Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where to Stay in San Francisco: Part VII - Lombard Street

As you enter San Francisco from the Golden Gate Bridge, you may find yourself on Lombard Street heading towards downtown. Yes, it's the same street that is called "The Crookedest Street in the World," but here it is a six-lane boulevard. As you drive east on Lombard, you will see a hill directly in front of you. That is Russian Hill and the crooked block of Lombard descends from the summit on the other side.

This busy section of Lombard divides Cow Hollow from the Marina District. Cow Hollow is just south of Lombard Street and got its name from the cows that grazed here many moons ago. Today Cow Hollow is home to restaurants, bars, and upscale boutiques on Union Street. Just north of Lombard is the Marina District. This area was built on landfill and homes fell in the Marina during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Today Chestnut Street, which is one block north of Lombard, has great restaurants, bars, and shops. Both the Marina District and Cow Hollow are fun to stroll through.

All of this makes Lombard Street a good part of town to stay in; although you are pretty much limited to motels along Lombard and adjacent streets. This is great if you have a car and don't want to pay the $40/night many of the downtown hotels charge for parking. The motels range from strictly budget places to some pretty nice ones, such as Hotel Del Sol.

If you prefer bed and breakfasts, there is at least one in the area -- Union Street Inn -- a quaint B & B in the heart of the Union Street shopping district.

While Lombard Street's motel row does not have the most upscale or charming accommodation in the city, the nearby neighborhoods are fun and parking is cheaper and easier than downtown.

If you are planning a visit to San Francisco and would like some help with lodging, restaurants, and activities, Blue Heron offers custom designed vacations. For more information, call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Where to Stay in San Francisco: Part VI - Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf is tourist central in San Francisco. Locals have a love/hate relationship with it. We value visitors as tourism is our number one industry. Fisherman's Wharf is a rich part of the city's history. But today there are too many tee-shirt and souvenir shops. This is not what San Francisco is about, so we say. As a result, locals tend to avoid the area.

However, Fisherman's Wharf is home to some great sights, especially for children. Ship lovers will enjoy visiting the Hyde Street Pier, home to historic ships, and the Jeremiah O'Brien, a Liberty Ship that participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Kids of all ages will enjoy playing the antique arcade games at the Musee Mechanique. Watch sourdough bread being made at Boudin Cafe and visit its intimate museum on the history of baking bread in San Francisco. Finally, everyone has fun watching the sea lions push and shove each other at Pier 39.

Fisherman's Wharf is a great place to stay if you have young children. They will enjoy all the tourist-related shops and activities in the area. Most of the major chains have properties here: Holiday Inn, Hyatt, Hilton, Sheraton, Best Western, Marriott, and Radisson. Kimpton has a very nice nautical-themed hotel, the Argonaut.

If you want to feel like you are in a real city, Fisherman's Wharf is not the place to be. But, if you have children, this may be the part of San Francisco that will best suit your needs.

If you want some help planning your vacation in San Francisco, Blue Heron can help you select your hotel, make restaurant reservations, and recommend activities. Get more information on our custom vacations by calling (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or by e-mailing me by clicking here.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Where to Stay in San Francisco: Part V - SOMA

SOMA (the acronym for South of Market) is the area of San Francisco closest to our convention center, the Moscone Center. This area is also home to some of the city's better restaurants and hottest clubs.

Aside from a few budget hotels, the area mostly includes properties own by the big chains. Marriott is represented by both a Courtyard by Marriott and the San Francisco Marriott. The latter hotel is San Francisco's second largest and can accommodate large meetings in its own convention facilities.

Two five-star properties are located in SOMA. The Four Seasons and St. Regis are both within two blocks of the Moscone Center. The St. Regis is home to the well-reviewed Ame restaurant.

The Palace Hotel, a Starwood property, is the oldest hotel in San Francisco. Founded in 1875 and rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake and fire, the hotel's Garden Court is a beautiful restaurant and a great place for Sunday brunch.

There are also two boutique hotels in the area. Kimpton's Palomar Hotel is a short walk to the convention center and houses the acclaimed Fifth Floor restaurant. The Milano Hotel is located on Fifth Street, next door to the San Francisco Center; home to Nordstrom's, Bloomingdale's, and many other stores.

If you are planning a trip to San Francisco and want some help with your accommodations, dining options, and activities, Blue Heron provides custom designed vacations. For more information, call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.