San Francisco: Trip Review

How we flew: Midwest Airlines- I typically love this airline but was not smitten this time, it’s just not what it once was.  The seats are smaller, you have to pay $50 more for the large signature seats, and you have to pay to check your bags now of course.  No free snacks, and no freshly baked chocolate chip cookies if you fly before noon 😦  Plus we were delayed both there and back and they gave us no explanation for it either time.  We did get cookies on our return trip as it didn’t leave until 2 pm.

Where we stayed: Best Western Tuscan Inn at the Wharf, a Kimpton Hotel- We took our chances and booked through priceline.com which worked out well for us last year when we went to Chicago.  Due to the Nike Women’s Marathon taking place the same weekend we went to SF, we weren’t able to get a decently priced hotel in our first choice area: Union Square.  After considering the touristy things we wanted to do, we realized that staying at the Wharf really wasn’t that bad of an idea, and we were able to get our hotel for $85 per night (three star hotel rather than the four we originally tried for).  We were very happy with this hotel, it doesn’t feel like a Best Western since it is managed by Kimpton, and it is not right on the wharf, so the crowds/noise are not as bad.  They let us check in 2 hours early, had a very helpful concierge, and our room was clean and comfortable.  The bathroom had been upgraded recently and was very attractive.  Best part?  Free wine reception in the lobby from 4-6pm every day.  You get 2 free glasses of wine, they usually had a white zin, a chardonnay, and a red.  Not the most expensive of wines, but they were good, and FREE!  To get to our hotel from the airport we took BART to the Embarcadero station, then an $8 taxi ride to the hotel.  You could also take the F-line Street Car from Embarcadero, but that can be tricky with luggage so we went with the taxi instead.

Where we ate: This is documented (with pics of course!) over on our food blog.  Check out the good, the not as good, the sweet, and the cheesy things we ate.

What we did Day 1:

-Explored Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach (Tyler LOVED the sea lions, he had no idea there would be hundreds)

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-Bought breakfast groceries at Safeway which we were able to store in the fridge in our room.

What we did Day 2:

-Picked up our rental car at Budget, right behind our hotel, SUPER convenient.

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-Drove to Fairfield, CA for a free tour of the Jelly Belly Factory (saw the legendary portrait of RR made out of Jelly Bellies)

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-Drove to Muir Woods and explored the redwood forest.

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-Returned to our hotel via the Golden Gate Bridge

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-Night tour of Alcatraz (make sure to book ahead, these book up weeks in advance at times).

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What we did Day 3:

– Checked out the Saturday market at the Ferry Building, also the arts & crafts booths across the street.

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– 3 hour city tour with Mr. Toads Tours

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What we did Day 4:

– Returned to the Ferry Building for our lunch reservations at Slanted Door, also picked up some bread, cheese, and pastries to enjoy in our room for dinner.
– Rode the cable car down to Union Square to do some window shopping and check out CB2, sadly didn’t buy anything!
– Took the bus back to the Wharf and explored the free stuff at the Maritime Museum and Ghiradelli Square.
– Relaxed in our room, enjoyed the food we bought that morning at the Ferry Building, watched some tv and spent the evening unwinding before returning home the next morning.

Budget Breakdown:

  • flights & luggage fees: $568
  • transportation in SF (BART to and from airport, 3-day MUNI passes, and taxi fare):  $88
  • hotel: $402
  • rental car & gas: $67
  • food: $384.84 (while we spent a lot in this category, we never spent more than $60 on a meal, including tip)
  • Alcatraz tour: $66
  • Mr. Toads Tour: $90
  • Muir Woods: $10
  • Souvenirs/Gifts: $50
  • airport parking: $90 (ouch)
  • pet/house sitter: $150

TOTAL: $1965.84 we went a bit over budget, as we had budgeted approximately $1500, however it didn’t squeeze the wallet too bad as we paid for hotel & airfare back in July when we booked them, tours when we booked them in September, and the rest while we were actually in SF.  I also worked every weekend in September (sometimes twice a weekend) so that we’d have more for our trip.  Despite going over in our budget, it was definitely worth it, we had a fabulous time and were really able to relax and reconnect, we’d do it again in a heartbeat and I’d love to go back to San Francisco.  Tyler rated this our “second best trip”, nothing tops the honeymoon 😉 We don’t have any vacations planned for next year, but our next trip will likely be a week in Colorado, a pug friendly vacation!

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