San Francisco Meetup at the End of July?

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Dear readers,

I’ll be in San Francisco at the end of July, on a family holiday of sorts. My youngest brother will be running in the marathon, and his family (wife and daughters) will stay the week after. His mother in law and my mother will be in town then as well.

I’ll arrive Wednesday, July 30, in the early afternoon. The best day for a meetup would be that day, say starting at 5:30 PM or 6:00 PM. Please let me know how many might be game and suggest venues. We usually look for places that are large enough that a group can meet and mingle. Our Washington DC meetup had 30 people attend. I expect the turnout in San Francisco to be lower, in the 10 to 20 range.

And while I have your attention….there will be days that my brother, his wife and girls will want to do things that my 86 year old mother, who is somewhat mobility restricted by virtue of having constrictive pulmonary disease, can’t handle (she can walk short distances but more than a few steps or long treks are out). I’ll need to squire her about some of the time. What do natives recommend?

Thanks again and looking forward to chatting with some of you soon!

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  1. mkexplorer

    I’m in. I’ll be coming from San Jose. Let us know in which part of the city you’ll be staying so we can make venue suggestions.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hah, that is sort of up in the air. My sister in law is a member of Ritz Carlton Residences, and is trying to get me in (better rates than a hotel and you get a suite) but nothing has opened up. Probably won’t change (if it changes at all) until a few days before I take off. That’s at 690 Market St. So assume anywhere near Union Square would be good.

      1. dopeypanda

        A friend of mine went to a birthday party held at Top of the Mark. She said it has really spectacular views, although a bit pricey for the drinks. It is also just a few blocks from Union Square.

  2. mellon

    I know SF and Northern California noth of the Golden Gate Bridge pretty well. Although I don’t live there now I lived there for around 30 years and know zillions of off the beaten path kinds of places to go. San Francisco is blessed with an abundance of parks and many of them are real gems. There are also many great walking streets or stairways where cars are not allowed. The Filbert Steps area is like that and there also is a flock of feral parrots around there. (there was a film made about them) There is also a flock of parakeets who spend most of their time in an arc which can be decribed as a curved line with one end at Delores Park and the other end at Tank Hill overlooking the Haight Ashbury. You can always hear them for a long way off as they make a lot of noise.

    If you are in SF I would also ecommend the Presidio pet cemetary, which is really a shrine to the beloved pets. Its under the approach to the Golden Gate bridge on the south side.. it would be easy to miss.

    There are great walks in that area.. Two car-less streets or stairways in that area are Pemberton and Vulcan

    There also is a good one which starts at the highest up haight-connected street.. I forget its name.. maybe Belgrave? and then goes up from there between houses (you have to walk carefully because the path is very narrow- intentionally so..eventually dumping you out near the big TV tower..

    There are also great day trips out of the city. Hiking on Mt. Tam is my favorite day trip for visitors.. either preceded or followed by a trip to Muir woods..Pt Reyes, Tomales Bay, Pt. Reyes Station.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks but my mother can’t walk much! She needs a wheelchair in most airports. So these suggestions are great for me (or for my brother’s family) but I was hoping for ideas beyond the usual “go to a museum.”

      1. Lord Koos

        You could take her down to one of the beaches, or you could take the ferry ride over to Tiburon and have a nice lunch.

      2. mellon

        San Francisco is as wheelchair accessible as any US city could be. There is absolutely no reason you can’t take her to innumerable very beautiful places with her wheelchair. I am thinking specifically of the trails between the Fort mason area (to the east) and the Cliff House (to the west) one of the most pictureesque areas in the US and perhaps the world.. When I lived there I used to hike there a lot and I remember seeing signs all around the Presideo for wheelchair accessible areas. Some of the nicest chunks of the trails there are wheelchair accessible. They spend a lot of money making them so so that both locals and tourists will have a good time. So use them! This should get you started, perhaps. feel free to ask me for exact locations.. Google Earth is great and its coverage of that area is the best of any area.. They get down into small neighborhoods with Street View. Don’t be shy about asking, I know that city extremely well.

  3. Propertius

    Wow! I’m actually supposed to be in the wilds of Silicon Valley that week. Tentatively in!

  4. Steve Smoot

    Drat. would love to, no matter how outclassed I am, but will be in HI. Enjoy!

