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Old 02-10-2008, 10:57 PM
Ace Of Nothing Ace Of Nothing is offline
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Cool Calling L.A. and San-Fran Photog's - travel tips

No one knows the city they work and live in better than a news photog - SO, I am asking for some travel advice! I am heading down to L.A. and San Fransisco for 2 weeks at the end of the month with my girlfriend. We are in our late 20's, have no kids and are up for some adventure, but we don't plan on doing any "extreme" sports or anything.

We will want to check out some of the touristy things of course (the Golden Gate Bridge, The Hollywood sign etc.) But I am looking for some local gems that tourists might not know about.

What are the best things to do, best places to eat, great hotel's to stay in?

Areas to avoid (crime or overrated tourist traps) and drives and roads to take.

Any advice or ideas would be greatly appreciated!

And if anyone needs any tips if they are traveling to Toronto, I'll be happy to return the favor!
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Old 02-10-2008, 11:10 PM
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Hollywood sucks.

Make sure you go to In-n-Out.
Make sure you go to Ralph's.
Don't call the Malibu Police Chief an F'n fascist.
Don't forget the Credence cassette.
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Old 02-11-2008, 01:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnesotan View Post
Hollywood sucks.

Make sure you go to In-n-Out.
Make sure you go to Ralph's.
Don't call the Malibu Police Chief an F'n fascist.
Don't forget the Credence cassette.
There is no Malibu police chief. It's patrolled by the sheriff. And Ralph's is Kroger (or Fred Meyer) in a different suit...no big deal.

I can live without the Universal Studios tour, but the Warner Brothers studio tour in Burbank is worth doing if you really want to see how movies are made. Check their website to see if they are doing the tours during your visit.

The Leno show is fun, I'm told. So is Jimmy Kimmel, which is shot (across from the Kodak Theater) at the El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Blvd.

Want to see stars? Try having a hot dog lunch at Pink's on La Brea in Hollywood.

I do recommend In 'n Out, especially the one in Baldwin Park at the company HQ. There's a nice gift shop. And I think you might like Hollywood, especially if you stay at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel. Tell the concierge there to get you a dinner reservation at the "Magic Castle" around the corner...it's a private dinner club where the world's best magicians perform. The hotel is a member and can book guests there...tourists can't just "walk up" and see the show. It's one of my favorite things to do in Hollywood.

However, keep in mind that the Academy Awards are the last Sunday in February. You won't get near the place without a media credential, and you won't get a room at the Renaissance around that time...it's sold out.

The LA Coroner's office has an excellent gift shop, too. So does the LAPD--at the police academy. Yep, the place of movie fame...

PM me for some other recommendations...I have a bunch of fun ones. Hint: watch the movie "Sideways" and consider the fact that most of the press corps covering Michael Jackson's Santa Maria trials ate--and drank--at many of the places in that movie.

You will want to drive the coast highway and see all the neat stuff along the way...the Monterrey peninsula (Pebble Beach, etc), Hearst Castle (really neat), San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, etc. Plan to spend the night around Santa Maria/Santa Ynez Valley wine country...I'll give you some great restaurant reviews for that area.

Now consider this: fly to LA and drive north.
About 99 percent of the tourists fly to SFO and drive south, incurring a rental car drop fee.

The fact is that all car rental firms have a huge inbalance of rental cars going from SFO to LAX. As a result, the rental firms are delighted to give you cut rates of you start at LAX and drop at SFO. In fact, at certain times of the year, they'll GIVE you a car with a promise to have it in the Bay Area by a certain date.

Drop me a note.

You won't have any Tim Hortons around here, so you might have to survive without Timbits for a couple weeks.
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Last edited by David R. Busse; 02-11-2008 at 01:33 AM.
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Old 02-11-2008, 01:29 AM
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Default From a SoCal native...

In and out has a secret menu
http://www.badmouth.net/in-n-outs-secret-menu/
I don't know LA enough to give you more hints but when in SF use the cable cars they really can help your feet on those hills. North beach is a lot of fun try the side streets you'll find a lot of cool stores and cafes.
This place is really cool if you find your self in the area
http://www.museemechanique.org/
A great burrito place in haight ashbury is Zona Rosa
http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/profile/904023/
I still try to re-create their burritos
Mad dog in the fog (pub) was a fun place to go in H/A as well as Toronado Which has great t-shirts if you like beer ( and who doesn't?).
I know I said I was a SoCal native but I actually have spent more time in SF than LA
(Aside from SD which is where I am from).
BTW In and Out shirts make great gifts for your SoCal friends.
Have fun don't Jaywalk... (seriously I have gotten 3 Jaywalking tickets in Cali)
Lcp
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Old 02-11-2008, 07:55 AM
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In San Fran, stay out of the Tenderloin District and Golden Gate Park unless you're doing the "hood tour." I produced a story in the Tenderloin, and wouldn't go back without an escort. As for the park, our photog refused to go in there without security.
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Old 02-11-2008, 11:32 AM
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Golden Gate Park is one of the best places in the city, lots of families and a great museum & interesting flower conservatory. I have never felt unsafe there. If you are in town for a week, go to muir woods for a day. It's only 20-30 minutes outside of town across the golden gate bridge so you can do the bridge thing in the same trip. It really showcases what Northern California is all about with great hiking trails through the redwoods. Also, try Scoma's for GREAT seafood.

