L@u Around The World
Tips and advices in San Francisco

Quick access to the chapters

    To Begin
      Guide book
      Pass transport
      Many neighbourhood to check
      My "Must"s
      Fog bus trip
      Japanese Garden (in the Golden Gate park)
    Eating and Drinking
    For the photographers
      Photography Shops
    Excursions around San Francisco
      Santa Cruz
    Recommendations which I didn't have time to do

To Begin

Guide book

I used the Time Out San Francisco guide book. It's a good book but like the Washington one, it does not get updated every year ... and for a city like San Francisco (which moves all the time) that's quite a problem, as quite a few information were out of date.
But it's still a good book.

Pass transport

I did not find that useful as, usually, I was just taking the bus to go to one neighborhood and back ... or even sometime walking it. But if you plan to make a few different areas in the same day, then that's worth it.


Go and buy your tickets as soon as possible (it might be possible to do it on internet for people with no much time), that gives you an excuse to have a walk along the piers (which you might be a bit too tired to make when coming back from Alcatraz) !
When I was there (July 2003), one could only buy tickets for the day after tomorrow.
There is a possibility to join the "stand-by" line: when everybody with a standard ticket boarded, if there are any seats left (people not showing) then the "stand-by people" can board instead of them. You have to buy a stand-by ticket before, which, I think, is refundable the same day if you didn't manage to get on a boat. That's a cheap option but you might end up queuing all day (in particular, if you are part of a fairly big group) : it's more an option for the solo traveler with no money and no rush.


Many neighbourhood to check

Russian hill, Nob Hill, Chinatown, downtown, Mission, Italian district, Ocean Beach, ...
A good tip: go and visit with City Guides, volounteers will guide you through their town. It's free (an envelop is passed around at the end of the visit, you give what you want, the money is not for the guide but for the organisation). There are different tours at different times, pick up your choice at:
I did two visits with them and that was very good.

My "Must"s

Great museum with a nice collection of impressionistes paitings and with a decent size. (the Yerba Buena next to it is supposed to be good bu they were changing the expo when I wanted to visit ... anyway they changed frenquently)
The garden next to Yerba Buena
To get some calm in downtown ... and for the Martin Luther King memorial.
City Hall
Impressive and interesting because you can get free maps (with the "49 miles scenic drive") and free book guides ! There are also guided visits around noon.
Very special, see details how to get there above.
Cables Car museum
To see how they work (and that's free).
Also, of course, you should take a cable car. Don't take it downtown at the end of the line ... unless you like spending an hour in a queue (it seems there's hardly any queue after 17h). Just go up the street a few block and take the cable car a few stops up.
Golden Gate Park
Great park with a lot of stuff, it ends up on Ocean Beach.
Golden Gate Bridge
Of course ! ! ! Going to the Marine county, you will go on it and that's a nice trip as the villages there are great: Sausalito, Tiburon, ... On a bike that could be nice ... but tiring as going up and down a lot.

Fog bus trip

Take the bus that starts from Ocean Beach, completely West of Golden Gate park and goes east to downtown. You will often get fog on the Ocean and you get get out of it suddently when reaching the top of hills.
Same kind of thing going East from the "Painted Ladies" (i.e. toward Russian Hill).

Japanese Garden (in the Golden Gate park)

(After 17h, free entrance)
Quite famous ... but I was disapointed ! On another hand, quite a few people liked it ! Maybe, one shouldn't go to the fantastic chinese garden in Montreal, before ! ;-)

Eating and Drinking

The Cliff House
1090 Point Lobos Tel: (415) 386.3330
At the north end of Ocean Beach, good view on the ocean, beach and clifs (and surfers in difficulty in the rocks some times).
You can have a drink at the bar downstairs (and order a few snacks as well), the real restaurant is upstairs.
The Mecaniques Museum (old machines from piers) has moved to Pier 35.
The Camera Obscura is closed as it needs refurbishing, they are working on the restaurant and then the Camera Obscura is next.
Ocean Beach Bar
At then end of the Golden Gate Park, there's a big building. Upstairs, there's a bar-restaurant, with home brewed beers. A nice stop to finish a trip (to the Golden Gate park or to the beach).
Polk street
Quite a few nice restaurants on Polk street at the bottom of Russian Hill.
(between Union Street and Pacific Avenue)
In particular: Le Petit Robert
2300 Polk St. (at Green)
Tel: (415) 922.8100
The best Ice-Cream Parlour in SF ?
At the corner of Union St. and Hyde St. Read the newspaper clips on the door to know all the story about it.
Take the oportunity to ride a cable car (on Hyde).
on Fillmore st
Mediteranean restaurant
Just above the corner with Sacramento
French crèperie
Between california St. and Pine St.
Nice and good with cider from britany
french restaurant
Nice and good too ... just a little further down than the crèperie.
Cinéma and restaurant
On Van Ness (1001) one "block" up from the cinéma on the other side of the rowd. The restaurant at the corner is in fact a kind of a cafétéria, you get a tray and choose among the daily specials.
Nice, good and special ambiance !


Martin Lawrence Galleries
Nice expo chagal !
366 Geary st.
Web site: www.martinlawrence.com
Mikal Jordan is my mate ;-) you will get a warm greeting from him !

For the photographers


Morning Shots
in Palo Alto
HP Garage: at the corner of Scott & Addison
Blue Houses

Photography Shops

I have been told to go to:
Calumet Photo (www.calumetphoto.com): nice place.
But I went to the shop on Filmore (at the corner with Sacramento ?), as a friend knew the place. They did a good printing job there.

There's also Carmel Camera Center (in the town of Carmel, of course;-) ).

5th Av. & San Carlos St
As reported by one of the Photim users:
The owner has some Leica stuff which is not surprising considering the place ! It also possible to get films (and may-be to get them developed).

Excursions around San Francisco

On top of the destinations described below, there are many other places to go in area. In particular:

Santa Cruz


Zelda: good sea food restaurant
203 esplanade
Tel: 408.475.4900

Recommendations which I didn't have time to do

On the south coast, go down to Santa Barbara: for a stroll along the beach, quite cool, same thing for the main street ("State Street").

More Parks:

It is supposed to the be the nicest particularly when the sun sets and rises (you should not do only the walks at the top but also inside the park), and the viewpoint from morning point is a classic but great (early morning, of course ! )
Joshua tree NP (east of LA)
It is a fantastic desert (of U2 fame). Even on a wedding trip, you should camp IN the park, in a place with "amenities" (no water but toilets, and BBQ) to sleep in the middle of the cactus, coyotees, and other serpents (no danger if you close your tent). Go to bed by 21h with the sun, and get up naturally with the sun at 5h with no body around.
It is nice for the animals and less known so there is less people, nice for a change.
... another nice park


Thanks to my guides in SF, Santa Cruz and to the photo forum www.photim.com for all the information.