  5. Stevan Thomas

    I’m in Marin now but grew up in San Francisco. Some of this depends on what your mom enjoys. The Palace of Fine Arts is the Marina district is pretty flat, so if you have a wheel chair available, it has a lovely promenade around a small lake. (There must be a place to rent a wheel chair if you aren’t travelling with one.) The building itself was a temporary structure built for the 1915 (?) World’s Fair and survives in it’s Greek revival style. The Presidio is one of the best urban parks in the world and makes for a lovely drive with plenty of places to take a short walk and take in a great view. Also for the view, a trip to the Marin headlands to look at the Golden Gate Bridge is a must, bearing in mind right now is high holy tourist season.

    690 Market is close to the SoMa area. Parking is relatively easy for out of towners and there is a multi storey pay lot at 5th and Mission. The problem there is finding a “quiet” place to get together. Beppo de Bucca? Not the “best” food, but decent family style.

    There are lots of places in the Valencia corridor, but parking is much more difficult due to the popularity. In the Union Square area, there is the Sutter/Stockton garage. The Financial District and Chinatown are close by and a short cab hop. For Sezchuan Chines there is Brandy Ho’s, but almost all Chinese places can accommodate groups. It’s even not too hard to find food that is MSG “free” (it’s never 100%, but at least they don’t pour on MORE). I can make more specific recommendations when I know more about what you like and want, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. I know an Indian/Pakistani place in North Beach and near Valencia, there are many Italian options, and etc.

  6. Martin Elsbach

    I’m in. It depends what your mother likes. The Asian Art Museum should be wheelchair friendly as is the de Young Museum. Since you are in the Market Street and Union Square area navigating with a chair should not be too difficult.

  7. Local to Oakland

    I’d be glad to make a meetup if I can. Thanks for the opportunity.
    The Ferry to Sausalito is a very pretty ride and accessible to anyone. I haven’t taken the Bay Cruises, but some of them go out and under the Golden Gate Bridge. You could call and ask about accessibility. There are various places to drive and take in a view… She will definitely want a wheelchair to get around. SF was not built for parking, parking structures were added later. Golden Gate Park is flat, has parking and some beautiful spots that are wheelchair accessible. The views from the CliffHouse are stunning.

    1. mellon

      The various ferries would all be really great.. You could also drive up to Mt. Tamalpais.. there are lots of places you could park, and bring her out of the car to enjoy truly spectacular views out over the ocean and bay. the core inner part of Muir Woods is completely wheelchair accessible, of course. Its only the side trails that are not. Most restaurants in SF are wheelchair accessible.

  8. Mary Beasley

    to meet you I’ll travel from the wilds of Lake County CA to any venue in San Francisco
    thanks for all you do

  9. anonymous123

    I’m in for the SF meetup. I would suggest either the financial district near/on Market Street or Union Sq–they’re right next to each other. Careful of going too far (a street or two) west of Union Square, as you’ll run into the Tenderloin which is dicey at night. Most working professionals will be in the financial district I suspect, and it’s a stop closer on the BART vs. Union Square if folks are coming from Oakland/East Bay. I’m not terribly familiar with bars that will withstand a group of ~10, but a few places I know of in the area are: Novela at Mission/New Montgomery (a literary bar), House of Shields atNew Montgomery/Market, Local Edition at 3rd/Kearny, Aquitaine at Sutter/Kearny, Murphy’s Pub at Sutter/Kearny, Louie’s Bar at Stevenson between 1st and 2nd, or the bar inside the Palace Hotel. I’ve only been to Novela, so I can’t vouch for the others.

    As for suggestions while you’re here, a good way to see the city for someone who can’t walk is actually a tourist bus tour from Ghirardelli Square. You’ll get to see the entire city that way, although you’ll want to bring a warm jacket. It’s fairly cool here now, and always windy. Other great places to go: California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium (like Liberty Science Center), and Sausalito. If you want nature, a drive up to Muir Woods is easy. I’d also recommend walking around Downtown Berkeley, if nothing else than to observe the social dynamics in action.

    1. mellon

      he SF ferry Building has a food focus and there are (seemingly) dozens of extremely nice restaurants there, including The Slanted Door which for many years was a mission jewel but has now relocated to the Ferry Building. Another nice reataurant is Greens at Fort Mason. A really great restaurant in the new Rincon Annex (former post office) building off of Mission Street – (they may still have a presence in the Financial District also, nope, they are no longer where they used to be, right across from the San Francisco Fed.. – looks as if they are at Rincom center and have another place on Stevenson Alley.) is Yank Sing, really really good dim sum. those three are all expensive.. though..