Have a great trip!

P.S. Birdy is right on about the tenderloin...but like watts or compton there is no reason why you should be in that area anyway, most of your cool SF places will be downtown or close to it.
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Old 02-11-2008, 12:00 PM
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Get the In 'n' Out fries "animal style"... Good stuff and they'll fill you up by themselves...
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Old 02-11-2008, 02:08 PM
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San Francisco is one of the great cities of the world but be prepared for sticker shock. Food, gas, lodging and transportation are expensive as are tourist trinkets. It’s best to just take pictures.

If you are driving in the city be prepared for some of the worst urban traffic in North America, especially downtown. There are lots of narrow one-way streets all built at the turn of the century. Buses, trolleys, taxies, cable cars, delivery trucks and automobiles all jockey for parking and space. Manhattan is positively civilized compared to downtown San Francisco. Be careful if you drive in the city. And don’t ever leave anything of value in your car. Do not even leave anything in sight in your car. Lock everything in the trunk before you arrive at your destination.

San Francisco, while a great city has one huge problem with the homeless. There are thousands of them on the streets and alleys. They’ve been there for decades and will probably always be with us. Ninety percent have metal health issues, drug or alcohol problems, usually all three. Most mind their own business. Some are happy for spare change, others get beligertant if they aren’t offered anything less than a dollar bill. While I don’t want to sound mean, the best advice is to mind your own business, be polite, but firm. It’s similar to not feeding the bears in Yellowstone. Many mayoral administrations have tried to help the homeless, but part of the allure of San Francisco is the tolerance of different life-styles.

Birdy is correct when she says to stay out of the Tenderloin, ironic that City Hall is only a few blocks away. The area around 6th and Mission is also a haven for the homeless and drug deals, heck most of Market Street isn’t worth the trouble. Hunter’s Point is another area you don’t want to find yourself in, as are parts of Portrero Hill. But these areas really only constitute a small percentage of San Francisco’s 49 square miles, some are only few square blocks. Here’s what the chamber of commerce would like you to see and do.

Visit Alcatraz and take the audio tour. “The Rock” lives up to it’s billing, but you have to get tickets ahead of time. Go into the yard and step back into the Middle Ages. Great views of the City and Golden Gate Bridge.

Angel Island is also good to visit. Drive across the GG Bridge to Tiburon where there is plenty of parking and take the ferry from there to Angel Island. Nice place to hike and picnic. It was the Ellis Island of the west coast processing mainly Chinese immigrants. There is still graffiti on some of the barracks walls. Civil War era buildings and barracks are in a state of decay throughout the island. Very good for photo ops, just don’t miss the last ferry.

North Beach has great restaurants and bars. Chinatown is like being in China. The Presidio is peaceful and feels like a piece of Monterey. George Lucas has built a new studio there; I think it’s at the end off Lyon St. at the West Gate although I don’t believe there are any studio tours.

The Embarcadero has been transformed from what it was 20 years ago. At one end is Pac Bell Park (or whatever it’s called now), otherwise know as the house that steroids built. The Giants still continue to play there. At the other end of the Embarcadero is Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square - the tourist Mecca of San Francisco. There are some great Italian restaurants, the crab pots are interesting, as are the sea lions that live on the boat docks, but overall it’s not worth the serous coin you have to drop.

But if you are into dropping serious coin, Union Square is where you want to be. Macy’s, Tiffany’s and Apple Inc. all have great store there. And the cable cars pass right by.

The cable cars are a San Francisco tradition and are still hand made. I think they cost five bucks to ride now. Be prepared to wait in line, although the lines of tourists should be much shorter than in the summer months. Hyde Street Pier is a good place to catch them. The cable cars are almost as much fun as any roller coaster, just slower.

The Haight Ashbury is made up of funky little stores selling emblems from the summer of love. Not much has changed in 40 years, the real Hippies moved out years ago and headed northward. But Amoeba Records at the end of Haight is well worth checking out if you are into hard to find music. And yes they still sell vinyl.

