USA branch FAQ
Replies: 279 - Last Post: Apr 16, 2013 10:54 PM Last Post By: nutraxfornerves
May 25, 2003 12:16 AM
30One website that is absolutely useful for travelers who want to save on their accommodation costs and meet people in the places they visit is the Hospitality Club
We are now over 4450 members in 111 countries, of course in the US as well - membership is free and signing up takes just a couple of minutes.
Greetings from Germany,
Jun 10, 2003 3:43 PM
31Although this is mentioned in the first post in this thread, I worry that it might get lost. Joining AAA ("TripleA", "American Automobile Association") pays for itself quickly if you spend any time in name-brand hotels, if you rent a car from Hertz or if you attend Theme Parks. $55 to join, $45 to renew every year. Loads of other savings as well once you join.
Jun 13, 2003 1:36 AM
32also on the AAA theme:
If you're an auto club member in your country, you may have reciprocity with the AAA. (This is definitely true for Australia and New Zealand, and many European auto associations). This means free towing, free maps, and lots of motel and attraction discounts.
If you're an American student, your parents can typically add you to their membership for a discounted rate (~$25).
The auto club member can be anyone in the car, not necessarily the driver.
Jun 20, 2003 11:02 PM
33BART connects to the world! (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
"Connect" will be the theme that heralds the opening of the new BART extension to the San Francisco International Airport, (SFIA) Sunday, June 22.
BART will not only connect people in the East Bay, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties directly with the airport, but will, of course, connect visitors from all over the world to various destinations around the region. As one of the world's great transportation hubs, the airport's direct BART connection will make travel more convenient than ever.
Upon detraining at the airport, passengers traveling away from the Bay Area will have several options. If they are traveling to a foreign destination, they will be within about 100 feet of the international counters. For domestic flights, the United counter, which is expected to serve over half of BART's airport passengers, is a four to five minute walk. Just upstairs, the airport's people mover "Airtrain" will whisk travelers to the other domestic terminals.
With a virtually seamless connection to Caltrain at BART's Millbrae Station via a cross-platform link, visitors and residents alike will be able to reach 34 Caltrain destinations ranging from Peninsula communities to San Jose and Gilroy. By the same token, Caltrain riders will be able to hop on BART and head for downtown San Francisco or cross the bay and connect with Capitol Corridor Trains at BART's Richmond Station in the East Bay to head north to Sacramento, and Auburn.
From the airport to downtown San Francisco will be a 29-minute ride on BART. The fare will be a highly competitive $4.70, when compared with other modes that can cost up to $40 or more for the same trip. The fares to and from the airport both near and far on BART will range from $1.50 to $6.90. BART will provide a great antidote to Highway 101 traffic.
For more BART info:
Jun 24, 2003 4:24 PM
34Two more points about AAA. They offer hotel and restaurant guides for all 50 states. Whether part of a big chain or independent, their diamond-rated hotels are going to be good quality and you can find some real bargains. Even the smaller hotels will give you a discount. They also publish guides for Campgrounds in all 50 states. Other posters have stated that they mention little-known campgrounds that aren't often listed elsewhere. It sounds like it's often free to camp in a National Forest.
Jun 28, 2003 7:27 PM
35so many questions could easily be answered by visiting the official tourism office website for a place - such as a list of accomodation, attractions, maps, etc.
This site is +official +Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory TOWD. For the USA you'll need to enter the state(s) you want. Then you can ask questions here having more to do with feedback, opinion, comparisions, etc. which TT folks are more likely to answer, rather than once again being asked questions easily researched elsewhere on the internet.
Jun 29, 2003 6:50 AM
Jun 30, 2003 12:53 AM
37MISS ARIEL’S ADVICE FOR A FABULOUS GOOD TIME IN SAN FRANCISCO AND THE GREATER BAY AREA IF YOU HAVE 7-10 DAYS + (All disclaimers apply. These are my favorites…May or may not be anyone else’s…)+
In San Francisco:
Waterfront: Giants Baseball at PacBell park. Stroll along the waterfront from PacBell Park to the Ferry Building for nice views and quirky public art. From the Ferry Building, walk to the cable car turnabout at Market Street and ride up to Nob Hill (and back). This cable car turnaround is the least crowded and the views are nice. Hop off the cable car at Mason Street and walk a couple of blocks to visit the free (but loud) Cable Car Museum or hop off at Grant and visit China Town (which is like most China Towns around the world, so skip it if you’ve done it a million times).
