Finding a Place to Stay in San Francisco City
21-01-2010 Submitted by: Rita Thomas
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge, one of America's most famous landmarks, and enter San Francisco, a city so charming, so colorful and so exuberant that it has become notorious for stealing the hearts of those who visit. Though famous for its rows of beautifully restored Victorian homes, steep inclines, scenic waterfront, and expansive urban parks, it is not the physical characteristics alone that make this fabulous city so people friendly. It's the spirit, eccentricities, thriving ethnic neighborhoods, and devotion to creativity that seems to glimmer in imaginations and leave lasting memories.
San Francisco has been a hub of activity since the charged days of the California Gold Rush in 1849. Fueled by the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada foothills, this once tiny hamlet saw unprecedented growth and prosperity between 1849 and 1855. The same rush attracted fortune hunters from across the globe, a mixed breed who brought along a wild reputation. That reputation has continued through the centuries, recently contributing to the Beat movement of the '50s, the hippies of the '60s, gay rights in the '70s and countless other cultural progressions in between.The wild days seem to have let up in recent years. Growing prosperity and high-tech industry have caused real estate and living costs to skyrocket. Due to this, the city's social landscape has been altered. However, there still remains a good part of that lively spirit and cultural vitality that has earned San Francisco international recognition.
The city is located on the coast of California. It sits on the tip of a peninsula that extends between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The region is endowed with a mild climate that usually stays between 50°F (10°C) and 70°F (21°C). Due to the combination of cold ocean water and the heat of the California mainland, a thick fog will often roll into the bay, enveloping the city and creating that infamous image of a mysterious Golden Gate Bridge in the clouds. Rain is a common occurrence from November through March, however, snow is very rare, with only 10 instances recorded since 1852.
Street Cars of San Fran 2
GETTING TO THE CITY BY THE BAY
There are three airports in the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco International is located about 10 mi (16 km) south of the city, Oakland International is positioned directly across the Bay, and the San Jose International airport sits in the heart of Silicon Valley, about one hour south of San Francisco.Amtrak, Caltrain and Bay Area Rapid Transit form a reliable network of rail service in and around the Bay Area. Greyhound provides international motorcoach routes throughout North America, and stops within downtown San Francisco.Ferries run to San Francisco from many of the cities that dot the shores of the Bay. These ferries dock at the city's two piers found downtown at Fisherman's Wharf and the Ferry Building.
The city's Municipal Railway, or Muni, maintains a chain of light rail and subway systems that stop at all the major attractions. The Muni also operates the historic street cars and cable cars that can be seen climbing San Francisco's steep roadways.
STAYING IN THE CITY BY THE BAY
Union Square is the place for all things fashionable. Anchored by a Palm lined, landmark park, it is the city's principal shopping and hotel district. The masses converge here for its big-name retail stores, swank hotels and fantastic theaters. For the most part, it is no difficult task finding a place to rest one's head in this grandiose district, especially for those with money to spend.Visitors who wish to stay in the historic heart of the city will want to check into the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. This marvel has stood as a true classic in Union Square since 1928 and offers a mixture of elegance and high style.
A View of San Francisco 3
The Westin St. Francis Hotel and the Chancellor Hotel also overlook the Square, each offering its own unique charm.For more reasonable prices, head two blocks west and grab a room at the Adelaide. Tucked into Isadora Duncan Lane, this small, quiet hostel offers cost-effective dorms and private rooms. Hostelling International also provides budget accommodations southwest of the Square, on Mason Street.For an even more personal experience, try The Golden Gate Hotel. A family-run bed and breakfast, it is situated northwest of the Square on Bush Street and features an Old World charm along with modern amenities.
Embarcadero and the Financial District
The Embarcadero stretches from Fisherman's Wharf in the north, down past the base of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge and into the South Beach area near King Street. Though this waterfront district features miles of visitor friendly promenades, it also serves as the central Financial District of the city, making it quite popular amongst business travelers.Many hotels can be found here. Most are centralized around the Embarcadero Center—an architecturally dramatic eight-block business complex—and most feature breathtaking views of the Bay.
Hyatt Regency San Francisco is a massive luxury hotel located in the Embarcadero Center. Nearby, the Harbor Court Hotel gazes out over the bay. This boutique hotel combines the energy of the Financial District with the style of South Market. Hotel Griffon, a full service luxury hotel that dates back to 1906, is located next door.Steps north, and a bit closer to that beautiful bay, Hotel Vitale sits directly across from the historic Ferry Building Marketplace.
The Mandarin Oriental is located a couple blocks inland but because of its soaring, needle-like appearance it can easily be spotted from far and wide. This towering landmark presents panoramic views of San Francisco and the Bay.
