Hi, and thanks in advance for the wonderful advice that is always forthcoming on this glorious forum!
I visited SF once before several years ago for a teaching convention. I was only able to spend evenings and a couple afternoons exploring, but I saw enough to fall in love, and to KNOW I had to come back some day...and now, if I can prove to my hubby that I can keep the expense down, that day is finally approaching! I may come solo, or I might have one friend with me.
I'm 99% sure I'm staying in a vacation rental in the inner Richmond neighborhood (Cabrillo St., one block from the DeYoung Museum entrance at GG Park). My flight will arrive at 4:10 on Sunday. I fly out at 10:50 pm from Oakland Airport.
I had originally planned to take a shuttle to and from the airport until I did a search and read about all the problems with that; but I'm not sure I have a choice, as I am forced to be extremely frugal on this trip. I suspect that if I choose the shuttle, my first evening will be completely shot, am I right? I was hoping to do some exploring or SOMETHING that first night...rather than just go to bed, lol.
I'm planning on purchasing a 3-day muni pass...not sure if this is what it's called...I want the one that will let me ride the buses, street cars, and cable cars. I did a search, and the threads I found were a few years old; one of them said you can buy one in advance online, but I couldn't figure out how...is that not true anymore? The reason I want to purchase in advance is so as not to waste any time looking for a vendor once I'm in SF.
Here's what I want to visit:
the Golden Gate Bridge;
the Coit Tower;
the Glass Cathedral;
Alcatraz (night tour);
Any/all museums I can squeeze in;
walking tours of most interesting architectural neighborhoods;
Golden Gate Park;
the Cliff House (is that correct?);
Lombard Street (crookedest part);
Other places I'm questioning: Presidio; Hyde Street Pier; North Beach (a walking tour); Union Square; Japantown--do these places warrant visiting?
Some of these things I'm revisiting, but most are going to be new to me.
1) the GG Bridge--do most people enjoy walking over and back? I do enjoy walking, and I will try to be in great shape...but I am a 50-year-old school teacher, lol. I don't want to find myself flat on my back from exhaustion at ANY point...except maybe the day after I get home. Last time I visited, I took a bus tour of the city, which only me got as close as the visitor center at the foot of the bridge, with the cross-section of cable on display. I always regretted not setting foot on the bridge itself...
2) the GG Park--I went through a section of this on the bus tour, but this time, I want to see more of it, and linger whereever I feel like it. How long should I plan for? Can one rent and ride a bike through the park?
3) Crystal Cathedral--we stopped here on our tour, and were supposed to be able to enter, but services were going on and we weren't allowed. Is it ever possible to enter anymore? Do you recommend it?
4) the Cliff House--my bus tour stopped here, and I was fascinated by the history behind the building and the bathhouse ruins nearby. At that time, the Mecanique (?) penny arcade was located there, but I guess that's at the pier now, yes? I would like to visit here again...wondering the best way to get there.
5) Alcatraz--I did a day tour the last time. I'm planning on reserving the evening tour for Tuesday, July 3, unless you think it would fit in better elsewhere.
Now, I am going to admit to something that may cause some of you to swoon in total disbelief: I am not a foodie. (yes, I'm sure I heard gasps, and could actually feel the hackles going up, lol). Because of an almost lifelong struggle with my weight, I have learned to view food as sustenance only...which I'm hoping will be a boon to my (forced) strict budget. I'd like suggestions for the most inexpensive way to keep my strength up for all the walking. I'm not a big breakfast eater...maybe a boiled egg and coffee...so I just need suggestions for lunch and dinner.
Another confession: I'm not coming to shop. (remember, my budget?!) That being the case, is there any other reason to visit Union Square? Or Fisherman's Wharf? (Other than going to say hello to my old friends, the sea lions, of course)
I am an animal lover, but not a lover of zoos. I'm open to any other low-cost/free suggestions for enjoying wildlife--or even tamelife-- in your beautiful city.
Okay, I noticed that I should mention my budget. I have my airfare, lodging, muni pass ($21, right), & Alcatraz trip accounted for...I want to spend $200 (or less) on everthing else...gulp...doable?
Thank you, thank you in advance for any and all advice/suggestions. I used the Oahu forum to help plan our trip to Hawaii 2 years ago, and the advice I received was a Godsend! Made our trip so much more successful than it would've been otherwise. :)