Local transport information:AIRPORTS: S.F.O. is the closest to us (15-20 minutes by car or taxi). Oakland, (30-40 minutes away). San Jose is the furthest, to the south, (about 50-60 minutes). Full details about how to get to us can be provided in advance...just ask us!
AMTRAK TRAINS arrive in Emeryville, which is located between Oakland and Berkeley, across the Bay Bridge, and from that station there are busses to the Ferry Building on Market Street, at the Embarcadero.
Getting to CASTRO SUITES from the airports: Other than by a rental car, taxi, or one of the many mini-van services available, there are the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains from both SFO and Oakland, and CALTRAINS from San Jose.
These lines connect up with the extensive San Francisco transportation network, known as MUNI, which has busses, trams, a subway and the historic cable cars.
What to See:
Here is a list containing a variety of suggestions and Internet links about where to go, how to get around, and what to do and see.
FOOD & RESTAURANTS: Within walking distance from the apartments are: seafood, Thai, Indian, Sushi and other Japanese places. Mexican food, Italian food, Ethiopian food, and other small breakfast / lunch eateries, pastry shops and bakeries. There are pubs galore for a variety of tastes. Two local favorites are "22/23 Market Street" and Anchor Oyster Bar. An abundance of coffee houses are in the Castro neighborhood, as are small food markets, a health food market or three, and two large supermarkets, including a Safeway (open 24 hours). Joseph Schmidt Chocolatier is about the best in San Francisco (possibly the best in the whole of the USA), and it's only a 10-minute walk away! Beware, it's addictive! Yummm!
CULTURE: ART: Three major museums are currently open: The Asian Art, the Palace of the Legion of Honor, and the San Francisco MOMA (Modern Art). There are quite a few smaller museums, as well as many art galleries, legitimate & also tacky/touristy ones as well, and other exhibition spaces. Currently both the De Young and Science museums are being completely rebuilt, but the San Francisco Science Academy has a smaller temporary headquarters downtown.
Both Oakland and Berkeley have their own museums, to the South, in Palo Alto, is Stanford University's Cantor Museum, which is a gem.
CULTURE: THEATER: San Francisco has world-class original productions as well as touring Broadway shows, several rep companies, ballet and other dance companies, symphony, chamber music groups, choral groups, a lively night club / live music scene, all kinds of special film festivals, such as Jewish, Gay, Asian, International, and many others, including films about Gay & Jewish, Gay & Asian, Gay & whatever...!
Among the highlights are: San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Opera, New Conservatory Theater (with 3 stages), A.C.T., Theater Rhinoceros, Teatro Zinzani and the very special, very wacky "Beach Blanket Babylon" cabaret revue. For these, we recommend you get advance ticket booking, either through their own websites, via telephone or via Internet sites, for better seating.
CULTURE: EVENTS: Almost every neighborhood has its own Street Fair sometime during the year, each usually with food, entertainment and crafts. One celebrates "Cinco de Mayo" in The Mission, Italian, in North Beach, another is about Jazz, on Fillmore Street in the Western Addition, for Gays in The Castro, for everyone at Union Street, and for the S & M crowds and voyeurs, there are the Folsom & Dore Alley fairs, and many other groups have their own fairs.
DAY TRIPS AROUND TOWN OR AWAY FROM THE CITY:
One of the best ways to get to know about San Francisco and its history is via the diverse walking tours available.
By either renting a car or by using local tour companies, there are an incredible amount of places to see in this area.
Golden Gate Park is worth at least a full day, with the Japanese Tea Garden to tour, Stowe Lake to walk, jog or boat around, The Conservatory of Flowers, the large Strybing Arboretum, an authentic Dutch windmill, and the rest of the park to explore.
A half hour drive Northwest,past the Golden Gate Bridge is Muir Woods, with its giant redwoods, many trails, etc. It's below Mount Tamalpais, with it's own trail and spectacular views of the Greater Bay Area. Beyond these are Stinson Beach and other interesting northern coastal towns along Route 1.
To the Northeast are the wine communities, collectively known as the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country In addition to the myriad of wineries, there are wonderful restaurants, great shopping areas, mud baths, balloon rides, a wine train ride, glider planes. The drive is 50-90 minutes.
There are many types of Bay cruises for a nice change of pace.
To the South areCarmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz, all picturesque coastal towns to the south, are well worth the 1-3 hour rides. There are several public beaches along the drive, as well as antique & craft shops. The Aquarium in Monterey is unique, as it Cannery Row, where it's located. The Filoli Estate & Gardens in Woodside, a half an hour drive away, merits three stars!
To the East, across the Bay Bridge, are Oakland, with its Jack London Square, Lake Merritt, and the Oakland Museum compound for art, science and history. Berkeley has the University, almost a city unto itself, with its own art museum and arboretum. Yosemite, Reno and Lake Tahoe are about 4-6 hours drive further east.
We rate the Berkeley Bowl (a fruit and vegetable supermarket) our three stars for an attraction worth going out of your way to experience - if you are "into" food & cooking! (and if you are not, can we talk?)
Then there's the most visited attraction in the Bay Area, known as Alcatraz Prison, accessed via the Blue & Gold Fleet's ferries - a must book in advance destination. They even have sunset and night tours during much of the year. But, BE PREPARED!
To the West is the Pacific Ocean ... there are great beaches for walking, and good for surfboarding, but usually the water's too cold for swimming...unless you're a Polar Bear.
FOR EVEN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HAPPENINGS, CULTURE, ETC., WE RECOMMEND YOU CHECK OUT OUR LARGEST NEWSPAPER: "The San Francisco Chronicle" at SFGATE.com. Some other excellent sites are sfstation.com/, sfvisitor.org, and sanfrancisco.citysearch.com.