San Francisco Without A Car

The heart of San Francisco is only about seven miles in diameter.  Traffic is difficult to maneuver and parking is costly.  In fact the city is one of the most costly cities in the US to visit and live in.  But don’t let that hold you back!  You don’t need a car and there are plenty of places to eat and have fun.  Marla and I seek out these places.  Over the next few weeks we will post articles on places to eat and see.  We will list some hints on riding the public transport BART and MUNI that may help make your experience great and trouble-free.  Let’s say this up front; there is no way to adequately see San Francisco in one week.  In fact, if you really want to experience SF you need three weeks.  One draw back is that there are many homeless in the city, both in the Union Square and downtown area as well as the Pier areas.  While it is tempting to give to them, beware.  Many I have seen on early trip days as well as this past one are the same people with the same stories.  They are very convincing, such as the fellow that hit us up in Union Square Thursday this past week.  He also hit us up in December, 2011 and guess what he had just arrived in San Francisco and was waiting 30 days to qualify for city assistance!  No doubt many are in dire need, but be cautious and realize that if you help you may simply be helping a scammer.  There are homeless centers in the city.  If you are comfortable with giving them money then go ahead, but stay out in the open.

Last trip to San Francisco we stayed in the Union Square Hilton.  This time we chose another hotel.  We wanted to stay in the Union Square area, however in summer all area hotels are at a premium.  If you find last-minute deals on one of the online travel sites you will probably not get a very good deal.  Rather we reserved early and still saved about $100 dollars a night by staying a bit off the square, but still close to BART, MUNI and the Square.  (More on BART and MUNI in a post on transportation.  You will want to download the apps for each service.)  We chose the historic Hotel Whitcomb  Rather than $260.00 – 350.00 per night we stayed for $199.00 per night.  Now that we know their Priceline discount rate we will call the desk next time and explain to them we used an online service last time and ask if they can sweeten the deal.  Many times they will knock off another $30-50 per night.  Face it, they have to pay the online providers a fee.

Conveniently, the Hotel Whitcomb lobby is only about 50 feet from the Civic Center BART connection at 8th and Market Streets and about 3 long blocks from Powell and Market.  The MUNI stop for the F Line and several other MUNI lines is about 30 feet from the hotel lobby.  From there downtown is about 5 minutes away, even in tight traffic, just jump off and see the historic trolleys turning at Powell and Market and up the hill (west) is Union Square.

More later.  We will add sections on travel using BART and MUNI; then we will get into discussion of places we visited this trip and our experiences.  Check back soon!

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