A complete guide to travel in San Francisco

February 27, 2009

A complete guide to travel in San Francisco when you go to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery annual meeting.

Must-see spots of the Bay Area

The well-known Fisherman’s Wharf and surrounding area has a lot to offer those seeking new thrills and adventures. If you have some time to spare, be sure to check out the following spots.

Alcatraz Cruises Fisherman’s Wharf 415/981-7625 www.alcatrazcruises.com Alcatraz Cruises is the exclusive operator to Alcatraz Island. The National Park Service operates the island. Cruises start at 9 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Evening tours are offered Thursday through Monday. Alcatraz tours depart from Pier 33.

Aquarium of the Bay Fisherman’s Wharf 415/623-5300 www.aquariumofthebay.com Encounter 20,000 marine animals while strolling through 300 feet of clear tunnels. Touch sharks and rays. Open daily: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Children under 3, free. Prices and hours subject to change.

Boudin at the Wharf Fisherman’s Wharf 415/928-1849 www.boudinbakery.com In the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf, this new facility enables guests to view the 5,000-square-foot bakery in action. Immerse yourself in the history of sourdough French bread. Complimentary tasting of bread is included with the tour.

Conservatory of Flowers Golden Gate Park 415/666-7001 www.conservatoryofflowers.org At the living museum of rare and beautiful tropical plants from around the world, count on being engaged physically, intellectually, and emotionally. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Metreon Yerba Buena 415/369-6002 www.metreon.com At Metreon, an entertainment center at Fourth and Mission streets in downtown San Francisco, the 350,000-square-foot complex features a mix of the Bay Area’s best restaurants, shops, theaters, and entertainment destinations.

Napa Valley Wine Train Napa County 707/253-2160 www.winetrain.com Enjoy a wine country lunch or dinner daily on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Sign up for a brunch that includes a glass of chilled champagne; it is available on weekends year-round.

Old Faithful Geyser of California Napa County 707/942-6600 www.oldfaithfulgeyser.com Visit one of three famous Old Faithful Geysers in the world, just 78 miles north of San Francisco. Participate in a geothermal self-guided tour. Open year-round.

Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf 415/705-5500 www.pier39.com At Pier 39, check out a festival marketplace with more than 110 stores, 14 bayview restaurants, and attractions for all ages, including the famous sea lions, street performers, and live daily entertainment.

Presidio of San Francisco Presidio 415/561-5444 www.presidio.gov Formerly a military post, this national park and recreational area features remarkable vistas, trails, and historic and architectural treasures. The park is open daily, year-round.

San Francisco Zoo Sunset 415/753-7080 www.sfzoo.org Northern California’s largest zoological park features approximately 1,000 exotic and endangered wildlife. Experience the Children’s Zoo or Gorilla Preserve, Penguin Island, Koala Crossing, Lemur Forest, and the Australian WalkAbout. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker East Bay 510/981-4066 www.scharffenberger.com Take a free public tour of the factory to learn how chocolate is made and partake in a delectable chocolate tasting. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed-toe shoes required. Reservations recommended.

Submarine USS Pampanito Fisherman’s Wharf 415/775-1943 www.maritime.org During a tour of this authentic, World War II submarine, visitors will see how the crew of 80 men lived for weeks on end in tight quarters. National Historic Landmark. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hours subject to change.

San Francisco has a rich history

The origins of what is now San Francisco date to 3,000 B.C. The original inhabitants appear to be the Yelamu tribe of the Ohlone people.

The Spanish discovered the San Francisco Bay in 1769, and by 1776, they established the Presidio of San Francisco, and, later, Mission Dolores.

The region later became part of Mexico, after declaring independence from Spain in 1821.

By 1835, Englishman William Richardson established a home near Mission Dolores. It was there that he began to draw up street plans for the original town named Yerba Buena, and a trickle of American settlers began to take up residence here.

Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco in 1847, following the Mexican-American War.

Foresight

The onslaught of fortune seekers who hurried to be part of the California Gold Rush brought the city’s population from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by 1849. California was soon designated a state, and the country’s military constructed Fort Point at the Golden Gate and a fort on Alcatraz to secure the bay.

