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Suggestions for things to do in Northern California!

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elsie

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Sep 28, 2006
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FI and I are eloping/honeymooning (elopemooning?) in the San Francisco / Napa Valley area at the end of April. We''ve already got some details pinned down: fly into San Fran and stay for 2 days, spend 2 days in St. Helena (where we''ll be married). Then we have 3 more days to do other things. Do any of you have suggestions for:

- Nicer places to stay in San Francisco (maybe around $200-$250/night price range)
- "Must-do" activities in San Fran/Napa and surrounding areas
- "Must-eat" restaurants (we''re really looking forward to this!)
- Whether we should drive up the coast and spend some time at a B&B (I''m afraid we will feel too rushed if we''re driving somewhere ever few days)
- How many days is "enough" to spend at each place?

Thanks in advance, everyone! I''m really looking forward to this trip and want to get details set so I can look forward to it instead of stressing about it!
 

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Regular Guy

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Jul 6, 2004
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I used to live there, and liked it a lot.

You could wait for people to respond to your post...or consider just a little effort at searching past threads here, because this has been a very robust discussion in the past.

I'll just add in one suggestion for you...consider making an adventure of finding "gravity hill" between Rohnert Park in Sonoma County, and Napa Valley. Depending on the mood, you could stop by Gengo-Ji (a Zen meditation center), not far from the neighborhood.

Have great fun!
 

KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
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Jun 15, 2006
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If you love wine and feel like taking a drive, head to Alexander Valley. YUM YUM!
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
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here's someone else who asked the same Q about SF and food....and lots of responses.

https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/visiting-san-francisco-for-the-first-time.51536/

hotels in SF for me are hit or miss. a lot of them are older and some are nice inside but it's hard to tell. if you can, i would stay at a place like the W near moscone since it's nice, posh and you can sometimes get good deals on the rooms. or maybe over near union square where there are a TON of hotels but a lot of these are the hit or miss older ones ... so you might want to ask about remodeling and if you can find pictures online etc.

there are a ton of good places to eat in SF, i think i posted a bunch in that post up above, it just really depends on what you like to eat. we like the beach chalet over on pacific highway, it's across from the ocean and has a beautiful view either day or night and they brew their own beer and have great food. there are a ton of other restaurants we like in SF...honestly not much is BAD. i use opentable.com a lot to make ressies and find reviews etc.

as for surrounding areas, drive out of SF and go into sausalito which is about 10 minutes outside of SF. you can walk along the water, have dinner at one of the places there, see the small boutiquey shops and neighborhoods. also tiburon is right next to it, another small coastal town (great jewelry store, old gold in downtown area) and cool places to eat. if you are in st. helena, i'd also check out napa. we like napa downtown, which is like main street...because it's a small quainty kinda town with lots of little shops, coffee houses, there's Copia, you can also do wine tasting in downtown rather than visiting wineries and there is a FAB steakhouse downtown called Cole's Chophouse. we loved it there. if you want to stay somewhere, i highly recommend the Napa River Inn..it's a boutique hotel with it's own general store (cute stuff to buy and also sells wine, cheese, sandwiches) and on-site bakery (YUM) and 2 great restaurants in Napa are on site as well. we have stayed there 3 times and eaten at both restaurants and loved them both. you could be kitschy and do the Wine Train, we did it once and it was fun but it's a real tourist thing. also sonoma is on the way to napa...you could visit it on your way back into SF maybe. a lot of these smaller towns are really close to SF...so you don't even need more than a day in each in my opinion. when we go to napa we go for 1 night...sonoma for 1 night etc. sometimes they try to get you to do 2 nights but you can typically find a place that lets you do 1 night (NRI has one nights).

anyhow hope this helps...there is a lot to do and see but you might want to play it by ear as to planning things out that way you can see what you feel like and act accordingly. have fun!
 

