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San Francisco in September

31 Jul 17 - 03:25 PM (#3869286)
Subject: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

My son is working in San Francisco so it is a good reason to go and visit. I have never been before to the west coast of America - my wife and I enjoyed a trip to the east coast a few years ago and even met people who knew people that we know when we went to a bar in Maine. Small worlds.

It's probably unlikely that we will do it again so very much a one off trip.

There for two and a half weeks from beginning of September.

So any suggestions of 'must sees'? A friend has suggested Yosemite and Death Valley. Big Sur looks nice and I'm - rightly or wrongly think that I won't go to LA or Las Vegas.

But I'm very open to suggestion.

But also it would be good if anyone knew anywhere that we could watch or even share a bit of music. I like clubs, bars and small places rather than arenas.

I like folk - blues - jazz - rock. If it had been many years ago I could have happily listened to the Allman Brothers or similar play one track for the evening with guitar solo after solo in the west coast american way that may not actually exist :)

Any input appreicated

31 Jul 17 - 05:16 PM (#3869302)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Amoeba - "The World's Largest Independent Record Store" - across the bay in Berkeley (take the tube.)

31 Jul 17 - 08:43 PM (#3869327)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Amos

Redwood forest in Muir Woods just north. SF beaches, Golden Gate Park. Hippieland at Haight/Ashbury and surrounds. North Beach.

It has probably changed dramatically since I was last there, but still...

31 Jul 17 - 09:49 PM (#3869339)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Joe Offer

Two-1/2 weeks? Heck, I could spend that amount of time just walking the streets of San Francisco and gawking at the architecture and the people and the views. Make sure you walk across the Golden Gate Bridge when you're there. There is no more marvelous thing to do in the entire state of California, maybe in the entire U.S. (well, the Brooklyn Bridge comes close).
I'd second Phil's recommendation of Amoeba Records on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. There's also a store on the far west end of the Haight-Ashbury district, but the Berkeley store is a bit better. While you're in Berkeley, take a Walking Tour of the architecture, especially the work of Julia Morgan that you'll see all over town and on the University of California campus.
Much of California is usually pretty dry in September, but there's still a lot of snow in the Sierra. It might be nice to drive across Donner Pass on Interstate 80 to Lake Tahoe, and down U.S. 395 to Mono Lake, and then across Tioga Pass (California Hwy 120) to Yosemite. The views of the Eastern Sierra from U.S. 395 are spectacular. I love Death Valley in the Spring, but I'd stay away in September.
A trip to Monterey and Santa Cruz would also be nice, and then drive back Calif Hwy 1 from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. The Skyline Drive is another beautiful route down the Peninsula from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. U.S. 101 north of San Francisco is also a beautiful drive. 101 south to San Luis Obispo and Avila Beach (my favorite beach) is another nice drive.
I still can't believe I got paid to drive up and down this state for 25 years. There's so much that's beautiful and interesting here.
Big Sur is indeed spectacular, but Highway 1 in Big Sur washed out last Spring, so I don't know how far you will be able to go in September. This page (click) will give you updated information. It's worth your time to drive as far as you can go, but you might be better just driving the 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach and visiting Point Lobos State Park just south of Carmel - those two places equal what you'll see at Big Sur.
I still can't believe I got paid to drive up and down this state for 25 years. There's so much that's beautiful and interesting here.
-Joe, in Applegate California-

P.S. I've moved this down to the non-music section because it seems to fit better there. Check the San Francisco Folk Music Club for music information - there's lots:

01 Aug 17 - 02:34 AM (#3869349)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: michaelr

Music: The premier folk/roots venue in the Bay Area is Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. In September they'll have Amy Helm, Laurie Lewis, Eric Bibb, Bruce Molsky, John Hammond, Pierre Bensusan and Kathy Kallick.

Wine: If you like it, visit NOT Napa but Sonoma County. It's a lot less snooty (and expensive). Just east of Santa Rosa is the Sonoma Valley, Dry Creek to the north, and Russian River to the west. Best wines in the world.

