights from there and Malibu is just up the road.

clam Mon 23-Sep-13 18:09:21

Restrict the driving as much as you can, i.e. stay close in to town. We did this trip last summer and it was fabulous, but even I underestimated the distances involved, and that's having lived there years ago.

Remember that Yosemite alone is a bit larger than the whole of Derbyshire, so it's not just a case of arriving there and staying put. You have to drive great distances even within the park. It's a fair old hike from there to Monterey, as well. I know temperatures will be lower in October, but we had a drop from 114 to 58 in the 3-4 hours it took. Also, it can be more than a bit chilly on the coast in that part of California (sorry, I know you didn't ask this!), particularly when the fog rolls in, so take appropriate clothing.

mrswobblebottom Mon 23-Sep-13 20:08:35

Fishermans wharf gets tackier towards the pier 39 end! Its still worth looking around at the sea lions (you can look at them on a web cam now!) but you probably want to stay away from the crowds. However where we walked frequently was the Ghiradelli Square/Argonaut Hotel area. We caught open top bus tours to everywhere and hired bikes to cycle over the bridge from here too. You can also get on the cable car at Hyde street.

raskolnikov Thu 26-Sep-13 10:11:49

Thank you everyone for your ideas and comments, I'm still busy researching and booking bits and pieces - car, travel insurance etc. I've decided to ditch San Diego this time as its so far.

The reason for staying in Oakland is cost - I can afford a hotel but am not really bothered about staying somewhere fancy, I think most hotels are over-rated and its only a bed for the night after all! So I found a B&B arrangement in someone's home which is near the BART at Lake Merritt, it looks as if you can get into town quite easily that way - I'm not intending to drive in SF at all, the car's booked for the day we leave.

So now the end of the trip is looking like 3 nights in Santa Barbara and 4 in Santa Monica or Long Beach, then fly back to SF on the last day for the flight home the next morning. I've booked a convertible (fingers crossed) - is that a bad idea for Yosemite?

Thanks for helping me on this, so exciting... 3 weeks today!!

Should be fine from Lake Merritt Bart station; you would just need to catch a blue line train in the direction of Daly City.

Would not use a convertible for Yosemite, its not very practical. Do also check the Yosemite National Parks service website before you depart for this area. It is indeed vast.

Given the choice between staying in Long Beach and Santa Monica, I would choose Santa Monica. Not much in Long Beach apart from the Aquarium (also Long Beach is where the Port of Los Angeles is so there are lots of lorries going back and forth).

clam Thu 26-Sep-13 16:00:57

Whilst a convertible is a great idea in theory for Yosemite, as a lot of the scenery is above your head, in practice there is a real issue with bears at night. Even with a hard top you absolutely cannot leave anything edible, or even scented, in a car overnight. They're very strict about this. Your average bear would make short work of a soft top car.

clam Fri 27-Sep-13 17:08:06

Actually, one other point about a convertible is that the roof folds back into the boot area, meaning you lose a fair bit of space in there for luggage. Depending on how much you'll have, that may be a consideration.

specialsubject Fri 27-Sep-13 17:37:50

as others note a convertible just makes life easier for the bears. Also doesn't seem a great idea in October.

Tasmania Sun 29-Sep-13 23:29:45

Go to www.airbnb.co.uk. Look for places where you can rent out the entire apartment.

Best thing we ever did in San Fran.

raskolnikov Tue 01-Oct-13 09:05:09

Thank you Tasmania, that's where I found the house in SF - it looks lovely and the reviews are very good - its saved me about £500 on the cost of a hotel for the 4 nights we're in SF! I'm making up for it tho' in LA - some of the hotels there look wonderful so I can see the budget being shaken up a bit shock. I will look on Airbnb for Santa Barbara and LA and see what they've got too.

The car's working out quite inexpensively and the internal flight was only £35 each - the prices move up and down a lot!

Next question ... any tips for dealing with jetlag when we come home? We're both straight back into work and school...

newfavouritething Tue 01-Oct-13 09:42:25

When we travelled around about 10 years ago we just use Motel 6's for sleeping - they cost around £15 night - and are everywhere. Obviously cost a bit more more now - San Fran is c.£70/night, Oakland from $60 dollars. I don't remember driving around being an issue anywhere other than LA - America is built around the car.

spicynaknik Tue 01-Oct-13 09:47:59

Re jetlag, how about melatonin supplements. You can buy them in the pharmacy in the US. You take one on the plane and one when you get back to the UK and are going to sleep. I find it minimises jet lag considerably. You can find further info about timing of doses suitable for your travel times if you google.

Pitmountainpony Sat 12-Oct-13 03:21:55

Oakland us fine if you are getting a good deal....we drove 15 mins on a Sunday to get into SF.....I think staying in centers is over rated myself unless you have no car. The Chabot Space centre will be fun with a teenager and is in Oakland...brand new planetarium which we loved, if they are into space...all very nasa in vibe up there. Lawrence hall of science close by in Berkley. Some parts of Oakland are a bit sketchy but I am sure your B and B will be in a nice bit....as in north in the hills.
I personally find San Diego a bit like Liverpool on the sea....but the coast down is pretty. Laguna could be a good day trip from LA...very pretty beach town an hour south of LA. You could do kings canyon on your way to LA....lovely redwood forests and cabins to rent. Or just do beach days up in Malibu....the weather is usually good in the summer.

Pitmountainpony Sat 12-Oct-13 03:25:35

Hopefully the shutdown will be lifted as Yosemite is closed as are all national parks here right now.......watch that before you set out to any national parks.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Sat 12-Oct-13 04:34:23

If the parks are still shutdown, do Nappa Valley instead, Nappa, St Helena, Yountville and all the way up to Callistoga for the mudbaths too.
Great wines and absolutely glorious farm fresh food.

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