No visit to this city would be complete without a day at Fisherman's Wharf. In fact, 87 percent of those visiting San Francisco include Fisherman's Wharf on their itinerary. This waterfront marketplace includes the massive Anchorage Shopping Center, the The Cannery, Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39 and countless galleries, boutiques, culinary treats and special events.There are dozens of hotels here, ranging from luxurious to basic, and most are centered around North Point Street.
A Room at the Argonaut 4
Argonaut Hotel is perched on the edge of the bay, next to the Maritime National Historical Park. It offers a luxurious and lively experience reminiscent of San Francisco's waterfront in the early 1900s. East on Jefferson Street, The Hyatt at Fisherman's Wharf features 313 spacious, postmodern guestrooms.Back on North Point Street, the modern Best Western Tuscan Inn radiates with Italian charm and accents. Next door, the immaculate Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf underwent a full renovation in 2007, endowing its 529 guestrooms with a contemporary, sophisticated design.Head south on Mason and find the San Remo Hotel. This family-owned property features a Victorian charm and individually decorated rooms. Fior d'Italia, one of America's oldest Italian restaurants, is located on the ground level of the Remo.
America's Best Inn, Comfort Inn By the Bay and Wharf Inn all provide comfortable accommodations at a great value, all within reach of Fisherman's Wharf.
Mission is a trendy, predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in the southern end of downtown. A colorful collection of restaurants, taquerias, Mexican bakeries, markets and specialty shops dominate this area. The name pays homage to Mission Dolores Basilica, San Francisco's oldest structure, located at 16th Street and Dolores Street. Mission is not well established as a hotel district, however, there are a couple options in the area.Centrally located on Van Ness Avenue, The Inn San Francisco captures the spirit of the Victorian era while providing a bed and breakfast for those visiting the area. Over on Mission Street, Elements Hotel has become very popular amongst backpackers and shoestring travelers. This modern hostel features spacious, comfortable rooms and a lively atmosphere.
A Suite at the Drake Hotel 5
This charming Victorian sector still shines with the vintage shops and culture of the '60s. And rightly so, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and others once called this neighborhood home. Accommodations can be found at Inn 1890. In a historic, Queen Anne Victorian home, this bed and breakfast has retained the original warmth and feel of the 1890s. Here, the tall ceilings, hardwood floors, towering windows and fireplaces all blend seamlessly with modern conveniences.
Nob Hill embodies those tall, rolling hills that San Francisco is famous for. Hop on board a cable car and enjoy the view as it powers up high above the Bay. While there, visit the Grace Cathedral, take in an arts show in Huntington Park and experience the Cable Car Museum.There is a high concentration of historic buildings in Nob Hill, fortunately for visitors this includes many of the hotels in the neighborhood. On the crest of Nob Hill, at the intersection of three cable car lines, the famed Mark Hopkins has overlooked this city since 1926. Here 380 rooms, including 40 luxury suites, are tailored for comfort and convenience with state-of-the-art amenities.
The luxurious Stanford Court also looks upon this city's dramatic skyline. This timeless hotel features upscale accommodations and Old World charm. Enter the turn of the century lobby, complete with a massive stained glass dome, and check into one of the European or Oriental reproduction suites. The world renowned Fairmont San Francisco is set a block away. Its 591 grandiose guestrooms and suites represent an inspiring insight into San Francisco's past.Next to that, the Huntington Hotel has stood in this community for three-quarters of a century. Family-owned and operated, this distinguished luxury hotel features a Premier Spa Suite on the fifth floor.
The Nob Hill Hotel was established here in 1906 and fully restored to its original grandeur in 1998. Guests of the hotel will experience marble flooring, stained glass panels, ornate ceilings, chandeliers and, in each room, Victorian antiques.
The Lobby at Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf 6
Central to Van Ness Avenue in downtown San Francisco, the Civic Center is home to many impressive buildings, museums and theaters. City Hall offers a wonderful example of Beaux Arts architecture while the War Memorial Opera House stands out as one of the world's most prominent theaters and as the area's crown jewel.
Equally as impressive are the area's fantastic hotels.
Find European style at the Edwardian San Francisco Hotel. Renovated in 2005, this hotel features individually decorated rooms and a wine bar with international selections.Inn at the Opera is an ideal place for performing arts lovers and artists. Guests of the inn are immersed in the same French-style ambiance that visiting opera stars experienced over a half century ago.Amidst the hustle of Market Street, the elegant Hotel Whitcomb is truly an early 20th century masterpiece complete with soaring cathedral ceilings. After the 1906 earthquake devastated San Francisco, this hotel served as city hall from 1912 to 1915.Another Hostelling International is located on Ellis Street in the Civic Center. It serves as a good option for those who can't afford the more fanciful hotels.
A TIP OF THE ICEBERG
San Francisco is so much more. It encompasses the oldest Chinatown and largest Japantown outside of Asia. There are enough places to stay and enough things to see that a year in this city may not be long enough. It's no wonder Mr. Bennett left his heart here.