Skippy123

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Nov 24, 2006
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We stayed at the Westin St. Francis and LOVE It! They have the heavenly beds that are down and heavenly!!! It is right there in Union Square and the trolley you just hop on right out front the hotel. The hotel is in a wonderful shopping area. We flew into San Jose and then took the bart and just walked to the hotel. We did not have a car which was great. I am very excited for you!!!
 

hoorray

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May 16, 2003
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Years ago DH and I spent the weekend at the White Swan Inn in the Knob Hill area of SF. It is just up from Union Square, and was an intimate, very nice little Inn. For us it was a nice change from the big business hotel. white swan Inn It turns out that that area had a number of nice little luxury inns, so if you are interested in that kind of place, check around the area for those. If possible get a room off the street. I seem to remember early morning garbage trucks as the only downside to the experience.

North of Napa, the Auberge du Soliel, is a beautiful spot -- both for dinner and as a hotel. I don''t know their rooms'' price range. There are many great restaurants in both spots. A favorite of our in St Helena is Tra Vigne. Cindy Pawlson, has both Mustards Grill and Cindy''s backstreet Cafe. Mustards has been around a long time, and is wonderful. I haven''t tried the Cafe, but have always loved her restaurants. Domain Chandon has a great dining room, and then there is always the French laundry. (it takes months to get reservations, and be prepared to have to give up your first borne as payment, but it is one of the top restaurants in the US.)

If you want to venture on somewhere else for a few days, you might check out Gualala/Sea Ranch or Mendiceno. I would think you could easily move on to that area for a few days. They are lovely northern coastal areas. Sea Ranch is a little closer than Mendecino, I think. We stayed and dined at a neat place in Gualala called St. Orrs. I definately recommend it if you go that direction. The restaurant is great, and they have rooms in the building as well as some seperate cottages. We stayed in a cottage and oved it.

Enjoy!
 

codex57

Brilliant_Rock
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Dec 18, 2004
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I can''t remember all the restaurants mentioned, but for steak, I like House of Prime Rib (San Francisco). Casual pizza, you gotta try Zachary''s (Oakland or Berkeley).
 

dancingqueen

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Sep 19, 2006
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174
Hi. I asked the original question in the link above...

First Crush Wine Bar and Restaurant was one of my favorite places. We stayed at the Hilton in Union Square and it was right around the corner from our hotel. Another favorite restaurant of ours was Steps of Rome -- excellent Italian.

We also loved Ristorante Milano. I think the neighborhood is Russian Hill, but it was a wonderful Italian place. Pretty small, but the food was fabulous!

As Mara mentioned above, we spent an afternoon in Sausalito and had a wonderful time. Relaxing and quiet. Great town for strolling around and enjoying a leisurly lunch and wine.
 

elsie

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 28, 2006
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180
Thanks for the info and the reference to the other thread, everyone! I really appreciate the help. I''ll find some time to digest all the info and come back with more questions.

In the meantime, feel free to chime in with other favorites. We''re open to doing anything outdoorsy and love to eat just about anything too!


Ooh, I do have one question -- is Mendocino worth a 1-2 night visit? I was thinking about driving up there and staying for a day or so, but not sure if it''s worthwhile since it''s a bit far. (Considering Gualala too, lop!
) Plus, I figure a honeymoon should be more relaxing and romantic, so maybe all the driving around isn''t a good idea...
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Jun 17, 2005
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11,016
I think the restaurant French Laundry is supposed to be great. I lived in CA all my life til 9 years ago, but in So. Cal. I know the vineyards and such are wonderful, and some people like to take hot air balloon rides. The only hotel I know the L'Auberge du Soleil and it is expensive. If you love wine it is a great place to be!
 

Mara

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Oct 30, 2002
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mendo is like 2-3 hour drive from SF...it''s pretty but it''s not super exciting, it''s very mellow and relaxing but there are some great restaurants!! if you are in napa you might want to continue up to do mendo for one night...it might be worth it. depending on how much time you have!

french laundry is one of the top recommended restaurants in the US but the waiting list is supposed to be really long. but if you can get in, awesome!! i am dying to try it at some point ourselves.
 
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