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Transcript: San Francisco

Sharron Wood answered your questions on vacationing in San Francisco on March 16, 2004

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West Chester, PA: We will be spending the first weekend in May in San Francisco (celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary) and would like to know some nice ethnic (Chinese and Italian) restaurants, moderately priced and not "touristy".

Sharron Wood: One of my favorite Chinese restaurants is Dragon Well, though it's a sleek, modern place, not a very traditional Chinese restaurant. In the Mission District I like the hip, dimly lit Firecracker for Chinese. For my favorite Italian favorites, consider Jackson Fillmore, Rose Pistola, and, especially, Delfina, all mentioned above. If you want to stay away from the tourists, avoid the restaurants along Columbus Avenue, the main drag in North Beach.

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St. John's, Newfoundland: Can you suggest restaurants near the Fort Mason Center that serve excellent food but aren't too pricey, ethnic included? Can you suggest affordable, dependable hotels in that area, as well as nearby scenic areas (we may rent a car)? Thank you, Sharron!

Sharron Wood: The closest neighborhood to the Fort Mason Center is the Marina District. It's a pretty yuppified neighborhood, but there's definitely some good, reasonably priced food there. One of my favorites is Dragon Well, the stylish Chinese restaurant that I wrote about in this month's issue of Budget Travel magazine. Yukol Place, on busy Lombard Street, is not trendy or even super-well-known by most San Franciscans, but I think the food ranks in the top three or four Thai restaurants in the city (and that's saying something). For a romantic splurge that's not too pricey, consider Bistro Aix, where there's a great covered patio out back and they serve good French food.
There are a string of hotels along busy Lombard Street, not far from Fort Mason. Most of them are pretty characterless, but I'd recommend looking into the Hotel del Sol, a colorfully decorated retro-style motel. Less stylish but cheaper is Marina Inn; ask for an interior room if you're super-sensitive to noise.
As for scenic area--everything around Fort Mason is scenic! It's on the bay, looking toward Alcatraz, near the Golden Gate Bridge, and with easy access to all of Marin County. If you rent the car I'd suggest driving to the Marin Headlands. Just over the Golden Gate Bridge are beautiful bluffs where you can enjoy the views of SF and the bridge, picnic, hike, visit historic military sites, and birdwatch.

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Fremont, CA: Where is the Vietnamese restaurant area in San Francisco?

Sharron Wood: The highest concentration of Vietnamese restaurants is the Tenderloin, and fairly seedy neighborhood that has a lot of great little hole-in-the-walls. One of my favorite is Saigon Sandwiches, where for a couple of bucks you can great sandwich with thin-sliced meats and tangy veggies (take out only).

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Miami, FL: My wife and I are visiting San Francisco in two weeks for our 25th anniversary. We're getting alot of advice about where to go and what to see. What are your top 5 "must see" sites?

Sharron Wood:

1. Alcatraz Island. Be sure to spring for the audio tour, which is very interesting and informative, and don't forget to reserve in advance.
2. The Golden Gate Bridge. Don't just drive across it, but walk. Preferably, drive up into the Marin Headlands just to the north and appreciate it from there.
3. A stroll along the Embarcadero, enjoying the views and stopping in at the great food shops and restaurants at the Ferry Building along the way.
4. Either the Palace of Legion of Honor, the fine arts museum, or the Museum of Modern Art, depending on your preference.
5. Weather permitting, a romp in Golden Gate Park, where there are specialty gardens to visit and people to watch.
But whatever you do, don't fo'get to pick a few neighborhoods that appeal and just wander through them slowly!

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Sharron Wood: Thanks for the questions, everyone!

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