For September Travel, San Francisco is Hard to Beat
By Burt Carey
Just like the iconic Tony Bennett song, you too can leave your heart in San Francisco, and September could be the best month of the year to go there.
While September typically marks the end of the summer travel season, it also means most Americans are back to work, their kids are back in school, summer peak hotel rates are coming down, Bay Area weather is becoming quite moderate, and getting reservations at one of its famed restaurants isn’t as daunting as it was just a month ago.
You’ll get the biggest bang for your travel buck in September, visiting such landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz and Lombard Street. Of course the shoppers among us shouldn’t miss a trip to the Mission District, and for some eclectic exposure to the famous San Francisco culture, you might want to experience the Castro and the Haight districts.
Don’t worry about trying to drive – or park – here. Public transportation is both plentiful and fun in the city celebrated for its cable cars. If you’re planning to stay more than a couple of days, a a 7-day CityPASS ($94 per adult) will cover an unlimited number of rides on the city’s Muni system transportation, which includes diesel and electric trolley buses, historic streetcars and the world-famous cable cars. Without CityPASS, a single, one-way cable car ride costs $7; a Muni bus is $2.25. CityPASS does not include rides on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
Hotels in San Francisco can be pricey regardless of the time of year you visit. Fortunately, the city is home to a bevy of bed-and-breakfast establishments as well as family-owned or independent hotels. Instead of staying near Fisherman’s Wharf or SoMa (South of Market Street), consider the Marina District or even Nob Hill for accommodations.
World-renowned chefs, such as Food Network television host Tyler Florence and Michael Mina, have opened restaurants here, contributing to the Bay Area’s diverse culinary scene. You’ll find just about every type of cuisine known to humankind, but you’ll want to sample all of the regional foods – sourdough bread, bay shrimp, Dungeness crab, and the Hangtown Fry (Gold Rush-era scrambled eggs, oysters and bacon) – you can muster during your trip. It’s important to note that many of the city’s restaurants close relatively early, around 10 p.m.
And for dessert, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and Ghirardelli Square will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Spending a day or two away from the city is also a fine option. Muir Woods National Monument is where you’ll find 380-foot-tall Redwood trees, and across the San Joaquin Valley in the Eastern Sierra, Yosemite National Park are both extraordinary trips. And just north of the Bay Area is wine country and the Napa Valley.
Just because temperatures may feel good in comparison to the biting winds of a San Francisco spring, you’ll be best advised to bring a jacket. The city is renowned for fog and cooler temperatures than the interior portions of California.