01 Aug 17 - 02:36 AM (#3869351)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: DaveRo

We drove through Death Valley in September - on our way to the Grand Canyon - and it was intolerably hot; we just wanted to leave.

Just walking round SF is what we liked most about it - we talked to so many people. Good exercise too! Alcatraz was more interesting than I expected.

01 Aug 17 - 02:47 AM (#3869353)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Joe Offer

Nick, if you have free lodging in San Francisco, I'd think about just staying there. In September, San Francisco may well have the best weather in the state. It has an excellent public transportation system, and there is so much to see and do.
Still, the Monterey-Carmel area is wonderful any time of year.
Too bad the Festival of the Sea in San Francisco is in August (Aug 19) this year. It's one hell of a wonderful music event.

01 Aug 17 - 06:17 AM (#3869377)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

Thanks to all for the suggestions - keep them coming (there are probably more than enough already to keep me going but people's views are interesting. I'm sure my son will have some too having been there for a few months but he probably won't have the same music interests as me :)

Joe (thank you for the detailed input - very useful)- we haven't sorted out where to stay yet. We were thinking of playing it by ear and deciding as we go. The only limit I guess is getting back. But it will probably be a one off trip so there is a temptation to see what we can while we are there.
The weather is probably the least important thing - I like Scotland and you only like Scotland if you like weather (on the basis that it will be different in an hour or two's time). Sun is not that important and beaches and sunbathing defintiely aren't

Do they have singaroundy/session things there? When we went to the East Coast we went to a bar in Maine (I think) which was very like UK stuff and could have had a sing with others. It's not a crucial thing but just a thought. We went to Crete recently and found a nice bar to share music with people so it' nice to know if these exist!

The thing that my son has most noticed is the homeless which he was astonished about.

01 Aug 17 - 05:12 PM (#3869471)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Donuel

Some one must have mentioned fisherman's wharf

01 Aug 17 - 09:33 PM (#3869486)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Nick -
The Website of the San Francisco Folk Music Club is harder to navigate than I remembered. Sorry I didn't give you more detail The schedule of musical events is on the back pages of their Folknik newsletter: Page 2 of the Folknik gives detailed information about the club's "Musical Meetings," which are on the second and fourth Friday of the month at Cyprian's ARC, 2097 Turk Street (at Lyon), San Francisco - 8 PM to midnight.

The chantey sing is at Hyde Street Pier on the first Saturday of the month, 8 PM. It's free, but you have to call 415-561-7171 for reservations. And it's one hell of a good chantey sing.

Oh, and I almost forgot In Harmony's Way this a cappella singaround is on the first Wednesday of the month at 8 PM, BFUU: 1606 Bonita, Berkeley 415-310-1130 - that's the Berkeley Unitarian church.

But as you can see in the Folknik, there are music and dance activities every day of the week, all over the Bay Area. Washington DC has a comparable variety of folk music activities and Boston ain't bad, but I don't know of any other U.S. cities that have as much music.


04 Aug 17 - 07:22 AM (#3869887)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

Thanks to all for the input and we are nearly ready to commit to our route. Accommodation is not cheap is it? Perhaps the exchange rate makes for bad timing.

I think that no doubt we will over extend things and not see some of the things we should have and see some of the things that we could have avoided! And probably drive too far and try and try to do too much. I don't sleep much so 20 days is like 30 :) And driving isn't much of a bother.

I'll post our suggested route sometime soon. If anyone has a 'you must be mad to go there when you could go here instead' within the general scheme of the route I'd appreciate it. Or 'if you swapped a day there for going 50 miles north' ... etc

We are avoiding LA and Hollywood I think which was a possibility at one time.

Whatever we do will be ok as it's all new but anything that has shopping mall mentioned in a tour tends to make me avoid it.

And spending money :)

04 Aug 17 - 07:25 AM (#3869888)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

Last time I was in the States the exchange rate was about $1.60 to £1 and now it's about $1.30 which doesn't help.

