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We can pick you up anywhere within 90 minutes’ drive of San Francisco—at your home, hotel, ship's terminal, or the airport!

Planning Ahead


Link to:  Deciding Where to Stay in or near San Francisco

What to Wear in Our Climatethethinker1

The city of San Francisco has a mild, Mediterranean climate—little to moderate heat in spring and summer, occasional rain but no snow in "winter" (usually late November to late April). The region as a whole (Napa, Silicon Valley, Carmel, San Jose et. al.) is a mosaic of micro-climates whose particular features are determined by distance from the Pacific or the Bay, by which side of a hill you're on, and whether fog comes out to play.

Many visitors find San Francisco chilly!  especially on its many windy days, and after sunset. Staying comfortable often depends on where you're headed on a given day and the types of activities you plan to enjoy. Layered clothing almost always works best: light to medium-weight, long-sleeved casual shirts and blouses, full-length pants. Bring a nice sweater, hoodie or windbreaker too.

Our tours assume that you are a reasonably fit pedestrian, although length and difficulty of walks are up to you; in any case, well broken-in shoes are highly recommended. If your mobility is limited in some way, we will try our best to accommodate you through careful planning and a more leisurely itinerary. A collapsable umbrella, rain hat or light poncho is advisable for November through May. If you're in the habit of wearing sunglasses (or a sun visor), you'll want to bring them as well. For people particularly sensitive to cold, bring a coat to help preserve body heat in the evening, and when traveling over water or in a forest.

How to dress for an evening out?  We're more informal than not.  For men, a nice jacket or blazer will suffice at most upscale restaurants, the opera and symphony; blue jeans (invented by Levi Strauss in San Francisco) are acceptable most everywhere. For women, high-end venues welcome dressier evening wear if you're looking for somewhere to show it off.

Upon Arrival...

Anyone traveling a significant distance to reach our area is advised not  to commit to a major pre-paid activity within 3-4 hours of his or her scheduled arrival time--your flight may be delayed due to fog...there may be traffic congestion coming in from the airport or across a bridge…you may just be tired from all the effort of getting here. What if you've settled into your hotel or friend's home but still have nervous energy?  Start recovering from jet-lag and your long day by relaxing with activities that do not require reservations: ride the "little cable cars that climb halfway to the stars" (the Hyde Street line from the turnaround at Powell & Market, near Union Square)...they take you up Nob Hill thru Chinatown and down to Ghirardelli Square. Walk over to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 where amusing sea lions often hang out; appreciate views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge; make dinner of fresh crab from a street stand or clam chowder in sourdough bowls at Boudin's. Still not tired enough for bed? Take a taxi to Telegraph Hill for its panoramic views of city lights and the Bay...take the next bus back down to the popular North Beach neighborhood. Back in your room, indulge in a great local wine, realizing that your wonder-full California vacation has already begun! (For more ideas, also see our Plan a Perfect Week.)

Unexpected Events

Yes, we do have earthquakes! here, but the probability of a significant tremblor occurring during your visit is miniscule. In the rare case that you do feel shaking, move away from anything that might fall on you, then wait for the moment to end seconds later--what a story to tell when you get back home!

A Chart of Suggested Activities

These are activities for which we suggest planning and/or reservations well in advance of your visit… especially if you intend to be here on any holiday weekend, or April through November. Be aware that with some guided tours you gain access to a period Victorian home interior, the magnificent nave of Stanford's Memorial Church, or the most delicate murals at Coit Tower--places often closed to the general public. A Friend in Town can alert you of those possibilities once we know your particular interests.

These time frames are approximations. A lucky visitor may find available tickets (or seating, an appointment, etc.) on the same day of a desired activity or event; but that outcome would be the exception.

Activity or Event Description (Location) Planning Time Frame Contact
Marrakech Magic Show wonderful entertainment for the whole family 2-3 weeks sanfranciscomagictheater.com
Ahwahnee Hotel (Yosemite National Park) most beautiful lodge in the nation—to stay or to dine there (for lodging) a year ahead for peak season; otherwise, several months ahead nationalparkreservations.com
/yosemite.htm
Alcatraz Island Tour famous prison complex/history tour 3-4 weeks alcatrazcruises.com
Boulevard Art Nouveau-style French restaurant (San Francisco) 2-3 weeks boulevardrestaurant.com
Chez Panisse Original "California Cuisine" restaurant (Berkeley) 3-4 weeks chezpanisse.com
"Critical Mass" impromptu bicycle ride through streets of San Francisco last Friday (~5:30 pm) of each month Meets at Justin Hermann Plaza (downtown SF)...must bring your own bike (rentable)
The French Laundry

top-rated haute cuisine restaurant $$$$

(Yountville, in Napa Valley)

Exactly two months prior to the date, begin dialing (707) 944-2380
San Francisco City Pass public transit, museum fees at a discount buy on arrival citypass.com
Massage/"mud bath" in Calistoga various spas (Napa Valley) 2-3 weeks ask us for suggestions
Paramount Theater Tour spectacular Art Deco-style movie palace 1st & 3rd Saturdays A.M., or by arrangement paramounttheater.com
San Francisco Ballet one of the nation's best troupes 1-2 months sfballet.org
San Francisco International Film Festival first-run, first-rate, hard-to-find movies April/May sffs.org
San Francisco Opera grand musical drama 4-10 weeks sfopera.com
San Francisco Symphony orchestral excellence 1-2 months sfsymphony.org
SF Jazz Center

new superb performance space (plus Charles

Phan restaurant)

1-8 weeks sfjazz.org

Land's End

serene 3-mile (round-trip) walking trail, ocean Overlook, nature bookstore w/ spectacular views none National Park Service website

The Exploratorium

(an unique space for understanding science)

one of the nation's most creative science "museums"

3-4 weeks

for the Tactile Dome

exploratorium.com
Thep Phanom

Thai restaurant

(San Francisco)

1-2 weeks thepphanom.com
Trapeze Arts classes & just fun (summer & weekends) Oakland & Sonoma County several weeks trapezearts.com
Local/Regional Theater: Berkeley Rep, the Aurora & The Marsh

among the best in the nation for classic and new/experimental works

(Berkeley & San Francisco)

3-4 weeks berkeleyrep.org
themarsh.org
auroratheatre.org
Yosemite: lodging in or near indoors, or summer camping 3+ months nationalparkreservations.com
/yosemite
Yoshi's

premier jazz club

(SF & Oakland)

4-5 weeks for famous artists yoshis.com
Whale-watching San Francisco, or off the coast of the Peninsula 2-3 weeks (during migration season) oceanicsociety.org
sanfranciscowhaletours.com
sfbaywhalewatching.com

In the Bay Area, one of the best resources for finding fascinating activities in which to participate, or to watch, is the San Francisco Chronicle's e-Guide: www.sfgate.com. Check out our comedy clubs featuring both well-known and up-and-coming artists; find people to hike or bicycle with; be inspired by folk and flamenco dancers; plan to see movies at the Film Noir, LGBT or Silent film festivals. We have several world-class art museums and places to expand your science knowledge. We're also famous...infamous? ...for our kinky and mainstream nightlife possibilities. Come, enjoy your vacation of a lifetime!

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