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03/14/17 Travel # ,

A Local’s Guide to Visiting San Francisco

A Local’s Guide to Visiting San Francisco

 

Any first visit to a major metropolitan area can be fun and stressful at the same time. Visiting San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, can be difficult for new visitors but I think it’s still a lot easier than other big cities because it’s relatively small.

I’ve lived in the Bay Area almost all of my life. I live in a suburb that’s about 30 miles east of San Francisco, and we can get to the City, as it’s sometimes called, in about 45 minutes or less by car or subway.

I’m not an expert on all that is happening in San Francisco, but there are some areas I like to regularly visit and events I like to go to every once in awhile. What follows isn’t a comprehensive guide to visiting San Francisco, but are some insider tips on getting around, what to do and what to avoid.

It doesn’t include every tourist attraction in San Francisco. Not that those aren’t worth a visit. I’ve just found the ones listed here are more interesting than driving down a crooked street.

How to get around

visiting San FranciscoTo get to San Francisco, and many places in the Bay Area, the easiest method is riding BART. The Bay Area Rapid Transit District is more costly to use than other mass transit systems, and the trains don’t run as often as they do in other cities (Europe), but the seats are comfortable and it’s a lot easier than driving.

The map at left shows how far BART goes. Taking it from San Francisco International Airport to Concord takes 1 hour and 13 minutes. That trip costs $11.30 one way for an adult and $4.20 for a youth or senior.

A roundtrip ticket from the Concord station, near where I live, to the Powell Street station in San Francisco is $11.60 roundtrip for an adult and $4.30 for a youth or senior.

Each rider must have their own ticket. If you’re going to ride BART more than once during your trip, I’d recommend putting as much money as you think you’ll need for your trips on one ticket. The fare will be deducted each time you exit a station. Otherwise, add only enough money to cover a round-trip ticket. Continue reading

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01/22/16 Children , Travel # , , ,

2 Worthwhile Splurges at Disneyland

2 Worthwhile Splurges at Disneyland

 

My family recently went on a short trip to Disneyland with another family, enjoying all the Magic Kingdom in Anaheim, Calif., has to offer and all of the expenses that come with it. We saved money in a number of areas, but there were two areas where I thought the splurge was worthwhile.

Even if we hadn’t saved money by staying at a hotel a mile away from Disneyland, or used credit card reward points for a free night, or drove instead of flew the 400 miles from home, or only went for two days — I still would have thought it was worth the extra money to do two things that were high on my list for a Disneyland visit.

For an extra $275, my family of three got dinner and front-row seats to the popular World of Color show at Disneyland California Adventure Park, or DCA, and lunch at the Blue Bayou restaurant in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.

It was an expensive addition to our trip, especially when you consider that it only added up to three more hours of fun — two hours at DCA for dinner and the show, and about one hour at lunch.

Paying for a unique Disneyland experience

I thought both were worth the cost, mainly for a reason I’ve written about before: Fun experiences that you and your children will remember for years are worth the extra cost — if you can afford them. I’m not suggesting that anyone go into debt for such things, but to save and find other ways to pay for whatever extras they think are worthwhile.

A better view for World of Color, as I wrote at another personal finance site I own, was important to me because my wife and I took our daughter, now 11, to see it three years ago but we sat so far at the back of the crowd that we couldn’t see it too well and left early. Continue reading

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01/05/15 Minimalism , Personal Finance # ,

Saving Cash With a Dinner Plan

Saving Cash With a Dinner Plan

One of the biggest pulls on my time as a stay-at-home dad is cooking dinner. It includes weekly meal planning, grocery store shopping, farmer’s market shopping, and of course, cooking. Throw in the last-minute rush to the store because I forgot an ingredient, and I’ve spent a few hours a day working on dinner and a dinner plan.

My wife and I enjoy cooking, so that isn’t usually the problem. What becomes a problem, as I’ve come to realize over the years, is that a meal can get expensive if I don’t think ahead and plan it. Without it, we either go out to dinner or I go to the grocery store and buy things I shouldn’t buy. Or at the very least, I’m buying food that I could’ve bought cheaper in bulk at Costco if I had thought ahead.

My dinner plan solution

Two years ago, I found myself running out of ideas of what to cook for dinner, despite having about 100 cookbooks in our home. I was overwhelmed by recipe choices and trying to come up with meals that everyone really enjoyed. I was cooking the same meals again and again. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.