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Hotel: help me balance cost/convenience/location

Hotel: help me balance cost/convenience/location

Old Aug 23, 17, 1:38 pm
  #1  
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Hotel: help me balance cost/convenience/location

My wife and I will be in San Francisco for a few days in October; she has never been there before, and I haven't been there in 10+ years. We will be flying in to SFO on a Thursday evening, we'll be there all day Friday and Saturday, and then continuing on to our next destination Sunday morning.

We're planning on a day of sightseeing (Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, etc) and then driving to Napa area for a day.

I'm tentatively planning on staying at a hotel near the airport, taking BART + uber in and out of town for our sightseeing day, and then renting a car for a day to drive up to Napa. I decided on this because hotel costs are lower, I won't need to pay to rent the car the whole time, and I avoid high parking costs. Good idea? Bad idea?

I also considered staying in the Oakland area since hotel prices there are also more reasonable, and it's an easier drive to Napa, but then I've still got parking costs and I'm a ways from SFO on Sunday morning.

Any input on this is appreciated. Also, any recommendedations for Napa destinations would be great. Thanks in advance.
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Old Aug 24, 17, 9:41 am
  #2  
 
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It's not necessarily a bad plan but also consider:

Stay in the city. Take BART from the airport to a hotel easily walkable (say, Union Square). Then rent your car for one day from a downtown location to get to Napa.

Most of the major rental agencies have locations downtown, often roughy the same rates as the airport, but without the ridiculous airport taxes/fees.

If you really wanted to save money, you could stay somewhere cheap on the way back from Napa on Saturday night then drive directly to the airport. Usually there is no drop fee to return to the airport instead of a downtown location.

The problem with staying outside the city the whole time is that there are very few hotels that are walking distance to BART. So you have to figure a hotel shuttle or Uber to BART plus the 35 minute ride into the city (plus up to 20 minutes wait time, since trains don't run as often on the weekend). Do you want to waste an hour+ in each direction when you're only there for a few days?

I suppose the exception would be the hotels in downtown Oakland (say, the Marriott right next to the 19th Street station)... that area can be a little gritty but Old Oakland has some fun restaurants/shops and the BART ride is a lot easier.
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Old Aug 24, 17, 10:20 am
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I agree with much of post #2 . If SF (proper) is too expensive for you, then Oakland (Downtown to Jack London Sq. area) is a much better idea than SFO area. It is 2 to 3 BART stops from SF Embarcadero Station, and a relatively cheap UBER ride (typically). Oakland also has one of the hottest dining/drinking scenes anywhere.

Leaving Oakland to get to Napa (hotels, such as the Marriott - next to Oakland City Center - 12th St, (not 19th St.) , should have a rental desk) is also much easier as you won't have to navigate difficult city streets to get to the freeway.

Avoiding a car / parking charges on days you don't need a car is an excellent idea. You don't want to drive here, and we don't want you driving here if you don't know where you're going
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Old Aug 24, 17, 11:02 am
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OP might take a look at the hotels/inns on Lombard and Van Ness streets. Many include parking, and at reasonable rates.

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.7973...!5m1!1e1?hl=en

Separately, get your Alcatraz tickets now if you're interested. They sell out.
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Old Aug 26, 17, 10:27 pm
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Driving to Napa is an hour from SF if you're staying in fisherman's wharf or Lombard / Marina area. It's even more time from SFO. I personally don't think it's worth driving to Napa if you only have 2 full days in SF because I think there's a ton to see and enjoy in SF.
My suggestion:
Stay at a hotel in north part of SF.
Thursday - arrival; Bart / taxi / lyft to hotel
Friday - Alcatraz, sightseeing, etc
Saturday - fetch rental in SF, go to Napa, park car in hotel lot
Sunday - return rental in SFO and onward to next destination

Note - don't drink too much when driving or it could really ruin your vacation.
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Old Aug 26, 17, 10:36 pm
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Napa is increasingly becoming a tourist trap, especially the portion closest to SF. Sonoma is still much better.

It's not the same density of wineries, but you might want to consider doing wine tasting around Monterrey, which is on the same side of SF as SFO airport. At least you wouldn't be driving through the city in both directions (although traffic south of the airport can also be bad).
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Old Aug 26, 17, 11:47 pm
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My suggestions partly echo what's been said above.

1) Stay in SF, not some distance away, and especially not at an airport hotel. Commuting in/out is a major time sink, especially when you're looking to maximize a short visit. Suck it up and pay the higher rates in exchange for convenience.

2) Consider skipping Napa unless you're wine aficionados. There's so much other stuff to see and do in SF.
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Old Aug 27, 17, 1:35 am
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You can also get great wine at a wine bar in any metropolis. SF really doesn't have anything special regarding wine. Your local wine shop should have great stuff :-)
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Old Aug 27, 17, 11:35 am
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Add me to the list of Wine Country skeptics. It's nice up there, but there are several better options within reasonable driving distance. Consider driving down the coast to Carmel and staying in Monterey.
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Old Aug 27, 17, 11:53 am
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Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
Add me to the list of Wine Country skeptics. It's nice up there, but there are several better options within reasonable driving distance. Consider driving down the coast to Carmel and staying in Monterey.
I don't disagree, but if someone always wanted to go to Napa Valley, someone should go, even if it results in disappointment.
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Old Aug 27, 17, 1:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
I don't disagree, but if someone always wanted to go to Napa Valley, someone should go, even if it results in disappointment.
Absolutely -- anyone really interested in wine should go. Still, I think many visitors who go there are unfamiliar with the incredible options available on the California coast. It seems like wine production is popping up everywhere, so you don't need to go to Napa or Sonoma to see how they do it.
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Old Aug 27, 17, 3:14 pm
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Monterey (and Carmel, and the Monterey Peninsula in general) is wonderful, but it is a minimum two-hour drive to or from SF each way, and can easily take three (or more) if your timing is bad (i.e., get stuck in commute traffic), and/or a random accident clogs your chosen route, etc. And the traffic can be bad on pretty much any portion of the route -- not just the parts closest to SF.

Napa and Sonoma Valleys, OTOH, are only an hour drive from SF (again, can take longer depending on time of day, route, etc.). I think if those are on your bucket list anyhow, you should go to that area, and save Monterey for another time.

Or perhaps even just stay in SF the whole time; plenty to see and do.
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Old Aug 27, 17, 6:57 pm
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Originally Posted by KathyWdrf View Post
Monterey (and Carmel, and the Monterey Peninsula in general) is wonderful, but it is a minimum two-hour drive to or from SF each way...
I was assuming the OP would go from Monterey to SFO at the end of the trip.
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Old Aug 27, 17, 8:00 pm
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Maybe OP should post their destination after San Francisco. Is it SFO or is it a driving trip? It's still puzzling for me to imagine flying to San Francisco for only 2 full days.
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Old Aug 28, 17, 10:14 am
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You've got a few questions embedded in this post.

I'll start at the end and work backwards. Are you looking for destinations in Napa as in wineries or things to do or places to stay? Not clear what you're looking for around Napa. For wineries there's a very recent thread you could look at to see some options people have given.
Terms of staying at the airport and BARTing in every day – well you may save some dollars on the hotel cost, as others have mentioned you still have to shuttle to bark from those hotels, if you BART from the airport it's eight dollars each way, so you're losing a lot of time each day just getting to the city and then starting your sightseeing. Staying in the city, ubering around town, and just renting a car for the day for Napa makes much more sense.

If you're planning to go to Napa on Saturday, be aware that's likely the busiest day traffic wise. I'd get an early start drive to the top of the Valley and meander your way back down over the day.

Napa Valley
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