Many forward-thinking individuals saw ways to make money off the wealth brought on by the Gold Rush. Industries that benefited included the banking industry, with the start of Wells Fargo in 1852, and the railroad industry, which led to the building of the first transcontinental railroad. Soon, Levi Strauss opened its doors for business as a dry goods store, and Domingo Ghirardelli started making chocolate.

Chinese railroad workers helped create Chinatown, and by 1873, cable cars could be spotted on Clay Street. Victorian houses began cropping up, and plans unfolded for Golden Gate Park. Soon, schools, churches, theaters, and the like were populating the city.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the city became recognized for its flashy style, classy hotels, outrageous mansions on Nob Hill, and a lively arts community.

Earthquake

Life grounded to a halt in April 1906, following a major earthquake in San Francisco and northern California. Many buildings collapsed, and gas lines started fires throughout the city. Approximately 75% of the city was destroyed, which entailed most of the downtown of that period. More than half of the city’s population found themselves homeless.

The city refused to be brought down, however, and it was rebuilt on a large scale. The former mansions of Nob Hill were transformed to notable hotels, and by 1915, the city commemorated its rebirth at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Financial capitol

The city soon earned the title of financial capitol, having survived the 1929 stock market crash by coming out of it without one San Francisco-based bank failing. In fact, during the Great Depression, San Francisco began constructing not only the Oakland Bay Bridge, but also the world-renowned Golden Gate Bridge, finishing them in 1936 and 1937, respectively.

The city’s population continued to grow following World War II. The Transamerica Pyramid was constructed in the 1970s, and by the 1980s, the city started to have a New York appeal, as more high rises cropped up downtown.

Tourism, activism

At this point, tourism began to displace industry as the most significant portion of San Francisco’s economy.

Throughout this period, the suburbs realized explosive growth as the white population moved out of the city and immigrants from Asia and Latin America moved in.

During the 1960s, hippies made their impression on the city, especially Haight-Ashbury, and owned their claim to fame with the 1967 Summer of Love.

By the 1970s, the city found itself at the center of the gay rights movement, followed by the assassination of Mayor George Moscone in 1978. A second disastrous earthquake occurred in 1989, which wreaked havoc throughout the bay.

New life

The city’s economy received a new shot of life during the dot-com era of the 1990s. That was until the bubble burst in 2001, when many companies closed shop and left the city. Nevertheless, high technology remains at the forefront of today’s San Francisco economy.

Welcome to a variety of neighborhoods

San Francisco is an eclectic mix of districts, home to more than 40 neighborhoods. Here is a sampling of some of those neighborhoods you might run across during your stay in the city by the bay.

Castro/Upper Market

To locate Castro and Upper Market, take the city’s F-line streetcars.

Recognized globally as the gay capital of the world, the Castro offers an array of restaurants and nightlife.

Near the Castro is Noe Valley, with its pedestrian-friendly streets.

The upper parts of Market Street wraps around the parts of Twin Peaks, which is famed for its broad vistas of the bay. Glen Park, close to Diamond Heights, has a canyon park.

Chinatown

Step inside the “Dragon’s Gate” at Grant Avenue-San Francisco’s oldest street-and Bush Street, and venture onto 24 blocks of exotic shops, food markets, temples, and small museums.

Guests can taste samples at a tea bar or sample a “dim sum” lunch.

Embarcadero/Financial District

Bounded by deep-water piers, The Embarcadero houses the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street, a public space for a food hall, restaurants, and a farmers market. The Ferry Building serves as a terminal for ferries to Marin County, Vallejo, Oakland, and Alameda.

Check out the views at Piers 7 and 14 of the Financial District skyscrapers and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. In Jackson Square, one of the city’s historic districts, one will find buildings dating from the mid-1800s.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Expect to find countless fishing boats, seafood stalls, steaming crab cauldrons, and seafood restaurants, as well as sourdough French bread bakeries-not to mention numerous souvenir shops-in the world-famous Fisherman’s Wharf.