Wharf Area: I love the Alcatraz tour and it provides an excuse to take a ferry ride. Book in advance during peak season. I am not a huge fan of Fisherman’s Wharf, but if you MUST and you’re in the area anyway to take the ferry to Alcatraz, wander the wharf for an hour or two. Visitors love the sea lions at Pier 39 (locals think they’re a nuisance) and I adore the Musee Mechanique, which has a collection of still-working vintage pinball machines. Wander to the Maritime Museum (not my fav, but, many love it) and, if you MUST, to Ghirardelli Square, to see how they make chocolate and to enjoy an overpriced sundae.
Marina/Crissy Field: The walk (or bike ride) across the Golden Gate Bridge is a must do. Also, the recently reclaimed wetlands at Crissy Field are gorgeous for a nice walk and picnic. Fort Point (free) at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge is the site of Kim Novak’s suicide scene in the movie Vertigo. Worth exploring only if you have time. Buy a sandwich at the Marina Safeway, picnic on the Marina Green, and watch people fly kites. The beloved Palace of Fine Arts (built for the 1915 World’s Fair) is only 10 minute walk from here, but it’s very run down right now, which makes me sad. Next to that is The Exploratorium for those who like loud, interactive science museums; free admission the first Weds of each month.
Legion of Honor (museum) has a spectacular setting and the largest collection of Rodin sculpture outside of France. Admission is free every Tuesday, but the grounds are pretty enough to justify a visit. There’s a graphic but moving holocaust memorial there also.
Lands Ends and Ocean Beach: The Beach Chalet along the Great Highway is a overpriced for a meal, but has a wonderful view –especially when the surfers are out--and is an historic building with depression era murals and a good exhibit in the lobby. Nearby in Golden Gate Park is the windmill and Queen Wilhelmina’s garden, which is nice when in bloom. If you’re a zoo person, the SF Zoo has been redone recently. The Doggie Diner across the street from the zoo is much beloved, not for the food, but for the giant doggie head outside. If you walk south along the beach you will get to Fort Funston, where there will be lots of people hang-gliding off the cliffs and walking their dogs. If you walk north along Ocean Beach from the zoo for about 20 minutes, you can almost always find whole sand dollars on the beach. Bring a jacket.
Golden Gate Park has a Bison paddock (ie., a home for the buffalo to roam…) Rent a paddle boat at Stow Lake and later go for tea & cookies at the Japanese Tea Garden (tacky, yes, but still my fav). The California Academy of Sciences is getting run down, but, the earthquake simulator is great , the fish roundabout is still kinda neat, and the planetarium is still kinda neat.
Civic Center Area (easy access by BART or Muni underground): The Asian Art Museum has one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. It is housed in the old library, which was damaged in the ’89 earthquake. Admission is discounted Thursdays after 5pm and is free on the first Tuesday of each month. The new San Francisco Main Library is a couple of doors down and is worth a short visit. It also has free internet access. I like the Beach Blanket Babylon costume and the old public documents collections upstairs. City Hall has been splendidly renovated and offers a free tour.
Union Square Area: I love the SFMOMA –primarily for the architecture--and the surrounding Yerba Buena Gardens, where they have a fountain dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King and a carousel. Admission to SFMOMA is half-price Thursday nights & free on the first Tuesday of the month. There's an IMAX movie theater nearby in the Sony Metreon, if you’ve never been to one. Grab a drink at the top of the Marriott Hotel (at Mission and Fourth) for a free view on a clear day. Walk a few blocks to the Cable Car turnabout at Powell and Market. The cable cars go to Fisherman’s Wharf from here. Expect to wait.
I'm not a big fan of North Beach and Broadway Street but everyone else seems to love it... Check out the poetry room at City Lights Bookstore and the Vesuvio Café for a bit of San Francisco literary history. I love the Beach Blanket Babylon Cabaret Show. A little pricey, but maybe you can get a matinee. Mario’s Cigar Café on Columbus is good for a sandwich and a house Campari. The Steps of Rome is a wonderful place for an espresso.
From North Beach you can walk to the “crookedest” section of Lombard Street or to Coit Tower, which has wonderful Diego Rivera murals.
