San Francisco cleanliness and safety

skyblue17

DIS Veteran
Joined
Nov 4, 2017
I won't pretend that there isn't

However, I've rarely felt like there was any kind of danger, and I've seen things as extreme as someone heating drugs on a spoon. It's also kind of hard for people from somewhere else to understand, but this is an extremely high demand area where rents are sky high even with these issues of homelessness and drug use.

I remember walking outside of Disneyland and seeing various vagrants hanging out in front of liquor stores and bus shelters. It's just kind of the way it is.
This also. One time I did wait on Market St. close to the Tenderloin for the bus. It was a little sketchy but even what I did see was people minding their own business. I didn't feel any danger there, even if it's not always exactly comfortable to witness. I work in Times Square, so I am conditioned to seeing less fortunate, sometimes people hoping for donations, etc. It's just the way it is, as you say.
 

Mickeypooh99

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 3, 2008
I’m so glad I didn’t read this before we spent a week in California visiting my college kid for thanksgiving! We had a great trip and spent a day and a half touring San Francisco. I never felt unsafe. We saw homeless people, but didn’t they really interact with us. We walked all over, and even shopped in union square on Black Friday. We had a great time!
 

bcla

On our rugged Eastern foothills.....
Joined
Nov 28, 2012
I’m so glad I didn’t read this before we spent a week in California visiting my college kid for thanksgiving! We had a great trip and spent a day and a half touring San Francisco. I never felt unsafe. We saw homeless people, but didn’t they really interact with us. We walked all over, and even shopped in union square on Black Friday. We had a great time!
I won't pretend that it isn't unpleasant to see panhandlers, homeless, and drug use, but it's not a uniquely San Francisco issue. However, many make it out to be like the scene from National Lampoon's Vacation in East St. Louis.

The one thing I would caution anyone is to not leave anything that looks valuable in view in a vehicle. There have been many vehicle break ins, including some high profiles ones where firearms were stolen. However, that's really common sense almost anywhere, especially with a lot of tourists. I've heard the same recommendation for visitors in Hawaii or Florida.
 
  • Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    So, I'm back from SF again and felt like I should share our experiences because a lot of this seems to be luck of the draw.

    We stayed just outside of the city for our first night, because we still had a rental car and wanted to get an early start at Muir Woods. That was a pretty iffy decision - the place we stayed gets decent reviews on Tripadvisor and Hotwire (which is how we booked) but had a sketchy vibe to it, very close to the highway and with a lot of less than reputable fellow guests as well as a posted policy about semi-truck parking that I've never seen at a decent motel. Upon checkout we learned that the rowdy/sketchy guys we noticed were an out-of-town construction crew working in the area; their employer no doubt put them up at the cheapest half-decent motel they could find, and they were a pot smoking, hard drinking bunch when not on the clock. So that explained that.

    DD took us to Golden Gate Park for the Japanese gardens and the bison paddock, then to wander around the Sutro Baths ruins before we returned the car. In those places, you definitely see SF for a city with city problems. There are clear signs of homeless in GG Park, and a lot of broken glass (much of it old and weathered enough to resemble sea glass) at the baths.

    Our second and third nights in the area were at the Hyatt at the Ferry Plaza, right at the corner of Embarcadero and Market. We went to the farmer's market at the Ferry Terminal (*amazing*, especially coming from Michigan where fresh produce is a pipe dream in January), took the retro 60s cable car up Embarcadero after dark to walk around Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiradelli Square, walked up Market to City Hall in the morning because my lack of planning had us in town for the Women's March and all the attendant transit disruptions, hopped a bus to Haight-Ashbury for dinner and some shopping, and wandered around DD's campus for a bit. There were places where we noticed human waste. To be fair, I was looking for it because of this thread... otherwise I might not have noticed, since it tended to be in inset stairwells and alleys and such. There are a lot of homeless, and it surprised me that most of them are just going about their day, not panhandling or approaching tourists. We had one encounter with someone I thought was high or crazy - he was yelling and using really foul language - but when he walked by, I saw he had a bluetooth earpiece on so he might have actually been talking to someone else after all. At no point did I ever feel unsafe, and even my husband - who is NOT a city person - left feeling more comfortable about our daughter waitressing at Fisherman's Wharf and using public transit to get around.

    Honestly, the worst part of the trip was BART to the Oakland airport. There were quite a few homeless sleeping on the trains, some with pets, some obviously high, and the tent cities the train passes on the way through Oakland are heartbreaking.
     

    RedVines2001

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 14, 2018
    We stayed just outside of the city for our first night, because we still had a rental car and wanted to get an early start at Muir Woods. That was a pretty iffy decision - the place we stayed gets decent reviews on Tripadvisor and Hotwire (which is how we booked) but had a sketchy vibe to it, very close to the highway and with a lot of less than reputable fellow guests as well as a posted policy about semi-truck parking that I've never seen at a decent motel. Upon checkout we learned that the rowdy/sketchy guys we noticed were an out-of-town construction crew working in the area; their employer no doubt put them up at the cheapest half-decent motel they could find, and they were a pot smoking, hard drinking bunch when not on the clock. So that explained that.
    Just curious. Was your motel on Geneva Ave?
     

    Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    Just curious. Was your motel on Geneva Ave?
    No, on Redwood Highway, which was basically the 101 service drive. It was a Travelodge, a brand we've had more good luck than bad with on road trips, but this one was definitely not a good one... even the breakfast was a joke, bad coffee and a few toaster items and semi-ripe fruit, not even yogurt or boiled eggs or sweet pastries like you'd expect from a continental breakfast at an inexpensive motel. But we were only there for the one night, just long enough to shower and sleep, and it was clean enough so we made do.
     

    bcla

    On our rugged Eastern foothills.....
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    No, on Redwood Highway, which was basically the 101 service drive. It was a Travelodge, a brand we've had more good luck than bad with on road trips, but this one was definitely not a good one... even the breakfast was a joke, bad coffee and a few toaster items and semi-ripe fruit, not even yogurt or boiled eggs or sweet pastries like you'd expect from a continental breakfast at an inexpensive motel. But we were only there for the one night, just long enough to shower and sleep, and it was clean enough so we made do.
    Oh - that area in Mill Valley? It's really kind of bizarre the mix of businesses there. Mill Valley is a very expensive place to live, but there are still two motels. There's that Travelodge on one side which seems like they at least keep up the exterior that one can see from the road. Then there's the Tamalpais Motel on the other side of 101 that looks like a creepy old-school motel. It's probably fine, but it just feels weird.

    My mom used to work in the area. It was really bizarre too as I'd visited her there a few times on a day off from work and we ate in the area. There's a pretty good Japanese restaurant there - pretty much next to a Ferrari dealer.

    Most people probably wouldn't visit the old part of Mill Valley (around Throckmorton Ave) if going to Muir Woods unless they read about it in a guidebook. That neighborhood is actually quite nice in a small hillside town kind of way. I guess the most interesting place is called Avatar's Punjabi Burritos, which is an Indian fusion place. Their motto is "Purveyors of ethnic confusions."
     
  • Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    Oh - that area in Mill Valley? It's really kind of bizarre the mix of businesses there. Mill Valley is a very expensive place to live, but there are still two motels. There's that Travelodge on one side which seems like they at least keep up the exterior that one can see from the road. Then there's the Tamalpais Motel on the other side of 101 that looks like a creepy old-school motel. It's probably fine, but it just feels weird.

    My mom used to work in the area. It was really bizarre too as I'd visited her there a few times on a day off from work and we ate in the area. There's a pretty good Japanese restaurant there - pretty much next to a Ferrari dealer.

    Most people probably wouldn't visit the old part of Mill Valley (around Throckmorton Ave) if going to Muir Woods unless they read about it in a guidebook. That neighborhood is actually quite nice in a small hillside town kind of way. I guess the most interesting place is called Avatar's Punjabi Burritos, which is an Indian fusion place. Their motto is "Purveyors of ethnic confusions."
    It really is a bit weird; sort of industrial, right on the highway, but then there's the random motel (and across the highway, a McDonalds that is apparently impossible to get to from the motel - fortunately we found better coffee up the road or I'd have had a mutiny on my hands!).

    I was looking for something closer to Muir Woods than staying in the city that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg (a lot of the hotels around Sausalito were $300+/night) and it came down to the Travelodge or Muir Woods Lodge, which got terrible reviews when it was part of some other low-end chain but went independent fairly recently and looked okay when we drove by. But the Travelodge wasn't gross or anything; it was clean, though the room had some clear deferred maintenance issues like a only semi-functioning closure on the shower door, it was good enough for our purposes. And my husband really appreciated their smoking area, which overlooks a little pond at the back of the property. But the signs in the parking lot and the rowdy construction crew made it feel sketchier than it looks.

    That restaurant sounds interesting. I'd say I'd keep it in mind for next time, but honestly, I hate driving in the Bay Area and didn't love Muir Woods enough to want a repeat trip, so I doubt I'll venture north of the Golden Gate on my next visit.
     

    skyblue17

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 4, 2017
    If you ever feel like a drive, Armstrong Woods is beautiful and much less crowded than Muir! Plus you can stop in Guerneville for lunch, and over at the coast too.
     

    bcla

    On our rugged Eastern foothills.....
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    It really is a bit weird; sort of industrial, right on the highway, but then there's the random motel (and across the highway, a McDonalds that is apparently impossible to get to from the motel - fortunately we found better coffee up the road or I'd have had a mutiny on my hands!).

    I was looking for something closer to Muir Woods than staying in the city that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg (a lot of the hotels around Sausalito were $300+/night) and it came down to the Travelodge or Muir Woods Lodge, which got terrible reviews when it was part of some other low-end chain but went independent fairly recently and looked okay when we drove by. But the Travelodge wasn't gross or anything; it was clean, though the room had some clear deferred maintenance issues like a only semi-functioning closure on the shower door, it was good enough for our purposes. And my husband really appreciated their smoking area, which overlooks a little pond at the back of the property. But the signs in the parking lot and the rowdy construction crew made it feel sketchier than it looks.

    That restaurant sounds interesting. I'd say I'd keep it in mind for next time, but honestly, I hate driving in the Bay Area and didn't love Muir Woods enough to want a repeat trip, so I doubt I'll venture north of the Golden Gate on my next visit.
    Didn't think about Muir Woods Lodge. Now that I looked it up, I never really noticed the location since it's offset from the road. I mentioned Tamalpais Motel, which is visible from the freeway. I've driven by when I got off the freeway to go to In-N-Out. That's the only In-N-Out around that part of Marin, and the only one I know of (outside of the one in San Francisco) that doesn't have a drive-thru.

    And Tamalpais Motel? I think the photo describes the vibe of the place. They have an old school neon sign with the "NO" lighting up if there's no vacancy. I keep on thinking of the Bates Motel every time I drive by it.



    Or at night:



    As far as Avatar's goes, they have multiple locations.

    The way to get to the other side is to drive all the way south where it loops back under the Richardson Bay Bridge. Any mapping tool with turn by turn directions would have made it easy to figure out. I had to figure out how to get back the first time I was there.

     
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