Cable car lines populate the area, which also is dotted with sight-seeing boats and boat charters transporting visitors to Alcatraz and Angel Island and other nearby destinations around the bay.

Haight-Ashbury

Alamo Square marks one of the most photographed regions of San Francisco, where there is a famous “postcard-perfect” cluster of Victorian houses with skyscrapers looming in the background.

Count on the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets to still show off its tie-dyed flair and vintage clothing, along with used books and records.

Locals might direct you to Buena Vista Park, which offers stunning city views.

For those seeking architectural delights, venture to Masonic, Piedmont, and Delmar streets.

Mission District

Laying claim to some of the city’s best weather, the Mission District, along with Bernal Heights and Potrero Hill, features mostly fog-free days.

New restaurants and nightspots are always cropping up here. You’ll also note a significant concentration of murals on city buildings and walls.

Nob Hill

Russian Hill here got its name from the burial sites of Russian hunters who spent much time in California waters in the early 1800s.

The region today is most recognized for the twisted curves of Lombard Street, “the crookedest street in the world,” between Hyde and Leavenworth streets.

North Beach

Grab a cup of joe in North Beach by daylight, or stop by the vibrant neighborhood at night for some live music and dancing.

For sightseers, catch the No. 39 bus to the top of Telegraph Hill, where Coit Tower sits with breathtaking views. The tower is graced with painted murals on its ground floor walls, which were completed by local artists in 1933. This hill also is home to picturesque lush gardens.

Union Square

If shopping is part of your plan while in the city, look no further than Union Square for nearly every apparel label imaginable. The park is a landmark in the center of the downtown shopping and hotel district.

Catch a cable car on Powell Street from here. Nearby is the Tenderloin, a 20-square-block district west of this district that includes jazz and blues clubs, restaurants, and cafés.

Nightlife: Options abound

Like the eclectic neighborhoods themselves, San Francisco nightlife offers something for everyone.

Bars with a view

13 Views Lounge Bar Embarcadero Hyatt Regency San Francisco 5 Embarcadero Center 415/788-1234, ext. 33 Waterfront views, lunch, and afternoon snacks. Full bar with an exhaustive list of local microbrews.

Harry Denton’s Starlight Room Union Square Sir Francis Drake Hotel 450 Powell St. 415/395-8595 www.harrydenton.com This rooftop nightclub on the 21st floor boasts full-city views. Enjoy dancing to live music.

The Lobby Lounge Nob Hill The Ritz-Carlton 600 Stockton St. 415/773-6198 An elegant downtown setting for tea, sushi, or evening cocktails.

Top of the Mark Nob Hill InterContinental Mark Hopkins One Nob Hill 999 California St. 415/616-6916 www.topofthemark.com A San Francisco landmark since 1939, Top of the Mark is known for 360° views of San Francisco and the bay.

Comedy

Cobb’s Comedy Club North Beach 915 Columbus Ave. 415/928-4320 www.cobbscomedy.com Located in North Beach, Cobb’s offers leading comedy talent with a full bar and dinner menu.

Dance

Infusion Lounge Union Square 124 Ellis St. 415/421-8700 www.infusionlounge.com A new venue, Infusion offers Asian design, 6,000 square feet, a VIP room, dance floor, bottle service, holograms, and unisex restrooms.

Mezzanine SOMA 444 Jessie St. 415/348-4656 www.mezzaninesf.com A premier global destination for live music, dancing, and exclusive events.

Music

Azul Lounge and Restaurant Union Square One Tillman Place 415/362-9750 www.azul-sf.com Lounge to grooving eclectic music. Tapas are served.

Biscuits & Blues Union Square 401 Mason St. 415/292-2583 www.biscuitsandblues.com Lively restaurant, bar, and nightclub with award-winning Southern cuisine and live music, performers, dinners, and shows.

Cantina Union Square 580 Sutter St. 415/398-0195 www.cantinasf.com A San Franciscan lounge with famous cocktails, a rotating art gallery, and music featuring Latin soul, salsa, and global jazz.