Now if I'm going to record stores should I bring across my 'We Only Did It for the Money' album by the Mothers in glorious mono signed by Jimmy Carl Black. Would I get $5 for it to help with the gas and food?

05 Aug 17 - 12:46 AM (#3870043)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: robomatic

Don't ever call it 'Frisco!
Just in case I don't have time to put together a more complete travel route, I'd just throw in the following:

N. of S.F.:

Point Reyes National Seashore
Muir Woods         Truly Awesome trees and trails to walk       through the woods
Oakland - Jack London Square: You can actually rent kayaks and go paddling right there.

Eat at Tommy's Joynt on Van Ness and Geary. Monster turkey wings.
Do anything on Fisherman's Wharf, lots of cheap tourist joints, but all wonderful. Fisherman's Wharf has a lot of Italian background, so the espresso there is pure Italia great. In the summer evenings there should be good street performers.
Golden Gate Park - The Japanese Tea Garden - almond cookies. The De Young Museum.

Sample the greatest ice cream cookie ever made: "It's Its" Available at small walk in shops maybe bodegas.

S of S.F.:
Route 1 along the coast. Beware there may be limitations due to a landslide. Check it out first.
But you can visit the Hearst Castle in San Simeon.
Or, go down Skyline Boulevard to Half Moon Bay on the Coast. Scenic Scenic.

While in San Francisco, walk the streets, ride the cable cars, imbibe the West Coast Craziness.

But don't call it 'Frisco!!!!

05 Aug 17 - 03:51 AM (#3870057)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Joe Offer

I'm almost sure Route 1 north and south of San Francisco is open - and it's really a nice drive south to Monterey and Carmel. The big landslide was in the Big Sur area, south of Carmel. Take Skyline south to Santa Cruz, and then join Route 1. The northbound trip on Route 1 is less treacherous.

You might want to check AirBnB for lodging. I've had good luck with them. San Francisco can be expensive. You might want to stay in Santa Cruz or Marin County, and make day trips.

Eating? I'll second "It's It" ice cream bars, and suggest crab or calimari at Fishermen's Wharf - accompanied by San Francisco sourdough bread. If you're in the North Beach area, stop in a bakery and get some focaccia. And Spenger's seafood in Berkeley.


08 Aug 17 - 08:09 AM (#3870538)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

Well it's organised now and we are probably doing too much but what the hell.

Thank you for the input very useful

We have planned to stay in San Francisco theater district for three nights (still in discussion and it might be Fishermans Wharf) and catch up with our son and have a look round for a few days. Should managed to detour via Muir Woods I would think either on way to Sonomo. Can't manage everything though trying.

Then it goes a bit like this:

South Lake Tahoe area for a couple of days
Mammoth Lakes for a couple of days
Lone Pines to break the journey to Las Vegas
Las Vegas via Death Valley
Two days at the Grand Canyon
Palmdale to break the journey on way back
Up the coastal route to San Luis Obispo
San Francisco for a final few days

Home and sleep for 6 months

08 Aug 17 - 10:40 AM (#3870556)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: DaveRo

You won't regret going to the Grand Canyon. Book a helicopter trip: expensive but worth it IMO. It's hard to appreciate the size of it, just looking down from the rim.

If you haven't seen it, seek out the Sam Willis series in BBC TV about the 're-creation' of John Wesley Powell's exploration of the Grand Canyon.

Powell was an amazing character!

08 Aug 17 - 06:29 PM (#3870637)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: michaelr

Looks like a fun trip, Nick! I would skip Las Vegas, though. As Barbara Kingsolver wrote, "It's the only trash can for a hundred miles, so all the garbage collects there."

Have a great time!

08 Aug 17 - 07:02 PM (#3870640)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

Michael - got to sleep somewhere on the way to Grand Canyon!

Knowing that it's somewhere that I feel quite negatively about it will be interesting to see if my preconceptions are right or wrong.