      You really cant lose if you go to the ferry building as there are a great many food places there. many of them are reasonably priced. there are also shared outdoor tables. Another area where a group of people could meet is the nice outdoor mall area next to the food court of the Metreon complex – between it and the SF Art Museum. (the lawn area was created when they expanded Moscone Center.) that way people would have a choice of food or drink (beer and wine) that would be the cheapest option and still a nice environment.

  10. Jeff W

    Well, I’m not a native but in August I will have lived in the area for 30 years so I hope that’s good enough.
    First off, this page and this page (which is almost 10 years old but still valid) mentions some places that I would recommend (as well as others).

    Assuming you will be renting a car and driving your mom around, I’d recommend some of the following:

    San Francisco 49 Mile Drive here—you can start at any point and end at any point (here’s a Google map version of the route as well as the PDF version on the site)—you just follow the seagull signs.

    The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (around the Golden Gate Bridge), specifically, Fort Point at the southeastern end of the bridge (it’s where Kim Novak jumps into the Bay in the movie Vertigo) and the Marin Headlands just to the northwest of the bridge for the most striking views of the city. (There are also some other vista points on the northeast and southeast sides of the bridge.) These would not necessarily involve any walking other than getting out of the car to take in the view and snap a few photos.

    In Golden Gate Park there is the Japanese Tea Garden (where the fortune cookie was first introduced at the turn of the last century) and the Conservatory of Flowers. There is some walking involved at those places but there are benches and places to sit along the way.

    At Moscone Center, adjacent to the Asian Art Museum and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, is Yerba Buena Gardens, an urban park. That would involve some walking also but there are places to sit. There’s a “tea lounge” there and a few other places to eat.

    I realize your mom is ambulatory with limited mobility, but if she is amenable, you can rent a wheelchair and that might give you more options—places are more accessible to those in wheelchairs than to those who can walk only short distances.

    Contact me directly and I could give directions and more details.

    Also I would love to meet up!

    As for venues, many restaurants in Chinatown have private rooms. There are other restaurants with private rooms. It just depends on what food you want, how much you’d like to spend, and where you want to be.

    1. MikeNY

      I second the Marin Headlands, and lunch in Sausalito, if it’s clear. My mom was out recently, and she has limited mobility, too. You can rent a car for the day pretty cheaply in SF. Take a little tour of some of the high points (Twin Peaks, Alamo Square Park, Pac Heights, Nob Hill), then head over the GG to the headlands. It’s spectacular. Lunch in Sausalito right on the water is very pleasant, too. The town is small, cute, flat, and has some fun artsy fartsy shops. And there’s a really good ice cream shop, too.

      Back in SF, grab a drink at the Top of the Mark if it’s clear. Not that expensive, and worth it.

  11. Wolf Richter

    As far as wheelchair-accessible urban “nature experiences” are concerned, I’d recommend:

    – Golden Gate Park, especially its Japanese Garden and Botanical Garden … though not all paths are wheelchair accessible. You can also, while you’re there, go the de Young Museum. If you intend to go there over the weekend, check street closures in the park. There is a big parking garage under the museum.

    – Crissy Fields. A wide gravel road between restored dunes and a tidal marsh. By the time you get there, there will be nothing in bloom, but you’ll either have beautiful views of SF and the GG Bridge throughout, or otherwise you’ll see thick fog. At the right time of day, you’ll see pelicans flying by in formation. There is beach access, some of it via wooden walkways. Not sure it this is good for a wheelchair. Parking either right behind it, or at the Yacht Club.

    – Aquatics Club, just down from Ghirardelli’s. At the terminus of the Hyde Street cable car line. If she can ride the cable car and walk a quarter mile, you might be able to do this on foot. It’s all paved, though there is a slope on the way back up to the Cable Car terminus. Beautiful views of the Bay, direction Alcatraz. Lots of places to sit and admire the scenery (concrete bleachers, bring a small towel to sit on). If you go out on the pier (wheelchair accessible; it’s long, don’t try to walk with her out to the roundhouse), gorgeous views of much of the Bay. I’m one of the idiots swimming in the cove year-round without wetsuit. One of my favorite spots.

    – Bring plenty of WARM CLOTHING!!

    1. mellon

      Yes, in the summer, many parts of the SF Bay Area (especially the western half) can – as the fog rolls in, get suddenly FRIGID so always remember to have a sweater with you in a bag! As far as wheelchair accessibility the Arboretum and the Botanical garden are quite wheelchair accessible.. the Japanese Tea Garden, maybe not as much (it may be better now) many of SF’s many hills are topped by parks.. One which i know is wheelchair accessible and which has a famous view of a row of Victorians with the city as its backdrop is Alamo Square Park in the Western Addition. Also, the Panhandle is a nice walk (fringes of the Haight Ashbury)

      I would stay away from Valencia Street on the weekend, parking around there would probably be next to impossible. Delores Park is very pretty, but again, parking is very difficult around there. Lots of great – quite inexpensive restaurants in that area though. You can take the Muni J Church out there and not bring a car.