Matrix Fillmore Fillmore 3138 Fillmore St. 415/563-4180 www.matrixfillmore.com Matrix Fillmore once housed bands including The Grateful Dead and The Doors. The local, live music scene continues in this San Francisco hot spot.

Yoshi’s Jazz Club & Japanese Restaurant Fillmore 1330 Fillmore St. 415/655-5600 www.yoshis.com Features some of the best of local, national, and international jazz artists. Menu includes modern, Japanese cuisine.

Sports

Green’s Sports Bar Civic Center 2239 Polk St. 415/775-4287 Green’s showcases satellite sports coverage, 25 TVs, two big screens (HDTV), pool table, 18 draft beers, video games, and happy hour specials.

Wine bars

Bin 55 Yerba Buena San Francisco Marriott 55 Fourth St. 415/896-1600 www.marriott.com/sfodt Northern California wine bar features 55 wines by the glass from the Bay Area, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Monterey.

The Bubble Lounge Financial District 714 Montgomery St. 415/434-4204 www.bubblelounge.com A plush lounge serving 300 champagnes and sparkling wines.

Shopping galore!

It’s a shopper’s dream come true in San Francisco. From art and candy stores to unique shopping centers, you’ll be sure to find what you want or need while you shop ‘til you drop.

Apparel

Bloomingdale’s SOMA 845 Market St. 415/856-5402 www.bloomingdales.com The West Coast flagship is the second-largest Bloomingdale’s in the country.

Macy’s West Union Square 170 O’Farrell St. 415/954-6271 www.macys.com/visitor Macy’s flagship store covers almost two city blocks.

Neiman Marcus Union Square 150 Stockton St. 415/362-3900 www.neimanmarcus.com Enter Neiman Marcus, a store renowned for exclusive merchandise and service. Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, until 8 p.m.; Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

Nordstrom Union Square 865 Market St. 415/243-8500 www.nordstrom.com One of the nation’s leading fashion specialty stores. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Only in San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Pier 39 415/397-0143 www.onlyinsanfrancisco.net Souvenir superstore at Pier 39; one of the largest retailers of San Francisco gifts and souvenirs. Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Small Frys Noe Valley 4066 24th St. 415/648-3954 www.smallfrys.com One of San Francisco’s favorite children’s stores is in the heart of the city’s Victorian village.

Art

Creativity Explored Mission District 3245 16th St. 415/863-2108 www.creativityexplored.org A non-profit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit, and sell art. Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Weinstein Gallery Inc. Union Square 383 Geary St. 415/362-8151 www.weinstein.com Museum-caliber collection of contemporary works at Geary Street and a distinguished collection of 19th and 20th century masters at Grant Avenue offer guests an unmatched experience. Featured artists include Gaugy, Lazar, Thorpe, Chagall, Dali, Onslow-Ford, Picasso, and Kamrowski.

Candy

Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop Union Square 42 Stockton St. 415/397-3030 www.ghirardelli.com America’s premium chocolate.

See’s Candies

Enbarcadero 3 Embarcadero Center 415/391-1622 www.sees.com This famous candy maker has been a California tradition since 1921.

Shopping centers

Crocker Galleria Financial District 50 Post St. 415/393-1505 www.shopatgalleria.com Features a spectacular glass pavilion above three levels of retail stores, personal services, restaurants, and a certified farmers market every Thursday.

Embarcadero Center Embarcadero 4 Embarcadero Center 415/772-0700 www.embarcaderocenter.com The center features more than 100 nationally and locally renowned retailers, a wide selection of exquisite dining venues, a five-screen cinema, and underground parking.

Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf The Embarcadero and Beach St. 415/705-5500 www.pier39.com One of San Francisco’s premier bay attractions, the wharf is a festival marketplace with more than 110 stores and 14 bayview restaurants.

Stonestown Galleria Sunset 3251 20th Ave. 415/564-8848 www.stonestowngalleria.com Stonestown boasts more than 130 sought-after retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Williams-Sonoma, J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Apple Computer with convenient access from 19th Ave.

Getting around town

Whether you need to get around town or from the airport to your hotel, the city has several transportation options.