And I might make fortunes beyond my wildest dreams by betting everything on no 27 and letting the winnings ride lol

08 Aug 17 - 07:05 PM (#3870641)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

We are only the one night in Las Vegas. I once spent an afternoon in Fraserburgh I'm sure one night in vegas is survivable 😀

08 Aug 17 - 07:30 PM (#3870642)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: mg

the nice thing about las vegas..never been there but to that hotels can be very cheap and buffets very good.

09 Aug 17 - 01:17 AM (#3870670)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Joe Offer

Can't say that I love Las Vegas, but it's a place to stay in the desert that has lots of lodging. It's fun to drive (better to walk) down the Strip and see all the casinos, which are ever-changing. Caesar's Palace has great waterfalls, and you can see replicas of Paris, New York, Venice, Camelot, and Egypt along the way. The casinos all look more-or-less the same inside, but the building exteriors along the Strip are a sight to see - especially at night. Las Vegas is good for two or three hours on the Strip, but that's about it. Oh, and it's expensive to take in a show, but worth it - Cirque du Soleil is supposed to be terrific, but I haven't seen it.

I really like the town of Bishop, which is about halfway between Mammoth Lakes and Lone Pine. Park in the parking lot of the Catholic church and then walk back to the open space behind - you'll get the most wonderful view of the Eastern Sierra. Stop at Schat's Bakery in Bishop and get a sandwich made with their amazing Sheepherder Bread.
On the way to Lone Pine, stop at Manzanar and spend a while thinking about the Japanese Americans who were imprisoned there during World War II - in horrible desert conditions with one of the most spectacular views in the Americas.
At Lone Pine, drive back Whitney Portal Road as far as you have time to go. You'll be driving through the Alabama Hills, the site of countless cowboy movies. You may even see movie crews. Lone Pine and Bishop have the wonderful views of the Eastern Sierra that inspired Ansel Adams - don't miss them.

In Death Valley, go to Zabriskie Point and get an amazing panorama of the valley.

Just west of Death Valley if you go the right way on the way to Las Vegas, stop at the Area 51 Center and the Alien Cathouse Brothel. I wouldn't recommend the Main Thing on the Menu (not that I've tried it), but it's also a truck stop and convenience market and gas station - and you WILL need gas after you get out of Death Valley. When you're in the desert, keep your tank full - NEVER travel in the desert with less than half a tank of gas. But you really need to take a selfie with a genuine imitation Space Alien.

After you leave Las Vegas, think about taking Route 66 from Kingman (AZ) to Grand Canyon. The highway has been wonderfully restored, and there are lots of fun things and beautiful views along the way.

In Grand Canyon, see if you can spend at least one night in the park. The historic cabins at Bright Angel Lodge are surprisingly inexpensive.

I'm trying to picture how you're going from Grand Canyon to "Mohave," and then to Palmdale on your way to San Luis Obispo. Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park are nice places on the way, and Palm Springs/Palm Desert is a nice place to stay. Palmdale is a dump, but it does have lots of lodging. Barstow, Victorville, and Bakersfield are other dumps in that area with reasonably good lodging.

If you go to San Luis Obispo, you can go a short distance south to Avila Beach/Port San Luis, or north to Morro Bay. I think these are my absolute favorite place on the entire Pacific coast of the U.S. The lodging is not horribly expensive, and the scenery and wildlife are spectacular. Instead of staying in San Luis Obispo, I'd recommend staying in one of these two coast cities - but do take a look at the mission in San Luis, and anywhere else you get a chance to see a mission.

And then when you get back to San Francisco, abandon your car and just walk. It's an amazing place to walk.


10 Aug 17 - 07:35 AM (#3870855)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

Thank you (Joe especially) you have been so helpful

I think that the drive back from Grand Canyon via Mojave (spelling error) is probably not going to be the highlight.

But - who knows - might meet some americans along the way :)

When I get back I'll bore you with the photo book because I always do them. This was the last one

£15 can't go far wrong for a 106 page hardback book.

10 Aug 17 - 02:54 PM (#3870907)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: DaveRo

We thought Fisherman's Wharf was just a tourist trap. But we found some good restaurants elsewhere via the internet.