The Anchor Steam Brewery Tour is free (including tasting), but needs to be reserved in advance.
Also, you can get free guided walking tours through City Guides
And remember, San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any other U.S. city. Dining out is a local pastime and you would be remiss if you didn’t dine out for some combination of: dim sum, sushi, Korean BBQ, hot pot, fresh sourdough bread, a burrito at a taqueria in the Mission, Mitchell’s for homemade ice cream, fresh dungeness crab (November to February), Vietnamese sandwiches, pasta. Also, if you like old or independent movies, get yourself to The Old Castro Theater, where they have an organist and sell real popcorn. The Red Vic Movie House in the Haight has lots of very independent or second run films. It’s not as classy as The Castro, but it certainly has atmosphere. It’s fine during the day, but be alert and cautious if your movie is a late one. Try to get to a jazz club one evening for live music.
Outside of San Francisco (though it might be possible to do some of this without a car, but—except for Tiburon-- it’s easiest with a car):
North: Tiburon is pretty. It’s overpriced for shopping, but I go for the ferry ride and the view. Hop a ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf. Drink margaritas on the deck of Guaymas. (I prefer Guaymas to Sam’s --seafood--next door, many love Sam’s on a nice day). I think the town of Sausalito is overrated, unless you rent a bike and cycle in across the Golden Gate Bridge, then it makes for a wonderful day. I’ve always wanted to camp overnight (must reserve in advance) on Angel Island in the middle of the bay…you take a ferry from the wharf to get there. The Marin Headlands coastal area is gorgeous hiking for a half day. Last time I was there we played on the driftwood seesaws on the beach for a good hour. Muir Woods is overcrowded, but the huge redwoods are amazing. I love Pt Reyes for a day hike. Head to Tomales Point to see the Tule Elk and albino deer herds. Make sure you have fresh oysters somewhere along the way. You can shuck them yourself at Hog Island Oyster Company. Also, if you find yourself in Pt. Reyes Station, the Red Hawk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery is wonderful. The Coastal town of Bodega Bay is the site of Hitchcock’s film The Birds and has lots of charm. It’s a nice place for horseback riding or kayaking. Winetasting in the Napa Valley or Sonoma: I like the champagne tour at Domain Chandon, the tram ride at Sterling Vineyards, and the Oakville Grocery (good place to shop for picnic fare_. Chateau Montelena has wonderful grounds for picnicking, including two private islands that you must reserve in advance. Stay overnight and get a massage and/or mudbath in Calistoga.
South: Half Moon Bay is a good day trip, there’s a winery on the way with free tasting. You can drive south along the coast from Half Moon Bay to the Pigeon Point lighthouse (where there’s a hostel—cold, I hear!) and to Ano Nuevo (December through March) during seal breeding season (book ahead!), also to the tiny one-stoplight town (inland) of Pescadero, which is cute, (get the Olallieberry pie at Duarte's Tavern!) or Davenport on the coast. Drive north along the coast from Half Moon Bay to Moss Beach Distillery for an overpriced drink on the deck at sunset. It’s tacky, but I love it anyway. Also in Moss Beach, visit the tide pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at low tide. The Boardwalk at Santa Cruz can be fun for a day trip. It’s closed in December and on weekdays in winter, though. Nearby is Natural Bridges State Beach where you can see zillions of Monarch Butterflies from November through May. The Surfing Museum is great, too. I like the aquarium in Monterey Bay for a day trip. If you have time to do more than day trips, Big Sur and Hearst Castle (stay in the charming nearby town of Cambria) are a couple days south, but are incredible. Maybe I’m jaded from having lived here so long, but I think Yosemite and Lake Tahoe are too overrun. (See disclaimer above).
My Favorite Links –besides the Thorn Tree, of course-- for Finding Restaurants and Entertainment:
San Francisco Chronicle Entertainment & Neighborhood Guide
The San Francisco Chronicle’s up to date info about what’s going on. The little gray box “features” in the lower right hand corner has a nice little “SF Neighborhoods” link.
San Francisco Chronicle Restaurant Finder and "Top 100" Restaurant Lists
The San Francisco Chronicle’s restaurant finder where you can search by cuisine, price, neighborhood, etc. The little gray box “food and wine resources” in the lower right hand corner has some nice lists.