Airport transportation

The airport is 14 miles south of downtown San Francisco, in San Mateo county. For public transit information to the airport, contact the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART, www.bart.gov), SamTrans, or Caltrain. The Municipal Railway (MUNI) does not serve the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). For shuttles and other services, call the San Francisco Transportation Hotline at 800/736-2008.

Airport Express San Francisco San Francisco airport transportation passenger service to and from San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport since 1979. 415/775-5121 www.airportexpresssf.com

American Airporter Shuttle Provides 24-hour, door-to-door airport ground transportation to San Francisco International Airport in late-model vans with uniformed, courteous drivers. 415/202-0733 www.americanairporter.com

Lorrie’s Airport Service Lorrie’s offers low-fare, first-class shuttle service between San Francisco International Airport and all San Francisco hotels. 415/334-9000 www.sfovan.com

SuperShuttle Economical door-to-door airport ground transportation using 100 comfortable vans driven by professionally trained, uniformed drivers; providing 24-hour service to San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. 650/246-8942 www.supershuttle.com

Public transit

AC Transit 510/891-4777 www.actransit.org

BART provides service to 43 stations including Millbrae, San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek, and other locations in the East Bay. Hours of operation are weekdays, 4 a.m. to midnight; Saturday, 6 a.m. to midnight; Sunday and major holidays, 8 a.m. to midnight. Trains typically run every 15 minutes on weekdays and 20 minutes on evenings and weekends. Fares are based on distance traveled; tickets may be purchased at stations. 510/465-2278 www.bart.gov

Caltrain Silicon Valley Terminal at Fourth and King streets. Operating trains daily and holidays from San Francisco to San Jose. Weekday shuttle bus from the terminal to the Financial District during peak commute periods; connects with Muni Metro (light rail) at Fourth and King streets. 650/508-6200 www.caltrain.com

Taxi services

Luxor Cab Inc. 415/282-4141 www.luxorcab.com

Yellow Cab Cooperative Inc. 415/626-2345 (service) www.yellowcabsf.com

Limousine services

ABC Chauffeured Limousines & Sedans Worldwide 415/401-6200 www.abctrans.com

Carey Limousine SF Inc. 650/829-1562 www.carey.com

Elite 650/777-0977 www.elitelimousineinc.com

EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services 800/431-1993 www.empirecls.com

Gateway Limousines Worldwide 650/697-5548 www.gatewaylimo.com

Rental cars

Avis Rent-A-Car 415/885-5011 www.avis.com

Budget Rent-A-Car 415/292-3683 www.budget.com

City Rent-A-Car 415/359-1331 www.cityrentacar.com

Dollar Rent-A-Car 800/800-4000 www.dollar.com

Reliable Rent-A-Car 415/928-4414

Good eats: Just a short hike from the convention center

There is no shortage of lunch and dinner options near the Moscone Center. For some recommended “good eats,” here are some potential choices:

Chavo’s 595 Bryant St. (between 4th and Zoe streets) 415/495-5822 For a trusty Mexican lunch just 5 minutes from the convention center, try Chavo’s.

Koh Samui and the Monkey 415 Brannan St. (between 3rd and 4th streets) 415/369-0007 This South of Market destination blends Thai cuisine with contemporary design.

Le Charm French Bistro 315 5th St. 415/546-6128 At this upscale venue, one reviewer said she keeps coming back because the cuisine is filling and comforting, and it never disappoints.

Lulu Restaurant 816 Folsom St. (between 4th and 5th streets) 415/495-5775 This locale features a seasonal Provençal menu that highlights its wood-fired oven, rotisserie, and grill.

Mehfil Indian Cuisine 600 Folsom St. 415/974-5510 At Mehfil, which means “gathering of family members,” the menu is a mix and match of Indian food from several states.

Pazzia 337 3rd St. (between Folsom and Harrison streets) 415/512-1693 For great Italian food, try this old world-flavored place.

Thirsty Bear Brewing Co. 661 Howard St. (at 3rd St.) 415/974-0905 This South of Market brewery concocts tasty Spanish tapas.