Speaking of heading north. Cross the GG Bridge but skip the vista point on the northeast side of the bridge. Too many cars and tour busses and it’s terribly backlit. Cross under 101 to the Marin Headlands. Postcard views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. The higher you go the better the view and plenty of turnouts to park at.

As you head north you’ll pass Sausalito, Marin and if you take the coastal route there is funky Bolinas. But what I recommend is to turn off towards Napa on Highway 37 and then take Highway 29 through the wine country. Lot’s of wineries to visit; Mondavi is one of the biggest and most established but there are lots of others to see. Beautiful country and well worth the visit, especially in the fall.

What else – all the bridges have $4 tolls except the Golden Gate which is $5 and going up. Weather wise we are experiencing spring like conditions. Cool during the night but approaching the 70’s during the day. But this time of year can bring a lot of wind and rain so be prepared. You’ll look really out of place in Bermuda shorts when you visit Fisherman’s Wharf, especially if it’s windy and cold. Coit Tower and Twin Peaks are good vistas overlooking the city. Crissy Field and Fort Mason offer panoramic views of the Golden Gate. Check out the KRON TV4 newscast while you still can. They actually do a pretty decent job, VJ’s and all. Take a bay cruise on Hornblower Yachts or see a concert at the Fillmore. Lastly take David’s advice and drive up from LA. The drive on Highway 1 can be done in a day but there is a lot to see. Hearst Castle, Carmel, The 17 Mile Drive, Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, all-fantastic to visit. Read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck to get you in the mood.

Ditto what's been said about Golden Gate Park. There were some coyotes bothering some of the dog-walkers a while back, but Fish and Game took care of them. LOL

Have fun – there is a lot to see in the Golden State besides Disneyland.

…Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

Last edited by F4 Fan; 02-11-2008 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 02-11-2008, 07:32 PM
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Forgot about Hunter's Point, and that was our base location! Still, it didn't seem nearly as bad as the Tenderloin. Our photog was just nervous about the park because of the many homeless addicts and other upstanding citizens that were the subjects of our story.
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Old 02-11-2008, 08:23 PM
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I don't know a ton about the area but I do go out there every couple of years. Alcatraz is pretty cool and if you take the tour I’d recommend the last one of the day. The sun is setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge and by the time you get on top of the island its dark and the city is lit up in front of you. Sausalito is also a neat little city to visit. I love the drive through Napa and the wineries are great things to see.



The entire Monterey / Carmel area is wonderful too and I'd advise to take 17 Mile Drive that goes around the bay and thru Pebble Beach.



From there take the Pacific Coast Hwy. thru Big Sur and down the coast to Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Its off the beaten path but its well worth seeing.

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Old 02-11-2008, 08:29 PM
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The Alcatraz tour at night is awesome.
As is Mir Woods
Don't listen to these guys. I like the Tenderloin. Shalamar Resturant is the best Indian food I've ever had.
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Old 02-11-2008, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R. Busse View Post
Want to see stars? Try having a hot dog lunch at Pink's on La Brea in Hollywood.
Really? I worked a block from there for years...I dunno about that.

If was hell bent on seeing a celeb, I'd more likely try Fred Segal in Santa Monica. Not the one on Melrose.

Again, Ralph's is more or less a Kroger. Not sure what the above poster was thinking.

One line suggestions to Google:

-Santa Monica Pier
-The Getty
-Griffith Park (both observatory and hiking)
-MOCA
-Old Town Pasadena (my area)
-Hollywood Blvd. (max 2 hours, just to say you did it)
-Catalina island (via ferry in Long Beach)
-Hiking in Malibu Creek State Park
-Hike up westridge to Nike base
-Sunset Strip, if you care about rock stuff
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Old 02-11-2008, 10:32 PM
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I did see a few at Pink's....Then we went every other week to eat, and have heartburn for the next three days...hehehe....Pasadena is a great out of the place drive...Drive by the studios....Rodeo Drive in BH....Drive 101.....DisneyLand...
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Old 02-11-2008, 11:06 PM
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There's just so much ...
Drive the PCH, then up Sunset Blvd. to Topanga Canyon Rd. to Mulholland Dr, then drive Mulholland. Go to Griffith Park, and visit the recently restored Observatory. Fans of James Dean will go wild. Take the road along the coast south of LAX to Rancho Palos Verdes and Torrance.
Hit Santa Monica, all of it, then Pacific Palisades next door. Superb. Nice feel.
You can walk around Westwood and it's like you're in college again. UCLA.
You must eat at Philippe's near Union Station - if you like roast beef and "french dip" ... then go across the street to the station. When there you're also next door to the first Mexican outpost in LA on Olvera St, the Chinatown of Jack Nicholson, and the dum-de-dum-dum [Dragnet] Los Angeles City Hall ... hard by all those courthouses and jails made famous by OJ, Britney, Paris, etc.
Have an In-N-Out double-double animal style with well-done fries, and a Neapolitan shake. And for a real belly buster, go to the original Tommy's .. and bring lots of napkins and hand cleaner.
Also a nice place, and it's right behind CBS Television City - the famed Farmer's Market. Great places to eat and be seen.
And if you want a real film tour now that the writers' strike is over, go over to Warner Bros.