10 Aug 17 - 04:09 PM (#3870915)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: DaveRo

Nick wrote: When I get back I'll bore you with the photo book because I always do them. This was the last one link
Great photos - especially the glass of Mythos. I recognise Chania - we were there earlier this year. Did you do much walking? If so I would try to fit Yosemite in; a lot of tourists stick to the valley floor but if you can walk it's big enough to get away from people. It's well organised - like all the parks we visited.

Las Vegas is worth seeing, Once.

11 Sep 17 - 03:18 AM (#3876444)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

Well. So far so good and,again,thanks to those who made suggestions. We have managed to do a lot of them.

Absolutely loved drive across Death Valley (only 108f so bearable) - it totally surpassed my expectations. Absolutely detest Las Vegas from where I write this.

Love chipmunk - so sweet. Went out taking night sky pictures of the Minarets and met a coyote which was interesting. Donner Pass was great. Thunder and lightning spoiled it a bit but had an interesting chat with a pair of hitchhiker who were part way through their 2600 mile Pacific crest trail. Yosemite was very picturesque but equally enjoyed the area round Mammoth Lakes.

San Francisco we managed to do a fair amount of walking and exploring but we have another few days in a weeks time to see more. Walked most of the bridge. Also managed Marin Headlands and Point Reyes but Muir Woods was too busy the day we had planned. Sonoma was a good place to potter round too.

Can't get over how expensive basic things are in California. Very weird and for little apparent reason.

Las Vegas will soon be just a memory as we have the Grand Canyon coming up next before sending our way back up the Pacific coast.

11 Sep 17 - 03:25 AM (#3876446)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

As an aside. We managed to arrive on the hottest day ever in recorded history in San Francisco. No wonder I found it hot walking 12 miles around the streets.

The other really surprising thing I saw - it may be commonplace but just not what I was expecting - was to be a few feet away from a hummingbird on Pier 39 in San Francisco. Just seemed an incongruous place to see it.

11 Sep 17 - 05:14 AM (#3876472)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Joe Offer

Sounds like you're having a wonderful trip. If you like Death Valley now, you could come back about March or April when the flowers are out. I was there during one Superbloom, but I hit another couple years were the flowers were more subtly beautiful.
It you took Interstate 80 from Sacramento over Donner Pass, you were about 300 yards from my home.
You'll love Grand Canyon. There's something wonderful about finding viewing spots all your own along the canyon rim. Take the shuttle bus and get off for 15 minutes at every stop - each stop is a wonderland. Same thing with the shuttle bus at Zion National Park, if you happen to get there. And if you have to pay a little extra to stay at a lodge inside a National Park, do it. We scored a $91 cabin at Old Faithful Lodge at Yellowstone this year - wow! It was a thrill to see an elk outside my door at 6 AM.

11 Sep 17 - 10:19 AM (#3876517)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

My wife was dying for a cup of tea, Joe, if only I'd known we'd have come scrounging :) And it would have been nice to say thank you in person for all your help.

We won't make Zion or Yellowstone as time is too limited. Perhaps another time when we feel the need to return to anywhere BUT Las Vegas! Though I have to say the room we are in is nice. It's 0715 pdt at present so it will be interesting to see if anyone is still gambling at this time of day!

An elk doing room service. Interesting image.

13 Sep 17 - 11:16 AM (#3876866)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Dave the Gnome

I am surprised no one has said it yet.

If you're going to San Francisco,
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.


I'll get my (Afghan) coat.

13 Sep 17 - 06:02 PM (#3876915)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Steve Shaw

Nick is one of the very few Mudcat people I've ever met, and Dave, Nick is NOT going to show up with flowers in his hair! 😂

15 Sep 17 - 09:41 PM (#3877246)
Subject: RE: San Francisco in September
From: Nick

Spot on yet again Joe. We had a lovely afternoon at Avila Beach with the added benefits of a very good live band playing near the beach and seeing two whales - one of them breaching several times. I was watching a whale reasonably close in who would surface now and again when I spotted the other one breaching further out. First time I have seen that.