FareCompare 4×4: San Francisco Summer Travel Tips

Martha Stewardess is a veteran flight attendant, who dispenses wit, wisdom and travel news on Martha Stewardess – Living at 34,000 feet.

We got in touch with Martha (via email and phone) and asked her to help us plan a San Francisco summer vacation.

1. Where-to-Go

What are some must-sees (or some of your favorite spots) in San Francisco for summer travelers?

I love experiencing the different neighborhoods of San Francisco, as each one has its own unique ‘feel’. Even the climates vary from one district to the next: it can be sunny and toasty in the Mission, and a few blocks in either direction, you may experience a chill that will drive you to a warm and cozy cafe for a real San Francisco treat – people watching.

On Saturday afternoons, Chip and I will visit Cafe Trieste in San Francisco’s Italian section known as North Beach. Cafe Trieste, with its large windows, is the perfect place to enjoy live music and a latte. The family that owns Trieste is a musical group with lots of entertaining friends who stop by on Saturdays to belt out everything from opera to country twang. There are always lots of locals and familiar friendly faces to share a table and a song with.

While in North Beach, explore the shops on Grant and Columbus Streets. Go to Washington Park where you’ll find local artists displaying their work. Mario’s Cigar Store is on the corner there – try their great grilled sandwiches. Or splurge a little on the souffle at Cafe Jacqueline on Grant: try the ham & asparagus for the main course, followed by a Gran Marnier White Chocolate one for dessert.

Telegraph Hill is also within walking distance – and has amazing views of Fisherman’s Wharf and the San Francisco Bay.

Another Saturday thing I like to do is, visiting the Ferry Building Farmers Market (at the end of Market Street).

I also love Sundays in the Haight Ashbury district: it’s like a wonderful amusement park ride on a movie set. Anyone can get lost for hours without really being lost. You feel as though you’re with all your best friends (the ones you really enjoy hanging out with). From there you can walk to Golden Gate Park, and on Sundays, the main road of the park is blocked to motor traffic, so look for roller skaters, bladers, and anything else on wheels as they move and groove to the music from a giant boombox that one of the regulars has wheeled in for the day. You will see the most amazing moves on wheels, and lots of friendly faces.

2. What-to-Do

Are there any summer festivals, concerts, events, etc. in San Francisco that travelers should be aware of?

Sunday’s in Stern Grove are extra special. Take a warm blanket and a warmer friend, and you’re set for the day – maybe even the week. Check ahead for neighborhood street fairs, too – each of which have their own uniqueness and special quality.

3. When-to-Fly

What is the best time of the summer to visit the city?

Late summer is best. I love October – sunny, calm, and spectacular.

4. How-to-Shop

Any tips for saving money once you’re in the city?

San Francisco is expensive, but the activities I’ve mentioned above will not cost you an arm and leg. Also, take a ferry boat ride over to Sausalito. You cruise right past Alcatraz, so you get more bang for your buck. Plus you’re going to lovely Sausalito! Enjoy lunch on the water at an outdoor eatery, then enjoy a nice slow ride home. Or, take a picnic to the beach: this is fun even on a cold, windy day – just wear a thick sweater and cuddle up. It’s wonderful, and like no other place on earth.

And don’t forget to walk! Walking costs you nothing, and you can walk anywhere in San Francisco – there’s so much to see, do, and enjoy – and when you walk, you discover special places on your own: favorite places, that’ll keep you coming back, year after year.

-Follow Martha on Twitter @MarthaStewardes

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Published: May 6, 2010