Last edited by dw438; 02-12-2008 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:02 AM
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As you drive the Coast Highway, try to time your trip so you're in the San Luis Obispo/Central Coast area around dinner time.

If so, may I recommend the best steak house in California.

It's Jocko's, and it's just off the 101 in Nipomo, a small town just north of Santa Maria. Get off 101 at the Tefft Ave. offramp, go east about a mile, and just about the time you'll say "...we must have taken the wrong turn..." you'll come to an intersection, see a church across the street and Jocko's on your immediate left.

This ain't Beverly Hills.

Jocko's is a rather nondescript concrete block building, but when you see the crowded parking lot and smell the real oak fire, you'll know you've hit the jackpot. Order the Spencer Steak.

Call ahead for reservations, and when you get there, tell 'em the press folks from the Jackson trial sent you! Well worth the wait...

(805) 929-3686
125 N Thompson Ave, Nipomo, CA 93444

If they can't accomodate you, go to Santa Maria and follow the signs to Guadalupe, about ten miles west, and try the Far Western Tavern, right on the main drag. Another great steak joint and one of the oldest eateries in the state.

Far Western Tavern
899 Guadalupe St
Guadalupe, CA 93434-1362
Phone: (805) 343-6846

Finally, my third recommendation for this area is in Casmailia, about six miles south of Guadalupe...the Hitchin Post. Another great steakhouse with the best looking hats for sale anywhere on the Central Coast.

Hitching Post
3325 Pt Sal Rd
Casmalia, CA 93429
Phone: (805) 937-6151
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Old 02-12-2008, 09:08 AM
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Those are great Central Coast recommendations! Will have to go next time I do a Santa Barbara-based WC tour! As noted many times in the past ... when there's a big event ... follow the trail to where the network and legacy station O+O union guys [that is the NABET, IBEW or IATSE folks with decent contractural per-diems] go. Most of the time you won't be wronged.
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Old 02-12-2008, 05:09 PM
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SF is awesome, you will love it. Hang out anywhere and soak it in. It is very, very different from LA. If you go to LA first, you will like coming to SF to relax. LA is all about image and SF is all about chilling out. Anything North of LA is chilled out as well and the coastline between the two is amazing (Big Sur is the best stretch and Nepenthe is the best brunch spot).

In the SF area go to these places:
Golden Gate Park and the DeYoung musuem (it is not unsafe at all, earlier poster was full of poo and didn't know what they were talking about)
Walk (or run or bike) the Golden Gate Bridge
Check out the North Bay towns (Sausalito up to Sonoma and the wine country)
Berkeley is an interesting sight to see (eat at the Cheese Board for lunch)
Hike any ridgeline ringing the Bay. The best are Marin Headlands and Sweeney Ridge
Sam's in Tiburon for a weekend brunch. Right on the water, accessible by ferry service. Can also go to ALcatraz or Angel Island.
North Beach, Haight Ashbury, Castro, Chinatown and Presidio are all great neighborhoods with interesting and varied activities.

The Tenderloin isn't great after dark but if you were from, say, Nebraska, most people in any part of SF would scare you... but the Tenderloin is the most visible problem area in SF. Most of the Bay Area is safe but it is a big city and it has crime. Just be smart and you will have a great time. It is a wonderful area to visit and the people are very nice.
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Old 02-13-2008, 01:12 AM
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I knew it was a good idea to ask for some tips on here! Great info, thanks everyone! I was just showing my girlfriend this thread and she is very impressed with all suggestions.

If anyone knows a good area or specific hotel to stay in in San Fran that would be very helpful. This site is better than TripAdvisor.

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Old 02-13-2008, 04:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
Sam's in Tiburon for a weekend brunch. Right on the water, accessible by ferry service.
Second that for Sam's. I love that place.
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Old 02-13-2008, 02:49 PM
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In San Francisco I might suggest staying on or around Lombard St. just west of Van Ness. Good neighborhood and very close to the Golden Gate Bridge and a lot of other tourist destinations. And it’s away from downtown.

Or the Hyatt in Burlingame, it’s just south of the airport with good views of the bay.

If you make it to Napa, make a stop at the Mustard Grill in Yountville. Just south of the Mondavi Winery on Highway 29.
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