San Francisco - sacrifice two days for New Orleans or save for another time
Replies: 20 - Last Post: Mar 15, 2013 9:35 AM Last Post By: hermosajoe
Mar 10, 2013 7:21 PM
San Francisco - sacrifice two days for New Orleans or save for another timeI wanted to run a holiday plan past anyone kind enough to take a look, and welcome any feedback. I'm in two minds as to whether I should try and add a few more places into my trip, or leave it as less destinations, more time in each. I should mention too, I've been to San Francisco once before, only or 2 days and have already seen Fisherman's Wharf, downtown, done the cable cars, and a Giants Game, so I'm after other sights there (art galleries, nature, Americana, the Beatnik trail, some nice bars and restaurants, bands or comedy shows, etc). I'm not that into shopping, or clubbing, and I'm mid 30's so nothing super trendy 20-something filled. I'm also spending the first week alone before meeting up with two friends. I also quite like an easy bike ride, walking, nothing too hardcore:
So currently my plan is roughly:
May 3 fly from Sydney to San Francisco, get to hotel and crash, possibly pop out for dinner / drink (long flight)
May 4 San Francisco (I'm staying near Union Square) – Chinatown, Trans America building and Redwood park, North Beach, Ferry Building markets, La Mar for dinner
May 5 Cinco de Mayo festival at Delores Park, check out the Mission murals and general areas around there
May 6 Napa Valley biking tour for the day
May 7 Museum of Modern Art, Cartoon Museum, Diego Rivera Gallery, Coit Tower – band or comedy show at night?
May 8 Golden Gate Park walk/bike ride - de Young Museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, the coastal trail, Beach Chalet for dinner
May 9 - This is where my friends arrive, and we head off to Yosemite by hire car for two days
May 10 - Yosemite
May 11 - drive back to San Francisco via Muir Woods, and Sausolito
May 12 - all of us check out Fisherman's Wharf, Painted Ladies, Lombard Street, Giants game, Slanted Door for dinner
May 13 - Alcatraz, then a drive through Haight-Ashbury, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill areas, end at a nice bar perhaps
May 14 - Fly to Honolulu and stay there snorkelling, swimming, sightseeing for 4 days before heading home
Now, there's THIS plan, OR I have friends that are going to be in New Orleans on the 7th and 8th of May. The flights are currently not bad ($350 return from San Fran) but it's 6 hours each way, and would probably mean ditching the Napa day tour, and perhaps a couple of art galleries. Do you think this is worth it, or pushing it a bit? If I did the New Orleans thing, I'd arrive just after midnight on the 6th, head to my room and crash for a nap, then have all of the 7th, and the 8th, then fly back the morning of the 9th.
Have I allowed too much time in San Fran so therefore it's worth swapping two days for New Orleans? Is this doing New Orleans no justice and I should save that for another, longer time? (I'd like to do Cuba and Florida at some point – I could do it then instead?) Can you get a good dose of New Orleans in two days? Everywhere looks so awesome, I can't decide! Help!
Mar 10, 2013 10:12 PM
1SF is a great walking around city...SF is small and has lots of unique neighborhoods all on very scenic hills... SF is a rather high income area...unlike New Orleans which has a lot of poverty...
You could consolidate a few days from SF to see NO...as these two places are totally different... Both are worth seeing...if you want to "do" America...
Nawlins is basically Bourbon Street...and the French Quarter...which can be done in a day or two...its mostly a night thing there...Hurricane drinks, Dixieland and good food... New Orleans is safe enough...but don't wander too far out of the French Quarter into the neighborhoods surrounding it....
You can do other places in NO as well...but the French Quarter ...which is sort of a 20 square block old town in the downtown area... is key... Lots of unique shopping during the day in the French Quarter...
Mar 11, 2013 3:20 AM
2Short answer - yes you have allocated too many nights in San Francisco, so if three nights in New Orleans appeals to you, and works for you, I would do it. Some of your SF days are way too over-cooked (ie time allowed for what you're planning to achieve).