    2. Jeff W

      I second (or third) that about the weather. It’s summer in San Francisco so bring a sweater or wear some layers that you can easily put on and take off.

      Also San Francisco has microclimates and sub-microclimates caused by the various hills. The general rule, more or less, is that the places east of the hills are warmer—sometimes by as much as 20º F—than those west of them—so, if you don’t like the weather where you are, you can go a few blocks. (And you don’t have to remember where it might be warmer—there’s an app for that, for iPhones, at least.)

  12. Julie B

    If you find you are in the Union Square area, a good place for a long lunch and people watching is the second floor restaurant in Neiman Marcus, the old City of Paris. It looks out over Union Square and the food is very good. The popovers are great, served with strawberry butter.

    If you have time, try Berkeley’s 4th St. area – very flat and many unusual stores. My dad is 97. His favorite restaurant there is Cafe Rouge. There is an adjoining snazzy grocery store with very yummy free samples. Parking is easier there than in much of the city.

    Recommendations from others for west Marin are a good idea, but it would be an all-day (beautiful) excursion. One great place there for a mid-day meal would be Station House Cafe. Try the fish tacos. Or, there is a beautifully done new commons area with picnic tables (very flat) down by Bovine Bakery (amazing pizza by the slice if you get there early enough). Or, you could pick up sandwiches at Perry’s in Inverness Park, then take the short drive to the national park headquarters at Bear Valley for a picnic there. Both places have tables. I think Perry’s has the best BLTA on toasted whole wheat on the planet.

    Back to San Francisco near the park – in the few blocks on Irving above 19th Ave. you’d find some spots where you could sit and watch the world go by – parking not too bad. On the other side of the park, there’s a good cafe called Velo Rouge at 798 Arguello that has a couch to sit on and eat your sandwich from your lap. There’s a little grocery next door if you need to pick up anything for your mom. It is a short drive to the underground entrance to the deYoung, very wheelchair friendly. If your mom likes to sew, she might want to visit the wonderful Satin Moon Fabrics at 32 Clement, a short drive from Velo Rouge. That part of Clement Street is fun and flat.

    Both the deYoung and the Palace of the Legion of Honor in the outer Richmond have good cafeterias with very good food and are handicapped friendly. Another good place, though a little pricier, is the restaurant out at the Cliff House – gazing at the ocean never gets old. Reservations a must and you would need another person so you can drop off your mom, then find parking.

    Consider a drive south through Pacifica to Half Moon Bay, a lovely drive. Half Moon Bay is full of nice small shops, wonderfully friendly. Our favorite restaurant there is Pasta Moon on Main Street. Have a lovely time with your mother.

    1. mellon

      Clement Street has dozens of very nice, cheap restaurants, and parking around there, compared to downtown or the Mission is relatively easy to find. Its a shoppong street so there are several public lots with meters.

      Also, the Sunset has Irving Street which is similar (although not quite as amazing) but there is a really great coffee shop, Tart to Tart which of course has great tarts.

      If you like Chinese food, IMO Clement Street has better restaurants than Chinatown and they are all quite affordable.

  13. Reuben and Judith Israel

    We would like to join the meet-up in San Francisco on July 30th.
    Last week, we took a fascinating tour of San Francisco’s Rooftop Gardens with other senior citizens from our retirement community, The Villages.. The tour guide, Craig Smith, is a local historian who knows an incredible amount about the buildings and events that have taken place in San Francisco. We ate lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco’s most popular tourist attraction .
    I don’t know whether he has other group tours scheduled during your stay. If not, you might consider a customized family tour that would be suitable for your group.
    If you’re interested , contact Craig at or (415) 640-5609.

  14. kevinearick

    embarc for SF Sourdough and clam chowder;
    visit the old churches if that’s her thing;
    there are two old playhouses left, in SF and Rochester NY
    cross the bridge north and see the redwoods.
    nob hill isn’t too expensive for a room and there are some good views (I happen to like ships and trains).

  15. kevinearick

    the baseball yard is nice and wheelchair friendly. Actually you can watch from a couple of nice cafes on ground level.

    I’m obviously biased in favor of SOMA

  16. Gabriel

    Great idea to meet and chat with your readers. Face to face can provide some invaluable impressions and ideas.

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