San Francisco Bay Guardian site. Best sure to click the "best of the bay" link
The San Francisco Bay Guardian’s site. It’s an “alternative” weekly paper and is going to be a little less mainstream, a little more edgy than the San Francisco Chronicle. Be sure to click on the “Best of the Bay” links.
San Francisco Magazine's Site. Be sure to click on the Best of the Bay and various "Best of" links
San Francisco Magazine’s site. Click on the 125 very best things to eat link. They will also have a best of the bay link that they will post soon. This will be more upscale than the SFBG.
Another pretty good source of all that’s going on in and around San Francisco.
I know I’ve forgotten something important, but that’s why you should bring Lonely Planet’s Guide to San Francisco
Jun 30, 2003 4:15 AM
38Hmmm, I guess I'd better mention this here, too. I'd like to clarify out that the building that houses the Asian Art Museum, (ie., the old main library building that was damaged in the '89 earthquake), has been completely renovated and brought up to code. It's safe. Same with the Ferry Building, which has recently undergone a massive reconstruction. If you haven't been to San Francisco in a few years, you'll also find that the Opera House, City Hall, the Main Library and Union Square have all been re-done and the whole waterfront area (south of the ferry building) has been revitalized by the baseball stadium money. Crissy Field (formerly a military airplane landing strip) has been reclaimed and is now a gorgeous park sandwiched between the Marina Green and the Golden Gate Bridge. The Zoo has been re-done. They are currently renovating the Cliff House. The Presidio (former military base) has been leased to LucasFilms (the Star Wars people) and is supposed to be turned into some kind of quasi-public-arts space. Treasure Island (at the mid-point between San Francisco and Oakland of the Bay Bridge) seems to have been turned into housing. There are now vintage trolley cars from all over the world running up and down Market Street. And they just keep adding stuff, it seems, to Pier 39 and also to Yerba Buena Gardens, where the new Jewish Museum is supposed to open sometime later in 2003. The old De Young museum in Golden Gate Park (next to the Japanese Tea Garden) has been razed in order to construct a new building scheduled to open in 2005. We keep hearing about designs for a new Bay Bridge, but I don't see any construction happening yet.
And when I say, "bring a jacket" to Ocean Beach, I mean, BRING A VERY WARM JACKET TO OCEAN BEACH! Please.
And because I love to provide links, here's a link to the San Francisco Chronicle where you can learn about San Francisco's crazy weather.
Jun 30, 2003 4:55 AM
Jul 1, 2003 6:30 AM
Jul 1, 2003 2:27 PM
41Getting around San Francisco on Bicycles & Blades:
Bay City Bike Rentals Describes nice bike rides around SF. You can rent from these guys or from one of the below. Also, a nice ride not described here: hop a Ferry for Angel Island at Pier 41. Take a picnic and spend the day.
Blazing Saddle Bike Rentals Rent a bike and cycle along the Marina Green, through Crissy Field, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and into Sausalito (Hyde Street Location is good. You can also keep going north, beyond Sausalito, cycle to Tiburon, and take the Ferry back to SF. Or, rent a bike and hop a ferry to Tiburon or Angel Island (Pier 41 location is good). Includes maps, lock, and helmet.
Adventure Bike Rentals More Bike Rentals
More Bike Rentals (Good location for the Marina/Crissy Field/GGBridge/Sausalito/Tiburon ride). They also rent skates here, which would be fun to take to the Marina Green.
SF Bike Coalition Resources for safe cycling, and information on bringing bikes on public transit, etc.
Bike, Skate and Paddle Boat Rentals in Golden Gate Park Rent a bike, rollerblades, or paddle boat at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. Ride your bike through the park, to the Ocean, along the Great Highway, to the Zoo and back. Easy ride. The main part of the park is closed to traffic on Sundays and holidays, which means its even easier to cycle or rollerblade on those days.
What the surf and tides are doing today
Blue and Gold Fleet Ferries Ferries to Alcatraz, Angel Island, Muir Woods, Tiburon…
Red and White Fleet Ferries The other Ferry company
San Francisco Muni buses and light rail trains within San Francisco, and links to other Bay Area Transit Systems, including BART and Ferries
Jul 7, 2003 9:55 PM
42Has anyone posted the weather channel link yet? I like this one because it converts from to celcius, too...
Weather Channel Link
Jul 8, 2003 10:04 PM
Jul 10, 2003 8:00 PM
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