BTW you do not save any time driving back from Yosemite NP via John Muir Woods or Sausalito - they're in the wrong quadrant of he city ... worth re-arranging things a bit.
Mar 11, 2013 4:40 AM
3I would save New Orleans for another time.
And I would cut a day or two in SF for something else, like spending more time in Yosemite or wandering down the coast a bit (Monterey, etc.)
Speaking of Yosemite, do you have your lodging yet? NOW is not too soon.
How about those Giants tickets? The more popular the game, the more expensive they become, and the team is already popular.
I would also adjust Alcatraz to a night tour. Book well in advance (a couple weeks or so).
Mar 11, 2013 4:52 AM
Mar 11, 2013 10:00 AM
5Have your friends been to SF before? Or will you be "showing" them the city for the first time? Are they also Aussies, and are they also coming straight from Oz?
Reason for asking is that I think you're undercutting (underestimating?) the Yosemite trip significantly. By the time you leave SF and make it through traffic, Yosemite Valley is a good 4 hours, maybe 5 from SF. Except for the last hour, the drive is rather boring, and if your friends are still jetlagged, you're all likely to arrive pretty tired out.
In May the waterfalls along the side of the Yosemite Valley walls will be in full flow - awesome. There will probably be a lot of people there, too, (although not the crowds that will arrive once school lets out in June) so it might be a little high-density.
If you could add one extra day (2 even better) then I'd have a look at including some of the California Gold Rush country in that expedition. California Hwy 49 (from which you can access Yosemite at a couple of points) is a lovely road passing through some exceptionally beautiful and historic country, with a string of interesting and picturesque towns, wineries, etc. to visit. It's a great addition to your tour, and low-key enough that if your friends want to take it easy they can, or you can be as energetic as you want.
Personally, I'd save New Orleans for a later trip, when you can include it as part of a bigger tour of the deep South or the Mississippi River/Delta country, a wonderful tour on its own.
Mar 11, 2013 10:03 AM
- You have a day where you're "driving" through neighborhoods in SF. I don't think this is a great idea. Those neighborhoods are best explored by foot. Also, where are you parking the car in SF? This is a hassle and expensive.
- If I were you, I'd fit in New Orleans. 2 full days is a good amount of time there. Most tourist stuff is concentrated around the French Quarter. Right now, you have a veryyyy leisurely experience outlined for SF, especially considering the fact that you've already been there. You also gain 2 hours flying back from NO due to time difference.
Mar 11, 2013 5:08 PM
7Wow! What a dilemma. San Francisco and New Orleans are both amazing cities. If you don't really know when you will ever be able to get to New Orleans-- I think you should go for it as you've already been to The City before and you've allocated a lot of time to SF already. Fly onward to New Orleans if possible
when you first arrive, or carve out some days at the beginning or end of the trip. Three or four days in New Orleans is fantastic. Stay in the French Quarter. Ride the Streetcar to the Garden District and see the Mansions the Americans built in the 1800s following the Louisiana Purchase. Hit the music clubs in the Fauboug Marigny neighborhood right next to the French Quarter. Dine on some of the best food you've sunk
your teeth into-- creole, cajun and seafood. Le Bon Temp Roulez!m Crash on the plane ride back to California and sleep well for round
two in San Francisco. ( Slanted Door is great-if it's crowded and you're solo just grab a seat at the bar and order your meal there-- this gets you around the lines for a table.) Whatever you decide, have a great time!
Mar 11, 2013 6:43 PM
Mar 11, 2013 9:58 PM
9Ooh I think that's about a 70% in favour of New Orleans - hmmm. I am leaning towards that. But, wow, there are some great ideas here, thanks so much everyone. Still undecided! haha
Vasenka – yeah the French Quarter is definitely our main interest, given the limited timeframe, that and Jackson Square, plus (blushes) going on an alligator air boat ride - cheesy I know! Hanging out to try the authentic food, and hear the music. Is Bourbon Street good to actually stay on?
ianw675 – yeah we are specifically wanting t o go the longer way through Muir Woods and Sausolito, to see them while we have the car, but thanks for pointing that out, I know it sounds like a loopy way to go. What days so you think are overcooked? I can definitely trim a few things if they sound too much.
