General San Francisco Questions and Answers:

I am coming to San Francisco for the first time and have no idea on where to stay or what to
do.  I am only staying a few days, what can you suggest?

There's a small chain of CA hotels with two in San Francisco.. both are charming but not inexpensive.
They're The White Swan and Le Petit Augerge. They're right in downtown SF - easy to walk around
- near a cable car etc.
There is a budget (tourist class) hotel - Grant Plaza Hotel on the corner of Grant and Pine Streets.
This is in Chinatown and close walking distance to Union Square, Financial District, and North Beach.
As far as what to do, I would consider:
- Golden Gate Park and Bridge
- Sausalito
- Union Square Shopping and Nightlife
- Napa and/or Sonoma Valley (if you have time)
- Alcatraz

I'm having a hard time deciding whether to stay down around Fisherman's Wharf or Union
Square.  We will have a car.  I have looked at the Sheraton (Club Level) or Radisson
(Balcony Room) at Fisherman's Wharf.  Or maybe Westin St Francis or Nikko at Union
Square.  We will have a car and plan to run the marathon.  
Also where would you recommend for a Sunday Brunch Buffet?

Two  different experiences.  At Fishermans Wharf...the tourist mecca you will be close to the water
and will have easy access to places to run, for example you could run along the bay across the bridge
from your hotels, you will be close to the ferry going to Alcatraz and a few places for shopping.   
Downtown at Union Square your are in the "hub" of the city.   Close to departments stores, Neiman
Marcus, Macys, Nordstorms. Close to fine restaurants and the theater.  Parking may be cheaper at
the Wharf than downtown. The Wharf may be easier to get in and out of by car. If you want to
experience "The City"...my vote would be for downtown.
Brunch Buffets....The Westin may have one.  My two favorites are: The Top of the Mark..  You can
take a cable car no matter where you stay
(Fishermans Wharf or Union Square)  to the Mark Hopkins, at the top is a restaurant with views of
the city.  The lunch buffet is $49.00 the phone number is 415 392 3434 .
There is also a wonderful one although smaller (the one at the Mark is huge) out at the Cliff House at
the Beach.  The views are great, it is right on the water with large panoramic  windows.  $36 or
$39.00 the phone number is 386 3330.  You will probably need reservations for both.  If you go to
the buffet at the Top of the Mark  you should cross the street and take a look at the Fairmont, (it is
where "Hotel" was filmed. ) You can take the outside glass escalator up to the top and just look
around or have drink in the bar.  If you are into churches, Grace Cathedral is just a block away and
have some fabulous stained glass windows.
If you go out to the Cliff house you may want to go up a little and look at the old Sutro Baths remains
and go across the street for a short walk around the old Sutro Gardens.  Have fun

What is the best short trip from San Francisco?

There are many wonderful trips from and around San Francisco.  Not sure what you mean by "short",
however,    Sausalito is just across the bridge, one could take a Ferry there or to Tiburon and back,
Muir Woods. Speaking of Ferrys, one can take a ferry to Angel Island (it is in the middle of the bay
and full of historical buildings, walk around, picnic etc.
One of my favorite one day trips are along the coast, north or south.  South along Hwy 1  to Carmel.  
Starting  in San Francisco If you just stay on "1"  you miss a lot of local small town flavor, each of
these in and of them elves could be a short trip and  but you will need to get of the Highway....
"Princton by the Sea". is a fishing dock with good seafood restaurants, some have music on
weekends. Somewhere along there is Ano Neuva...where the huge sea lions hang out on the beach.   
Many beaches along Hwy 1.  Then there is "Half Moon Bay"  also many stores to walk around in,
restaurants, Continuing south you will come to Pescadero another small town with a famous old
restaurant called Duartes, famous for their artichoke soup. This town is small but has some a very  
nice store called "Made in Pescadero" with furniture, art and crafts made by locals.  Going further
south is "Santa Cruz"..large boardwalk with games, rides etc and a pier with many fish restaurants
and a fine beach.  Also a surfing museum.  Then you will get to Monterey, here is a great aquarium
well worth a vist, many historical buildings from early California (it was the capital at one time) more
shops, more piers and more restaurants, just follow the shoreline drive south, get out and walk
eventually it will lead you to 17 mile drive..a beautiful ride but you pay to get in, you will see much the
same scenery by just staying on the shore.  Eventually you will be back on the freeway, take the first
exit in Carmel off and go back down to the shore, keep following the shoreline.   If you want to see
otters Point Lobos State park is the best. Many fine galleries and stores and restaurants are in
Carmel.  If you have time travel on down to Big Sur and Nepenthe. (about another hour to get there
from Carmel)..On the way back take the Fwy. (101 ) home from Santa Cruz. Hope this helps

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