bzookaj – ooh Monterey is tempting, Carmel by the Sea, Big Sur, etc. Definitely an option, and lots less travel. I would have to public transport it there though, is that doable? I'll have to research that. Also, yes, Yosemite accom and Giants tickets are bought and paid for already, but good point! I didn't know there was an Alcatraz night tour - spooky! I'll do that, cheers!
gardyloo2 – One has, one hasn't – yes they're both Aussies, but thy'll be coming in from New Orleans when they arrive, so only a short (well, for us!) plane ride. The first night once we drive out of San Fran, we're driving almost to Yosemite, to Mariposa for a good night's sleep and we'll set out early the next morning. We're doing a similar thing on the way back, and stopping at Groveland on the way out of Yosemite, so we have the full bulk of the day in the park. The forecasts say that main road will still be closed, so we'll be focussing on the VIllage loop road. Wow those waterfalls sound amazing - can't wait! That Gold rush country sounds amazing too, I'll check that out. This is why I love these forums, thanks!
smartcookiess – the Haight is now moved to a walking day, so that's one area crossed off the drive. I think the drive idea was because my friends want to see a lot of those areas, incorporate some more sports games, etc. This is why I'm getting there earlier to properly explore. I totally agree that on foot/bike is preferable though. I'll get as much done that way as pos :) Good point about the time diff too - didn't think of that!
Kenko – yeah I think I'm leaning that way too. I'm sure I'll be in San Fran again at some point, as when yu fly to America from Australia you HAVE to land in either San Fran or LA, and LA doesn't really do it for me (no offence to any LA fans!) so it'd be at least a stop over, whereas New Orleans is kind of out of the way, and I'm not sure whn I'd be in that neck of the woods again. I love your tips, I'll have to look into those, Is Faubourg Marigny safe-ish if going solo (ie: friends crash earlier than me!) Let the good times roll, indeed! hehe. Good Slanted Door tip, too, cheers!
Bindle-Stiff - Done! I just checked that out on my map, and I actually didn't notice before how close the Haight is to Golden Gate Park. That's a great idea, thank you. Can I ask I dumb ass question - is a street car the same as a tram? So you'd say to allow a half day for walking from the Haight, through to de Young (stopping to check that out and going to the top to see the view), stopping at Japanese Tea Gardens, then the Coastal walk including Sutro baths and Lands End, then back to Beach Chalet in time for dinner, is doable? What if I start at like 10am?
Sorry for blathering on, everyone, this is such great info, I'm so excited - thank you all! x
Mar 12, 2013 12:14 AM
10What days so you think are overcooked?
Without being specific - I think you could probably see your listed agenda in five days, without needing eight. So I suggest you either go to New Orleans, or see more of Yosemite NP - or even come home via Monterey and the coast.
By the way - overall I think your planning and research are really good. And don't have breakfast on the morning of Saturday 4 May - the markets at the Ferry Terminal Building are very tempting!
Mar 12, 2013 5:22 AM
You can reach Monterey (and the area) via a combination of Amtrak/Greyhound and local buses.
Big Sur, however, is only reachable via a seasonal bus, which doesn't start operating until Memorial Day (last Monday in May).
If you are willing/able, rent the car a couple days early, head south, then come back up to pick up your friends to head east.
Note that these are not the cable cars.
Mar 12, 2013 5:31 AM
Mar 12, 2013 8:14 AM
13If you stay anywhere in the French Quarter or right by it near Canal St (where a lot of chain hotels are located), you will be in good proximity to most sites. You can easily do an organized swamp tour via your hotel (and a plantation tour on the same day if you'd like). If you have time, check out Uptown near Tulane University. You can take the street car up St Charles. All of this can be done in 2 full days pretty easily. No car necessary.
Mar 12, 2013 2:45 PM
14Can I ask I dumb ass question - is a street car the same as a tram?
Indeed - and there are two Melbourne W-Class trams running in San Francisco - the city has a great collection from around the world.
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